Athletes have become more vocal about cannabis use, and martial artists are among the most vocal.
Recent decisions by the UFC and state athletic commissions to relax cannabis drug testing in light of legalization have given fighters more opportunities to not only be themselves, but also to enjoy the plant. Fighters’ social media pages are now full of recommendations for hemp, CBD and marijuana brands, and some athletes are even daring enough to film themselves dabbing or walking around in grow operations.
Insane Brand, a California-based cannabis company run by B-Real of Cypress Hill, has a deep relationship with martial arts. Corporate culture manager Kenji Fujishima is a black belt in karate and coached B-Real on his tours in the 90s and early 2000s. Trying to keep that connection alive, Insane recently sent a team of grapplers to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament (and sponsored the tournament itself). We recently spoke with Fujishima to find out more about how martial arts and cannabis interact.
West Word: What is your background in martial arts?
Kenji Fujishima: Martial arts have been part of my life since I was very young. My father was a Shotokan sensei, and I grew up in the dojo and started training at age three and a half. I am a third degree black belt. I don’t train much these days; however, since regaining discipline through this latest event, I’ve realized that I miss it and am ready to start training again.
What about your experience in cannabis?
I have been farming for 25 years. It started to get more serious while touring with B-Real and Cypress Hill. Touring with them, I got to see just how big and wide the cannabis community is. We have traveled all over the world and been able to connect with people and cultures through cannabis. When I was young, I was amazed by all the different clones and strains, and it made me even more interested in continuing to develop the cannabis field of my life.
Many of the relationships I built back then in the cannabis world are still people I connect with to this day. B-Real and I started Insane a few years ago to preserve the legacy market and support those who have been fighting for this factory for years. We are still fighting to this day.
How closely are cannabis and martial arts related? Is there something about the individualistic aspect of combat that lends itself to this connection?
We hope that through events like Subversiv, we will continue to link cannabis and martial arts for the public to see. Team Insane was thrilled to be a cannabis company sponsoring a major event, and we want to continue to do so. Some martial arts correspond to our cultural values. It’s not about glamour; it is a matter of respect. Respect for culture, history and practice. It’s about everyone who has practiced before you and shared the traditions, and having discipline and honor in all that you do. These values hold true in the legacy cannabis space and what we stand for in our industry.
And jiu-jitsu, more specifically? Your company sponsors a team, and there’s a jiu-jitsu tournament in Las Vegas that pays the winner a pound of weed. Do jiu-jitsu partnerships present an opportunity for cannabis brands?
This event spoke to us as individuals connected to sport. We further saw Subversiv and the ability to sponsor a team in a jiu-jitsu tournament as a way to continue to showcase the industry and add another organization to the fight for full legalization. It’s an incredible opportunity for brands like Insane to reach consumers we may not have reached before. Cannabis is tricky and we can’t use traditional advertising methods, so we have to get creative.
How do you think most fighters use cannabis – recreationally, as a form of recovery, or both?
Smoking puts me in a certain zone, the Zen zone, where I feel more connected to the sport. With cannabis, I can train more efficiently. However, I was never one to smoke and compete. For recovery, Insane OG has always been my mainstay for all things cannabis. Insane OG softens me up, giving my body and mind a chance to reflect and recover.
I can’t speak for all fighters, but several members of Team Insane use it as part of their training regimen. They saw that it helped them focus during training and that the healing benefits of cannabis supported the recovery process.