If you've never shared a bag with Kyle Hughley, allow me to illustrate the experience. He is a machine. His kicks, in particular, strike the bag with so much force that I'm convinced the loud slap is actually the bag screaming.
You can't enter a room with Kyle in it and not notice him. If it's a bag class, he's the guy doing spinning elbows and flying kicks, straight out of a Bruce Lee flick. If it's a party, he's in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by friends and having the time of his life, like there's nowhere else in the world he would rather be.
When I interviewed Kyle, I was impressed by his strong sense of self. He answers crisply, like a movie star that's been asked the same questions again and again. We talk about his passion for writing, the TV show that introduced him to Krav Maga, and what it was like growing up with a famous father.
But more than anything, he's a guy whose complete lack of pretense guarantees that he will be one of the most genuine people you will ever meet.
KMW: Before we begin, tell us about yourself.
KH: I'm 21 years old. I'm a sophomore at Columbia College Hollywood, a film school, majoring in screenwriting. I grew up in downtown LA. At 10, I moved to West Hills, California, where I lived for 8 years, until I moved to Calabasas in 2003, where I've been living for the last 7 years.
KMW: So you want to work in the movie business?
KH: You know, it's funny. I thought I wanted to direct movies, but now that I've been in Columbia for 3 years, I think it's kind of an overrated job. It's a fancy way of telling people what to do, but I'm not really good at that, so I changed my major to screenwriting and rediscovered my passion for writing. I want to become a film critic because I love to write.
KMW: You rediscovered your passion for writing?
KH: I always liked to write short stories when I was a kid, and I've actually written a small script that I'm still working on, hoping to get it turned into a movie one day. But even if it doesn't, I can still say it's something I did by myself, you know?
KMW: What's something people don't know about you?
KH: Everybody that knows me says I'm outgoing and really energetic and outspoken, which I am, but I'm kind of shy, believe it or not. I have this extroverted personality when I'm around the people I love, but I'm kind of introverted. I'm not as social as people think I am.
KMW: I heard your dad is D.L. Hughley. What was it like growing up with a famous father?
KH: I didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. When I was born, we weren't really great off financially. We were never broke but had to move around a lot. My dad was a young comic — he was 23 when he had me — so he was just starting out. He had his big break hosting BET's Comic View, and from then on it was a whole lotta luck. But I never looked at it as my dad being famous. He's an ordinary guy that has an extraordinary job. That's all it's meant to me.
KMW: How long have you been a member at KMW Training Centers?
KH: I've been a member for 3 years. I think I started in September 2007. I was about 19 years old at the time.
KMW: What made you decide to become a member?
KH: You know, it's actually a funny story. I'm a huge fan of the show Alias, and the lead character Sydney Bristow [played by Jennifer Garner] uses Krav Maga as her fighting style. I had some martial arts background: I did karate and have a green belt in Tae Kwon Do. So I thought it would be fun to learn a new martial art since I'm a huge martial arts buff.
KMW: How often do you take classes?
KH: I try to train 2 to 4 hours every day. People kind of say I'm a maniac when I do that, but it's all about repetition. It's all about improving myself. There's always room for improvement despite what I've learned, so I'm always trying to get better.
KMW: Do you have a favorite class?
KH: I do like to take fight classes because I like to spar. I like bag classes because of the cardio, but bags don't hit back. When you spar, you really get to see how far you've come in your fighting skills. I have to thank Jarret Waldman because I kind of learned how to fight from his bag classes.
KMW: Did you have any fitness goals when you started?
KH: Not really. ...Actually, yeah, I did. I wanted to get a Bruce Lee body, cause I was all skin and bones when I came in here. And I still am, but I packed on a little bit of muscle. I wasn't really athletic in high school. P.E. was the only physical fitness I did, and I wanted to change that. And I was looking for a way to stay busy. I don't like to sit around, and stay in one place.
KMW: How about now?
KH: I just want to improve. I'd like to teach my own class one day. I'm hoping to do phase testing during the summer. Maybe one day get my black belt. And I'd like to teach so I could give something back to other people because KMW gave so much to me. I'd like to pass that knowledge to other people.
I never wanted to get big/bigger, which is why I never lifted weights. I just want to get that really lean, muscular look like he had. I have to say, I'm pretty proud. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm way better than I was before. 4 years ago, I couldn't do half the things I can do now. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm not where I used to be either, so that's great.
KMW: How long have you been training?
KH: About 2 years of karate; 4 to 5 years of Tae Kwon Do. And I did a little bit of boxing. And by that, I mean I took one class, got my butt handed to me, and never showed up again.
I recently went back to my old Tae Kwon Do dojo, and my trainer actually recognized me. I thought he would've forgotten me, and I told him everything I was doing with Krav Maga and he patted me on the shoulder and told me he was proud of my dedication. That was a really proud moment for me.
KMW: What else do you do besides training?
KH: I'm not even gonna lie. When I'm not training, I'm pretty lazy. I like to stay home and play videogames and stuff. I like to watch movies and I like to shop on occasion. I try not to spend too much money. I like to jog and swim and sing and dance — I can't sing though, so don't ask me to bust any show tunes. Just the typical interests of a 21 year old.
KMW: What advice do you have for newcomers?
KH: There'll be times when it's so physically demanding that you want to give up. There's a point where it stops being physical and becomes mental, and you have to push yourself to keep going. Never give up. Keep working hard. Don't get discouraged. Everyone who's teaching or has a black belt was exactly where you were a few years ago. Have fun and don't do anything you're not physically capable of doing. Krav Maga's really fun. The good thing about it is that if you take one class you'll leave at least knowing one way to defend yourself.
KMW: Has your training affected your outlook on the world?
KH: When I'm going out, I'm a lot more aware than I used to be. If we go to a dark-lit restaurant, I always try to make sure I sit close to the exit in case I need to get out of there. And I watch out for shady people. I'm a lot more aware than I used to be.
If you have a question that I didn’t ask, feel free to ask Kyle in the comments.