ONE Super Series star Ognjen Topic truly embodies the art as a martial artist.
The 32-year-old Muay Thai athlete is making waves in the combat sports realm, but earlier in his life, the US-based Serbian was previously involved in arts of an altogether different kind.
Topic relocated from Serbia to the US as a nine-year-old and soon found himself enjoying artistic activities including oil painting. He enjoyed it so much he even considered it as a possible career while he was a high school student.
“I have been drawing since I was a kid,” he says.
“I went to high school where they had a design program, and I actually wanted to do oil painting. But I had to make the right decision financially, because I know doing oil painting was going to be very difficult. So I stuck with design, and I got good at it.
“I still love doing design, and that is a huge part of me. I am doing something art-related on a daily basis.”
After graduating from high school, Topic studied graphic art and design at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. He found the change in artistic discipline tricky at first, but was committed to excelling in the new art.
“I liked the traditional art, but I had to transition into something more digital, so it was just learning the principles of design,” Topic explains.
“That was the most difficult thing – learning the principles of good design, and sticking to them. That is what I did, and I learned how to make things visually appealing.”
It was during those college days that Topic started training in Muay Thai, and after picking up the requisite skills quickly, he soon found himself taking part in competitions.
At the time, he kept his pastime secret from his family, and when his father found out via a YouTube video, he stopped talking to Topic for four months.
Despite the initial unrest with his family, Topic steadfastly continued with his Muay Thai training.
“[Design] was not really a big passion,” he says.
“I like doing it, but I am not crazy about art as I am about Muay Thai. Whenever I feel like drawing, I pull out a pad and a pencil, and I start drawing.
“I am the happiest when I am fighting, and training, and doing Muay Thai. Nothing else would make me this happy. It was the thing that I loved the most out of anything [I have done]. It is exactly what I wanted to do.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Topic credits the artistic thought processes he used in graphic design for his success in the ring.
“I think I get my minimalist style from design,” he explains. “
“I try to keep everything as simple as possible in my fighting, too. It looks as clean as possible, and it is straight to the point.
“My coach always says Muay Thai is like painting, except the canvas we use is in the ring.”
Topic still enjoys creating art from time to time, but his passion firmly lies inside the ring, and he is aiming to take his Muay Thai career to new levels in ONE Super Series, where he has designs on a world title.
To move him one step closer to that dream, he must defeat Thai ace Tukkatatong Petpayathai at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON on Saturday, 8 September in Shanghai, China.
Topic will be hoping to create a masterpiece inside the ring and show the world his greatness in the martial arts.