Symphony of Destruction: Dave Mustaine Talks Martial Arts

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(Mustaine becomes a Goodwill Embassador for the World Taekwondo Federation in 2007.)

Playing guitar made Dave Mustaine rich and famous but he credits martial arts with saving his life. Studying different fighting techniques since he was 12-years-old, he climbed up the ranks to earning a first degree black belt in Ukidokan Karate under Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and a black belt in Taekwondo. In 2007, Mustaine became a Goodwill Ambassador to the World Taekwondo Federation in Seoul, South Korea and was awarded honorary 4th Dan certificate in the discipline.

Although the 48-year-old front man for iconic metal band Megadeth has a stacked fighting and musical resume, he is also an avid MMA enthusiast as he performed at Affliction’s premiere event Banned and attends events like UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun this past October, where he, like everyone else, thinks Shogun got robbed.

FIGHT!: So martial arts saved your life?

Mustaine: It totally did. As corny as this sounds, I get a lot of my strength from what I’ve been taught in my life. I learned it because I was alone in the world and nobody was there to protect me or to take care of me. My dad was gone and my mom couldn’t do it, and my brother-in-laws were my brother-in-laws. They weren’t my dad and I was alone, and it helped me and I draw on that all the time.

FIGHT!: Duff McKagan trains with Benny and says martial arts saved his life too.

Mustaine: Yeah. Duff trains with sensei, but I don’t know if he’s got any rank. Him and Phil Collins are doing that, but they were just doing the kickboxing stuff. It’s a real good cardio workout and it’s fun, and it teaches ya how to defend yourself.

FIGHT!: Changing gears, how did the performance with Affliction come about?

Mustaine: Well, we’re good friends with the guys at Affliction and we still are. I did a commercial for them with a bunch of rock stars, a bunch of fighters, baseball players and stuff, and it was a fantastic commercial. They used this ridiculous camera that used 50,000 frames a second or something like that – I know that’s not true, but that’s what it seemed like – and then after that, they said, “We got this fight thing coming up. Would you be interested in playing it?” I think we said, “You got this fight thing coming up. Why don’t you try to do this rock ‘n roll and metal, and fighting?” I don’t know who the person was who initiated the idea, but it was something we worked on and it was great. I think they tried to do it again. I heard that Ozzy [Osbourne] was supposed to do it, but he wasn’t able to finish the commitment and it didn’t happen. So if that’s the case, then I think we’re probably the sole people who ever played for them.

FIGHT!: A few other artists have played at MMA shows. Busta Rhymes performed for EliteXC and Limp Bizkit was slated to do UFC 100 before the concert was canceled. Would you consider playing another MMA event again?

Mustaine: I’m sure we would. Our relationship with Affliction was very open ended. There as no exclusiveness to it and those guys know when their product first came out, I was wearing their stuff before I even got it given to me. I was buying the stuff ‘cause I liked it, so I’m not a guy who looks for handouts, and I think that’s how we cemented our friendship. I was supporting them without them coming [to me] and asking me to do it. When people are trying to build a business, they make a shortlist of celebrities they want to go out there and hock their wears. But when you go out there and see somebody who is already a believer, you know, the hard work is done.

FIGHT!: What was the last event you attended?

Mustaine: I just watched “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida and what was the other fighter’s name … Shogun! They were fighting at the Staples Center in Los Angeles just recently. It was a really, really bad decision on that fight. You know what I’m talking about, right?

FIGHT!: UFC 104 in October.

Mustaine: Yeah. I thought a lot of the preliminary bouts were good. I really liked that fighter who was fighting “The Dragon.” I think the pace of the fight was terrible and there may have been a little too much hoopla around it. I think [if] that fight would’ve happened at a bar, it would’ve been great. But I think just because it was done in a big environment and so much show business was going on, I was thinking maybe people lost sight of what was going on. And the fight that I saw was not scored the way that the cards came down because “The Dragon” did not win.

Megadeth’s new album, “Endgame,” is out now.

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