Just Scrap Radio Episode 3| The Ernie Reyes Jr. Interview
Ernie Reyes Jr. finally made his way on the airwaves of Scrap Radio. Guest Ernie Reyes Jr. played a prince in the 1985 production, Red Sonja. In that movie, he shared the screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen. During this time, he also had his own television series Sidekicks, a spin-off of the original Walt Disney one-time special, The Last Electric Knight, alongside Gil Gerard presented by Michael Eisner. He also appeared in an episode of the hit television series MacGyver in 1988. Reyes had starring roles in Surf Ninja and in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film The Secret of Ooze as Keno, the pizza delivery boy. He also served as the martial arts stunt double for Donatello in the first Ninja Turtles film. He later appeared in movies such as Rush Hour 2 playing Zing and in The Rundown alongside former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Reyes guest starred in the TV series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues alongside David Carradine. In 2006, Ernie Reyes Jr. hosted the MTV martial arts reality show Final Fu.
Ernie Reyes Jr. has a professional fight record of 3–0 in Strikeforce but started out as a Muay Thai and kickboxing organization. Ernie fought Anthony Elkaim the WKA ISKA Champion. Reyes knocked out the champion in the 3rd round. His next two fights would be won by decision, including a unanimous decision over Veasna Thach which aired on ESPN. Ernie Reyes Jr.’s fight against the champion Anthony Elkaim also aired on ESPN. More recently Ernie Reyes Jr. has done motion capture stunts for blockbuster movies such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Currently he stars in the mixed martial arts movie Submission co-starring Ving Rhames and UFC lightweight Gray Maynard.
You’ve battled everyone under the sun. You’ve been around for a long time. What is your take on just this massive explosion and MMA and UFC in General?
Ernie Reyes Jr.
It’s amazing – coming from the late 70’s being part of the kind of the scene of Martial Arts in America. Having seen a lot of the great kickboxing that came out of the late 70’s and 80’s all the champions and seeing where it is today. I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve kind of had an inside view of seeing Martial Arts in America transform itself over the last 30+ and to see where it’s at from an athletics standpoint – it’s just incredible – what athletes are doing, the skill levels it’s just through the roof. This is something that happened from what I’ve seen over the last 30 year period and definitely in Martial Arts in America
I remember when Muay Thai first came here and MMA wasn’t even really happening but then kickboxing was. Then, you had the Muay Thai Fighters come over here and do their thing and it was a whole evolution of kickboxing occured when Muay Thai came in. Then, when MMA came about the domination of the Gracie’s and the evolution of people kind of understanding the ground game. And now kind of seeing it all put together in a real balanced fashion is thrilling and exciting to me as a Martial Artist. Like I said I’ve kind of had an inside view of the Martial Arts scene in America since I was a little kid – 8 years old. So I’m thrilled to see the success of MMA and the explosion and all the great athletes that have kind of come through and excited to see who the next guys are. The young kids that are 8, 9, 10 years old like I was when I was younger watching the older guys. I believe the kids of the next generation or couple of generation having grown up on all the superstar athletes in martial arts of this time period are really gonna take it to a world we can’t even imagine at this point.”
You’ve been around along time like you said you started since you were 8 and you’ve had all the inside view and Hollywood and martial arts in the industries of movies and what nots. Have you ever got the itch to maybe enter in now that you see the popularity of MMA? Have you ever thought about throwing your hat in the ring?
Ernie Reyes Jr.
“Yeah you know I fought a couple of times in Strikeforce just in Muay Thai in the mid to late 80’s. I started training with Saekson Janjira and I was like I got to get in there and do some Muay Thai because these guys are the real deal and about 5-8 years after that time period the MMA started exploding and I did and I still do. Even today as I talk to you I’m still getting that itch but I’m 40 yrs old – slow down, reel it back in buddy. It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of focus, it takes a lot of concentration to put your mind and singlely focus on being a competitive athlete and I don’t have the experience in terms of MMA. I’ve had my 3 or 4 fights on Strikeforce competing as a Muay Thai and those were just 3 min rounds. I can only imagine the told that it would take in the body just in the training process but I still get excited, I still get fired up. I look at 135lbs thinking – man, I wish I could get in there with those guys but reality sets back in.”
Are you content with what you had or what you grew up with or now seeing something like this whole MMA evolution were there any other styles you would love to incorporate if you ever get out there and do this sport?
Ernie Reyes Jr.
“Yeah for sure. I mean in terms of one of the things my father always tried to instill in me is being a well-rounded martial artist but it didn’t necessarily relate to mixed martial arts as we know it today. For sure if I was even in my 20s I definitely feel like I would’ve wanted to pursuit competitive mixed martial arts. There’s no doubt in my mind but even when I was younger I was boxing – outside of kind of known for demonstrations and kind of a forms guy when I was a kid. My dad internally always tried to raise me as a well rounded martial artist starting with the Filipino Martial Arts – stick and knife kind of stuff but when I think back about me being 8 yrs old back then – I go man I wish I would be doing jiu jitsu, wrestling, muay thai and all of those things. I really put in a lot of hard work as a martial artist as a kid to kind of get to where I got but there was a limitation in terms of what was being offered at the time in terms of that kind of cross training. I look back and go – man, I’m really excited for the young kids to be able to have opportunity to train in a way that they can train now. It’s not so much about traditional styles. I wish I was 8 yrs old again and start this whole process all over but in the end I’m happy to have seen the inside track and see it evolve from the old kickboxing days watching it happen. It kind of makes it that much more sweeter for me to see this is where it comes from and this is where it evolves to get to this point – in America anyways.”
How much has MMA evolved even on movie scenes? How much has it changed in Hollywood even?
Ernie Reyes Jr.
“Oh it’s changed tremendously. It’s probably an old conversation but going back to Enter The Dragon by Bruce Lee. He was really the frontier man in terms of Martial Arts in movies. How he affected everybody and inspired as far as personal life and as athletes – I’m sure there’s a lot of different perspectives but in terms of movies by far the frontier man. He was beginning to incorporate armbars and those kinds of things back in the day but now it’s common place and it’s getting more and more common because the audiences are savy. They’ve seen a lot of mixed martial arts and so when they see their favorite action guy. They don’t want to see them punching and striking and do thing they know are unrealistic because part of the magic of movie making is the suspension of disbelief. So when you see characters in movies performing moves that you’ve seen in real life and seen the effectiveness of them it just helps the overall movie experience.
I suspect infact pretty sure of it we are gonna see more and more MMA in the films and television as we move forward from here.”
Name one or 2 celebs that can’t fight
Ernie Reyes Jr.
“….I’m sure there’s a lot of MMA stars that are going to try to make the transition to the films from being inside the cage to films an it’s not an easy transition. To be good at fight scenes in movies not always is a great fighter in the ring gonna be able to translate into being a great fighter on film because part of doing fight scenes in the movies is making what’s not real appear real. Whereas an MMA fighter is all about reality. Sometimes the way reality plays out isn’t necessarily good television or entertaining fights for film. It’s about kind of combining your athletic skill set and abilities and making them kind of a little bit larger then life. I’ve seen some of the MMA guys make the transition (I’m not naming any names) and the action was kind of okay but could have been better. Working with the Rock – he’s not a martial artist, he’s not a fighter in terms of UFC but he’s a great wrestler and a great entertainer and he’s wonderful to work with in terms of making that fight scene come alive and I think everybody really enjoyed it. Other than that I made a movie that never really hit the big screen with Grey Maynard and he was awesome to work with.”
Listen to Just Scrap Radio Episode 3 for more of Ernie Reyes Jr.’s interview