Erik Sands began his martial arts journey in 2003 at the age of 14 when he joined his High School Wrestling team. After being introduced to combat sports through wrestling, he began training in catch wrestling and boxing in 2007. Two years later he enlisted in the United States Air Force and moved to Bossier City, Louisiana where he found his love for MMA and developed a passion for coaching.
He took a job as head wrestling coach for Karate Mafia MMA in 2010, the same year he cornered his first MMA competition. While in Louisiana, Erik cornered several hundred fights from regional MMA promotions to some the world’s leading MMA promotions.
During this time he also began studying Kyokushin Karate, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He earned a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and became a Muay Thai Kru in 2016. That same year he moved back home to Texas where he opened Punisher Wrestling Club of Azle and took the position as head Striking coach and assistant Jiu Jitsu instructor at Genesis Family Martial Arts.
Two-time High School state wrestling qualifier, 2-0 MMA, 12 year wrestling coach veteran, 8 year MMA coach veteran, head grappling coach of Karate Mafia MMA, head wrestling coach of Punisher Wrestling Club of Azle, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt, assistant Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach of Genesis Family Martial Arts, Muay Thai Kru Apprentice, head striking coach Genesis Muay Thai.
Q&A Session Between Erik Sands and Elite Sports
Question: What will you suggest to the newcomers?
Answer: To the newcomers I say welcome to the fastest developing sport of all time. Martial arts are as old as human beings and yet Mixed Martial Arts is still in its infancy. There is so much to learn because the sport is ever-evolving. It is an exciting time to become a mixed martial artist.
Question: What does it mean for you to be a fighter?
Answer: To be a fighter means that I am forged for battle, not only in a ring, a cage, or on a mat but in life. It means that I put my life in the hands of my training partners every day therefore I am hyper aware of my weaknesses and hyper focused on conquering them. It means that although I am capable of creating destruction, I choose the path of honor and humility.
Question: What are the essential things for the training?
Answer: Essential things for training are hard working men and women, focused on helping one another improve daily. Also, safe and reliable protective equipment such as gloves, shin protectors and headgear that will withstand the abuse that those men and women will impose on it.
Question: What separates you from every other fighter in your division?
Answer: I have fully embodied the spirit of a martial artist. Every decision I make is based around improving my body and mind for battle. I spend 4 hours a day studying mixed martial arts and 5 hours a night passing that information on, ensuring the continuity of the sport and becoming a better fighter in the process.
Question: What is the meaning of success in your mind?
Answer: To me, success is measured by my ability to continue to develop through trial and error so that when I set goals for myself they are surpassed every time.
Question: With whom you would like to fight, and why?
Answer: I would like to fight Jeremy Stephens. He stays in the pocket and throws big shots while maintaining poise on the ground. Those types of fighters make the sport exciting to watch and it would be an honor to take part in such a battle.
Question: Is there any difference b/w your common days’ diet and during competition training diet?
Answer: I maintain a healthy diet every day but the one thing that changes is my portion sizes. I diet down about 15 pounds and cut the rest so that come competition time, I am healthy and heavy.
Question: How does a beginner will prepare for the competition? Any advice for beginners?
Answer: My advice for beginners is to tune in to your corners and enjoy the ride. Don’t put too much stress on yourself. Remember, this is fun. If you win, we celebrate. If you lose, we study and improve.
Question: How is it helpful to have the information about your competitor?
Answer: It is helpful to understand your competitor’s game so that you can train to expose their weaknesses.
Question: Is the martial arts necessary for a common person? How?
Answer: Martial arts are necessary for everyone. You cannot experience real freedom unless you know what it is like to walk alone without fear of someone assaulting you. Even for the common pacifist, it is important to know your body’s potential so that you can carry yourself with confidence and if you are attacked out of your own control you can escape the situation with minor damage.
Question: Which moment is memorable for you in your past competitions?
Answer: The memory that is most fond for me from my past competitions is the moment the referee waived me off my opponent, signaling a TKO. Each time this happens I get a sense of accomplishment and relief that is incomparable.
Question: How do martial arts help to build a leader?
Answer: Martial Arts help to build a great leader by reminding the individual of their weaknesses daily. With such self-awareness, it is easier to focus on fixing your short comings. This in turn makes it easier to see others strengths and weaknesses and lead them accordingly.
Question: What would be your dream fight?
Answer: My dream fight would be with a young Vitor Belfort. As a young man, he fought with such tenacity that it would have surely been an honor to share the cage with him.
Question: How is the road plan necessary for any competition?
Answer: It is important to have a game plan because it helps you to visualize an outcome. Visualizing your fight ahead of time helps you to hit mental reps even after you leave the gym. This makes executing a plan much easier.
Question: Do you have any advice for your competitors?
Answer: Train hard and keep your hands up. If I see an exposed chin, it’s hunting season and there are not many men that hit harder than I.
Question: How much importance has the sports gear in any competition?
Answer: The gear worn in competition is there to protect the fighter; therefore it is of the utmost importance. The sports gear should be reliable and secure so that the fighter can focus on the task at hand.
Question: What should we learn from the legends /or from the seniors? Who is your inspiration?
Answer: Our seniors will make mistakes just like everyone of us. It is our duty as their successors to learn from those mistakes so that we may perform even better than they once did. When the students become the teachers, the teachers work is complete. My inspiration is Grand Master Carol Baker. He is a tenth degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate and my spiritual mentor for life.
Question: To whom you would like to compliment for your success?
Answer: I have had the honor of learning from many great martial artists but I credit my success to Master Donny Arron and Kru Kendrick Williams of Karate Mafia. These men have been there for me throughout my martial arts journey and have taught me everything I know about striking. Without these two men in my life, I would surely not be the man I am today.
Question: Who is your favorite legendary fighter? Why?
Answer: My favorite legendary fighter is Dan Henderson. He showed just as much honor and pride in his losses as he did in victory. He would fight anyone at any weight and proved that many times. He dethroned many men that we believed to be unbeatable. His athletic prowess and toughness will be respected and admired by mixed martial artists forever.