Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beyond the Book - Q & A with Brian Stann ("Heart for the Fight")

From the collegiate football field to the battlefields of the Middle East and into the Octagon of the WEC and UFC, Brian Stann’s life has been one adrenaline-packed conflict after another. And while his sporting life has pushed him to physical and mental limits that would break even the most tough-as-nails characters, it is Stann’s experience as a Marine Corps platoon commander in Iraq that has most dramatically shaped the character, drive, and dogged determination of one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in mixed martial arts (MMA) today.

In the following interview, Stann talks about his new book Heart for the Fight, his preparation for and experiences on the battlefield and in the Octagon, and his work with Hire Heroes USA assisting returning veterans with finding employment.

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ZENITH PRESS: Before you ever set foot in the Octagon, you put your boots to the ground in Iraq. How did your first impression of the combat/war in Iraq compare with what you had envisioned and been trained for stateside?

BRIAN STANN: The war was what I expected it to be from my training. This is solely due to the Marine Corps ability to adapt their training to the current climate in both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. My instructors had participated in these wars and were in constant contact with the front lines.

ZP: For those who have never served in the military, it can be difficult to understand just how strong the bonds can become between soldiers—in your case, Marines. Can you describe what that relationship has meant to you, both during your two tours in Iraq and in your life since?
BS: The men I led and served with are like family to me. No matter what they do or say, we are always committed to one another through the shared hardships and sacrifices we endured side by side.

ZP: How much of what you’ve learned through your military training and service—both mentally and physically—have you been able to harness and use in your MMA career?
BS: Much of what I developed in the military has aided me in my fighting career, discipline and commitment in my training, honor and courage while I fight. Both the military and mixed martial arts are martial cultures, therefore the intense training I received in the Marine Corps truly gives me an advantage in the sport of MMA.

ZP: Thus far in your career, you’ve been labeled first and foremost as a dangerous striker. Heavy hands aside, what do feel is the most improved area in your MMA skill-set?
BS: I have improved everything. I never stop training, specifically in between fights I like to concentrate on my weaknesses. I will train specific disciplines of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling to improve my overall skill set. I believe I have become a dangerous ground fighter, particularly when I am in top position reigning down strikes.

ZP: When not training for your next fight, you spend your days serving as president of Hire Heroes USA. Could you tell us a little about the mission of Hire Heroes USA?
BS: Hire Heroes USA’s mission is to offer transition assistance, job search assistance, and job placement services to those who have honorably served in the US military – and to their spouses – in order to reduce veteran unemployment. HHUSA prioritizes veterans statistically most likely to be unemployed: veterans of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM, and veterans that are wounded or disabled.

ZP: You’ve experienced and overcome more adversity in your young life than some people will experience in a lifetime. If you could have readers take one message from Heart for the Fight, what would that be?
BS: People are judged by their ability to cope with adversity and mistakes. Regardless of the difficulty, we all need to grow and learn from mistakes to improve as a person. This growth may not be a measured accomplishment by money, awards, or notoriety, but in the true measurement of a human beings character these accomplishments can be much more important.

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