HOTSEAT: Interview with ScrambleInterviews

Scramble is yet again another up-and-coming company based in the United Kingdom coming out with fresh new designs on clothing, and is also a distributor of some Japanese gear, equipment and instructional material.

Matt, the owner of the company, is also the author of the famous blog “” which was formerly known as “Martial Farts”. Sponsoring highly-renowned BJJ brown belt Oli Geddes, Scramble is all about the infusion of both Japanese and English culture.

Their latest projects consist of the classic Scramble Newaza Hoodie and the popular Scramble x MANTO Lock and Roll T-Shirt.

Without further ado, here is our interview with Matt from Scramble.

Q: Give us the lowdown on what you guys do at Scramble.

A: Well at the moment it’s just me, and my buddy who has recently come on board. I design and make (or have made for me) what I hope are fresh and original clothes for MMA and BJJ fans. At the moment we have t-shirts and hoodies for sale but soon will be expanding to grappling and MMA gear. I also stock certain hand-picked items from Japan that I want to share with the West: DVDs, t-shirts, etc.

I’m trying to fill a hole in the market that I see, for martial arts fashion that doesn’t involve extreme violence or images of pain and death. I lived in Japan for a few years, and have strong connections with the country, so that forms a big part of the design concept and my appreciation of quality: I’ll never sacrifice quality for price.

Q: How did Scramble come about and why was it called Scramble?

A: I have always been into art and design. When I was training in Japan, I saw that there was an opportunity to design a t-shirt for a group of friends at my dojo. It was a kind of social club within the BJJ dojo. So I knocked together a design and got them printed locally. I really got a kick out of seeing people proudly wearing the t-shirts I had designed. I did another design and printed a small run, and that sold out, too. I had the taste for it by now, and the kick of seeing someone wearing my t-shirts never gets old. The opportunity came up again a few months later with a team t-shirt for the dojo, complete with sponsor logos and everything. I did that, too.

When I came back to the UK, the recession hit the country hard. While I was looking for a job, I thought I’d take things into my own hands and figured, you only live once, better to regret the things you have done and all that, and thought… let’s do it! Let’s make a clothing company!

I also had some contacts in Japan for stuff that I was a big fan of while I was there, namely BJJ Spirits and Art Junkie. I wanted to share these things with the rest of the world, so I import BJJ Spirits (a DVD magazine all about jiu jitsu and grappling) and Art Junkie (a Tokyo MMA, pro wrestling, BJJ and grappling pop art fashion company), albeit in small quantities.

I originally had a completely different name, but a good friend of mine and mentor made me keep working on it. In fact the way I did it was to write down a lot of words I associated with jiu jitsu, which is my first passion. Scramble came out on top, and the more I played with it, the more I liked the idea of it. It fits with my ideas, gives an impression of motion and cheekiness, of not taking yourself too seriously. I also think the scramble is an important phase in any fight: when whoever wants it the most will get the good position.

Q: If it wasn’t called Scramble, what were the other alternative names?

A: The original name was Umi (Japanese for ‘the ocean’.) In Japan, I made t-shirts with the name “Sub Rhythm”, alluding to the rhythm of submissions in a fight. I also briefly toyed with the idea of the name Emperor.

Q: What makes Scramble different from other companies?

A: I like to think we are bringing in a strong ethos of quality and design. Some companies are great at making jiu-jitsu uniforms or shorts, but their t-shirts are throwaway designs on flimsy promotional shirts.

I can’t tell you how mad I get when I see an ad for a revolutionary new MMA clothing company, and I check out the site only to see that it is – literally – as if they have taken the most generic skull / death / violence imagery from every other brand, chucked it in a blender, added some germanic font, looked in the thesaurus for alternatives to the word “pain”, and vomited it all up in the form of a web shop.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously. You’ll see some Engrish-style slogans in my designs. You’ll see bright colours and bold designs. I think what makes Scramble different is the experience I had in Japan, and the crossover between the design and martial arts communities there.

Q: What is the driving force behind the company?

A: I have a desire to make cool shirts for people. That’s it really. The driving force is to make a shirt (or hat, or pair of shorts, or rash guard…) that people look at and say “I must own that, now!” And of course, I would love to make a living from the thing I love, which is why I am aiming for world domination.

Q: What is the funniest/most unique idea you’ve come up with, with regards to a product?

A: I had a load of t-shirts that I designed a few years ago that I might resurrect. One was a rip-off of Frankie Goes to Hollywood meets Kung Fu, with the slogan “Sifu Says Relax” in big letters on the front. I also wanted one with Pride referee Yuji Shimada’s famous colloquialisms: “Don’t stomping!” – stuff like that.

Q: How did the collaboration with MANTO come about?

A: Good question! I think Michal, the co-owner, made friends with me on Facebook. We were chatting for a while before I really knew who he was. He said he liked my blog I think. At one point I noticed Manto on his profile and he said “Oh yeah, that’s my company.”

He’s a cool guy with a weird sense of humour, like me. As I remember, we just got chatting about collaborating, and he said “let’s do it.” I did the design, we pushed a few ideas around, and that was it, it was printed! It’s probably the thing I am most proud of so far. I have always liked Manto’s gear, and to be associated with them is an honour.

Q: Name the three favourite things you love about living/training in Japan.

A: Seeing as I am no longer in Japan, the things I miss are:
1) The community and the friends I have over there. BJJ was an integral part of our lives, with social gatherings, weekends, and spare time all geared around enjoying jiu jitsu with friends and family.
2) The food! Japanese food is hands down the best in the world. In particular, I miss good beef. Really, really good beef – so good you can eat it raw.
3) Just the general excitement of living in a country as fascinating as Japan.

Q: If you were to give ONE piece of random advice to anyone, what would it be?

A: Be water, my friend. The old Bruce Lee quote. Be water: know when to be hard, when to be soft, when to flow, when to crash. Water can restore life, or it can take it. Water can carve canyons over millions of years or evaporate in an instant. Be water!

Q: What can we expect from Scramble in the near future?

A: More fresh and original designs. A rash guard and a top secret item is in the sample/approval stage now, and I hope to have some shorts in the next few months.

And, loads of cool and original t-shirts. And some more sponsored Scramblers!

Q: Anything you’d like to say before we end this interview?

A: I’d like to thank everyone who flies the Scramble flag. I get quite a few emails from people who like my stuff, which I really appreciate. I’d like to mention those bloggers who help spread the word on the internet: AllElbows, Georgette Oden, Meerkatsu, Slideyfoot, Steve BJJ, and of course sponsored Scrambler Oli Geddes.

PURCHASE: Scramble Stuff

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  1. Matt’s work is genuinely exciting and has brought a fresh perspective on a genre that was fast running into a brick wall of cliches. I’m a big fan of all his products and proudly fly the Scramble flag at every opportunity. Keep up the good work! Osu.