With surprisingly little reaction from the MMA blogosphere, martial arts pioneer Jim Kelly passed away over the weekend at the age of sixty-seven years old. Odds are pretty good that you recognize Kelly as Williams from Enter The Dragon, but his legacy is far greater than just that one role. Armed with his signature afro, one-liners and arsenal of kicks, Kelly broke the color-barrier for black actors in martial arts films at a time when the genre was almost exclusively reserved for Asian martial artists.
Aside from being one of the most instantly recognizable martial artists on the planet, Kelly also found the time to become a professional tennis player, an enthusiastic MMA fan, and a popular draw at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con International. So in memory of Kelly, we’ve compiled videos of some of his greatest fights, interviews, and even some footage of him playing tennis. Enjoy.
Kelly and Lee working on fight scenes for Enter the Dragon.
You may have already read the depressing accounts of “McDojo”-type martial arts schools written by our own Brian J. D’Souza and Seth Falvo, but here’s some visual proof that the culture of bullshit, bastardized karate/kung fu/whatever is alive and kicking (no pun intended), and still being swallowed up by gullible cult-members.
The above video shows a 5th-degree black belt test held by the World Martial Arts Association, based in Brooklyn, New York. Forget the fact that all these guys move like hyperactive yellow belts, and would all be smashed by anybody with four months of actual striking or grappling training — they’re grandmasters, every last one. Be sure to watch to the end to see a woefully out-of-sync kata demonstration, in which grown-ass men all try desperately to be the first one to finish. IT’S NOT A RACE, TIMMY.
After the jump, “headmaster” Michael T. Dealy freestyles against three attackers. You have never seen so many kicks blocked with forearms in your entire life. Lots more here.
A revolution is something that changes the system in a radical way. It’s an advancement that brings new ideas to the forefront. In many ways, this was what UFC 1 was. Organized by Rorian Gracie, Art Davie, and Bob Meyrowitz of Semaphore Entertainment Group, martial artists from a variety of styles were called upon to prove the superiority of their art by entering an eight-man elimination tournament at a November 12, 1993, event hosted in Denver, Colorado.
Many MMA fans know about the legend of Royce Gracie defeating professional boxer Art Jimmerson, Pancrase fighter Ken Shamrock and Savate champion Gerard Gordeau in one night to be crowned the first ever UFC tournament champion. But now, nearly 20 years after that historic event occurred, how much “truth” about how to effectively train and prepare for fights has trickled down to martial artists across the globe?
Sure, there are growing numbers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools and a resurgence of interest in Muay Thai or other stand-up styles suited for MMA across North America. But the same old “McDojo” styles consisting of impractical or untested methods are just as prevalent today as they were decades ago before the inception of the UFC.
I learned this for myself a couple of years ago when I was working part-time at a downtown gym. Because it was free, I checked out the “kickboxing” class that was offered. I knew the basics of boxing, and had done some Muay Thai before, so I figured I’d at least get a good workout. I didn’t bank on discovering that the McDojo mentality was still alive, even well into the heyday of the UFC’s dominance in Canada.
The class itself was basic Taekwondo repackaged as kickboxing. Some unorthodox TKD kicks can be effective, as various MMA fighters have demonstrated over the years. That still doesn’t compensate for a lack of footwork, defensive drills, or other deficiencies inherent in this variation of kickboxing.
The stone in my shoe that started with irritation and eventually became unbearable over time wasn’t the lack of useful techniques taught, but the tall tales that the instructor told. In one of his stories, a disrespectful jiu-jitsu practitioner (identified by his T-shirt) stepped to him at a bar; he responded by thumbing the BJJ guy in the eye, bragging to his students “Sometimes you have to fight dirty.” In another story, one of the instructor’s students — who knew nothing whatsoever about wrestling or grappling — had gone to a BJJ school, and “did well.” The student had also “almost KO’ed” another student.
(“Tweet this mofo to Dana and get me a fight with Sean McCorkle.”)
After watching Tim Sylvia’s overwhelmingly unimpressive “berserker” workout today from his unlikely (read, hopeless) guerilla campaign to get back in the UFC, we were reminded of the fact that some guys (and girls), no matter how passionate they are about the sport of mixed martial arts, just aren’t cut out to be fighters. Before you shoot the messengers, Tim admits himself that he was never the best athlete or fighter, but in today’s climate, he may not even be able to be more than an undercard heavyweight in the UFC.
Whether it be physical limitations or a deficiency in the skill set department, unfortunately for even the most passionate fighters sometimes heart and size aren’t enough to carry a career.