Luke Stewart Talks Tattooing and Life After Fighting
By Michael Hatamoto
Many MMA fighters finish their combat sports career and are unsure how to spend their days, but the lucky ones have a second calling to earn a living.
Ralph Gracie BJJ black belt and former Strikeforce fighter Luke Stewart left MMA and transitioned his time into his tattoo shop, Seventh Son Tattoo, in San Francisco, California.
“After I quasi-retired from MMA, I put all my energy into Seventh Son – and furthering my art career – trying to be a better tattooer and cultivate what I already had going on at the shop,” Stewart recently told Full Contact Fighter. “I’m still training and getting in there with the guys… help them out when I can, if they have a fight coming up.”
Stewart keeps busy each day by mixing in BJJ, working out, and working in the tattoo shop, explaining his daily routine:
“My typical day – I have an hour commute into the City (San Francisco), usually go straight to the academy – or lifting and running. And then I go to the shop at noon and work from 12:00pm to 8:00p.m., or sometimes longer, then go home. I either rest or typically have drawing to do at home for clients to prepare for the next day.”
Stewart is primarily training in the gi, though mixes in an occasional no-gi training session. He prefers competing in the gi because there is an increase in variety of submissions and sweeps available. Don’t expect to see Stewart back in the cage as a fighter again, but he does have the desire to compete in BJJ tournaments.
“I love competing. I miss that. I take competing really seriously and people think I should just jump into a tournament, but I don’t like to do that. I am not happy with results and beat myself up because I didn’t train hard enough. If I do Pan Am or worlds, I will throw everything into it, and everything else will suffer: my work, relationships, and everything falls to the wayside.”
Even though it can be difficult to balance personal life, training, and tattoos into the same day, Stewart wouldn’t have it any other way.
“(It) feels good to work out real hard and then go into the shop, and I know my work is better, my mood is better. I think athletes tend to over train, and I have done that, which leads to feeling exhausted instead of energized.”
Seventh Son Tattoo has eight total full-time artists, with a few of the guys in the shop training in BJJ. Also, one other tattooist does BJJ and is an accomplished cyclist, indicating they enjoy tattoo and the art – but also appreciate healthy lifestyles.
As Stewart hopes to become more active in BJJ, he also is happy with the direction his successful tattoo shop continues to take.
“Our style clientele are people that sought us out, did research, know which artist they want to work with, and what they want. Generally, someone comes in, say they want a sleeve, for example, sit down, talk about the idea, figure out how it will work, and trace their arm. From there, we make appointments throughout the year and make it happen. I take it seriously and do a lot of drawing when not tattooing someone.”