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Matsuri: A Small List of Terms and Phrases

What is Matsuri? Who is Team Tetsu Tengu? Why are these shorts so short?

In the time that I have been gone, a lot has happened. I moved to the middle of the desert, built a Muay Thai program, and decided to add designer back to my portfolio of skills. However, despite my focus on growing my Muay Thai practice, the desire to build this brand remained. As we grow, we’ll dive more into these, but here’s a quick guide to some of the words being thrown around.

What is Matsuri? - Literally, it is the Japanese word for Festival. Super broad, but generally refers to local festivals that celebrate an event, a changing of the season, etc. If you watch slice of life anime, you have most likely seen some version of Matsuri in one place or another.

What is Matsuri Fightwear Company? - At first, I wanted to be an anime brand because, well, anime is amazing. As I meditated on this over time, I realized that by limiting myself to anime, I was limiting myself creatively to work within the realm of intellectual reinterpretation. By creating a brand based on ideals that I hold as principle, I created a brand that was an extension of myself. I believe that the practice of martial arts is an everyday celebration of human achievement. Human beings worked together to create systems to empower the people and if that’s not something to be celebrated, I don’t know what is.

Who is Team Tetsu Tengu?- Let’s get something straight, alliteration played heavily into this name, but there are reasons for the symbology! Tetsu (鉄) is the kanji for iron and Tengu (天狗) are usually depicted as long nose monks or bird like creatures. This is the fight team that I created out here in the middle of the desert and captures what I believe are the unifying philosophies and principles of martial arts. What team do they fight for? Well, Matsuri Fightwear of course. We are currently headquartered out of Undisputed AZ out here in Tucson, AZ.

Japanese themed Muay Thai? During my time studying craftsmanship, meditation, and martial arts, my practice has always found itself running into Japanese culture and principles. I chalk most of this up to how readily available Japanese translations of philosophy and history are, but I've come to find that if you are developing a skill or are seeking meaning in your turmoil and work, someone in Japan has written about it in-depth. It is through these principles that my martial arts practice (and self-identity)  has grown and why I have expanded into apparel. I currently practice Muay Thai, but as this brand develops, so shall the selection–the gis I have in mind are sick as hell. 

So it's not all anime? There will be drops and special editions as we expand and grow. Anime has inspired me to go beyond what I thought capable, but it is not my sole driving force. I have a lot of fun plans–a happi coat here, maybe a tracksuit there–but not everything will be anime themed. As with my martial arts practice, I find the only limitations I have are what I allow my imagination to create. The long and the short of it: every collection will have something to offer. 

What is the roadmap of the brand?

  • Establish regular drops and/or stock on the Matsuri website.
  • Create a regular stocked product line for year round purchase outside of drops.
  • The progression in my head goes muay thai shorts, cross training shorts, rash guards, gloves & shin guards, and THEN maybe Gi.
  • Hoodies, T-shirts, and stickers should be available soon. Trying to figure out the best manufacturing process that allows the print to last through extensive abuse. 

If you’re here, you’re here at the beginning and for that, I thank you.

May We Celebrate and Grow Together

John Bassford

Matsuri Fightwear Oyakata