I’ve never liked the showboating and gloating that goes on after a win. i don’t care for much of the trash talking that happens before the fight either. I’ve always appreciated the more old school style. While he’s one of the most innovative fighters, his family’s roots are in Shotokan Karate.
Before we start on Lyoto Machida, I’m just going to share a little comedy. This right here was for about 2 years running after its release, the video that made me laugh the hardest. The first time I saw it, I laughed so hard, some snot came out, in front of friends, who noticed it before me.
So the auditioners in the following clip are men who had identified themselves as having mastery in a martial art (even proficiency would have been a stretch). They then attempt to show that mastery. All fail within seconds. The first guy, for instance, attempts a high kick to the dummy, falls, gets up, and tries another high kick with the other leg – and choose to go higher. Yes, he falls again. Somehow, I think all these guys remained heroes in their own minds.
Let me move on to Mr. Machida. Lyoto Machida (nom de guerre: The Dragon) is one of my all-time favorite combat martial artists. Here’s a quick look at just the fights from last year in a highlight reel (MMA fights in the UFC) (Content – Violence, sports-related.)
Holy crap, right? He’s a focused machine in fight mode. One of the main reasons I like him is his style. It’s an unconventional personal style, one rooted in Shotokan Karate, but unusual, idiosyncratic and effective. Here are a few of the things that make him an artist. Pay attention to that last one, number 5 – the simplest on the list – a counterjab.
Machida is, in my opinion, the best counterstriker in the MMA world. A counterstrike is exactly as it sounds, when an opponent strikes at you, you strike in a manner that (1) simultaneously deflects/blocks the blow, and/or (2) lands your own strike first. It would seem crazy to adopt a strategy that says to world class MMA athletes I’m so much faster than you, I’m going to go ahead and let you start punching first.
It does not take long before he’s delivering crushing fists from a wide stance. He’s got great form and unusual ones too. Notice in some circumstances, he’ll drop his hands. (This is a taunt or goad). His opponents still can’t get a hold of him. It helps that Shotokan style kicks do not require a repositioning, giving them little predictability by the opponent. He is able to use the kicks to manage the distance.
The Birth of Shotokan Karate…
“Gichin Funakoshi was born around 1868 in Shuri, Okinawa. While in elementary school, he became friends with Anko Asato’s son and eventually began to train under Asato in Okinawan karate. Later, Funakoshi would also train under Shorin-ryu master Anko Itosu…
Interestingly, Funakoshi never actually named the fighting style that he refined from Itosu and Asato’s teachings, just preferring to call it karate. But when he started a dojo in 1936, his pen name of shoto (meaning pine waves) was used along with the term kan (house) by his students to erect a sign above the entrance to the establishment that said Shotokan.
As Machida closes in on reclaiming his light-heavyweight title, I hope his hard work ethic, habit of respecting and not criticizing opponents, and humility start winning people over generally and putting MMA more in line with the older martial philosophies. His traditional karate credentials are beyond question. And watching his brain adapt his style through the fight shows his incredible awareness and processing speed. I hope other fighters embody more of the old style training rewards.
Gichin Funakoshi also noted that, “The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of the participant.