Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Meet the Mighty Morphin’ Taekwondo Jin Butch Morrison

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Meet the Mighty Morphin’ Taekwondo Jin Butch Morrison
profile and by rick olivares

Samuel Thomas Harper Morrison walked into the gym of the Philippine Taekwondo Association at the Rizal Memorial Complex. Because of his African-American features and because of his standing six-foot-one, I wondered if some basketball player had lost his way.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” laughed Morrison who is known more by his nickname “Butch.”

“And I’m from Olongapo not the United States.”

The father of a former American Merchant Marine and a Filipina mother, Morrison grew up playing basketball in and around the Subic Bay area. Why not? “I’d play in our neighbourhood. Dadayo pa kami kung saan saan para maglaro ("we’d travel everywhere just to play"). I could play from morning up to nighttime. And I still play a lot of it too.”

However, it was his youthful attraction and fascination for Power Rangers and Masked Rider that set him on another path. “I loved those television shows as a kid. I thought it was cool to see the Power Rangers defeating their opponents with their martial arts skills. I would practice their moves at home. It was a cool thing." 

“Now, in our neighbourhood in Olongapo, there was a taekwondo gym. One day, I picked up the nerve to go in and ask if I could learn the art. That’s how it all started.”

Since then, Morrison has been on a tear. Using his taekwondo skills, he parlayed that into a scholarship at the University of Santo Tomas where he won three UAAP gold medals. He’s also represented the country in international competition winning Southeast Asian Gold in 2015, silver in the 2011 Summer Universiade Games at Shenzen, and bronze in the 2014 Incheon Games. 

For now, Morrison has his eyes on qualifying for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. “During the qualifiers for the 2012 London Games, I blew my chance,” admitted the 26-year old. “It’s weird that taekwondo is supposed to teach me discipline and it does. My problem is I’m too much of a hothead. I easily loose my cool at a bad call, at my opponent’s tactics… and I paid for it by losing my cool during the qualifiers.”

“It was a humbling experience because I thought that due to my early success, I could do everything and achieve everything. I think not winning has taught me to be more patient, to become more focused, and to think more. I have to say though that I haven’t eliminated everything because I am a work in progress. But you’ll see a different fighter in the qualifiers. Now I have another shot at making it to the Olympics. And in front of the home fans too.”

Morrison and a host of Filipino jins will look to qualify in the Asian Taekwondo Continental Qualifying Games for Rio at the Marriott Convention Center this coming April 16-20.

“Qualifying will mean a lot to me personally as well as for my family. But I have a hundred million reasons to get the job done,’ said Morrison referring to the Filipino population. “It’s going to be a challenge. But I am looking forward to it. Hopefully, Filipinos come out to support us. We’re sure going to need it.”

The Mighty Morphin’ Filipino Ranger is calling!

With Butch Morrison and Pauline Lopez

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