On the Mat with Martin Hartono

7 months ago . 3 min read
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Ardian Wibisono
Author of forbes indonesia
On the Mat with Martin Hartono
Photo by Ardian Wibisono

Interest in sports runs in the country’s richest family. While Djarum has long been known for supporting badminton, Michael Bambang Hartono stole the spotlight when he was reported by the media to be representing Indonesia in the recent Asian Games.

Michael, the oldest member in the Indonesian bridge team – also the wealthiest – managed to clinch bronze in the super mixed category along with five other Indonesian players. For his contribution he was awarded with Rp 250 million in cash bonus from President Joko Widodo, which he humbly donated it to the country’s bridge association.

Another “athlete” in the family is Budi Hartono’s son Martin. Besides his passion in technology, Martin has also developed interest and began practicing mixed martial arts like Kun Tao, Karate, Kempo, Tae kwon do, Kung Fu, and Silat (Indonesian martial arts) since early age. He expanded his interest to Arnis (Filipino stick and knife fighting) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 1994 when he attended the University of California, San Diego. However, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling sports in general seem to appeal to him.

“In 1993 the UFC (American mixed martial arts championship) was started and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu really interested me because of its unusual techniques. Every fight tends to end on the ground. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu focuses 95% of its training for ground fighting,” he told Forbes Indonesia. “And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is always improving, there are always new things that you can learn, which is why I like it.”

Upon returning to Indonesia, Martin continued to develop his interest in grappling and tried to promote his hobby to others. He started introducing grappling to martial arts dojo’s, create a special blog for the sport, and even started a special thread on digital community forum Kaskus.com in 2008 – Martin through his venture capital GDP Venture later acquired Kaskus in 2011.

Martin founded the Indonesian Grappling Federation, where he is deputy chairman, it routinely holds matches. Martin now holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is one level below black belt. He also trains and coaches grappling every day in his house and welcomes people to join him.

“The training starts at 06.00 in the morning and is free, but you can’t be late and you have to be consistent,” he says. “In this sport you have to invest in time, because without training you will not go forward.”

Despite his commitment to the sport, Martin says he has no intention in becoming a professional athlete or even obtaining a black belt. However, he pretty much projects his martial arts training and coaching philosophy to business practices and management. For example, in many martial arts it is always about attack and defense, while grappling teaches one to pause for a while and plan your next move, he says.

Martin says business situations sometimes require businessmen to make similar moves: not always aggressively expanding but to wait, recognizing opportunities, and seizing the momentum.

“In martial arts, each technique has a context and one should master it well so that it can be used effectively. This principle is also valid in business and life,” he says.

“Coaching is different with teaching. Coaching is evoking excellence in others. This relates to different approaches, maybe techniques or motivation, and having empathy. People easily judge others, but people have different methods of learning, this is important in team management,” Martin says.

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Written By
Ardian Wibisono
Author of forbes indonesia
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Entrepreneurs