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1/07/2007 12:45am,
Woman Joins Fight Club

Kat Amano of Nashville and Renzo Gracie, a Brazilian jujitsu star who is a mixed martial arts fighter and coach of the New York Pitbulls.

On Christmas Eve, Kat Amano sat in front of a television at her father’s home in Dallas. The Cowboys were playing the Eagles. Jimmy Stewart was playing George Bailey. But rather than turn to the football game or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Amano watched Pride Fighting Championships’ “Hardcore Knockouts Volume 3.”

“Have you seen it?” she said. “It’s a great highlight reel.”

Amano, a 24-year-old writer and editor who lives in Nashville, trains in jujitsu and is a fan of mixed martial arts, which includes elements of kick boxing, jujitsu and wrestling. In jujitsu, a sport dominated by men, the 5-foot-6-inch, 115-pound Amano is a sight for swollen eyes.

“Whenever I go to a fight, I get double takes from a lot of guys,” she said. “But I’ve been into this sport my whole life. My father raised me on Bruce Lee movies.”

Amano’s father, Jeff, holds a black belt in kung fu, a brown belt in judo, a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu and a purple passion for martial arts that he shares with her and her siblings, Mandy, 28, and Brandon, 21, as well as their stepmother, Claire.

In the past year, Amano and her father have traveled to a number of mixed martial arts events. In April, they attended the debut of the International Fight League in Atlantic City. In August, they went to a jujitsu seminar in Chicago given by Renzo Gracie, a Brazilian jujitsu star who is a mixed martial arts fighter and coach of the New York Pitbulls of the I.F.L. In September, they traveled to Moline, Ill., to watch I.F.L. bouts.

Amano, who began taking kung fu lessons when she was 7, has a subscription to Ultimate Grappling Magazine and monitors three Web sites for news from the world of martial arts: sherdog.com, subfighter.com and mmaweekly.com.

“Kat is a hard-core fan, just like me,” Jeff Amano said. “When we are not at a fight, we’re home watching one on TV.”

Amano spent last weekend tossing and turning in her father’s living room, but she was not trying to sleep. Before friends arrived to watch mixed martial arts matches, father and daughter rolled out several mats and began practicing moves, including chokeholds, back flips and escape techniques.

“My father and I are always sparring,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Amano said she finds other sports “kind of boring.”

“I’ve tried to get into football,” she said, “but all I ever see is a lot of Ping-Pong, with the ball going back and forth, and a bunch of guys just running around.”

When friends tell Amano that all they see during mixed martial arts matches is one fighter sitting on top of another, whaling away while his opponent squirms to break free, she quickly takes a defensive stand.

“To someone who doesn’t understand what they are seeing, it could seem boring,” she said. “But there is so much strategy and technique involved. Every move is like a chess move, and each of those moves could be countered with any one of several other moves.”

Amano, who writes for a music magazine in Nashville, Southeast Performer, also does editing for her father, who is a co-owner of Beckett Entertainment, a Dallas company that creates comic books.

Though she is taking a semester off as a graduate student at New York University, where she is working toward a joint master’s degree in journalism and French studies, she is enrolled in jujitsu classes in Nashville, Dallas and Manhattan.

“There are about 12 students in each of those classes,” she said. “I’m the only girl.”

On Wednesday, Amano was back in New York visiting friends. She took time to sign up for a class at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Midtown. She had a chance to spar with him for a few minutes, the equivalent of a Yankees fan’s tossing batting practice to Derek Jeter.

“I remember Kat from Chicago,” said Gracie, who had stitches on his nose from a recent match. “She was so technically perfect in applying her holds that day, that I just wanted to go over and congratulate her.”

Amano remembered their first meeting at that jujitsu seminar in August. She was practicing what she called a guillotine chokehold when Gracie told her, “Nice work.”

“When he said that, my face got flush,” she recalled. “Just to meet Renzo was quite a thrill.”


1/07/2007 12:53am,
Sooo ... her accomplishment is taking JiuJitsu and being the only woman?

Hang on, I've heard someone talking about that before ....

****, I need a publicist.

1/07/2007 12:59am,
Wait, so she fights AND has a vagina!?

1/07/2007 1:05am,
I think one point may be that she is a 'coach' of the Pitbulls, an IFL team. This is something I have never heard of but then again I follow not the IFL that much.

1/07/2007 1:15am,
*insert lewd comment about how i would like to have sex with her*

1/07/2007 1:18am,
I think one point may be that she is a 'coach' of the Pitbulls, an IFL team. This is something I have never heard of but then again I follow not the IFL that much.

She's not the coach. She merely met the coach. Who is a Gracie. The only thing she did was shakes his hand and it made the New York Times.

1/07/2007 1:29am,
Do you think I actually read these articles properly when I post news after a long day?

Anna Kovacs
1/07/2007 2:19am,
I wonder if she trains at my old gym.

Thats just one Kat to many.

Sam Browning
1/07/2007 2:22am,
Would you hit her?

Anna Kovacs
1/07/2007 2:24am,
If I go visit my old gym again and she's there, probably.

Anna Kovacs
1/07/2007 2:26am,
Though reading she says there's about "12 students in each of those classes" so she probabl doesnt train at my old gym, which sported a hefty 400 students on contract with probably 30 people on the mat for jiujitsu at any given time.

1/07/2007 9:13pm,
Ooo, it would be nice to have that many people to train with.

Also, punching her would be nice.

1/07/2007 9:30pm,
Yeah but she's alright looking.

1/07/2007 9:34pm,
And that's really all that matters.

1/07/2007 10:30pm,

1/07/2007 10:41pm,
It's true -- good looking woman + other skill == need to do news article about woman being awesome and amazing at other skill.