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Women’s Judo: From Olympic Bronze To MMA World Champion And What’s Next For Olympic Gold Medal Winner?

I will be absolutely honest with you, again.
I have not been watching much Olympic Game coverage this time around, simply because my schedule has been posing other priorities lately.
But there is something on my mind that I have to post about and it is Olympic-related.

Four years ago at the Beijing Olympic Games an American judoka won the first Olympic medal ever for the U.S. judo team. It was the bronze medal and as we all know by now that definitely means a spot in the limelight.
This year at the London Games we experienced another first. An American judoka who took the top spot and won the first Olympic gold medal ever for American judo.

So, who are we talking about here?

4th degree judo black belt, Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, and currently ranked the world’s #1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter can look back on a stellar judo career which has lifted her to her current MMA ranking and celebrity-like status.
As a 17-year-old, Ronda was the youngest judoka at the 2004 Athens Olympics and that same year she became the World Junior Judo Champion in Budapest, Hungary.
In 2006, she won both Judo World Cop in Birmingham, England and the bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.
A year later, Ronda was able to attain the silver medal at the World Judo Championships and follow up with a bronze medla at the 2007 Pan Am Games.
Two years after winning Olympic bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games, Ronda officially entered the MMA arena and has been wreaking havoc on her opponents, usually ending their bouts by submission via Ronda’s trademark armbar.
It looks something like this in one take:

Ronda’s current professional Strikeforce MMA record is 5-0 and she is scheduled to fight Sarah Kaufman on August 18, 2012 who will be dealing with this kind of stuff. By the way, in case you’re not a friend of the background music,
simply turn down the volume, like I did.

But wait, there’s more!

Just last week, on August 2, 2012, fellow American Kayla Harrison won Olympic gold at this year’s Olympic Games in the -78 kg category. She had to overcome some major obstacles during the previous years to achieve her Olympic greatness.
Before she started training with 4-time judo Olympian, Jimmy Pedro in Wakefield, Massachusetts, who by the way trained Ronda Rousey, before she moved the West Coast, where she is now training under Gene “Judo’Lebell and
and Armenian grappling greats such as Gokor Chivichyan and Edmond Tarverdyan, Kayla Harrison Harrison took up judo at the age of six, having been introduced to the sport by her mother who was a black belt.
She began being trained by coach Daniel Doyle, and won two national championships by the age of 15. However, during that period Doyle was abusing Harrison, who reported it to another judoka, who in turn told Harrison’s mother.
She subsequentally reported this to the police. Doyle was convicted and sentenced to a ten-year prison term.[2] A month after the abuse was revealed, she moved away from her home. (Source: wikipedia).

In 2010, Kayla became World Judo Champion in Tokyo, Japan and the following year 2011 she won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Paris, France.
At the Panamerican Games in 2010 and 2011, Kayla won first bronze and later gold!
One could say that this development has cemented here standings in her current category of -78 kg and has helped her attained Olympic glory by winning the 2012 gold medal.

So, what’s next for Kayla Harrison? Will she follow Ronda Rousey and possibly enter the world of mixed martial arts?
Her grappling skills and her groundwork certainly give her an excellent starting position.

Take a look at what Kayla Harrison is capable of:

Former CNN-Anchorwoman Kicks Some Serious Butt

April 30th, 2010

I actually met this former CNN-anchorwoman around ten years ago in Atlanta at a business function and I must say she did exude this incredible positive energy.

What I did not know about her at the time is that she is definitely a lot more than just another pretty face in front of a TV camera.

A lot more ….

Originally from New Jersey, she started her broadcasting career at a radio station in Colorado before moving on to become a field anchor at a TV station in Jacksonville.

These were important stepping stones before becoming the first woman to solo anchor a prime-time news program at CNN, better known as Headline News from 1983 all the way to 2001.

Now, you probably know who our mystery woman is.

She is ….. drumroll please …. Lynne Russell.

Millions of us know her as the presenter of news, but what I found out after she left CNN is that Lynne Russell has also worked as a private investigator and a deputy sheriff.

Listen up you martial artists and martial arts enthusiasts:

Lynne Russell is even a 2nd degree black belt in Choi Kwang Do and can kick some serious butt.

I thought you might appreciate this behind the camera story.

The Burqa Boxers: Afghanistan And Female Boxing

As if boxing weren’t tough enough.

In a very conservative and rather traditional society and country like Afghanistan it’s not only the physical training aspect of Western boxing that makes it a challenge.

It can be more than just a challenge. At times it can be even life-threatening if you are an Afghan female and striving to become the best boxer you can be.

A group of Afghan girls and women doing just that are simply known as the ‘Burqa Boxers’.

The burqa is the outer clothing worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies in public places and yes, that would include countries such as Afghanistan.

Well, the girls and women we’re talking about today are certainly respecting that part of it all, even or especially while training.

However, even within their own families some of these female boxers are experiencing harsh criticism to say the least.

At times they have received extreme threats that prevent them from training, as in the view of their critics in their home country of Afghanistan the boxers are not complying with Islamic law and traditions.

To me these boxers and coaches appear to be very dedicated and most of their friends and families to be supportive of their pursuit to be the best that they can be.

Chilling memories become all too real, when you think of them training at Kabul’s Ghazni stadium where years ago the Taliban would execute women.

At this same place, 17-year old Olympic hopeful for this year’s London games Sadaf Rahimi trains among dusty floors, broken mirrors and hardly lit hallways.

It didn’t surprise me when I heard that there is a lack of appropriate training equipment. They don’t even seem to have a boxing ring.

And yet Rahimi and her peers are determined to continue to float like a butterflies and sting like a bees.


Ricardo Liborio, BJJ/Grappling Legend On A Mission To Help Blind Kids

Today, I just came across a story that I found to be very inspirational, to say the least.

If you follow martial arts, especially MMA (mixed martial arts), you are no stranger to BJJ (Brazilian or Gracie Jiu Jitsu).

Considered Grandmaster Carlson Gracie’s best student, Ricardo Liborio has proven to the grappling world to be an absolute BJJ legend.

Among numerous titles and accomplishments in competition, Ricardo was also the first BJJ heavyweight world champion.

After moving from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to the United States, Ricardo joined forces with Dan Lambert, Marcelo and Conan Silveiro to form the ATT (American Top Team) in Florida and their fighters have been leaving their mark in both the MMA and grappling arena.

Now that might be impressive and all, but what I really think is cool is the following:

Inspired by his 4-year-old daughter, Bella’s blindness, Ricardo Liborio is holding a summer martial arts camp for blind kids in Coconut Creek in Broward County, Florida.

Ricardo and his team of instructors are teaching 15 kids from the age of 6 to 12. Some kids were born blind, others unfortunately lost their sight later on, like Bella Liborio due a genetic disorder.

Guys, we all have our challenges learning new martial arts moves, maybe even old ones. How about learning new moves you can’t see, because … can’t see?

The kids at the summer camp, which is organized by the non-profit organization Lighthouse, have to rely on touch and commands they hear from their instructor.

And because they can’t see the position, their instructor will place them in the position and simply explain how the move actually works.

Once they feel how the move works, they can imitate it and with their instructor’s aid, they can try doing the movement by themselves.

A number of Ricardo Liborio’s blind students have continued their training to win national grappling championships and to actually become instructors themselves.

But what seems to be at least as important to Master Ricardo Liborio is the difference he is making by helping the kids live happy and fulfilled lives.

Check out the amazing person Ricardo is in this video:

My First Real Krav Maga Experience

After learning that a local Krav Maga school would be offering a free 90 minute introductory session on Saturday afternoon, I was very interested to say the least.

For those of you not too familiar with Krav Maga, here’s something I posted about it many moons ago to bring you up to speed.

I counted 20 participants plus 2 instructors (1 female, 1 male) who were knowledgable and approachable.

After a brief warm-up and light stretching, we proceeded without further ado. And it got real. Real fast.

Basic fight stance. Always keep arms up and hands/fists  protecting one’s jaw.

A lot of partner exercises and striking pads.

Front jab and cross. First using your fist, then using the heel palm of your hand.

It looks something like this:

We then moved on to a very basic and extremely effective technique: The Front (Groin) Kick.

There are self-defense situations in which the attacker has already closed in on you and you cannot execute either of the described techniques.

Let’s say he’s applying a two-handed front choke or a choke from the side. Yep, Krav Maga offers responses to that, too.

Break the choke by pulling your opponent’s hands to the side like this:

What about a choke from the side? Yep, they got that covered, too:

To top it off and to add that some more adrenaline, we formed one line of 10 participants who were the defenders and another line of 10 who were the attackers.

As a defender, you were to close your eyes and only to know and expect either a front or side choke and respond accordingly.

Your attackers would constantly change. All of this with loud “Angry White Male” music.

Our instructors incorporated numerous cardio exercises during our 90 minute session and I must say I wasn’t the only one with a dripping wet shirt after everything was said and done.

If you’re looking for a good workout and a practical approach to self-defense, you have a real option with Krav Maga.

Stay safe, my friends!


The Face Of American Olympic Fencing

With the Olympic Games 2012 scheduled to begin in only 2 more days, I find it timely to introduce you to a very impressive Olympic fencer.

Olympic fencing distinguishes itself from historical fencing, which is considered among the so-called family of combat sports using bladed weapons.

The three weapons of Olympic fencing are the following:

Foil—a light thrusting weapon that targets the torso, including the back, but not the arms. Touches are scored only with the tip; hits with the side of the blade do not count, and do not halt the action. Touches that land outside of the target area (off-target) stop the action, and are not scored. Only a single hit can be scored by either fencer at one time. If both fencers hit at the same time, the referee uses the rules of right of way to determine which fencer gets the point.

Sabre—a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. Hits with the edges of the blade as well as the tip are valid. As in foil, touches which land outside of the target area are not scored. However, unlike foil, these off-target touches do not stop the action, and the fencing continues. In the case of both fencers landing a scoring touch, the referee determines which fencer receives the point for the action, again through the use of “right of way”.

Épée—a heavier thrusting weapon that targets the entire body. All hits must be with the tip and not the sides of the blade. Touches hit by the side of the blade do not halt the action. Unlike foil and sabre, Épée does not use right of way, and allows simultaneous hits by both fencers. However, if the score is tied at the last point and a double touch is scored, nobody is awarded the point. (Source: wikipedia)

When we talk about Olympic fencing, I don’t know about you, but the U.S.A. is not one of the countries that immediately pop into my mind as being anywhere close to a force to reckon with.
I usually think of countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Russia.
However, the Americans have been increasing their worth in the world of Olympic fencing throughout the years.
Among these fencers, one young lady certainly stands out individually, but she has also contributed to the success of the women’s team.

Having won 2 Olympic gold medals in the individual sabre competition in 2004 (Athens, Greece) and thus becoming the first American fencer to win the gold medal in 100 years, Mariel Zagunis attained her second gold medal in 2008 (Beijing, China).

Originally from Beaverton, Oregon, Mariel is the one to beat at this year’s London Games.
Both her parents were rowers during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada and both her brothers are fencers.
Mariel started with fencing at the age of 10 and throughout the seventeen years of her on-going career she has won numerous World Championship titles as well as numerous national and international events.
En garde!

One Very Tough Conditioning Workout By The God Of Pro Wrestling

I believe that cross-training along with conditioning will make you a better athlete and martial artist.

Several years ago I stumbled across conditioning exercises that originated in India and that will make you gasp for air and what’s really cool, you don’t need any equipment or even a lot of space to do them.

Known in Japan as ‘The God Of Wrestling’, Karl Gotch incorporated a lot of these same exercises into
his incredibly rigorous training regimes, for himself and his students.

Born Karl Istaz in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1924, he later became famous as Karl Gotch.
He was an excellent amateur wrestler who even competed for Belgium at the 1948 Olympics in freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines.

Gotch later wrestled in the United States and at the end of his illustrious career in Japan after which he went on to train other professional wrestlers.
His training in traditional Indian wrestling along with bodyweight calisthenic execerises contributed to his extraordinary leg endurance and strength.

Three exercises that stand out and together are considered “The Royal Court” are the following:
- Bridge, Hindu squats, and Hindu push-ups.

If you happen to have a deck of 52 playing cards, you are closer to having the Karl Gotch Bible than you think.
The conditioning workout that I found at goes something like this:

Clubs: Double the value for Hindu Squats.
Spades: Double value for Hindu Jumper Squats.
Diamonds: Number value for Straight Pushups (or half moon pushups)
Hearts: Number value for Hindu Pushups.

Number Cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)= Given value.
Face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings)= 10 value.
Aces= 11 value.
Jokers= 20 value.

Shuffle the deck well. Deal the top card. Do the number and exercise for that card. Then, without rest, deal the second card, and on and on until the entire deck is finished.

For example we will look at 10 random cards…

3 of Clubs= 6 squats
Jack of Spaids= 20 jumpers
King of Hearts= 10 hindu pushups
6 of Diamonds= 6 pushups
9 of spaids= 18 jumpers
King of Clubs= 20 squats
Joker= 40 squats or 20 hindu pushups
Jack of Diamonds= 10 pushups
Ace of Spaids= 22 jumpers
3 of Hearts= 3 hindu pushups

According to, this workout done at a reasonable pace should take about 30 minutes.

And because visuals make it all easier to understand and to execute, here’s a video clip I found for you:


The Legendary Samart Payakaroon And Fighting Smart

It’s been some time since my last post. Things have been crazy busy and I hope you guys are doing well.

I have been wanting to write about a former Muay Thai and Western boxing champion for the longest time and today seems the best day to do just that.

He’s been referred to as the Muay Thai equivalent of Muhammad Ali. In some circles even as the Bruce Lee of boxing. If you have never seen him fight before, then you’re in for a treat right after the end of this post. Just stay with me, alright?!

Samart Payakaroon was born Samart Thipthamai on December 5, 1962 in the Chachoengsao Province, Eastern Thailand. Samart is considered a Muay Thai legend, having amassed a jaw-dropping career record of 129 wins and only 19 losses and 2 draws in different weight classes. But Samart didn’t call it a day after dominating the Muay Thai ring for years. He went on to become a WBC World Champion in the 57 kg weight class.

He started his training with his older brother Manus at their family’s home. His official M.T. career started under Petaronsiminit and he then transferred to Camp Sityodthong to train under Master Yodthong at the age of 12.

His entry weight was 35 kg and at the end of his Muay Thai career Samart fought in the 57 kg weight class.

Samart was the Lumpinee Stadium Champion in 4 different weight classes in 1980 and 1981.

Lumpinee Stadium is THE modern symbol of Muay Thai. It is an indoor arena with a seating capacity of close to 10,000 and is run by the Royal Thai Army. Security is managed by armed Military Police officers.
And yes, gambling is part of the deal at this venue.

Interesting fact about Samart is how technical his fighting style was. Instead of simply standing in front of his opponents and duking it out, he would manage the ring extensively and create openings to wreak painful havoc.

You can imagine that as an accomplished Muay Thai competitor Samart’s kicking abilities were nothing short of extraordinary, but just as impressive was his striking arsenal which created a boxing career after he ended his Muay Thai tenure.

In 3 years from starting his boxing career in 1982, Samart had a fighting record of 11-0 which gave him a shot at the WBC Super Bantamweight title. With a K.O. against Lupe Pintor he became Thailand’s 10th world champion.

Samart ended his professional boxing career with an impressive 21-2 record.

According to latest information, Samart teaches at his very own camp, at the Poptheeratham Gym.

And he doesn’t stop there. Throughout the years, Samart has created a name for himself in the entertainment industry by acting and singing in numerous productions.

But let’s have a look at what he is most famous for.

By the way, if you don’t enjoy the music, just turn down/off the sound, just like I did. Haha.

The Eye Jab Is A Great Self-Defense Technique

Many times even seasoned martial arts practitioners are overwhelmed by the variety of self-defense techniques at their disposal.

More often than not the solution to a problem, in our example, self-defense could be much easier than we first think.

And that’s why today I thought it might be a good idea to draw our attention to a self-defense technique that doesn’t even require years of training, if applied correctly in the appropriate situation.

Bruce Lee  said it best, when faced with a choice of hitting your opponent in the ribs or poking him in the eyes, you go for the eyes every time.

The technique that I am referrring today is simply known as the eye jab.

You can use this effective technique to “buy time” during a surprise attack and to thwart an attacker.

What’s really cool about the eye jab is that even if you miss the eyes, your attacker will blink and will give you the opportunity to follow up.

Should your jab however connect, meaning touch his eyes, they will immediately water and your attacker’s vision will severely blur.

The rest is up to you.

Especially among Kali and Jeet Kune Do practioners this swatting finger jab is a popular hand technique.

And because one doesn’t require a lot of  strength the eye jab is a very practical technique. It does rely on speed, accuracy and timing.

Thus, if you have just halfway decent motor skills, you can do this one, no matter how physically fit you are.

Just make sure you are loose and not stiff during its execution. It’s like swatting a fly.

It’s also very important that your fingers of the jabbing hand are close to one another and slightly bent to avoid injury on the finger joints in case you accidentally hit bone on impact.

You should try to project toward the target without telegraphing it to your attacker.

The actual execution reminds me of a striking cobra.

I found a video clip with the legendary Paul Vunak, who puts it all together with an eye jab, elbow strike and head butt.

The execution is so fast that you might want to watch it a couple of times.

Use the eye jab responsibly and always stay safe!

One Of The World’s Highest Ranking Karate Masters Just So Happens To Be A Member Of Mensa

Thanks for stopping by again today.

So what does Karate have to do with Mensa?

Well, if you happen to be Grand Master Sam Pearson that would be a whole lot to be proud of.

First off, you might have heard of Mensa, but so far didn’t really know what they are all about. Let me enlighten you:

Mensa, the high IQ society, provides a forum for intellectual exchange among its members.

There are members in more than 100 countries around the world.

Activities include the exchange of ideas through lectures, discussions, journals, special-interest groups, and local, regional, national and international gatherings; the investigations of members’ opinions and attitudes; and assistance to researchers, inside and outside Mensa, in projects dealing with intelligence or Mensa.

Mensa is open to persons who have attained a score within the upper two percent of the general population on an approved intelligence test that has been properly administered and supervised.

One of their members is Sam Pearson.

And I will be honest with you:  Until this morning I hadn’t heard of him myself.

Grand Master SamPearson is THE man who brought martial arts to the East Carolina town of New Bern in the early 70s.

You have to know that even at the age of 74 he is still a force to reckon with and still works out at the Twin Rivers YMCA.

Sam Pearson was born in 1936. After being raised by his granny in Florida, he was returned to his mom, who according to his own recollection, was on her third husband by then.

His father didn’t play much of role in his upbringing and so as a 17-year old he looked for direction in the outside world.

Thus, in 1953, wanting to change his life and find that direction he was missing, Sam Pearson joined the no-nonsense U.S.  Marines who are known till today for promising their recruits a rough time. A promise made is a promise kept.

Nobody else from his high school at the time joined the Marines. His USMC career would last 20 years.

During a tour in Vietnam he was exposed to the devastating Agent Orange which was used to kill the vegatation so the Viet Cong couldn’t hide in it. Only problem was that our guys were affected by it which was denied by government authorities for way too long.

Like what happened to so many servicemen, the exposure broke down his immune system, causing all kinds of debillitating ailments.

Sam Pearson has battled numerous ailments such as PTSD, diabetes and high blood pressure and even Parkinson’s disease.

Only 3 years ago during a short period, everything seemed to be breaking down, including severly painful shingles across his face.

Things looked very bleak and robbed him of his joy of life. But somehow things turned around and he is doing a lot better today.

Way back in 1974, he introduced martial arts to New Bern, NC.

The current head instructor is his former student and New Bern policeman Ronnie Lovick who is a 7th degree black belt.

During the early 70s, karate and other martial arts started to become really popular in the United States after  many servicemen returned from Asia.

The school was operated at several locations. During the daytime Sam Pearson worked as head of security of a shopping mall.

He ensured that all of his students were worthy of pursuing the martial arts. He looked for honest and dedicated individuals who also did not smoke or drink.

Counting the years that he instructed in the Marines, Sam Pearson has probably taught more than 2,000 students over almost 50 years.

Besides all his great accomplishments, Sam Pearson is most proud of the fact that he is a member in Mensa, the international IQ-society.

Semper Fi, Sam Pearson!