Tag Archives: fighting

A Different Kind Of Rumble In The Jungle

Who else has vivid memories of that absolutely unforgettable boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on October 30, 1974?

This fight was promoted as and even today it is simply known as “Rumble In The Jungle”.

Ali won in the 8th round by KO after fighting a very clever bout by wearing Foreman out or better letting Big George wear himself out.


But there is a different kind of “Rumble In The Jungle” that I want to introduce to you today.

Several years ago I was watching “The Rundown” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Christopher Walken and Seann William Scott.

There is one fight scene that takes place in the Brazilian jungle that always gets my attention, especially because one of the jungle fighters is played by Erne Reyes Jr. and he does an incredible job.

But I will let you be the judge:

 

Seann William Scott has a point when he refers to these fierce jungle fighters as “Speedy little bastards.”

Agree or disagree?

 

Why Kick High If You Can Kick Low?

I know that well executed high kicks can get people’s attention and admiration. When competing in certain styles such as Tae Kwon Do, Karate etc.  that’s how you get the points, right?! I also know they have their justification, so just hear me out.

Speaking from my personal experience, it’s very exhilarating to execute a yodan-kizami-zuki (upper jab), a chudan-gyaku-zuki (cross to solar plexus) and then finalize with a yodan-mawashi-geri (upper roundhouse kick) to an opponent’s temple. Hmm, was just strolling down memory lane.  Yeah, baby (was supposed to sound like Austin Powers!).

Now, many years later, for me the first two techniques no problem. The final mawashi geri to the what? Let’s get real, will ya? I am not 20 anymore, so I will simply adapt to circumstances which means I am going apply a Muay Thai round kick to my not so friendly opponent’s upper thigh by using my shin.

Listen up, even without going to the gym or dojo for years and years most people can acquire the skills for this kick fairly quickly. I also believe it’s a pretty neat self-defense technique for women. We all know that legs are more powerful than arms. So let’s just put that knowledge to work in our favor.

This combination and especially the final technique is really fast and really effective. Really!

To give you a better idea of what it looks like, check out this clip and try it. You’re gonna like it.

Celebrating The Life Of Brandon Lee, Who Would Have Turned 45 Today

Happy Saturday, everybody!

Where did the week go? I dunno.

I have been thinking about posting something about Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee.

Now, get this: I was planning on posting about him today, February 1, and during my research I find out that today would have been his birthday.

This cannot be a coincidence!

Brandon Lee would have turned 49 today. And here again somebody who left us on this planet way too prematurely.

He was a very aspiring movie star and according to acclaimed movie critic, Roger Ebert, after watching Brandon Lee’s performance  in “The Crow“, Brandon Lee clearly demonstrated that he might have become an action star, had he lived.

I totally agree with Roger Ebert.

You might remember that Brandon Lee was accidently shot and killed on March 31, 1993 at the age of only 28 while filming “The Crow“.

This is really sad, also because he was scheduled to get married to his fiancee, Eliza Hutton, on April 17.

Brandon Lee definitely had the looks for the Big Screen, but he was more than just another pretty face. After acquiring acting skills at the world-famous Lee Strasberg  Academy and being part of a theater group, he was able to put it all together with his martial arts expertise that he was taught by Guro Dan Inosanto.

Before starring in The Crow, which became a box-office hit after his untimely death, Brandon Lee actually performed in a number of productions such as Kung Fu: The Movie, Kung Fu: The Next Generation, Legacy of Rage, Showdown in Little Tokyo, and a movie that I really enjoyed at the time it was released in 1992, Rapid Fire.

I know that a lot of people have focused on the final fight scene  or showdown, but I really like the initial fight scene, because you get a pretty good idea of how Brandon Lee applies a lot of the JKD principles his father defined and how he uses any type of tool, weapon or whatever he can get his hands on to save his character, Jake Lo.

Besides the impressive fighting skills he put on display in the 5 min. clip  below, I also admire his philosophic perspective he so thoughtfully selected for his wedding invitations:

“Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless…”

Celebrating The Life of Brandon Bruce Lee, February 1, 1965 – March 31, 1993

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.

Joe Lewis, The World’s Greatest Karate Fighter Of All Time

Whenever I ask people, who aren’t involved in martial arts and karate in specific, about the greatest karate fighter they will in most cases name Bruce Lee and/or Chuck Norris.

Joe Lewis? Not really.

That got me thinking.

Without a doubt, Bruce Lee was and Chuck Norris still is a formidable martial artist and fighter.

The exposure both of them received through television and movies made them household names, worldwide.

Again, Joe Lewis? Nope.

What amazes me about Joe Lewis is that as a U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa in 1965 he started studying Shorin-Ryu Karate at the youthful age of 18 and reportedly attained his black belt in only 7 (seven!) months.

After his military service Joe Lewis returned to the United States and in 1966 he began his unmatched tournament karate career.

At times, he trained with martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who by the way did not compete in any tournaments.

During 1966 to 1974 Joe Lewis competed on the tournament circuit as well as a professional kick-boxer winning national and world titles as a heavyweight fighter. He is considered the “Founding Father of Kickboxing in the Western Hemisphere”.

Throughout his career he fought famous fighters such as Allen Steen, Thomas LaPuppet, Louis Delgado, Skipper Mullins, Victor Moore, Joe Hayes, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and yes, Chuck Norris.

Joe Lewis was an original member of the U.S. World Karate Team that also consisted of Mike Stone, Skipper Mullins, Chuck Norris and his friend and student, Bob Wall.

Joe Lewis starred in a number of action-adventure movies such as “Jaguar Lives” and “Force Five” and has received numerous awards for his achievements in and out of the ring.

In 1983, karate living legend Joe Lewis was chosen by his peers and fellow fighters as “The World’s Greatest Karate Fighter Of All Time”.

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Undefeated In Over 9 Years, Judo Legend Yasuhiro Yamashita

Judo is a traditional Japanese grappling art developed by Jigoro Kano, whereas the competitors try to throw or force their opponent to the mat.

When competing in judo one can score points by performing an effective throw, or by forcing an opponent into submission.

Judo players, a.k.a. judoka, will do their best to gain control of their opponent before applying a throwing or holding technique.

Along with such greats such as Masahiko KimuraYasuhiro Yamashita is considered one of the best judoka ever.
When his home country of Japan boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow for invading Afghanistan, Yamashita had a winning streak of 194 (!)  fights to his record.
And there went his chance of winning an Olympic gold medal. Yamashita was devastated and even wept on Japanese television.
As the only judoka  from the 1980 Japanese judo team to qualify, Yamashita got his chance four years later at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Very unfortunately in an early match of the tournament, Yamashita tore the calf muscle of his right leg. This painful injury did not deter him from continuining and winning this and several consecutive Olympic bouts.
In his final match against Egyptian Mohamed Ali Rashwan, Yamashita won the gold medal despite his calf muscle injury and became a national hero.
Noteworthy is also the fact that Rashwan did not attack Yamashita’s right leg. For his act of fairness he received an award from the International Fairplay Committee.
Yamashita went on to be awarded the Japanese National Prize of Honor and  at the age of only 28 he ended his extraordinary with a whopping 203 total victories in 1985.
Ever since, 9th degree black belt Yasuhiro Yamashita has been an instructor and a trusted advisor for Tokai University and the All Japan Judo Federation as well as the International Judo Federation.
I enjoy watching ’16 Days of Glory’. I hope you do, too.

Jeff Imada, The Genius Behind Great Action Movies

When you talk about movies like Rush Hour, Armageddon, Lethal Weapon 4,  The Bourne Ultimatum, Gone In Sixty SecondsThe Last Samurai, The Fight Club,  just to mention a few, I am sure the action-filled scenes are the first thing that come to mind.

And when you think about it, some of the most popular movies became box-office successes due to the spectacular stunts and fight scenes displayed on the Big Screen.

Without the stunt and fight professionals, who by the way usually aren’t household names like those of the celebrities on the Red Carpet, many movie productions would never turn out the way they do.

One of these professionals, who deserve more credit for what they do and someone  whom I truly admire, is Jeff Imada.

And yes, the movies I listed above were strongly influenced by Jeff Imada. He either did many of the stunts or coordinated them! Man, this guy must have been in hundreds of great movie productions. It’s absolutely mind-boggling!

Beyond Tinseltown, Jeff Imada is highly recognized and  revered on the martial arts circuit for his mastery of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).

Born in 1955 in Southern California, Jeff Imada started studying martial arts at the age of 15. So, let’s see, that would have been 1970.

That makes it already 40 years of solid martial arts training experience and what I haven’t mentioned so far in this post:

Jeff Imada is a master student/protege of the world-famous, Guro Dan Inosanto. Remember him?

Jeff was also a very good friend of Brandon Lee, back in the day. Later on, he was the primary fight choreographer in Brandon Lee’s successful movie,  ‘The Crow’.

He has been a stuntman, stunt coordinator and fight choreographer in countless movie productions that have become financial box-office hits, also because of his ingenuity and professionalism.

I was reminded of him just some time ago after I heard about ‘The Book Of Eli’ starring Denzel Washington and Mila Kunis.

In one of the many interviews promoting this movie, Denzel mentioned Dan Inosanto (remember him?) and Jeff Imada in connection with training for the fight scenes.

He’s bringing it, so you better be ready!

Cung Le And The Chinese Fighting Art Of Sanshou

Just recently I heard about a Chinese fighting art ….. on the tennis court!

As I was talking with a team mate, I learned from him that he had been a practitioner of a style  I had briefly heard about years back, but I never really looked into any deeper.

Until today.

Originated in China the style is called Sanshou (free hand) and at times Sanda (free fighting).

It is both a self-defense system and a combat sport.

Sanshou combines a number of  extremely vital and effective elements such as kicking, punching, throwing, grappling and applying joint locks.

One of Sanshou’s special emphasis is the so-called kick-catch, whereby one person throws a kick and the other person catches the kick and then trips the other person’s leg they are standing on.

Thinking about it, that’s what we even practiced way back in my Shotokan karate days. I just made that connection while writing this.

Sanshou as a sport is regulated by a bunch of different rules depending on amateur or professional status and also on the location of where the fights take place like China or the U.S.

Among all the successful and very skilled Sanshou fighters, one practitioner has really stood out for me during the years and he has without a doubt made a name for himself. He is the Vietnamese American kickboxer, mixed martial artist and actor, simply known as Cung Le from San Jose, California.

Cung Le has won too many titles and championships to list here, but I will mention that he won the Strikeforce Middleweight World Championship by beating legendary mixed martial arts champion Frank Shamrock about 2 years ago. Cung Le actually broke his opponent’s arm by executing devasting kicks during their fight.

Cung Le has been actively pursuing his career on the Big Screen and was awarded a role in Bodyguards And Assassins starring Donnie Yen which was released last December.

I found a video clip that I think you will enjoy if you like action-filled fight scenes.      Warning: It can be a little rough and tough at times.

Linda Denley, Karate Superwoman From Houston, Texas

I am really excited to talk about today’s featured martial artist!

During the 70s and 80s while living in Germany, it was a real challenge to get my hands on American karate magazines. But whenever I did, it sure felt like Christmas and I devoured every page of information and inspiration. Especially articles and reports on Linda Denley.

For those of you who have never heard of her, let me warn you in advance. After this post you will be impressed. Very impressed, with this true living martial arts legend.

A native of Houston, Texas, Linda Denley grew up one of 12 children and as a teenager she excelled at just about any sport she took up, such as track and field, in which she even qualified for the Olympics in 5 events!! She couldn’t go to the Olympic Games simply because of her professional karate winnings.

Basketball was another example of her natural athleticism, in which she could have played semi-professional for the Houston Angels, but didn’t because of her karate career.

Linda Denley was THE female competitor to beat for many years.

Her aggressive fighting style earned her the nickname “Texas Terror” and boy, did she back that up with a record that is unheard of.

Starting with Tang Soo Do karate in 1973 under Master Robert Torres, she earned her black belt within 5 years, all while collecting trophies at tournaments.

Get this: Linda Denley was the top rated female kumite competitor from 1973 until 1996. That’s right, for 23 years. I am in awe!

She fought for nine years and did not lose a match. That’s just crazy stuff.

If you’re at all familiar with prestigious karate tournaments in the U.S., then you will appreciate this piece of information, too:

Linda Denley won the Battle of Atlanta not once or twice, but eleven times. Yes, that’s right, eleven times!

The other big-time tournament on the West Coast, simply known as the Long Beach Internationals, she won an impressive four times.

She really left “a path of destruction”  in countless other tournaments. At least that’s what it probably felt like for her competitors in those days.

For all her accomplishments on the karate circuit, Linda Denley has been acknowledged in so many remarkable ways such as “Competitor of the Year” and not surprisingly “Instructor of the Year 1999″.

In 1980, she was the very first female to be inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame!

Her fighting skills did not go unnoticed by the TV and movie industry either:

Linda Denley worked with Jackie Chan in “The Armour of God” and Chuck Norris in an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger”.

Today, 6th dan Linda Denley owns the Texas Black Belt Academy in Houston and has dedicated her time and energy to helping kids reach their full potential not only inside the dojo, but in whatever they do in life.

And here, I believe Linda Denley, Karate Superwoman from Houston, Texas, is paving “a path of inspiration” for many.