“We really pride ourselves on making the best.“
Ken Clement – Hayabusa
Interview by: Conor Hogan
Ever since I’ve started working as an editor for TheCageDoor.net, one of my primary goals has been to give fighters and fans different perspectives of the sport and those who support it. One way that I’ve been trying to do this is by interviewing the people behind some of the most successful companies that cater to our demographic. The fact is that the only thing growing faster than the sports of MMA and BJJ is the market that supports them. Business has been booming for several local and national startups, and I believe that getting a business perspective from nationally successful entrepreneurs can benefit businesses here in Texas. Hayabusa is undoubtedly one of the most successful and trusted brands in MMA equipment and apparel. I sat down with co-owner, Ken Clement, to talk to him about the history behind Hayabusa, the products that he thinks will revolutionize the marketplace, and Hayabusa’s support of the MMA community.
Clement: No problem.
TCD: Ken, tell us a little bit about the company.
Clement: The company has been around since 2006. We’re based out of Canada, and we do business worldwide. I believe that we are currently in 42 different countries around the world.
TCD: Wow, that’s incredible reach for your brand. Speaking of which, what is the inspiration behind the Hayabusa brand?
Clement: Just to give you a quick snapshot of our brand, “Hayabusa” in Japanese means Peregrine Falcon. It’s a bird of prey. So it’s really known for its speed, power, and strength. We believe that the same can be said about fighters as well. Aside from the name, we really wanted the brand and our products to be associated with the pinnacle of quality. With every piece of technical gear, apparel, and equipment piece that we produce, absolutely no attention to detail is overlooked. We really pride ourselves on making the best.
Clement: Well we made the Elite Series for fighters who are really looking for something special, something that stands out from the crowd. We have our 16oz gloves, our (4oz) MMA gloves, our grappling shin- insteps, and also our Kanpeki headgear. They are all crafted out of beautiful full grain leather, and feature the same attention to detail that you can find in all of our equipment.
TCD: …and you guys have been nice enough to give us a pair of the Kanpeki Elite MMA Gloves to give away on the site.
Clement: Yeah, can’t wait.
TCD: Now I’ve also heard a little bit about your line of coaching gear. You co-developed this with the late Shawn Tompkins correct?
Clement: Yeah, that’s a part of our Pro Training Series, and we co-developed it with Shawn. He was very close to our company, and we all really mourned his loss. He was just an amazing individual. He worked with us and helped us with building this line. He was fully involved with the development process, and we used his feedback in creating little tweaks to the gear near the end of the development cycle. He loved the line, and really wanted to stand behind it. After his passing, we put the project on hold, and we were unsure if we were going to launch it. We talked with his family, and they very much knew that Shawn would have wanted us to go through with it. They’ve given us their support, and we’re very happy to be releasing what has been long in the making.
As for the products themselves, the series features a ridiculously nice chest protector that has gotten an amazing response during testing, curved Muay Thai pads, focus mitts that are unlike anything out there, and a kick shield as well. We’re really happy with the way that it turned out, and we’ll be launching it this January.
TCD: You guys have recently gotten into the gi market, haven’t you?
Clement: Yeah, we’ve seen a lot of success with our white Pro Jiu Jitsu Gi, and we now have a blue gi and a black gi available.
TCD: I noticed that you toned down the embroidery a bit on the colored versions. Was that a result of legality issues with IBJJF, or just a design choice?
Clement: We did tone it down a bit from the white version. We got a lot of feedback after releasing the first version, and we heard that some people loved the embroidery and some prefer a toned down aesthetic. So now we have something to please everyone.
TCD: Now one thing that struck me as interesting was that you went with a lightweight weave for the gi. They are incredibly light. How do they hold up in competition though?
Clement: The thing about most lightweight gis is that they are so thin that they tear easily. Hayabusa’s lightweight gis feature a triple weave fabric that is not only lightweight, but also extremely durable. It holds up very well, even in the most extreme conditions.
TCD: Let’s turn our attention back to MMA for a moment. You guys are known as one of the largest supporters of fighters in the UFC. It seems like you always have at least one sponsored fighter on every UFC card. You even supported Houston’s own, Melvin Guillard, for his last fight with Joe Lauzon. How many people are on the Hayabusa roster currently?
Clement: It really varies, but you’ll always see a handful of guys on every UFC card. Some are on short-term contracts, and some are on longer ones. You’ll usually see someone representing us at every event though. Rory MacDonald will actually be representing us on December’s UFC card (UFC 140 in Ontario, Canada).
TCD: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?
Clement: I really want to thank the fighters. We had Matt Mitrione and Anthony Johnson out at the Houston UFC Fan Expo signing autographs, and they were amazing with the fans. You couldn’t ask for a better group of fighters than the ones we support here at Hayabusa.