Founder, Bow Fighters.
Drawing upon the fighter inside, Jack Bongers has established a world-first martial arts clothing brand that celebrates authenticity and the core values of the sport. Committing a strong sense of purpose and a pursuit of excellence, Jack Bongers' work remains true to the fighter mentality. He lives and breathes the brand behind Bow Fighters, takes the hits and returns to fight another day.
What's the story behind your business? | I first got into martial arts after finishing high school and having just moved out of home. Life, at the time, seemed a little out of control with so many things going on. With the desire for wanting to find a sense direction and focus, I walked to the nearest MMA gym and started training in jujitsu. I felt it had an immediate impact on my character and self-development. This effect is something, I believe, today’s media doesn't truly understand about martial arts and fighting.
After leaving my fly-in-fly-out job in 2013 as a Civil Engineer, I travelled to Thailand to train in martial arts. I lived close to a well-known MMA gym and trained with like-minded people. I soon realised it was a similar passion for martial arts and training that brought all of these people from different backgrounds together. It was this feeling, this mix of people and this energy that grew and developed; that inspired me to create Bow. This is why, from the very beginning, Bow has always been about the team Bow Fighters.
I wanted to break the stereotypes. The bow in martial arts is a great tradition - a sign of humility, respect and honour shown towards your opponent. Without your opponent you never reach the full potential of your character.
The name 'bow' seems to be representative of a deeper symbolism surrounding mixed martial arts and its origins. How did you come to choose this name and what does your brand represent? | Looking back, the name came really easy to me. I wanted something that would stand out from other MMA brands from the very beginning and that people would immediately understand. I wanted to break the stereotypes. The bow in martial arts is a great tradition - a sign of humility, respect and honour shown towards your opponent. Without your opponent you never reach the full potential of your character.
Could you tell us more about the creative process behind developing each item in the range? | For me, the creative process has always been driven by my lessons learnt and the culture I have been exposed to through mixed martial arts. The act of training and fighting is such an internal pursuit for performance and self-development, that there are always so many lessons to be learnt and philosophies to be shared. I have been inspired to create a brand that has meaning behind it; a sense of authenticity which underpins the core values of martial arts. Every day, I aim to create a brand that fighters and fans are proud to represent. I want Bow to stand alone unlike any other brand and ring true to the original nature of MMA.
When the going gets tough in starting a new business, what traits have you fallen back on to help you push through? | From the very moment I started the company, I was completely and 100% committed. I had just returned from my trip to Thailand where I had been beaten by fighters that were much more advanced in their training than I was. I had the passion for the sport pumping through my veins unlike ever before and I had acknowledged to myself, as a man, that I didn't want to let go of that feeling. As we all know, there are always going to be challenges with anything in life, so I just took each obstacle as it came. Any doubt that tries to make its way in, I push aside and keep working towards my goals. I knew from the start that I was going to have to take a few hits but, then again, I always knew I was getting into a fight.
The vision is everything to me;
it is what motivates me every single day.
As a new business owner developing a strong brand in the mixed martial arts industry, you've clearly identified a vision for your business. That is, creating the next generation of mixed martial arts fighters. Why is this vision important to you and how have you crafted it for your business? | The vision is everything to me; it is what motivates me every single day. I wake up in the morning thinking about it… I work all day until I physically can’t anymore and then fall asleep thinking about it. I live and breathe it daily. I feel like I have been able to shape my vision with genuine feeling and thought towards the sport. My vision is inspired by the fighter in me that wants to be world champion; the martial artist in me that wants to pursue personal excellence. I aim to strengthen and promote the team that wears Bow and the businessman in me which wants to make a difference in combat sport.
What has been your greatest achievement at Bow since launching in 2013 that you'd like to share? | So many great and fun and exciting things have happened since I started this process. But I think my greatest achievement is the creation of the team who wears Bow - be it Australia’s best MMA fighters Hector Lombard and Kyle Noke, arguably the nicest guy in the UFC, Uriah Hall, Antonio Silva, Andrew Craig, New Zealand's first glory signed kick boxer, Israel Adysanya, or be it the local hungry fighters representing the team in America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Thailand, China and New Zealand. Every time someone joins team Bow, it’s another step towards achieving a worldwide MMA brand that can be renowned for its authenticity and credibility.
Looking to the future now, what are your plans for Bow? | I feel drawn to use a fighting analogy... I want to see Bow fight for the title. But I know Bow isn't the number one contender in the world just yet. More like a fighter who has just come to the UFC and had his first win. Not everyone knows about us, but those who do are impressed. I believe that people love the brand and the team because we do things differently, move in a different way, we talk in a different way, we simply are different to other stereotypical MMA brands. We're rough around the edges, but we have potential and people want to see if we can put it all together on the big show.
So, with that in mind, I will leave you with this... Keep your ears open and your eyes peeled as we have many plans in store for the next few years. We will be training hard - mastering our movement - as we create our own opportunities to build a team of like-minded people and fighters.
Join the next generation. Bow Fighters.