Monday, February 28, 2011

Fighting Helps Kata (Not The Other Way Around)

It has been said by many instructors that better Kata equals better Kumite (Fighting). This is absurd. If this were true, then great Karate fighters like Fiho, Feitosa, Texiera, etc. wouldn't do all the running, pad/bag work, sparring, etc. Instead all you would have to do is practice you Kata moves and you can fight. Kata and Sparring are 2 different things. The better your ability to spar or fight, the easier it is for you to focus on your Kata. Those of us who fight know this. Ask the serious Karate fighters how many guys were great at Kata and Kumite, and they might name one that was equally talented at both. They require different skills. Kata is the aesthetic interpretation of combat. It is as beautiful as one can make their technique. That is hard to do. Back in the day when I competed in tournaments that had Forms and Fighting divisions, I never placed higher than 3rd in the Forms. To get first, you really had to be have beautiful Kata. The competitors who had good Kata would make you applaud. This sounds like I'm saying that Kata guy can't fight. That's not what I mean. But I will say that the martial arts provides a variety of areas that students will perfect and be better at. Some will be better at Kata and some will be better at Kumite. Now both type of students can learn and improve at both, but the ability to perform the 2 are almost never the same. The delivery of techniques are not the same. The transition between stances, the rhythm of movement, and the mental focus is not the same. In kickboxing, I will tell a new student to shadow box and they just fiddle around and throw punches and kicks. Their movements have no purpose. Then after they spar, their shadow boxing changes, because it has some intent. They remember that the got punched when their hands were down, and that they got hit for staying in the same place to long. It makes sense real fast to them. This is how karate should be taught. Kata is the art from of Karate and is the embodiment of technique perfection. It is moving meditation, it is formal exercise, and it allows us to pay respect to the originators of the art. So, continue to perfect your skills in both and enjoy them. I'll get back to the bunkai debate later. OSU!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Getting In Shape For The Triathlon

Preparing for the Shidokan Triathlon was simply HARD work. I trained 6 to 7 days a week and some of the those days included 2 sessions a day.  My sparring and training partners consisted of students at the gym and pro fighters (Kelly Leo, Pedro Villalobs, and a few others). We'd warm up with a 3 mile run (Monday thru Friday with hill sprints mixed in on Tuesday and Thursday), followed by some stretching and a few rounds of shadow boxing. Then we'd punch, kick, and knee the bag for 5 rounds (with push ups and jump squats after each round). Pad work was next and we'd do a mixture of thai pads, focus mits, kick shield work. The pad work we do is live, meaning nothing is called. The holder catches and the fighter throws his techniques. You create the intensity of a fight without the injury. Afterwards we would Plum or neck wrestle 10 to 30 minutes, usually mixing in our team in a game of king of the mountain (where one guy stays in and tries to off balace his teammates). At the end of training we'd do the circle of death, where you move from bag to bag (about 20) skipping knees 10 to each bag (doing this twice). At the end, we'd do push ups and sit ups (100 to 200 push ups and 200 to 400 abs, the lower for maintenance and the higher end for fighting training). Saturdays started with 20 minutes of jump rope and then we spar 15 rounds changing partners throughout the workout. On Tuesday and Thurday nights, I would train judo with some really good players working on ground and throwing skills. Randori or sparring would be 30 min switching partners every few minutes. Since I worked in a gym as a personal trainer, resistance work (supersets and circuits) was done in the morning 3 days week (lifting was always stopped 1 to 2 weeks out of a tournament). A few weeks out from a tournament I would add a couple of 6 mile trail runs on Sundays. Sparring would become a mix of knock down karate, kickboxing and grappling with multiple partners for 18 to 24 rounds. I eat everything but meat, as this allowed me to recover quickly and I actually eat more food (yes, lots of carbs too). I will elaborate more on some of the weight, circuit and interval workouts I'd mix in too in future posts. Go train.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mirko Crocop MMA's Greatest Kicker of All Time

Mirko Crocop is arguably the most successful kicker in Mixed Martial Arts. He is known for his left round kick. No matter what he hit, he destroyed it. He is the first K-1 fighter to make a successful transition from Kickboxing to MMA. Being a good athlete, he was hard to take down. He controlled the distance and used movement to set up hard left punches and that sword kick. Check him out.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shidokan Champ Richard Trammell Speaks with Duval Hamilton

Tune in on this Sunday, Feb. 27th to hear me run my mouth with Duval Hamilton.

Call-in Number: (347) 884-8433

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Dragon Lives On

OK, I was a Bruce Lee fanatic as a kid. Bruce Lee posters covered my wall. We can argue whether he was a great fighter or not. But, it is a fact that he popularized martial arts in the west (in the 60s and 70s). Unfortunately he died in his early 30s, but he left a legacy that will last forever. Bruce was a philosopher and was well ahead of his time in his approach to the martial arts. He advocated cross training and fitness. He is the first well known mixed martial artists. He will be remembered for his charisma and the attitude he projected on the screen. He is "The Dragon".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Judo Highlight

Judo is one of the most practiced martial arts in the world (along with Tae Kwon Do). Here's a highlight of world class judo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Think You Have A Tough Chin?

Check out this incredible war of elbows between Sakmongkol and Jongsanan Fairtex. This may be extreme violence to some, but this shows how much the human body can take. Enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Talk the Talk or Walk the Walk

I just got back from the WKA North American Championships in Hampton VI. There were a lot of young fighters there competing in this event as this was part of the Hampton Sports Festival. There was Thai Boxing, MMA, Boxing, Grappling, Tae Kwon Do, Body Sculpting, Cross Fit, and more. A lot of good competition in a nice arena. I was happy to see athletes of all ages, sizes, and experience levels get out there and just do it. The winners raise their hands in victory and the losers drop their heads in the face of defeat. I say to all that make an effort, "You are all winners". If you have the courage to get on a stage in front of an audience and deal with stress, fears, fatigue and pain, you have accomplished what most people would run away from. As they return home, friends and family will ask "Why did you lose?, "What happened?", but you will never get that question from your fellow warriors. Win, lose or draw, they will pat you on the back and say, "GOOD JOB"! Instead of talking about it, you did it. I always tell my team that if you train hard, get out there and try your best, in my eyes you are a winner. Great job to all of those who walked the walk.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Where's Pedro?

In the mid 90s, I met a gentleman from Spain at a martial arts studio. We became training partners and pals. We trained hard and dove into the art of Muay Thai. After several trips to Thailand, he decided to make it his home. He is champion, author, and a sought out instructor who travels the world sharing his arts.  In addition to Muay Thai, he has trained in Wing Chun, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Krabri Krabong, Boxing, and more. He has written books on Muay Thai and Krabri Krabong. So, where is Pedro? Visit, and check out this video of him and his art.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flavors of Karate Kumite

There are many different kinds of competitions for Karate competitors.  Theres is Point fighting and Full Contact (or Knockdown). Within these 2 sports there are a multitude of different rule structures. Let's look at some.

Shotokan Kumite Biamonti highlight

Kyokushin Knockouts


These are just a few of the many different styles of competition out there that stem from Karate.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Art of Kata

Kata is the artistic expression of fighting. There are many theories on the meaning of techniques and bunkai (application). I am not getting into that. I am sharing a Kata competition clip. This aired on Eurosport and features the French Kata team. I like this better than the acrobatic dance music kata they show on ESPN sometimes. Enjoy! What they do takes a lot of work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mr. International

In 2000, I fought in my first Shidokan tournament. All of the fighters there dressed in sweats and jeans. But, there was one guy dressed in a suit and hat. On the day of the fights, he wore a Karate uniform with himself drawn on it. After the fights, he was again dressed in another suit. I asked him why he dressed up and he told me that fans won't remember fighters names, especially those dressed like the typical athlete, but everybody will remember him, even though though they might not remember his name. The will always remember his flare. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to Shonie "Mr. International" Carter. He is a multiple time champion, who has fought all over the globe and always puts on a show.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Great Shidokan Highlight

Get get enough of these cool highlights I come accross on YouTube. Shidokan is more popular in Europe than in North America. I went to a Shidokan tournament years ago as part of a U.S. team and it was me and other guy and another year it was just me. Other countries had teams of 10, 20, 30 people. We need stuff like this in the U.S. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Amazing Karate Kid

I've seen a couple of clips on YouTube about this kid, Christian Buffaloe. He is trained by his father and I will see that he's incredible to watch. Check out these clips.

Friday, February 11, 2011

James "Asa" Gordon

I was fortunate to have an awesome coach and friend in James Asa Gordon. Asa was one of the top coaches during the early years of American Full Contact Karate (or American Kickboxing). He trained Jerry Rhome, Jerry Trimble, Joe Corley, Richard Hill, Carl McCallup, Jeff Gripper and many other champions in the art of Boxing. Karate fighters seeking to become successful kickboxers came from all over to train at Asa's Gym. Asa started boxing when he was 9 from an old fighter named Leroy. He boxed as a lightweight and his career ended after being injured in World War II. Asa was shot through the right eye and in the right hip. After the war, he focused on coach youth. I trained with Asa from 1984 until he died in 1996. Asa was grandfather I never had (both of mine died before I was born).  1996 was a bad year for me, I went to fight a boxing match in February 1996 right after visiting Asa in the hospital. I lost the fight, got cut over both eyes (8 stitches and 6 stitches) and the next day got the call that Asa passed. 2 months after that I got kicked in the knee during a kickboxing match and got my 1st ACL tear. Before the year was up, I got pneumonia. 1996 was a definitely a dark year, so I hope I didn't depress those of you reading this. Back to the positive. Not only did Asa train top fighters, but he devoted a lifetime to helping youth. He got me into coaching amateur fighters at the Dorvaille Boxing Club. We traveled around the Southeast with young athletes many of whom became national champions and accomplished professionals (the last 2 child proteges to grow into superstar boxers being Roberto and Jorge Ceron). Asa's vision prevented him from driving, so I would pick him up after work, go by Dunkin Donuts to get coffee. We would drink and talk our way through rush hour traffic (for those of you from Atlanta, I'm talking about I-285, Roswell Road heading east at 5!). During those conversations we talked about everything. I learned a lot from him about history (he grew up during the Depression and he fought in WWII), boxing, and life in general. Asa was always dressed in slacks, sharp shoes, and a jacket. He looked like Clark Gable. I asked him why he dressed up even when going to the gym. After experiencing the depression, he swore he'd never be raggedy. He sold men's clothing for years and had great taste. He had a sense of humor and always told it like it was (no matter how abrasive it came out). He helped me to become confident as a fighter and as a person.  His fighting techniques were based on angles and to this day I'm still trying to figure a lot of what he taught me. But if I can give the little bit I got from him to somebody else, then he lives on. Long live Asa!

Me and Asa at Doravaille Boxing in the early 90s.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Be Well Rounded And Have Fun

Martial artists get caught up a lot in names of styles and argue which is better. First of all, style is a matter of preference. I do feel that one must keep an open mind and see the good in everything. I have been a martial artist my who life. I have been a Mixed Martial Artist my whole life. What I mean by that is, I've always cross trained in other systems. I spent years studying multiple disciplines. There is an old saying, "Be a master of one and not a jack of all trades". Well I say, "Be a master of everything!" Mind you this is my life long quest. I want to be good at every martial art I train in. To do that I have competed in and done above average or the highest level of the combat sports, I've competed in. I finished 2nd in the country in Tae Kwon Do by getting a silver medal in the 1994 Nationals. As a boxer, I did OK. I can say I lost to a former Olympic bronze medalist in my 4 pro fight (after only 3 amateur fights). In Judo, I've been able to place at the local tournaments (working towards 1st places!). I have been able to shine in the sports of Kickboxing, Thai Boxing, Shidokan Triathlon (Knockdown, Kickboxing, Grappling) winning national and international titles. I train in Kendo along with these other arts (will try the Kendo Nationals some day).  I am a competitive person but most importantly I make competition fun. There is nothing wrong with losing. The only time you lose in win you don't prepare and do your best. If you train and perform to your best, you've won. You are competing against yourself to be the best you can.


Shindokai Karate is an offshoot of Shidokan. It was started by Shihan Giles Richard. The format for their competitions is the same as Shidokan pretty much. Check out this awesome highlight of a hard style of Karate.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Bunkai (Kata Application) Debate

In recent years, traditional martial artist have been pushing a movement on Kata application (or Bunkai). Most people look at Kata as a prearranged or choreographed dance like routine.  Kata represents a classical expression of Karate technique, theory and history. Kata (or forms) were presented as a method to teach the masses. Now a days, you learn a certain number of Kata to get to the next grade in your system. Within the last several years, Bunkai has become a big thing of interest for the Karate students. The techniques take on multiple meaning where the blocks are also strikes, joint locks, throws, etc. All of this is cool, but people have to remember that the only way to learn real fighting is to spar or fight. I've seen some cool presentations and I've seen some ridiculous stuff out there too. The meaning of a technique can be debated but when you learn how to fight, you can dissect a technique for yourself and apply it against a noncompliant opponent. Ask the theorists how many people have they knocked out compared to the competitor with fight experience. There is nothing wrong with the study of Kata. I enjoy it and view it as self meditation, focus and technique perfection. It is an artistic expression of combat. It allows one to pay respect to an art form. Just like wearing a uniform, bowing, counting in Japanese, Chinese, or Korean, it is part of the culture of the style you train in. But, remember that you have to spar and if you can get out and compete, so you can practice against a resisting opponent. For the lethal techniques (eye gouging, groin and throat attacks), ask yourself if you have to be taught those or did you already know them (I hope you already did).  I think full contact competitions (or training in that manner) are the answer to finding out if your style works.  This way, we don't have to dwell on what if this or what if that. The results are evident and you don't have to debate it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2209 Shidokan Open Japan

Check out this awesome clip of Shidokan Bare Knuckle Karate:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Erin Cantrell

Today I am writing about an old friend of mine, Erin Cantrell. I knew her through her husband, Paul Cantrell. I met Paul when I met K-1 fighter, Kelly "The Lion" Leo in the early 90s. We all started training together and became good friends over the years. Paul's wife, Erin was many things. Outside of fighting, she was a wife, mother to a daughter and 2 sons, and an awesome person (involved in her church and community). Erin was a seasoned black belt Karate fighter and Kickboxer. She was an accomplished amateur, fighting under ISKA, Shidokan, and WKA shows. As a professional, she fought in Chuck Norris' World Combat League. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years back at the age of 29 of acute pneumonia. She leaves with us a legacy that says go after what you want and enjoy it. Here is an amateur kickboxing match with Erin.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Spider is the Jordan of MMA

Many of you saw Anderson Silva's win over Vitor Belfort this past Saturday. Silva is a skilled, well trained, versatile and just extremely talented athlete.  Despite what critics will say about some of his fights that went the distance, no one can argue that he keeps winning. Right when the hatters criticize a previous performance he comes back with something amazing. Watch this light workout video and look at at the pleathra of skills (the boxing, the footwork, the kick boxing, the muay thai, the wrestling, the capoeria, the tae kwon do, all rolled up in one). He is Mixed Martial Arts at it's best.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Michael Buffer of South Africa

In the early 90s, my cousin Joe Jones (aka Shane Wellington) moved to South Africa. During his years there he has had great career in radio, TV, and even a couple of movies. He told me several years ago that he got a gig announcing fights and his goal was to the Michael Buffer (famous American Boxing announcer) of South Africa. My cousin Joe has done a pretty good job. Check him out.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shidokan France Highlight

Came accross some great highlights showing Shidokan Bare Knuckle Rules Karate. Punches, Kicks, Knees, Throws and a little Submission allowed. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Conditioning Experts

The field of Exercise Science has grown in recent years. Athletes are going to conditioning coaches to get that little extra. The philosophy of all being equal, the stronger athlete wins. Realistically, the attributes of you and your opponent being equal never work out that way (somebody's faster, has better timing, more flexibilty, higher pain tolerance, meaner, etc.). Hight Intensity Training, Plyometrics, Isometrics, Interval Training, Circuit Training, etc. All of these things are good, but the truth of the matter is that an athlete (for example a fighter) has to develop his or her conditioning through the practice of the sport. Everything else is supplemental. I always here young athletes asking how much do you lift, how many miles do you run, do you do cross fit, etc. The mastery of the basics is no longer stressed. They think physical prowess will make up for lack of technique. Conditioning is important and strength and conditioning coaches do contribute to the development of the athlete, but remember nothing is more important that sport specificity. Remember the practice of sport is primary and everything is secondary.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shidokan Slide Show of The 2003 to 2006 World Open

In these pictures there are a lot of fighters from Atlanta (Richard Trammell Philip Botha, Quincy Sutton, Jaral Bowman, Kelly Leo, Phil Sehenuk, Harris Norwood, Brad Baker, etc.).  Atlanta has had a strong martial arts reputation. The music with these slides are great too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2007 Shidokan Open Photo Gallery

Here are some great pictures that capture the spirit of the "Triathlon of Martial Arts".