I had a quick ride through memory lane and just decided to jot down some of the many great people I had the opportunity to meet and train with. I started training in 1974 as a kid in Ft. Bragg NC. My first instructor was the late Grand Master Jimmie Brown (one of the founding members of the House of Discipline) and the school was the first martial arts program at Ft. Bragg. Upon returning to Atlanta in the late 70s, I trained under my big brother, Charles Trammell. In the mid 80s I started training with Master Issac Thomas (who has one of the longest running Taekwondo schools in Atlanta). Through Teakwood I had the opportunity to see some of the best kickers in 80s and 90s. In 1985 I went to a martial arts demonstration by Atlanta's first World Kickboxing Champion, Jeff Gripper. Afterwards I asked him a lot of questions and he referred me to the late James Asa Gordon, who was the premier trainer of Kickboxers in the hey day of PKA. I had the opportunity to train with the top in the sport at that time (Jerry Rhome, Jerry Trimble, Eddie Jones, Tony Reed, etc.). I got to see Evander Hollyfield, Don Wilson, Bob Thurman and Bill Superfoot Wallace train at Asa's. I even ran with Bad Brad Hefton. I fought my first amateur and first pro fights on Joe Corley promotions. Gripper took under his wing and contemplated coming out of retirement, thus making me a sparring partner. In boxing I had the opportunity to train with some of the best local fighters and some high level fighters (Sam Garr, Ebo Elder, Romalis Ellis, Robert Allen, David Taylor, JC Candello. O'neil Bell). In the 90s I met and became pals with Kelly Leo and Pedro Solona we got to see Muay Thai become popular. We saw NHB become MMA and American kickboxing give way to K-1 Kickboxing. I trained Judo with Master Nak Jun Kim (former Korean National Team Member), Bob Byrd, Dr. Gary Berliner. I would later train with Olympian Leo White and top international Judokas Josh White and Ernesto Serano. Upon seeing the Shidokan Triathlon (Karate, Kickboxing and MMA) on TV I set out to pursue the sport. After competing in the 2000 Shidokan Team USA, I learn more about the organization and art of Shidokan and in 2001 established Shidokan Atlanta. I have trained un Shihan Eddie Yoshimura and in Shidokan and Urban Combatives. So I end this rant of the past to say that I've had a fun ride over the years.
There are many styles of Karate. There are those that focus on the aesthetics, philosophy, and spiritual side of the martial arts. Then there are the few that focus primarily on the practical, physical and functional side, followed by the other qualities. I look at full contact Karate as the the answer to those who question whether Karate is practical or not. Because the sport is full contact and bare knuckle, it gives it's practitioners are realistic format to train. Of the full contact Karate styles out there, I consider Shidokan one of the top systems, because it incorporates grabbing, throwing and quick submissions. The focus in knockdown Karate is to incapacitate your opponent. Here's is a classic Shidokan video clip of multiple time Lightweight Shidokan Champion, Pat Smith. You will see effective Karate applied in such a way that you can't argue if it can be used outside of sport.
My lost post was about basic Kihon (basic) techniques. It is important to master the basics and build a foundation. Once you've done that then you can add a little spice. There are many out there who feel that flashy techniques (jumping, spinning, etc.) are impractical and useless. In full contact fighting, the basics are stressed. Basic boxing with the the good old front and round kick and some clinch knees and you have a solid game. I've always incorporated techniques from a few disciplines (karate, taekwondo) to kickboxing and muay thai to change things up. How do you defend what you don't know. Here's a clip from one of our fighters where he lands an incredible spinning hook kick knockout. Now this technique was set up with good punches and timing. Some will argue that it is not a high percentage technique, but when it lands it is unlike any other technique.
Kihon are basic techniques of Karate. In Shidokan we practice traditional and fighting Kihon. The basics are key to any fighting system and in Karate, class starts with a warm up followed by basic techniques. Here is a clip from a couple of years ago, where we had the opportunity of having a stop by visit from Kancho Yoshiji Soeno, the "Kyokushin Tiger" and founder of Shidokan Karate. Over the years, every I time I've trained with him, the basics are always emphasized.
Here's a great match between multiple time Shidokan World Champion, Marco London and Arne Solwedel. This fight is from the mid 90s, and shows the shift of the Shidokan World Open from bare knuckle karate tournament to the Triathlon (Karate, Kickboxing, and Grappling).
In the martial arts world, there are traditional, mixed and reality/tactical based martial arts. I consider myself to be a student of all 3. Today's post I will talk tell you my thoughts on traditional martial arts training. In my style of Karate, we practice in a Gi (uniform), bow, and use Japanese terminology. Some of the culture from that arts country of origin is adopted. The practice of traditional techniques are done in a way to teach perfection of technique, precision and focus. I have used these concepts in other aspects of my martial arts training over the years. Even though I teach an eclectic style (karate, kickboxing, and grappling), I integrate some of the principles I've learned from traditional martial arts training. It's like music. I enjoy listening to classical, rap and metal. Combat sports are more physical and favor the younger athlete. Tactical martial art training, require you to shoot guns (so if you are anti-gun, this is not for you). All can benefit from traditional martial arts training. Young and old, fighter or not, one is able to focus and get centered in traditional training.
Martial arts are a big business these days. Because the are ingrained in our culture through TV, Movies, and video games, most people are familiar with martial arts techniques. Commercial dojos and fight gyms are the norm and people make a living off of the martial arts. The unfortunate things is that many of these business are operated by unqualified people. They may have the business experience and smarts to run a business. I am not saying anything is wrong with that. Of course gym owners should be able to make money. My issue is with instructors who have no real experience trying to teach people how to defend themselves or compete. There are many young instructors teaching students around the same age and giving them advice on how to fight. Being around combat sports for some many years, I see guys who amateurs a few years ago coaching guys who have more amateur fights than they did. Would you let a doctor who hasn't done his residency see about you? I doubt it. Would you let someone who has only flown flight simulators fly you? No. It's like going to law school, never passing the Bar, and never working your way up in a law office, but yet you decide to open your own law firm. In martial arts and fitness you can pretty much do what you want. Market your stuff and be a good salesman (which are good attributes) is all you need to do. Like I said the business aspect of martial arts aren't bad, but consumers make sure you have a qualified provider of service
How do you know if what you are learning will work? It has to be tested. In science class you go to lectures to learn theories and then you get the practical from the lab. The same is the case in martial arts and in most things you learn in life. Theory has to be applied in some form or fashion. Trials can be controlled and uncontrolled. They can be moderate or extreme. For example, you can try a technique on a training partner in light sparring, moderate sparring, or full contact sparring. You can even go to the extreme of competing against an opponent you are completely unfamiliar with. Through trial and error, you learn what works best for you in certain situations. When you learn something new, you practice it in a controlled environment and then you test it. Many times, people get stuck in theory and never get the chance to apply it. So, be sure to get in the lab in and test what you learn. Be able to apply it under pressure.
In 1994, I was selected to be a part of Team USA in an international competition. I was one of 5 on a US team against Team Russia. This event was hosted by World Champ, Steve Shepherd in West Palm Beach, FL. Here's a video of my fight against Russian Middleweight Kickboxing Champion, Alexander Veronin.
I was in Japan a couple of weeks ago for the Annual Shidokan International Championships and 70th birthday of Shidokan founder Kancho Yoshiji Soeno. In addition to seeing some great fights of bare knuckle Karate and Gloved Karate, I had an opportunity to meet the Kyokushin's 1st World Champion, Katsuaki Sato. If you've ever seen the documentary, "Fighting Black Kings", you will remember him as the guy who wins the tournament. If you haven't seen it, be sure to check it out so that you can see how full contact Karate developed. Looking at the fighters from the early 70s, you can see that many of the Karate fighters come from the Shotokan point system by their stance and use of the reverse punch. The low kicks were snap round kicks with the foot. When you see a fighter like Sato, you see a fighter who is well conditioned and who has already adopted clinch and knee techniques from kickboxing. He uses Judo, spin back kicks, etc. Check him out.
World Champion Richard Trammell shares his experiences, views and thoughts on fitness, martial arts and fighting.