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Kung-fu in MMA....This is how I got here.

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    Kung-fu in MMA....This is how I got here.

    For those of you who do not know me I am a kung-fu instructor and MMA coach. I started Judo in 1978 and crossed trained in Kung-fu in 1980. The system of Kung-fu is irrelevent but it's English translation loosely translates to 5 houses of boxing, 5 ancestor boxing or 5 boxing families. I think you get the 5 part of it. Training with my sifu was quite interesting as I came across many of my brothers who trained in kickboxing, ke?po, karate, and various other systems of Kung-fu such as Lohan, Eagle Claw (Southern System), Leopard Fist, Tiger (with some color I believe it was white), Crane (never really found out if it was a specific style) and 7 Star Praying Mantis. In 1986 one of my Sihung who also did ke?po suggested we adopt a belt system and shortly after that I was awarded my blackbelt (yeah you heard me that's exactly how it happened, no testing just here you go)

    Training under this system paved the way I would train for the rest of my life. I had always heard stories of Shaolin being told but as others were mystified by the Shaolin temple it was more of an analyzation of history for our group. What we were told was that the Shaolin temple was actually protected by actual warriors who had come to the temple seeking some 'center' in their life. Each warrior, bandit, and such would exchange ideas. Monks started to train in the martial arts brought to the temple to keep up their health and well you start to get the idea. The whole idea of some Buddha teaching the monks martial arts never really came into play.

    So more to the gist of this post. After going to college I wanted to give my shot at full contact martial arts. I saw a kickboxing poster and started training at the local Hung-gar School where they also did Muay Thai kickboxing and became the sparring partner of the person who eventually win the title belt on that same card. My first few outings in kickboxing were actually quite boring, I tended to win in the first round by pure force, no skill despite all my training, I never learned to relax in the ring and just tore into my opponents with flagrent disregard. It wasnt' until my fourth match which was touted as Pro-Am (treated as a Pro but didn't get paid) that I finally found somebody I couldn't knock silly. Fortunately for me he decided not to continue the fight for the second round. As my cornerman stated "shot your load didn't you?"

    At this time I was actually training with some of the wrestlers and Judoka in my area. I had my own Kung-fu group at a local park, I was going to college but I felt that I finally found my nitch in life. It was about this time that somebody had told me about shootfighting. A competition that happened in Japan where you could go full contact and actually fight on the ground. My friend , who was a Japanese fanatic, brought me this tape on Shootfighting and I instantly saw where I wanted to go. I studied the tapes, I loved the leg locks and I learned how to apply the pressure as best I could. I then was told about these fights down south, just north of Los Angeles where these guys met in a gym and fought each other. Fight promoters were looking for the next big thing. I didn't know exactly what that meant but I went down and there was this huge wherehouse with matting inside. There was about 40 to 50 of us (surprisingly I wasn't the youngest). Essentially it was like a free fighting session. You could pay to enter the floor or do it for free. It was like gambling, if you layed down 15 bucks they would too, and winner would take it all. The rule set was simple you talked it over with your opponent whatever you agreed to went except no weapons, and serious blood shed would stop the fight. My first opponent never knew what hit him. I told him I did kung-fu, I weighed about 175 at the time and he was about 6' 190 maybe 200. 'Fight basically went like this; he threw a punch, I ducked locked up his waste and while he was still standing I jumped on his back Princess Bride style and choked him out (unconscious, he didn't know about tapping)

    This was also my first run in with a system called Gracie Jujitsu. Two guys saw what I did and told me that they train with the Gracie family. I'm like "the who?" They explained it to me; they trained with Rickson Gracie but it went in one ear and out the other. Later that month I opened up a magazine to see Rorion Gracie's advertisement on the Gracie Challenge. Me, I could care less I wanted to make it to Japan. One of my students introduced to me an instructor that did SAMBO. I'm like what? SAMBO, it's Russian form of grappling. They like leg locks. I was like Leg locks!? Show me the way. I was at home again.

    In the mean time another friend of mine introduced me to Taekwondo. I wasn't that impressed but he asked me to come meet his instructor. I just wanted to get to Japan. I told the Taekwondo instructor that I taught Kung-fu but I'd love to work out with him and his other blackbelts. After 2 weeks training I got caught up with one of his blackbelts that went for a sweeping position. I tapped the person on the shoulder and gave him the nod "yeah you got me I don't want to be swept onto the wooden floor". At that time the head instructor said "Yeah watch out you don't want to get into a grappling match with him". I looked at him funny and said "Sir I know how to grapple". So we continued, he swept my foot out and I dropped to the floor, swept him and ankle locked him. The head instructor came over and asked me where I had learned to do an ankle lock? I told him originally from shootfighting but I hooked up with a SAMBO instructor. The head instructor looked at me funny and about that time the SAMBO instructor who I had been working with walked in. "Tim, you know this guys?" The SAMBO instructor confirmed and I was invited to start doing SAMBO with this group. This was 1993.

    A few month later everything would change. Royce Gracie appeared, UFC, I didn't need to go to Japan. I started to do less kickboxing and sport matches and started to concentrate more on my ground game. I sent my application in and actually got to talk to Art Davie (if you don't know who that is you need to study your UFC some more). It was 1995, I was almost done with doing Sport Karate tournaments although they were still fun to attend, my last real sport karate tournament came in 1997 when I decided I wanted to do nothing but kickbox, NHB, and teach SAMBO and Kung-fu.

    My chance to get into the UFC passed me by. My hand was broken when my application was accepted for UFC 5 and they wanted me to match up to Marco Ruas for UFC 7, I chickened out I said no thank you, not enough money unless they wanted to match me up to Joe Charles first and I would meet Ruas in the final. They asked me if I would take on Varelans, I said I'd take him too, Ruas would be too much in the first match up. They never called me back. By 1999 I had done 2 more MMA matches but had done several smokers at various gyms in the "Inland Empire" as well as some kickboxing matches and a few full contact karate matches (really over blown old school point sparring matches with take down rules. 2x2 minute rounds, unlimited points, take downs scored and no full contact to the face, leg kicks did not count for points.)

    My most memorable fight:
    After a Pro Am San Shou match I was offered a chance to fight in this new federation called DRAKA, Russian Kickboxing. I was to be matched up with this guy named Eugene Jackson . Never heard of him. Much to my detriment I thought I was going to die when we met up. We were supposed to fight at 190lbs. I weighed in at 189, Jackson weighed in at 202. I said fuck it I've trained to hard not to fight tonight. I was promised 10k to win and 30K to defend the title in Vegas 3 months later. None of that would happen.

    First round between Jackson and I he knocked me out of the ring (I was hanging onto the ropes). I believe this is where he broke my jaw. I waded out the first round. As I limped back to my corner I had no idea how I was going to beat this guy.

    In the second round Jackson opened up with a spinning back kick, bad maneuver as I took him down. He then tried to take me down later in the round and I reversed it with a high altitude hip throw and listened while the air rushed out of him. The round ended. He won round one but I won round two, three rounds to go. My corner didn't understand my strategy "why aren't you punching him?" That was a great question. He loved that over hand right and all I knew is to stay away from it.

    The third round came, I circled to Jackson's right (that's right, was circling into the over hand) less than 10 seconds into the round he lead with the over hand, I ducked and let lose a straight right, I figured if I could get him to go back I could dish out some punishment of my own. I didn't expect the next thing to happen. Jackson's face hit the canvas as if he fell from a plane. My bottom jaw was down on the canvas I couldn't believe what just happened. Cecil Peoples, the referee, actually had to yell at me to get to a neutral corner for about 3 seconds, which is an eternity in the ring. As Peoples turned back he counted up to 5 and waved his hands. I had won, I pullled a Rocky Balboa out my ass looked out into the crowed to my wife and said "I love you!". The crowd had gone wild chanting "your the man your the man" and I did a flip (landed on my ass) in the ring but recovered with a kip up (nip up to some of you dumbfucks).

    If any of you visit me it is the only trophy I have left from my competition days, I hang it on my wall proudly as 1 year later Draka fizzled out. I never had to defend the belt.

    Kung-fu to me was all about training with whoever would come along, like the Shaolin Temple. These ideas of only training one way under one sifu? Well my sifu was never like that I had many sihungs and each taught me something different. My specialties were Eagle Claw (joint locks) and leopard fist (punching). I later crossed trained in Hung-gar which showed me the importance of strong stances which helps me with my "anti grappling" sprawls (The way I do sprawls are a bit different than our wrestling counter parts but they work). A few years ago my Eagle Claw instructor came to see what I was doing and gave me permission to start my own system.

    I now have my own fight team, my own system of Kung-fu that incorporates everything I ever did with one main philosphy "Did it work? Then shut up!":thebirdma

    I've always been curious as to how you made the transition from Kung Fu to MMA.

    Thanks for sharing. You rock.


      Omega If you ever make it my part of the world I would enjoy studying under you.


        Guys, I will be putting some techniques and training I use from my kung-fu training here. I just got carried away with that story and decided to just run with it.


          Omega, thanks for posting. Some of that is new to me too. So here's the question: Animals? Whuh? It seems that most animal styles are silly, over-stylized dances that have no real martial cross-over. How did what you do differ . . . or did you just intimidate people with fancy poses and then kick them in the crotch?


            It sounds like what you've done is what I heard a lot about when I was involved with Shaolin Do, but it never made it past the point of talk. Cool shit.


              As someone who has rolled with, and trained with briefly with Omega, I can say in all honesty, he is the real deal!

              One of my heroes, and the one of the reasons I'm training and fighitng MMA.


                Originally posted by Repulsive Monkey
                Omega, thanks for posting. Some of that is new to me too. So here's the question: Animals? Whuh? It seems that most animal styles are silly, over-stylized dances that have no real martial cross-over. How did what you do differ . . . or did you just intimidate people with fancy poses and then kick them in the crotch?
                My sifu used to say "Animal fighting is simply to understand the nature of the beast. We are human beings we do not have claws, not very sharp teath, we can not fly, and we are not magic."

                *edit: In other words you may want to fight like a boxer but you see the world as a kickboxer but your body is better suited to be a wrestler.

                One of my senior Sihung translated this one time for me many years later "The idea is to understand mind, body, and spirit and then get them to cooperate with each other. Your heart may say you are a Dragon, your mind might say you are a tiger but you have the body of a crane"

                Our sets (forms) were there just to get your body to understand movement, that was it, the more you would understand movement the easier it was for you to teach your body to fight correctly. Like I said we had all types of martial artist training with us. Each brought a different idea with them although they rarely shared it. Classes weren't everybody line up and start working out to a cadence, classes were more like a boxing gym where you met up with guys and our sifu would come along and correct what you were doing. You were always expected to start and finish on your own. A lot of people would get kicked out for awhile for not coming to train with the proper mind set (myself included). I was there for 3 years before being introduced to sparring. My sifu never really sparred in the traditional sense. He would just come over and smack you up side the head and such. I learned to spar by all my other brothers not by my sifu. I learned how to train by my sifu. Big differance.


                  Originally posted by Omega the Merciless
                  Guys, I will be putting some techniques and training I use from my kung-fu training here. I just got carried away with that story and decided to just run with it.
                  Don't be such a sinophile, show the strikeistan forum some love


                    Originally posted by Repulsive Monkey
                    Omega, thanks for posting. Some of that is new to me too. So here's the question: Animals? Whuh? It seems that most animal styles are silly, over-stylized dances that have no real martial cross-over. How did what you do differ . . . or did you just intimidate people with fancy poses and then kick them in the crotch?
                    In Xing Yi, this is VERY far from the truth. While for many of the Wushu-ish type arts, I would agree.


                      Can you give us some concrete examples of how animal aspects are part of your training?


                        Very nice story. You are appreciated.

                        Would you describe the style that you teach and your training methods a little bit further?


                          Originally posted by dwhomp
                          In Xing Yi, this is VERY far from the truth. While for many of the Wushu-ish type arts, I would agree.
                          Let's add legit to this and I'll agree. I've seen some horrible modern wushu xingyi.


                            Blah, I'd rather not go into a whole book on this guys so I'll break it down simple. then vs now:

                            My original system was composed of 5 different styles of training:
                            Leopard: Speed and quickness, cutting strikes (elbows and such), and evasive maneuvers ground attacks (nothing like BJJ just a lot of sweeping pouncing and then get off)...
                            Eagle: Evasive maneuvering straight in attacks with joint locks (mostly small joint and shoulder) This gave me a good idea of how the body really moves when it came to understanding joint submissions.
                            Tiger: Strong powerful attacks (Thought they were better suited for stalky guys). Head butts, palm strikes, clawing powerful low kicks (thrusting and rounding), and off balancing throws.
                            Crane: Quick subtle movements, jumped around like TKD guys IMO. Love to do pressure point attacks and tricky wide moving strikes. Better suited for thinly built guys.
                            Dragon: Adaptive ever changing technique must jack of all trades master of none.

                            So as you can see it was more of a body movement training than actually trying to emulate the respective animal although the forms spoke other wise. After basic training, as it were, it would take you about 1-2 years to become proficient in the respective group of techniques.

                            My system has taken away the animals per se. I still train the traditional sets but I've expanded the basic training to explore more modern interpetation:

                            Earth, Water, Wind, Iron, Lightning (Fire)

                            Iron: Muay Thai, Karate, TKD (real TKD), all the hard straight forward techniques

                            Lighting: Leopard style attacks, Kenpo strike flow, western boxing (yeah you heard me) and wing chun (yeah, you heard me there too)

                            Earth: SAMBO, Judo, BJJ, Wrestling; in other wordls unbalancing techniques with very little striking

                            Water: Aiki, crane, eagle claw techniques to establish flow

                            Wind :Chi kung (relax), pressure point tactics (no I don't do the touch you paralyze stuff), distraction attacks.

                            And they are taught in that order. I teach my students to fight first. If they fail at some of the more theoretical based maneuvers then they're in for a rude awakening.

                            Don't look into this any further then it needs to be looked at. I just used words that I thought people from the outside could understand. My kung-fu students spar with the MMA guys, stand up with the kickboxers, and roll with the SAMBO guys. I train them in weapons and still practice philosphy.

                            There you go I hope that helps.


                              Goddamn, I wish I could train at your school. :(



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