Saturday, September 25, 2010

Trisha Barr Interview

I recently had the pleasure of watching Trisha Barr fight for the NAAFS. I had not heard of Trisha before the show, but within nine minutes I became a fan. In fact Trisha became a new favorite. So much so I asked her to write for this blog. She impressed me with her constant activity, always looking for a submission regardless of being on top or bottom. She showed the heart and poise of a much more experienced fighter. I really expect to see huge improvements and a bright future for Trisha in the sport.

Q: First, Trisha I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: No - thank you! It's an honor.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself?
A: My husband and I are Christians who also happen to love the martial arts, using them as a major part of how we minister to others and help spread the Gospel. Raymond Barr, my husband, runs the dojo where I train. I took kempo for several years, received my black belt, and decided to start training for MMA a little more than a year ago to test some of my skills and learn where I needed to improve.

Q: Were you especially athletic growing up? Play any sports?
A: I was not particularly athletic. Actually, I was kind of pudgy! I did a little track and field, but nothing serious. I didn't start gaining athleticism until I started lifting weights consistently and joined martial arts classes at age 18. All in all, a lot of people with whom I went to school would be completely surprised that I do cagefighting.

Q: What initially got you started training for MMA?
A: Since I was 18, I loved learning martial arts and enjoyed watching the UFC. MMA looked like fun. Plus, although it isn't necessarily real fighting because it is a sport and has rules, I thought it could still take my training to another level and teach me a lot. It's basically like the sparring we do in class, except much more intense. I continue to improve so much because of it. I have to admit, I've also dreamed of making a career out of it someday.

Q: Was the training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: At first, because of my kempo background, I of course picked up striking much more quickly than grappling; however, my ground game has recently come to surpass my stand up. After my first two losses, I became driven to work on my grappling to increase my finishing power and defense. Now, while I continue to work that, I am focusing more on my striking again.

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: I only trained MMA for about 6 months, but I had 4 years of kempo experience before that. Now I realize that I should have practiced my grappling a lot more before I first entered the cage. I just had so much confidence in my hands that I thought it would be a non-issue. But I found out that my footwork and ability to maintain striking distance was actually lacking too much for that to be true. So while I currently work on those aspects of my striking, I also work my ground skills more diligently.

Q: Was fighting something your family and friends supported?
A: My mother didn't support it at first because she didn't want me to get hurt, but she's starting to come around. The rest of my family and friends have supported me and encouraged me from the beginning - even my church at Harvest Christian Fellowship. They understand that it is a sport and that I don't compete with any sense of hatred or rage, but that I do it to test myself and better myself.

Q: Where do you train at now?
A: I practice under the tutelage of my husband at his martial arts school, Infinity Arts, in a little ol' place in southeastern Ohio called Cambridge. It's a small, out-of-the-way dojo with only about 10 core students. In fact, the school was actually converted from a 2-car garage! It might not be the fancy MMA gym that some people are used to, but it is still very effective for those who are dedicated to the martial arts. Although we are willing to train with others, Ray is an excellent teacher who will always be my main instructor.

Q: Can you give your overall record so far?
A: I am currently 3-3 as an amateur, hoping to improve to a winning record soon. I guess that remains to be seen. I will say that, in my heart, I'm 4-2: I lost my second fight by split decision, which I and the majority of the people there thought I won. But that just goes to show the importance of finishing your fights rather than relying on the judges' scorecards.

Q: Which fight so far is the one you are most proud of?
A: That's difficult. It could be my fight at Eve of Destruction because I had to dig down deep for that win, but I didn't get to display much of my stand up like I wanted to. It could be my fight at UVC: Showdown because I actually got to show both my striking and grappling skills.

Q: What would you say is your biggest strength and the one thing you most want to improve?
A: My biggest strength lately seems to be my submission skills, although it used to be my hands. The one thing that I have always been weakest on and am desperately trying to improve is my throws/takedowns.

Q: I just got to see you in person fight against Shannon Floyd. I was very impressed. Did you see anything earlier in the fight that made you believe you could get the submission?
A: I never know how a fight is going to end. When I think I know, I'm wrong. I just have to feel confident that I can win. If I don't, then I've already lost before I've entered the cage. I originally envisioned something completely different for this fight. I wanted to strike with her - land some combinations and hard punches, but she was always able to close distance. I just dealt with each circumstance that I found myself in to the best of my ability.

Q: Seemed to me she tried to use her size to sort of bully and push you around, but you stayed very composed, and even from the bottom never seemed to panic. Really looked like you were comfortable on the bottom. Is that an accurate statement?
A: While I prefer top position, especially side control, I have learned to not panic when on the bottom. That shows I've come a long way since my first fight! And I do feel pretty comfortable with guard because I have a very active guard. I can defend strikes and submissions well from there, and I can often land strikes and get a submission of my own from there as well.

Q: One thing I really liked is you were always trying something, from the top, bottom, wherever, always looking for the submission. Is that something that is typical for you, or did you just feel it was the right strategy here?
A: There are so many different options with which to submit somebody that I'm almost always able to go for something, so I don't like to just lay there and give my opponent any unnecessary opportunities. I like to keep them defending submissions and strikes so that they have difficulty landing any of their own. And if I try enough things, then I can usually pull off something.

Q: What were you feeling when you finally did finish her?
A: I felt very blessed and relieved! She was a challenging opponent who pushed me nearly to the limits of my strength and abilities. Hopefully, because of that, my strength and abilities will expand and I'll return to the cage better than ever.

Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or love to watch?
A: Megumi Fujii and Erik Paulson are a couple of the best submission specialists in the world. When it comes to striking, it's all about Anderson Silva, Manny Pacquiao, and Jose Aldo. Cris "Cyborg" and Brock Lesnar are beasts in their divisions. Sarah Kaufman, Jon Jones, Ben Henderson, and GSP are not only highly talented fighters, but they also behave as good role models in the sport. Most importantly, while my husband doesn't currently compete in a cage or ring, he is my greatest inspiration as a martial artist.

Q: In your opinion, who are the top five female fighters in the sport pound for pound?
A: Megumi Fujii, Sarah Kaufman, and Cyborg are definitely in the top three, but the list gets a bit muddled after that. There is a growing number of talented women coming up through the ranks, so we'll see who can make themselves stand out from the rest of the pack.

Q: Often you watch a show that has one women's fight. Somehow that fight always turns out to be the most exciting fight on the card. Why do you think that is?
A: As much as WMMA is growing, it is still a novelty at most shows because there are still a lot less female fighters than men. And a lot of people are impressed to see women who aren't afraid to get into the cage and lay it all out on the line. So a lot of the excitement starts from the crowd itself. As for the women themselves, they don't tend to put on "boring" fights because they usually don't carefully circle around one another to strategically pick and time their shots. A lot of my peers still rely on aggression to overwhelm their opponents.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female fighters?
A: That it doesn't hurt when we get kneed in the groin! But other than that, a lot of people think that all female fighters lack technical skills. True - many of them do, as do a lot of men. But there are also some women out there who have the proper instruction and work ethic to become technically skilled fighters rather than just aggressive fighters. Those women put a lot of men to shame.

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to train for the sport, what's the biggest piece of advice you would give her?
A: Don't rush into competing. Make sure that you get the proper amount of training first. Way too many people, especially women, take their first fights after only about three months or so of training. They do so under the false assumption that cagefighting is a lot easier than it actually is. I myself never dreamt that it would be so hard. My suggestion: 6 months to 2 years of training minimum.

Q: Outside of training and fighting, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: My husband and I love to stay involved with the church and study scripture. We also like to relax from all the training by going to the movies or vegging out in front of the TV. I have a BA in English and have always been a writer, so I try to make time for that when I can. I currently write MMA articles online for the Columbus Examiner (and soon for this site as well!), and I try to work on my fiction in addition to that.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Trisha Barr.
A: I typically try to do cardio and writing in the morning, strength-training and housework in the afternoon, martial arts and quality time with my husband in the evening, and prayer and scripture before bed.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 20 and could barely get up out of a chair by myself much less think about cagefighting someday, but I have come a long way by the grace of God and continue to be a testimony of His miraculous healing. Another interesting fact is that, despite what people have seen me do in recent fights, neither I nor my instructor have any rank in BJJ.

Q: Describe Trisha Barr in five words.
A: I am faithful, honest, determined, resilient, and respectful.

Q: So whats next for you?
A: I plan to continue training hard and improving my fight record. I want to fight at the amateur level for at least another year to continue learning and gaining experience before possibly turning pro. In the meantime, my husband and I intend to expand our fight team and invest in a larger school. We also have some other business ventures that we're looking into. Ultimately, we want to grow spiritually, find the Lord's will for our lives, and walk it out.

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: I currently have no sponsors to promote, but I am an evangelist at heart who encourages everybody to have a relationship with Jesus! Other than that, people should come check out our school if wanting to practice martial arts, train MMA, learn self-defense, or even just to improve fitness. Just look up Infinity Arts in Cambridge, Ohio and give us a call.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Trisha Barr the fighter and person?
A: I do welcome sponsors, who can contact me by email ( or by calling Infinity Arts. I am a constantly improving fighter with a lot of heart, and I believe in treating my opponents with respect. Most importantly, I try to give glory to God in all that I do.

Q: Trisha again, I want to thank you for doing this. In a few minutes you went from unknown to me to being a new favorite of mine. I see tons of potential and really think you can and will do big things in this sport. Any last words before you go?
A: Thanks so much - I really appreciate it! Hopefully, I can meet that potential. No matter what, I will spend the rest of my life learning and getting better. Martial arts is a lifestyle, not a hobby. God bless!

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