Athletes have become more vocal about using cannabis, and martial artists are some of the loudest.
Recent decisions by the UFC
and state athletic commissions to loosen cannabis drug testing
in light of legalization have given fighters more opportunities not only to just be themselves, but also to profit from the plant. Fighter social media pages are now loaded with endorsements for hemp, CBD and marijuana brands, and some athletes are even bold enough to film themselves dabbing or walking through growing operations
Insane Brand, a California-based cannabis company headed by Cypress Hill's B-Real, has a deep relationship with the martial arts. The company's head of cultivation, Kenji Fujishima, has a black belt in karate and used to train B-Real while he was on tour 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 talked with Fujishima to learn more about how martial arts and cannabis interact.
Westword: What's your background in martial arts?
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 three and a half years old. I'm a third-degree black belt. I don't train much these days; however, since getting reunited with the discipline through this latest event, I realized I am missing it, and I am ready to begin training again.
How about your background in cannabis?
I have been cultivating for the past 25 years. It started getting more serious when touring with B-Real and Cypress Hill. While touring with them, I got to see how large and far-reaching the cannabis community is. We traveled all over the world and were able to connect with people and cultures through cannabis. When I was young, I was amazed at all the different clones and strains, and it made me even more interested to continue to build upon the cannabis area 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 number of years ago to preserve the legacy market and support those that have been fighting for this plant for years. We are still fighting to this day.
How closely tied are cannabis and martial arts? Is there anything about the individualistic aspect of fighting that lends itself to that connection?
Insane Brands head of cultivation and karate black belt Kenji Fujishima.
Courtesy of Insane Brands
We hope that through events like Subversiv, we will continue to link cannabis and martial arts for the public to see. Team Insane was excited to be a cannabis company sponsoring a major event, and we want to continue to do that. There are certain martial arts that align with our cultural values. It isn't about glamour; it's about respect. Respect for the culture, the history and the practice. It's about all of those who have 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 are fighting for in our industry.
What about jiu-jitsu, specifically? Your company is sponsoring 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 the 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 amazing opportunity for brands like Insane to reach consumers we may not have reached before. Cannabis is tricky, and we cannot 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 effectively. However, I have never been one to smoke and compete. For recovery, Insane OG has always been my mainstay for all things cannabis. Insane OG mellows me out, giving my body and my mind a chance to reflect and recover.
I can't speak for every fighter, but several members of Team Insane use it as part of their training regimen. They saw that it helps them focus during training and that the healing benefits of cannabis support the recovery process.