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Thread: Traditional stylists in MMA

  1. #1
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    Traditional stylists in MMA

    I wasn't really sure what to title this since something like SanDa isn't considered traditional, but it's Kung Fu. Karate is traditional but is not Kung Fu. Catch my drift? Good.

    This is an attempt to name names in the big time organizations (UFC, ONE, Bellator, and Rizin) and point to individuals that practice our super cool old ways (or similar ). This list isn't exhaustive since it's based on my own knowledge or the knowledge imparted unto me by helpful commenters. I thought this would be a useful list since it's always a topic of interest here.

    EDIT: if you'd like to contribute, please give me the fighter's name, what organization they fight with, and a link to their wikipedia page. If they don't have a wiki, then I'll need to know more about them (background, belts, etc.)

    UFC

    • Zhang Weili - women's strawweight champion. She has a Sanda background and is said to have experience with Shuai Jiao as well
    • Zabit Magomedsharipov - top 5 ranked fighter in the men's featherweight division. Zabit holds a Master of Sport rank in Sanda and is a 6x Sanda champion
    • Tony Ferguson - a top 5 ranked fighter in the men's lightweight division. He has an eclectic style that is uniquely his own. He's cross trained in Wing Chun and Shaolin Long Fist and there are videos of him training with a Wing Chun dummy. He's known for his very high level grappling, having a black belt in 10th Planet Jiujitsu, but popular fight analyst Robin Black has said that when he watches Tony fight, he sees Long Fist.
    • Rose Namajunas - the former women's strawweight champion. She holds black belts in TKD and Karate
    • Robert Whittaker - the former men's middleweight champion. He holds black belts in Goju-ryu karate and Hapkido
    • Yair Rodriguez - top 10 fighter in the men's featherweight division. He has a black belt in TKD and is known for utilizing many kicks in his fights.
    • Chan Sung Jung - top 10 fighter in the men's featherweight division. Often called "The Korean Zombie" by fans (based on his ring name), he holds black belts in TKD, Hapkido, and Judo
    • Ji Yeon Kim - unranked women's flyweight fighter. She has a background in Sanda and Hapkido
    • Song Yadong - a top 15 fighter in the men's bantamweight division with a background in Sanda
    • Mizuki Inoue - an unranked fighter in the women's strawweight division. She has a background in Karate
    • Georges St-Pierre - now retired, he is the former men's welterweight and middleweight champion. He holds black belts in Kyokushin and Shidokan karate and is pretty universally considered to be the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC
    • Anderson Silva - a legendary fighter and former champion of the men's middleweight division. He holds the record for the most consecutive wins (16), has a black belt in TKD, and his wiki says he's studied Wing Chun as well
    • Anthony Pettis - a top 15 fighter in the men's lightweight and middleweight division who is a former lightweight division champion. He has a blackbelt in TKD
    • Kevin Holland - an unranked fighter in the men's middleweight division. His wiki says he has a black belt in kung fu
    • Muslim Salikhov - an unranked fighter in the men's welterweight division. He is nicknamed "the King of Kung fu" and has won multiple sanda gold medals
    • Li Jingliang - an unranked fighter in the men's welterweight division with a background in sanda and shuai jiao
    • Shamil Abdurakhimov - a top 10 fighter in the men's heavyweight division with a sanda background
    • Michelle Waterson - nicknamed "The Karate Hottie" is a top 10 fighter in the women's strawweight division. She has a black belt in American Freestyle Karate and has some training in Wushu
    • Stephen Thompson - a top 10 fighter in the men's welterweight division. He holds a 6th degree black belt in Tetsushin-ryu Kempo


    Bellator

    • Lyoto Machida - Former top UFC that now fights in Bellator. He holds a black belt in Shotokan karate
    • Roy Nelson - a former UFC fighter. He has a black sash in Ng Ga Kuen


    Rizin

    • Tenshin Nasukawa - a presently undefeated fighter competing in both kickboxing and recently MMA. He holds black belts in Kyokushin and Shin karate and is considered a young prodigy of a fighter


    ONE FC

    • Eduard Folyang - a former lightweight champion in the men's division who has a background in Sanda
    • Kevin Belingon - a former men's bantamweight champion with a background in sanda
    Last edited by Kymus; 11-09-2019 at 07:28 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    like that old japanese zen monk that grabs white woman student titties to awaken them to zen, i grab titties of kung fu people to awaken them to truth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Canzonieri View Post
    You can discuss discrepancies and so on in people's posts without ripping them apart. So easy to do sitting behind a computer screen anonymously, but in person I'm sure you'd be very different, unless you're a total misanthrope without any friends.

  2. #2
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    “Big Country” Roy Nelson, formerly of the UFC and now in Bellator, has a background in Ark Wong’s Ng Ga Kuen.

    Anthony Pettis is a 3rd-degree black belt in TKD.

    Anderson Silva is (or at least was) a TKD black belt.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 10-18-2019 at 07:29 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    “Big Country” Roy Nelson, formerly of the UFC and now in Bellator, has a background in Ark Wong’s Ng Ga Kuen.

    Anthony Pettis is a 3rd-degree black belt in TKD.

    Anderson Silva is (or at least was) a TKD black belt.
    Thanks Jimbo! For some reason I thought that Roy Nelson's experience in Ng Ga was very minimal but his wikipedia page says he has a black sash
    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    like that old japanese zen monk that grabs white woman student titties to awaken them to zen, i grab titties of kung fu people to awaken them to truth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Canzonieri View Post
    You can discuss discrepancies and so on in people's posts without ripping them apart. So easy to do sitting behind a computer screen anonymously, but in person I'm sure you'd be very different, unless you're a total misanthrope without any friends.

  4. #4
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    Hello, Kymus.

    Angelito Manguray is a fighter in the Philippines with a Karate background.

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    Eduard Foloyang, Kevin Belingon (most of Team Lakay), Zhang Weili, Zhang Tiequan, Zhang Lipeng, Yao Zikui, Li Jingliang, Muslim Salikhov, Shamil Abdurakhimov all come from sanda. There are many other Chinese, Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian fighters with sanda backgrounds. As far as traditional MA, there are so many with karate and judo backgrounds it would be impossible to list them all here.

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    TBH, I’m not sure how much more traditional some “traditional” styles are than the 4 “accepted” styles of MMA. For example, modern Shotokan karate is probably no older than Gracie JJ/BJJ. Chuck Liddell had a considerable background in Kenpo karate, but I don’t know how “traditional” that is (and I used to be a Kenpo black belt, so this isn’t a knock on Kenpo). TKD was originally a Korean variation of Shotokan karate with a few more kicks added in (IIRC, Choi Hong-Hi has been a 2nd dan in Shotokan); TKD certainly did NOT have a history going back thousands of years in Korea, as some books written in the past by some Korean TKD teachers/authors claimed.

    Where exactly is the line where “traditional” stops and “modern/non-traditional” begins? Muay Thai has a long history behind it, even if the vast majority of MMA fighters aren’t “pure” MT fighters. BJJ is basically a derivative of Kano’s judo, which itself is a synthesis of various older jujutsu styles. And of course, western boxing and wrestling have ancient roots.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 10-22-2019 at 07:26 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by B.Tunks View Post
    Eduard Foloyang, Kevin Belingon (most of Team Lakay), Zhang Weili, Zhang Tiequan, Zhang Lipeng, Yao Zikui, Li Jingliang, Muslim Salikhov, Shamil Abdurakhimov all come from sanda. There are many other Chinese, Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian fighters with sanda backgrounds. As far as traditional MA, there are so many with karate and judo backgrounds it would be impossible to list them all here.
    Please do me a favor and mention what organization everyone fights out of in the future and FYI Zhang Weili was the first one I mentioned :P
    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    like that old japanese zen monk that grabs white woman student titties to awaken them to zen, i grab titties of kung fu people to awaken them to truth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Canzonieri View Post
    You can discuss discrepancies and so on in people's posts without ripping them apart. So easy to do sitting behind a computer screen anonymously, but in person I'm sure you'd be very different, unless you're a total misanthrope without any friends.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    TBH, I’m not sure how much more traditional some “traditional” styles are than the 4 “accepted” styles of MMA. For example, modern Shotokan karate is probably no older than Gracie JJ/BJJ. Chuck Liddell had a considerable background in Kenpo karate, but I don’t know how “traditional” that is (and I used to be a Kenpo black belt, so this isn’t a knock on Kenpo). TKD was originally a Korean variation of Shotokan karate with a few more kicks added in (IIRC, Choi Hong-Hi has been a 2nd dan in Shotokan); TKD certainly did NOT have a history going back thousands of years in Korea, as some books written in the past by some Korean TKD teachers/authors claimed.

    Where exactly is the line where “traditional” stops and “modern/non-traditional” begins? Muay Thai has a long history behind it, even if the vast majority of MMA fighters aren’t “pure” MT fighters. BJJ is basically a derivative of Kano’s judo, which itself is a synthesis of various older jujutsu styles. And of course, western boxing and wrestling have ancient roots.
    Traditional in this case means karate and kung fu
    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    like that old japanese zen monk that grabs white woman student titties to awaken them to zen, i grab titties of kung fu people to awaken them to truth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Canzonieri View Post
    You can discuss discrepancies and so on in people's posts without ripping them apart. So easy to do sitting behind a computer screen anonymously, but in person I'm sure you'd be very different, unless you're a total misanthrope without any friends.

  9. #9
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    Michelle Waterson (UFC) has a black belt in American Freestyle karate (not traditional), and has trained in Wushu.

    Stephen Thompson (UFC) is a black belt in Tetsushin-ryu Kempo.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 10-27-2019 at 07:44 PM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks Jimbo! I'm surprised I forgot them
    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    like that old japanese zen monk that grabs white woman student titties to awaken them to zen, i grab titties of kung fu people to awaken them to truth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Canzonieri View Post
    You can discuss discrepancies and so on in people's posts without ripping them apart. So easy to do sitting behind a computer screen anonymously, but in person I'm sure you'd be very different, unless you're a total misanthrope without any friends.

  11. #11
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    If you want to see fighters with a sanda background who have most successfully transitioned to MMA its in One FC, the best of all coming from the Philippines. Along with those already mentioned, Geje Eustaquiao, Danny Kingad, Joshua Pacio (current straw weight champ), Honorio Banario (featherweight champ), Rene Catalan (multiple time world sanda champ), Edward Kelly and Robin Catalan amongst others.

  12. #12
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    cool story

    Mixed Martial Arts
    How Dagestan’s ‘Shaolin Temple’ produced UFC stars Zabit Magomedsharipov and Muslim Salikhov
    Zabit and Salikhov’s traditional martial arts values instilled in them as students at a wushu academy founded by painter and philosopher in an empty field
    ‘The main goal is to develop all-rounded human beings,’ says school’s coach – ‘the world will know our lads conduct themselves with dignity’
    Pavel Toropov
    Published: 3:18pm, 8 Aug, 2020


    Zabit Magomedsharipov with his sanda medals (left) and Muslim Salikhov at the 2013 World Combat Games. Photo: Pyat Storon Sveta

    Russia already has two UFC champions. Zabit Magomedsharipov, from the Russian republic of Dagestan, could soon become the third. Another promising Dagestani fighter, Muslim Salikhov, was signed by UFC in 2017 and won his last four bouts.
    Zabit and Salikhov, practitioners of traditional Chinese martial art wushu sanda, are humble and courteous to a fault. The only thing media have to talk about are their performances in the Octagon.
    These traditional martial arts values were instilled in them when the pair where students at a boarding school known as Dagestan’s Shaolin Temple.
    Called Pyat Storon Sveta in Russian, or “five cardinal directions” (North, South, East and West, plus a fifth one that symbolises personal enlightenment) the school teaches wushu. It was founded by philosopher and painter Gusein Magomaev and his wife, Olga.



    Magomaev, now 70, was one of the most successful karate instructors in the Soviet Union. But in the early 1980s he switched to wushu, considering it the origin of all martial arts.
    The couple then left Moscow for Gusein’s native Dagestan, a multi-ethnic mountainous region in the south of Russia. Next to a village called Khalimbek-Aul, the Magomaevs started to build a wushu academy from scratch in an empty field. Soon hundreds of people started to arrive from all over the Soviet Union to learn.
    But the Magomaevs wanted to teach children. “The most noble profession that exists is working with children – raising them, educating them, coaching them,” Gusein said. They decided to turn the academy into a boarding school for boys where wushu was part of the curriculum. Dagestan was the right place to do it.
    In the 19th century it took the Russian Empire decades to establish its rule over the fiercely independent mountain people of the Caucasus in what is now Dagestan. In every one of the dozens of local ethnic groups, men valued bravery and prowess in battle.
    Nowadays, Dagestanis express their warrior genes in combat sport. Three million people live in Dagestan, just 2 per cent of the Russian population, but out of 10 Russian fighters currently ranked by the UFC, seven are Dagestani.


    Gusein Magomaev teaching wushu in his school in Dagestan in the 1980s. Photo: Pyat Storon Sveta

    The collapse of the USSR devastated Dagestan. The economy folded, poverty soared. The youth, deprived of education and employment opportunities, were sucked into an Islamic insurgency.
    Amid this chaos, the Magomaevs and their students put up buildings and recruited teachers. They funded everything, with the state practically bankrupt in the 1990s.
    The school formally opened in 1996, accepting boys from the age of 10 from all over Dagestan. There were no fees.
    One of the school’s coaches is Evgeniy Saschenko, who arrived in 1990 as a 14-year-old, travelling alone across 1,000 kilometresto learn wushu from Magomaev. “I told my parents that if they don’t let me go, I will run away,” Saschenko said.
    An outsider, Saschenko had to win the respect of the tough local boys and learn the customs. But his sporting career was cut short, as there was no money to send competitors anywhere. He became a coach.
    Saschenko recalls the hardships of the 1990s. During the insurgency he had to guard the school. “We were issued weapons and radios … the country was in chaos, but we had the strongest desire to learn and to train,” he says.
    “In the evenings Gusein Saigidovich (Magomaev) read to us – Plato, Seneca, Lao Tzu, about Confucius. He and his wife became second parents to me and to other lads.”


    Coach Evgeniy Saschenko with a student during a competition. Photo: Pyat Storon Sveta

    Thirty years later, coach Saschenko is still there. He married a teacher and their eldest son, Artur, is junior world kick-boxing champion.
    The school now has a large gym, modern classrooms and dormitories for 300 boys. Last year 170 children applied. The school could only take 50.
    By 2019, the school had produced 4,616 wushu champions – at regional, national, European and world level.


    Gusein Magomaev teaching a wushu class in the 1980s. Students arrived from all over the USSR. Photo: Pyat Storon Sveta

    Discipline is strict and the days are spent studying and training. “It is like the army – you know exactly what you must be doing, and when,” UFC star Salikhov recalls.
    The school walls are adorned with stern slogans. “Respect others and you will be respected. Look down on others, and you will be looked down on,” reads one.
    But the English department has colourful murals of London’s Beefeaters and red double-decker buses. The school prides itself on the quality of its English education.


    Zabit Magomedsharipov and Evgeniy Saschenko with students in the school gym. Photo: Pyat Storon Sveta

    This is not a Soviet-style “sports school” where grades and exam results are a formality. “The teachers demand a lot of you. You can get a good education here,” Salikhov says.
    Saschenko adds: “The main goal of our founder is to develop all-rounded human beings. If a person isn’t developed intellectually, it is like having a body part missing. If a person has no ethics, it is the same. There are many great athletes, but not all are worthy human beings.”
    At tournaments the students are even discouraged from celebrating after a win, says Salikhov. This is considered disrespectful.


    Coach Evgeniy Saschenko (right) with Zabit Magomedsharipov (centre). Photo: Pyat Storon Sveta

    Salikhov and Zabit reached the pinnacle of sanda. Five-time world champion Salikhov is acknowledged as one of the best – in 2006, he won the open-weight King of Kung Fu tournament in Chongqing, the first non-Chinese to do so. Zabit is five-time Russian champion and 2012 European champion.
    Despite sanda being well suited to MMA, the school’s students have trouble with one technique – finishing off the opponent, hitting a man when he is down and hurt.
    “I don’t like it. If you see that the guy is not going to get up, better walk away rather than really try to do him in,” Salikhov says.


    Muslim Salikhov kicks Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in their welterweight fight during UFC 251. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

    Will this mindset affect their careers in MMA where brutality and notoriety drive up viewing figures and earning power?
    Saschenko’s reply is unequivocal. “Zabit and Muslim will find their own fans – there are many people for whom modesty and decency have value,” he says. “The world will know that our lads conduct themselves with dignity.”
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