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Tag: Masahiko Kimura

Who’s the Real “Father of MMA”? — 10 Fighters More Deserving of the Title Than Bruce Lee


(Dat. Pizza. Dough.)

By Seth Falvo

Though current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw will not be a playable character in EA Sports UFC when it hits the shelves two weeks from now, Bruce Lee will be. Perhaps equally ridiculous is that Bruce Lee isn’t being treated as a novelty addition to the roster, but rather as “the father of Mixed Martial Arts,” something Dana White has also called him. Giving credit to only one person for the creation of MMA is absurd enough, but painting Bruce Lee as that person is just preposterous.

Then again, it really isn’t hard to understand why Zuffa would want to make someone like Bruce Lee an ambassador for our sport. Lee was — and still is — an instantly recognizable celebrity. His body was ripped and athletic. He knew how to wrestle, sure, but also understood that most people would rather watch him throw flashy kicks. His affirmations were deep enough to look good on playing cards and posters, but not too profound for the bros curling in the squat rack to comprehend. In other words, he appeals to a much larger audience than Edward William Barton-Wright and Tommy Tanaka do.

Even with all that in mind, there are figures in combat sports history who not only did more to mold modern MMA than Bruce Lee, but can also be worked into the charmingly revisionist Zuffa account of history just as well. The following list will focus on the accomplishments of these individuals, as well as the arguments for why they should be repackaged as the fathers of MMA. Let’s start with the oldest candidate, and work our way towards the modern era…

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The Roots of Fight ‘What the Gracies Mean to Fighting’ Contest


(Video courtesy of YouTube/RootsofFight)

If you were to ask 100 MMA fans to define mixed martial arts in a word, their responses would differ greatly. If you asked the same census group to define the sport in a name, nearly all would give you the same answer: Gracie.

While some would likely say that Rorian and Royce — having respectively founded the Ultimate Fighting Championship and won three of its first four tournaments in decisive fashion — were the impetus behind their answer, most would likely point to Gracie jiu-jitsu originators Helio and Carlos Gracie as the reason for their response.

Carlos and Helio were innovators, who, although they didn’t invent the art of jujitsu, or it’s “successor,” judo,  they did arguably revolutionize the hybrid fighting art, making it more effective than both, especially when used by smaller combatants against larger opponents.

To the brothers, their variation of the centuries old  Japanese martial art form, now known universally as “Brazilian” or “Gracie” jiu-jitsu, was not just simply efficacious in competition; it was equally as useful in self-defense and street fighting scenarios — a point they have stressed since introducing it to the masses more than 80 years ago.

Decades before Rorian and Royce made history with the UFC, their father Helio represented the Gracie name and defended its honor in scores of challenge matches designed to prove that GJJ — an offshoot of Kodokan judo, which was taught to them by Japanese immigrant and judo master Mitsuyo Maeda, was more effective than any other form of martial art.

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Submission Namesakes: Five Fighters and the Holds That Bear Their Names


(Does a Kimura by any other name hurt just as much? Pic: JudoInfo.com)

To enter the cage, to square off against another man trained to hurt you, makes you a tough guy. To make him surrender—the fight, his pride, his win bonus, his status in the sport—makes you a fighter. To become so proficient, so inventive in the art of submission that they name a particular form of kicking another man’s ass in your honor, that makes you immortal. One by one these men will fall, each and every one of them, but every time a limb is cranked, every time a man is rendered unconscious, their legacy will live on. Here’s a tribute to five men whose names grace the finer side of fighting.

The Kimura

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