Karate blackbelts in MMA

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by Hotora86, May 30, 2016.

  1. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    Back in 2012 I created a thread called "30 Successful Karate Fighters in MMA" (http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/30-successful-karate-fighters-mma.1040386/), later renamed to "100+ Karate Fighters in MMA" as the list grew. The thread got quite popular (50 pages of replies) but sadly it was lost during the forum migration.

    Back then it had drawn some criticism for listing fighters whose experience in Karate was rather insignificant - which I now admit was justified. So instead of simply re-posting the old thread I have filtered out the rubbish and retained only cold facts: MMA fighters who legitimately hold black belts in Karate. No bias, no opinions, just a complete and comprehensive list.

    The list is sorted by fighter NAMES in alphabetical order along with their corresponding STYLE and DAN rank.
    • Style "Sport" is used as an umbrella term for all kinds of sports / freestyle Karate.
    • Style "unknown" is used when my source states "Karate" without mentioning the exact style and I can't find any indication of the style.
    • DAN rank "1?" is used when my source states "black belt" without mentioning the exact rank.
    New fighters are added periodically with a separate post describing their background and rank along with a highlight video.
    _ _ _ _ _

    KBB, HOTO 1.png KBB, HOTO 2.png KBB, HOTO 3.png KBB, HOTO 4.png KBB, HOTO 5.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  2. AndyMaBobs

    AndyMaBobs Purple Belt

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    Firstly, I like your avatar, Dio is the man.

    Secondly, I'm glad too see this pop back up again, I read it back in my lurking days. While it may sound like I'm making a jab at karate when I say this, I do find it interesting how many karate black belts in MMA don't really seem to use much karate in their style at all. While you get the Machida's and Gunnar Nelson's and of course Kyoji Horiguchi who really look like they're doing karate, you then later find out that Bigfoot Silva is a shotokan black belt.

    I'm always really impressed when guys still look like they're doing karate, especially when it's that more side on type of karate that doesn't just look like kickboxing. I'm not a karate guy myself, but it's always really cool to see the movement of some of the more "karate" guys out there actually get pulled off in a real fight.
     
  3. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    Thanks man, Dio rules.

    I agree that only a few guys from this list have that "traditional" Karate image most people are familiar with but then again if You look at K-1 half of the people there come from Kyokushin and nobody ever complains. :p Kyokushin and other knockdown / full-contact styles end up looking like custom kickboxing when used in the ring / cage. Kudo looks like MMA from the get-go, so do some other hybrid styles. So it's not always obvious if a fighter is actually "using" his Karate or not.

    shinkyoku made a great thread on different Karate styles a while back:
    http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/so-you-think-you-know-all-about-karate.2263005/
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
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  4. devante

    devante Silver Belt

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    question- how many guys in mma do you feel use the techinques..concepts..strategies from their systems w/in the context of an mma fight...

    shonie carter-tarec saffedine-stephen thompson-gunnar nelson-uriah hall-kyoji horiguchi-schemmy schilt- chuck liddel-ryan jimmo-Mike Ciesnolevicz-ed ratcliff-seth petruzelli-ewerton texeira-gsp-guy mezger-jeff joslin- sage northcutt.


    these would be the people i see who actively see using the principles..strategies..techniques of those arts contributing to winning fights.
     
  5. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    That's still quite many but I think you are missing a few... like the Machida brothers perhaps? ;)

    Have you ever seen Katsunori Kikuno fight? Even his stance is straight from the Sochin kata.



    I would even argue that practically all Japanese fighters on the list "actively use" Karate principles since the art is taken much more seriously in Japan than in the US.
     
  6. fluffball

    fluffball Brown Belt

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    It's too hard to separate out styles' concepts. If you punch or kick someone, and have a black belt in karate, you definitely used the karate in some way or another.

    And then there is the standing grappling aspect of karate, but that's a lot easier to pick out, like Machida's sweeps (assuming those aren't from sumo? But light weight sumo looks exactly like judo which is extremely closely related to karate...)
     
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  7. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    I fully agree with that first paragraph.
    BTW as for the standing grappling in Karate, this guy is doing a great job teaching that:
    http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/
    https://www.youtube.com/user/practicalkatabunkai
     
  8. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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  9. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    If you look at percentages Kyokushin (unsurprisingly) is the style which provides a majority of "Karate-belted" MMA fighters - 26%. Shotokan is second with 12%.

    If you add up the popular knock-down styles (Kyokushin, Seidokaikan, Shidokan, Ashihara) then it's a whopping 35% of all fighters!
     
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  10. Azam

    Azam Purple Belt

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    Nice to have you back Hotora86. Been quite a few years!

    You can add Hisaki Kato to your list.

    He's a Daido Juku Kudo fighter based in France (but I think moved to Japan at the moment). He's the Kudo All Japan Champ 2010 & 2012.

    He's made a decent transition to MMA - but I think Kudo fighters will always have issues as they operate with the gi.
     
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  11. TehGwarch

    TehGwarch Purple Belt

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    The Kyokushin family make a good striking base.
     
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  12. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    Hi Azam, glad to be back and glad to speak to you again. :)

    Thanks for that, never heard about Hisaki Kato before but looks like he's at the very least super entertaining - 8 fights / 8 KOs! :D



    Dude knows how to punch for sure!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
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  13. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    Interestingly, the highest black belt rank on the list belongs to Gerard Gordeau (9 dan), who only had 4 MMA fights in his career (2-2).

    The second highest (7 dan) is Lee Hasdell from BCKA (British Combat Karate Association) who has a kickboxing record of 43-16 and an MMA record of 13-16-3.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Hasdell

     
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  14. Azam

    Azam Purple Belt

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    Lee Hasdell is very legit. I think he was one of the first guys to start Kudo in the UK along with my instructor.
     
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  15. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    Who is your instructor? Just curious. :)
     
  16. Azam

    Azam Purple Belt

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    At the moment Sensai Anas (Kudo Branch Chief in UK). Although I've started uechi ryu (switched from KK) & submission wrestling. So he isn't the only instructor lol.

    Feels weird having stopped Kyokushin training - but I'm liking Kudo training a lot more.
     
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  17. AndyMaBobs

    AndyMaBobs Purple Belt

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    Do you still stand by what you said before at thinking its better to train Kyokushin and Judo properly rather than Kudo? Or have you changed your mind since then
     
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  18. Azam

    Azam Purple Belt

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    ^^
    I still think it's best to do a grappling art & striking art separately. So that hasn't changed. Kudo is very good at putting both aspects together - it does a better job of teaching you how to use grappling/striking together & provides an environment where you can strike/grapple.

    It doesn't do a great job though of teaching you excellent grappling or excellent striking individually - that's why I'm learning Uechi ryu (freestyle sparring) & submission wrestling (BJJ & wrestling).

    Another thing Kudo does well is general conditioning/fitness - it's very similar to Kyokushin in that sense.


    I have changed my mind though about Kyokushin though and doing Kudo. While it's great for conditioning - it gives you really bad habits for Kudo - mainly because of the knockdown sparring. That's why I changed to an Uechi ryu place which is pretty similar but where we do sparring to the face with limited grappling - better fit.

    I wouldn't do Judo either for Kudo - at least I'd recommend wrestling & BJJ over it imho. If Kudo had sleeves & thicker Gi's - then I'd say Judo would be best. Wrestling, Sambo etc etc fit Kudo a lot better.

    We're planning to open up a Kudo dojo in Wandsworth hopefully soon in London - if you're in the area you're more then welcome to come & train.
     
  19. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    That's surprising to hear. I never trained Kudo myself, only saw a few tournaments but I had the impression that Kudo can be accurately described as Judo + Kyokushin with head strikes. But you say Judo is not best fit for Kudo? Because of thinner gi? Or something else?
     
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  20. Azam

    Azam Purple Belt

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    I thought so as well before actually doing Kudo. It has the traditional Karate ethos/philosophy - like Kyokushin as well - the respect, kindness etc etc.

    But as far as Kyokushin in Kudo - some guys have a Kyokushin striking base, some have a shotokan base, some a goju, some boxing/tkd, some MT - it's a real mix of different stand up styles in Kudo.

    Some lean more to Karate others lean to MT or tkd/boxing. The benefit though is that when get a really good chance to develop sparring with MT Kudo guys, or tkd Kudo guys because you learn different things or pick up stuff unique to those styles - and because you're around it you learn & in turn can benefit yourself. I've picked up some amazing yoko geri combinations from a tkd Kudo guy I came across - also have picked up some really slick boxing combinations that I've gone out of my way to incorporate. It's like a melting pot of different styles - a bit like MMA.

    In my opinion Judo isn't the greatest fit - someone else may disagree with me. The Gi is thinner, sleeves are half sleeve so no sleeve grips plus with the inclusion of other styles of grappling means Judo for me isn't the best fit. I've noticed that for me wrestling has been the most effective for me in Kudo. It's also melds with striking a lot better imo.

    I think no-gi Judo would be just as good as wrestling in Kudo. The main problem I have with Judo in Kudo is the emphasis on getting some sort of grip - it's not as easy to do when someone is striking at you - it's a lot easier when you're in clinch range or you have a clinch. I like wrestling because you have the option of engaging outside clinch range (or even to threaten it) and when in clinch range.

    If there was such a thing as no-gi Judo - then I think it would be just as good as wrestling for Kudo.
     
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