Interview with Coach Rolando Ayenza

Rolando is Biofit's resident ninja and a man who manages to combine movement-based training with that of a martial-arts all-rounder. This is his story.

Q: How did you first get into martial arts?

A: I started when I was seven or eight years old with kung fu and focused on that for about ten years, then went to university before eventually finding parkour which had a very similar mindset to martial arts. From there I gravitated towards MovNat which was an outdoor, more natural version of parkour basically. I progressed to become a Level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer and went on their full-immersion retreat in Thailand before eventually coming across Ben Medder in London who I still train with, learn from and assist today.

Q: Who have been the main influences on your training from outside of the martial arts world? 

A: Ben Medder's role has definitely been instrumental in my development, spending time with him really has taught me so much over the past few years. Ido Portal was also a big inspiration for me, he’s shown us all just how many different ways we can move in. As a result of those two key influences, I’ve explored contemporary dance, contact improvisation, gymnastics strength, circus skills and capoeira… ultimately, it all joins up as ‘movement’. Having said that, my heart is still in martial arts!

Q: Tell us a bit about the Fight class you’ve been developing for Biofit, what’s the philosophy behind that?

A: Firstly, it’s about self-defence, the foundation of all martial arts. Do you have the knowledge to get yourself out of trouble and can you implement that knowledge in a split second when required? People coming to combat for the first time will become more aware of their reaction times, their speed, strength and stamina - all capacities we try to build up in the class. Put it all together and you have a complete, skill-based workout with real world applications.

Q: How does that fit into an evolutionary correct, or primal fitness approach?

A: For millions of years combat was about survival, whether protecting yourself from another animal or trying to kill that animal for food, so it’s a primal instinct that we developed over a long, long time. Until fairly recently in evolutionary terms, if we weren’t aware of what was going on around us or able to defend ourselves properly, we simply wouldn't survive. A lot of modern society is so risk-averse, so worried about germs and potential hazards that we are in danger of becoming de-sensitized to our own environment. Our Fight classes are one way to help re-establish that connection.

Matt Morley