Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways. Savannah Em contacted us a few weeks back about a potential partnership with Fight Chix. She wrote a very compelling email that illustrated she is truly an embodiment of the Fight Chix spirit on many levels. After doing some background research, I also found that she is close friends to one of my old high school friends. What a small world. She is also the significant other, of warrior scholar Daniele Bolelli (Drunken Taoist + History on Fiire podcasts) and discovered Fight Chix through Daniele and Aubrey Marcus of Onnit. What is really exciting is not only is Savannah a martial artist, she is a fine artist and designer. I have wanted to have talented guest artists join the creative process with Fight Chix for a while, but there was never a good fit, until now. Savannah provided us with the her signature logo and we are debuting the Savage Budda collection. Now, its time to learn more about this talented wonder woman! Enjoy
When did you start training in martial arts?
I began training in 2012. First, I started with boxing, and then I added Brazilian Jiujitsu, Kickboxing, and Wrestling.
What led you to martial arts and ultimately, to want to test yourself in the cage?
Even though I wasn’t formally training in any form of martial arts, fighting has been a big part of me since I was a child. It was consistent in the games I’d play with my brother, cousins, and uncles. My brother and I always loved imitating the fight moves of our favorite video game characters (from Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Street Fighter, for example) and movie stars (Bruce Lee and Jet Li). My mom’s boyfriend at the time was a big UFC/Pride fan, so I learned a little bit about JuJitsu. I didn’t really start training martial arts until the age of 20. My boyfriend introduced me to my boxing coach, David Gonzales. I have been training at DG Boxing religiously ever since. As far as deciding to take it to the next level and actually competing in MMA… I have enjoyed my experience getting into boxing smokers, and BJJ tournaments. My personality is very mellow, non-conflict driven, and relaxed, but competing in combat sports has allowed me to develop a different, more assertive side that gives an extra edge to my character.
How has training changed your life both physically, mentally, or spiritually?
Many people are puzzled when they find out I train in combat sports. They see me as this soft-spoken, shy girl who smiles a lot and talks little, so they can’t picture me as a fighter. And they are right—I am all those things. But when I first began training in combat sports, I realized there was another side of me that had not found the opportunity to emerge yet—a side that relishes the intensity of competition. I feel physically healthier and stronger than I have ever been. Learning how to relax in the midst of fighting has made me more comfortable being myself in other contexts outside of the mat/ring/cage. I have always been shy and quiet. Combat sports have dramatically increased my confidence level. I am happy with who I am now, and feel comfortable in my own skin.
Based on your heritage overcoming intense struggles in life is in your blood, can you share a story where you had an unexpected challenge or tragedy in life, and how you overcame it?
My family came to the U.S. as refugees fleeing genocide in Cambodia. Needless to say, I was not raised swimming in gold. Like many fighters, I come from deep poverty. Growing up, I didn’t see my mom much since she would work through the night and sleep during the day. My dad was not in the picture. I was the oldest of four, so I had to take care of my younger siblings and play ‘mom’ to them even though I didn’t exactly have too many parental role models. My way of reacting to the chaotic nature of my upbringing was to work on not letting anything faze me—to find a way to remain happy and centered regardless of what drama regularly showed up in my surroundings.
Where do you currently train and who are your coaches?
I train out of quite a few places. I get my boxing out of DG Boxing with my coach David Gonzales. I get most of my BJJ training from Cal State Long Beach BJJ Club with my coaches Gerardo Alonso, Brian Carr, and Eddie Martinez. And I get my kickboxing (Predal Serey, rather) out of the Long Beach Kickboxing Center under Kru Oumry and coach Ron Smith. Then to stitch it all together, I just started training out of The Compound MMA in Oceanside with coach Sean Loeffler. I have also spent some time training with MMA fighter Angela Danzig under the guidance of her husband (Mac Danzig of UFC fame), and under Will Ford and Vladimir Matyushenko at Strong Sports in Chinatown.
Can you take us through a typical week? Its always fun to hear how athletes juggle work, school, kids and more and still find time to train! Typical Week: Sundays through Wednesdays, my days are made of reading, training (2-3 sessions per day divided between boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian Jiujitsu), and doing freelance art-work (anything from creating logos to designing t-shirts, to making drinking goblets out of the skulls of my enemies–just kidding about the last one… mostly kidding… Thursdays through Saturdays, I mainly take care of my stepdaughter, get some light training in (drilling techniques, and some cardio) and work on my art.
Who inspires you or who do you look up to? When I met my man, he was juggling raising his infant daughter on his own (after the death of his wife), teaching college full time, writing badass books, and creating podcasts that now have a worldwide following. In the midst of all this, he still managed to be sweet, kind & compassionate while at the same time having a fiery, exciting, bad boy quality to him. I love how he stayed strong in the face of some bad cards handed to him. My own level of self-esteem has grown tremendously as a result of confronting myself with him on a daily basis.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, both in martial arts and in life? In the next five years: I see myself doing what I do now, but on a larger scale. I’d like to still be competing in Jiujitsu, and fighting professionally for one of the larger MMA organizations. At the same time, I intend to keep creating and selling my art.
Food: broccoli and kale… who am I kidding? Cheeseburger!
Movie/TV Show: Starz TV series “Spartacus”, “Rome”, “Bob’s Burgers”, “Adventure Time”, “Regular Show”
Podcast: History on Fire
Band/Song: “Lateralus” by Tool
Relaxing activity: reading, which leads to napping
Book: “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” by Tom Robbins
How did you discover the Fight Chix brand, what does it mean to you and what is your favorite item on the site?
Two different people mentioned Fight Chix to me in the space of a few day, so I checked out your website for myself and was quite happy with what I found, since your company’s approach to empowering female fighters fits perfectly with my own philosophy. Fight Chix is a brand that represents women for not only being sexy, but also strong and badass. My favorite item is the Spiritual Warrior pullover.