News update from the world of Ikigai – I am one of the authors in the newest issue of Jissen Magazine.
For those who are unfamiliar, Jissen is an online publication created and run by Iain Abernethy. Iain is a strong voice for traditional martial arts in the online community and I was very pleased to be able to contribute to his magazine.
My article for this issue is entitled “Okinawan Karate: An Eclectic Arsenal”. It is an exploration of the roots of traditional karate and an analysis of the way the original masters thought and trained.
Despite the serious divide between eclectic arts (like Jeet Kune Do, MMA, etc) and traditional arts, there are actually more connections than one might think. For example, did you know that old-style karate actively encouraged fighting and training from all three ranges, long, mid, and close? Furthermore, there were distinct methods of grappling known as Tegumi which were an integral part of the karate curriculum.
Another fact that often shocks modern practitioners is level to which instructors would share students, and encourage them to seek out knowledge from different sources. This hardly sounds like the strict, only-learn-from-me-I-have-the-secrets method we see today does it?
They may be buried underneath the sands of time, but the realities of classical training are still there for us to unearth. If you’re interested in finding out more about the development of karate and how history seems to be repeating itself – download the latest issue of Jissen for free – http://www.jissenmag.com/backIssues.asp
Get it while it’s up – Lyoto Machida vs Sugar Rashad Evans – http://www.mma-core.com/videos/_Lyoto_Machida_vs_Rashad_Evans_UFC_98?vid=10005048&tid=100
Sometimes these fights are taken down due to legal purposes, but if you check it out asap you’ll get to see one of the greatest demonstrations of karate in The Octogan ever recorded.
I know the last post was about MMA too, but I figured this was worth mentioning. If you haven’t been following, Lyoto Machida is a Shotokan stylist who has been making waves in the UFC. Machida is an extremely well rounded karate fighter who also holds a black belt in BJJ (click here for his dvd set).
I wasn’t paying close attention to Machida’s progress until I read an excellent analysis of his role in the UFC over at Way of Least Resistance. Dan goes into much deeper detail than I intend to about Machida’s overall fighting style and how it is being received.
For me personally, I didn’t expect to see much of a difference between Machida and other UFC fighters. I figured his background was being hyped up, but that his overall approach would be the same as everyone elses. After seeing the fight video I can tell you my mind has been changed.
Machida uses some classic karate strategies that thrilled me when I saw them in action. His stancing, control of distance, timing, and techniques were beautifully karate. At one point (around 6:20) he throws a perfect straight punch that had trademark retraction, leaving the bulk of the force in Rashad and knocking him for a loop.
Evans, who has never before lost a fight in the UFC, was completely baffled at trying to find range. His techniques whiffed because Machida placed his body in a forward zenkutsu style stance, which oriented his head differently to his front leg than what boxers are accostomed to.
Machida’s kicks came with exceptionally small telegraphing. In the UFC, Muay Thai kicking has become prevelant and that usually entails front foot movement and hip opening for huge amounts of power. Without that telegraph, Machida was able to land big kicks.
So is Karate the Ultimate Style Again?
I think a lot of karate people are getting excited about Machida, which is annoying a lot of MMA people (and rightfully so in some cases). Lyoto is an exceptional fighter with great all around experience and it is my hope that he is respected as an individual rather than a cardboard cut-out of karate. I happen to know that a lot of karate people do not train the way he does, and would be trying to ride serious coattails by suggesting Machida is a representative of what all karateka can do.
That being said, the people that are downplaying Machida’s style are drinking a little bit of haterade. There is definite karate in Lyoto and it is proving to be extremely effective.
Do you guys remember Kimbo Slice? He was the absolute hotness about 8-9 months ago. The world of MMA was abuzz with Kimbo fever and everyone was wondering if he was on his way to superstardom.
Unfortunately, as intimidating as Slice was during his street brawls, he didn’t quite translate into the world of MMA. In fact, he promptly got knocked out by Seth Petruzelli, a skilled but hardly headlining MMA fighter. This loss began a downward spiral for EliteXC, the company promoting Slice, and ultimately led to a franchise shut down (which I wrote about here).
EliteXC is still gone, but Slice is looking to make a comeback. The UFC runs an annual show called “The Ultimate Fighter” wherein two groups of potential MMA professionals get together and duke it out in tournament style elimination matches to find out who is best. The show is presented like a reality TV program, following the fighters as they live together in a giant mansion and struggle not to get wasted and punch each other out before the real fights start.
This year Slice will be joining them.
This is an interesting move for UFC president Dana White who has openly doubted Slice’s skill in the past. He and many professional MMA fighters believe that this particular opportunity is perfect for Slice as “Ultimate Fighter” is a proving ground and has supplied the UFC with some of its most dynamic combatants to date.
This push to involve the ratings-friendly Kimbo is coming shortly after a successful yet risky gamble on former WWE superstar Brock Lesner.
Lesnar, who is an absolute mountain of a human being, also struggled during his debut into MMA. White, being a very savvy business owner, must have seen potential for Lesnar’s abilities and marketability because he supported the big man and gave him a second shot, which Lesnar used to secure the heavyweight UFC title from Randy Couture.
Will Slice have the same success as Lesnar? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for sure – “Ultimate Fighter” will be giving us some very interesting and entertaining clips as Slice makes his second bid for MMA glory.