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The Softer Side of Fight Quest

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Doug Anderson is enjoying an estimated three hundred dollar breakfast on the Discovery Channel. When he joins my conference call, Doug's fighting companion, Jimmy Smith, is making fun of the $13 bran muffin being served in the Los Angeles Four Seasons. It is a far cry from the animal testicle they ate together in Kali, Philippines, a stop on the exotic 10-country fighting tour they took together, which is the basis for the new Discovery Channel show Fight Quest.

The 10 countries included Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia and even a stop in America. Doug describes the show to me: "Jimmy and I meet up with masters and go through the most intense, insane training you can imagine for five or six days in whatever that country's national fight style is. At the end of that six day period - we are beat up already - and go up against one guy who is really good or go up against some kind of ordeal or trial. We hope we pull through and survive."

In Indonesia Doug suffered through a training exercise where three men repeatedly hit his stomach to toughen his muscles and give him a taste of what to expect in the real fight. Of course, the clip - like much of the show - ended up on YouTube. While I watch his stomach turn a dark shade of red, I wonder why in the world would anyone allow themselves to go through this? What is their drive? Their motive? Who are these guys? I discover that beyond the punches, there is a softer side. Here is part of our conversation:

Eric: How did the idea of Fight Quest first come about and how did you guys get involved?

Jimmy: They already had the idea before they came to us. I fought for a team that was putting ads on line for a tournament. They contacted the team and I went to an audition, and ended up getting it. Then the show kind of developed during our first episode in the Philippines, where they were still trying to play with the format and see what to do. So through me and Doug, and the experience that we went through, they saw us and figured out how the show would work. So the first episode they kind of made it up, as they went along.

Doug: Yeah, it was really not plotted out or decided on how the show was going to work. Like when we got to the Philippines they were not sure what the hell was going to happen. The said they had a basic idea: "You are going to meet the masters and train with them." Other than that, they were not sure if Jimmy and I were going to fight each other or if we were going to fight some of their guys. They had no plan going into it and it was kind of cool that it was all just thrown together.

Eric: After watching the first few episodes, how did the final product seen on TV change from what you initially thought you would see?

Jimmy: They film at least 60 hours of footage, each episode, and they cut it down into 43 minutes. So, it is pretty crazy the amount of insanity that happens that winds up being cut out. Or, like we will go through some crazy ordeal and they will say, "Sorry, we don't have time for that in the show." And I am like, "Dude! I just had nine guys knock me unconscious or we just ran 30 miles and you are just going to cut it out of the show! You could not have told me it would not be in the show before we did it?!" A lot of it, too, is that you spar every day. And the one spar that they put in is the one where you get the crap kicked out of you! You beat 10 guys and one guy tears you apart, and of course that is what they put in the show.

Doug: In the Philippines I did this seven hour work out session that was insane and completely destroyed me. They show like 20 seconds of it on the show and then me saying, "That was the hardest thing I ever did." I was just on an Internet forum the other day and this guy was like, "Doug, you need to condition your body, you are a weakling." I just wanted to be like "fuck you man!"

Eric: I have to ask, why would you guys submit to this?

Jimmy: We fight anyway. I am a cage fighter. I have been a pro-fighter for four years. Doug just likes getting in fights regardless. So it was kind of a way to do what we would do anyway, kind of in a more intense setting, but to travel the world and see all the things we did, but train as well. It was a dream come true for us.

Doug: I think we both like challenges and to test ourselves. There is definitely a rush to it and it is fun, man, it really is fun. At the end of the day - after we have been pounded up against a wall or beat down - we look back at it and feel a sense of pride because, maybe, most people would not make it through it. But I did and it feels good. It is fun.

Eric: Doug, you were fighting in Iraq before you did the show. How did that compare with what you experienced during Fight Quest?

Doug: Going to Iraq convinced me that I need adrenalin and I needed a rush. When I left Iraq I needed to duplicate that feeling. I have always been an adventure, but I never had that rush than when I was in Iraq getting shot at. I was like, "Wow! That was for real, that was real excitement, that was fun." So that drove me when I got out of Iraq to start fighting. Fighting was that same rush of being in danger, you could get hurt, but nothing was distributed throughout a team before. In the army when you fail, the team fails. The team bears the failure and the team bears the success. But in fighting, it becomes so much more intense for me because if I fail, I fail. I can't blame anyone else or shift the burden to anyone else. I have to feel like the idiot at the end of the day. So for me, fighting is more intense than being in the army ever was.

Eric: You come back from Iraq and go around the world fighting. The New York Times reported that the number of homicides by American Iraq war vets has increased. What is your take on that?

Doug: Wow. I definitely did start fighting because I was pretty angry, man. I am not going to lie about that. I had a lot of issues coming back from Iraq. Not to get too political about this, but when you are deprived of everything that makes you a human being for a year straight and you are in a completely foreign place with people that you may not enjoy being around, it is pretty stressful. I think a lot of the guys who are coming back with PTSD isn't necessarily because of combat. Combat never bothered me, I enjoyed it, I loved being shot at. I think a lot of times people coming back with PTSD it is more of a stress issue. You forget what the real world is like when you are over there for a year, year and a half. The world becomes this violent, extremely irritating place. It is really terrible so many of the guys are coming back with all these issues. As far as it goes with me, yeah, I did start fighting originally because I had a lot of anger I wanted to get out, but a couple months into it, I worked through it. Everything now is good and, man, I probably should not have told you that! I was never insane, I was just a little irritated when I got back. Punching people in the face and getting punched in the face, for me, was kind of a road to redemption. It was therapeutic to me. I think it worked out a lot better than taking medication or going to a doctor ever would have. I can honestly say I fight now because I enjoy the sport of it, and the excitement of it, without any desire to hurt anyone.

Eric: On a personal level, after you came back from your 10-country tour, how were you changed?

Jimmy: I, personally, was a different person than when I started this. You really can't go through what Doug and I went through and stay the same. On a personal level, the world got a lot, lot bigger because not only are we going to these different locations but we are training right along side these guys that are fighting right along side us. We made friends and brothers around the world. So it really widens up your world and gives you new respect for everyone who does what we do. We all do it for different reasons, but fighters are fighters and they are all great people. Having experienced what we did and having trained with those guys was a gift. You come back a much humbler person having dealt with all this.

Doug: I know Jimmy and I have both changed dramatically over this year. It is like a college education in itself. I definitely feel much more spiritual at the end of this year, much more grounded and sure of myself. Also, the view of our world has changed. We have seen extreme poverty, horrible situations, and gotten a great perspective of how blessed we are in this country with our lifestyle. On top of that we have gone through some crazy ordeals, and I remember half way though this year I stopped and thought to myself, for the first time in my life, I feel like a man - a grown man. We went through some shit this year, but if you can survive that fire and come out the other end you can definitely feel sure and confident of yourself and I feel like I will never be afraid of anything again.

Eric: What did you find most challenging?

Jimmy: Personally, the hardest thing was that since I have a fighting background, I am a strong guy, in good shape and I would tend to pick up the styles quickly. At the end, you are in front of your master and students as they say, "Jimmy, if you concentrate on stick fighting (or whatever style we were doing) you would be a world champion. You are one of us." And it was hard because I am a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter and it is a different sport. I can't do ten different martial arts. Each style wanted you to be part of their style and commit to their style because we picked it up so quickly. Knowing that I am an MMA fighter, I can't commit and totally step in and be part of their style, which they really want you to do. That was hard.

Eric: What is a gentler side of your personalities that you think people would be surprised to find out?

Doug: Jimmy loves to cuddle with strange men.

Jimmy: Umm, yeah, occasionally. No, just you Doug. Don't act like it is everyone, you are special!

Doug: No, to be honest I am an artist. I love to paint and that takes priority over fighting. Art is my thing and Jimmy knows whenever we had down time I would be in my room painting pictures or sketching away.

Jimmy: I love animals and if someone is cruel to an animal I will, like, cripple someone over it!

Doug: Jimmy's soft side still involves crippling someone.

Jimmy: I love my mom.

Fight Quest, airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the Discovery Channel. This Friday (February 22) will take place in Israel and then February 29 will bring the fighters back to America (San Jose, CA). To find out more click