You may have noticed some amazing new rashguards and gis that have come out lately from Fusion FG (Check out our review of their latest gi here). We even had a chance to do a pretty rad giveaway with them.
I wanted to get inside the mind behind the INCREDIBLE designs, licensing, and branding that Fusion has been doing so I got ahold of Chris Stepchuk, the mastermind behind everything they're doing.
Tell us a bit about your background with martial arts.
Well, it really started in December 1994. I was in high school at the time, and I watched skinny Royce Gracie tap out the monstrous Dan Severn with a triangle choke at UFC 4. I immediately knew that I had to learn how to do that (if he can do it, why can't I?), so I enrolled at my local Judo club the next day. Since there was no one teaching BJJ at the time, this was the closest thing I could find. I did Judo for about 5 years before injuries made me bow out (pun intended), as well as Shotokan Karate, earning my black belt in that by around 2002. I then stumbled across a BJJ school in about 2003, and the rest is history 🙂 I've traveled down to Brazil 3 times to get my butt kicked there, and have had the good fortune to train at different schools all over the world. Although I am still a brown belt, I am on the 15 year black belt plan 🙂 My daughter just recently started training BJJ as well, so it's now a family activity!
With the online BJJ/MMA marketplace becoming increasingly saturated, what made you want to start your brand?
Our background is in retail, manufacturing, and licensing. We also happen to be nerds, collecting toys, hockey cards, comics, etc. since we were kids. With all of the grey market BJJ product floating around out there, we really saw the opportunity to create authentic, licensed, and collectible BJJ products that appealed to us. Having worked in the toy industry since I was out of college, I knew that we could bridge the two worlds together, and fortunately the market has responded very favourably to what we're doing. It's amazing how many guys and gals contact us out of the blue to tell us how much they love what we're doing.
What do you feel makes your company different from every other BJJ brand out there right now?
There are some great brands out there right now making some great product. It's really the golden age of BJJ gear and I wish that even 10% of what's out there had been available when I started out. We differentiate ourselves by making officially licensed, authentic gear and blends the worlds of grappling and pop-culture. This is our sole focus, and no one else is doing this. Other companies will dabble in licensing, but it will likely never be the core of their brand. Our attention to detail is second to none, and everything must be 100% authentic or it simply won't make it past the design stage. The licensing approval process is a long one, with many hands involved, meaning that the end product ends up being very thought out, and the quality has to be second to none.
You guys do a lot of homage work with film and video games. What does it mean to you both in your design, and in life?
The age old question…does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? 🙂 Films and video games have had a massive influence on our lives, and I think that it really comes out in our designs. No one can deny the influence that these genres have had on our generation as a whole, as they have largely shaped our popular culture. We really try to get this across in our designs, so that when people look at our Terminator gi as an example, they immediately get it and can relate to it!
If there's anything else you'd like to share about yourself or your company, please do!
I think that people should know that we try to be as authentic as possible when it comes to doing what we do, and we really practice what we preach. If you ever come to our office, you'll immediately be greeted by a life-size Jean-Luc Picard cardboard standee. Our shelves are decorated with action figures; right now Bruce Lee, Superman, and a Storm Trooper are all staring at me 🙂