It was 20 years ago this very month that I first saw the UFC. I had read about UFC 1 in an American martial arts magazine but it wasn’t released on video to start with over here so when I got the video for UFC 2 I couldn’t wait to see it.
At the time I was running a successful Taekwondo school and personally I was also training a little Hapkido, kickboxing and dabbling in a very little known Korean martial art that looked like JKD and had some weapon work in there too.
Basically I had my own all round fighting style; strikes, takedowns, joint locks and sticks too.
So UFC 2, enter Pat Smith the Taekwondoing, Hapkidoing, kickboxing guy, I obviously wanted him to win so it would validate my choice of martial arts and prove I was on the right track. He started really well, 2 guillotines and elbowing a ninja to death put him into the finals against this Gracie guy. This is what I really wanted to see. We all know how that turned out!
So now, of course, I had to learn grappling. I started Judo and traditional Jiu Jitsu for a start then managed to acquire some back up video tapes of actual fights and instructionals coming out of Brazil and so it began.
At this point the internet was not yet in full effect, so videos and snail mail was all we had.
Used to love the postman turning up with my videos, I had a load of footage of vale tudo fights in Brazil, loads of gi matches and the Renzo/Kukuk instructionals that had actual fight footage on showing how the techniques being taught really worked. I got some Kazeka Muniz tapes too and even though he was regarded as a fraud I thought his techniques were pretty good.
A bunch of us would stay behind after class and just beat the crap out of each other, we didn’t really know how to train but was a lot of fun.
So we muddled along trying to piece everything together in the constantly changing jigsaw that was Jiu Jitsu, at the time a lot of the stuff we were doing was a vale tudo nature and involved striking, takedowns and nasty submissions. Professors Trial and Error were always there to offer their thoughts.
It had to be noted as well at this point that we had no mats. We were renting a church hall and after going through their cupboards we found an old carpet that we thought would be great for training on. All takedowns were done onto a crappy old carpet laid on a solid wood floor. For one of my fights I had Chris Eastwood throwing leg kicks at me so I could practice takedowns against kicking. Every time he kicked my thigh I clinched and took him down onto the carpet, this was a live drill so by the end of it we were both battered.
To add to the confusion I then got a copy of the inaugural Mundials in 1996, I couldn’t wait to see all the top competitors fight. Didn’t realise at the time that I was watching Sperry, Gurgel, Liborio and Roleta. I remember being totally confused when I saw Royler (I think) hold side control then just stand up and start celebrating like crazy. I rewound the tape and couldn’t see how he had won. I watched it 10 times and saw no submission so what the hell happened?
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you “points”. This was to be my introduction to ‘sport’ Jiu Jitsu, time limits and points. Wow, a whole other side of Jiu Jitsu just opened up to me.
To be continued.........................