JJ Anderson, host of Blackbelt TV’s show “Three Rounds With”, talks martial arts and tattoos.
In addition to modeling for companies such as Vans and Converse, “Jabbin’” JJ Anderson spars with celebrities on her interview show, Three Rounds With. “I want you to be able to sit down on your couch, crack a beer, and hang out with me and the guest,” she says of the program on Blackbelt TV, the only all-martial-arts television network. (Put this magazine down now and complain to your cable provider if they don’t carry it.) The channel, whose tagline is “Kicks, Flicks and Chicks,” airs fights, screens kung fu movies, and has hired beautiful women to host their programming.
Anderson went from serving as an MTV VJ type on the network to landing her own interview show not long after she started. “I’m not sure if it’s because of their martial arts training, but all my subjects are completely grounded,” she says. “I try to get out of [my interviewees] what makes them who they are, with my main goal being to show our viewers that celebrities are real people who worked hard—and that anyone can achieve their goals with hard work. I want people to be inspired by the celebrity’s life story.” Her favorite subject was Ed O’Neill (believe it or not, Al Bundy has a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu). “He was my favorite, hands down; he had me laughing every five seconds,” she says of the actor.
Anderson doesn’t just talk the talk—she’s a fighter in her own right, having placed in California’s state wrestling championships when she was younger. She’s also trained with Steve Fisher (who served as a karate advisor on Mortal Kombat and Beverly Hills Ninja), and her mother teaches a combat conditioning class at a MMA gym.
“When I was 18, [my mother] took me to Fip Buchanan at Avalon Tattoos, who tattooed a little Rasta baby on my back,” she says. “At that age I appreciated how good my first tattoo was, but I don’t think I really knew how special it was to get inked by Fip.” Both Anderson’s parents are heavily tattooed; her mother has old-school pieces here and there, while her father has sleeves and a full back.
“I didn’t really have a traditional upbringing,” she says. “My parents met because my father was my mother’s drug dealer. They are both clean and sober now; my father works in a D.A.’s office and my mother is a drug and alcohol counselor. … Our lives have always been about just having fun. I was raised going to car shows and listening to music.”
When Anderson left home for college in Alabama she stayed connected by getting tattooed on the weekends. “I’d drive to see Melvin Todd,” she says. “Before he got big at City of Ink in Atlanta he did my whole side.” It didn’t start out as one cohesive piece, but eventually Todd blended elements from Anderson’s life—a mix tape, a Chevy logo, her parents’ names—into a cascade that flows across her body. Her most impressive piece is her butterfly knife with a banner that reads Doll Face Hooligan. “My mother has this small doll’s face, and hooligan is the best word to describe us,” she explains of the tattoo.
The piece she really wants, however, is a portrait of her grandmother, which she has planned for her arm. But she wants to wait until her modeling career cools off before she gets it. “Sometimes when I see my modeling pictures where they have Photoshopped out my tattoos I get a little sad because they tell who I am,” Anderson says. “They are my life’s story.”