The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.
Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.
ONE Championship kicked off their 2021 campaign in Singapore on Friday, January 22, with ONE: Unbreakable.
The six-bout card featured five finishes including in the main event as Capitan Petchyindee Academy ousted Alaverdi Ramazanov for the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship.
See how all of the action went down in The Lion City with this recap of ONE: Unbreakable.
Main Event: Alaverdi Ramazanov vs. Capitan Petchyindee Academy
Capitan Winner by Knockout
Round 2 - 1:56
The first round was a blitz from both men, but it was Capitan's forward pressure that gave Ramazanov issues. Those issues grew in the second round with the Thai star walking down his prey and digging his shin into the Russian's legs and body repeatedly. Eventually, with Ramazanov against the Circle Wall, Capitan scored with a right hook to the body and a straight right to the head to put the champion down and take his crown.
Shinya Aoki vs. James Nakashima
Aoki Winner by Submission
In the co-main event, Shinya Aoki added James Nakashima to his long list of victims with a crushing neck crank in the first round. The magician continues to inspire his legion of fans and re-enters the lightweight title picture with his third-straight victory.
Rade Opacic vs. Bruno Susano
Opacic Winner by TKO
In heavyweight kickboxing action, Rade Opacic looked dominant once again with a TKO over Bruno Susano.
Zebaztian Kadestam vs. Gadzhimurad Abdulaev
Abdulaev Winner by Submission
Gadzhimurad Abdulaev made a statement in his debut by knocking off the former ONE Welterweight World Champion with a quick face crank submission. Abdulaev made it look easy which could elevate him into immediate contention as an undefeated athlete on the rise.
Meng Bo vs. Samara Santos
Meng Winner by Unanimous Decision
#2-ranked atomweight contender Meng Bo cruised to a unanimous decision win, but Brazilian Samara Santos made it a more difficult 15 minutes than she had expected. Still, the Chinese contender got the W and looks forward toward the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix.
Lito Adiwang vs. Namiki Kawahara
Adiwang Winner by KO
The show opened with an emotional performance from Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang who had recently lost his mother. He dedicated his performance to her and showed out with a big second-round knockout.
ONE: UNBREAKABLE | Fight HighlightsRelive the best moments from every fight at ONE Championship's first event of 2021, including the shocking KNOCKOUT that closed out the explosive World Title...
These three simple ways will make you more flexible instantly!
Fighters need to have an optimal amount of flexibility to kick, punch, takedown their opponent and even to escape submission holds. Your body has to be able to move through ranges of motion effectively, and that requires your muscles to stretch and contract functionally. In order to create flexibility, you have to wrap your mind around that it is more than just stretching a muscle.
Let me explain. Alignment and stability optimize flexibility. The joints must be in the correct position for muscles to stretch and contract properly. When joints are not aligned well, it compensates stability that limits and restricts mobility and flexibility; leading to dysfunctional movement. This also affects the contraction, range, and speed of your motion because your muscles lose pliability and resiliency.
For example, when the glute muscles are weak, the hip tilts forward. This causes the quads to tighten, resulting in a loss of flexibility to compensate for the weakness of the glutes. When the quads are tight, they will not stretch effectively because they are now stabilizing the hip instead of the glutes. So, the neuromuscular function for the quads must switch.
The solution is, to restore gluteal strength, in-turn, restoring stability to the hip. When stability is restored, the quads will be pliable and resilient and have the ability to stretch and contract effectively again. Stability is essential to maximize flexibility.
Do these three things to create instant and dramatic flexibility and range of motion.
Contract then Stretch
By contracting the muscle that opposes the stretching muscle, it sends a relaxation signal for the muscle being stretched. For example, your glute and quads, back and chest, or quads and hamstrings. It is called Reciprocal Inhibition.
- For example, when you lunge, contract the glute first before you stretch the quads.
Hold the Stretch
By simply holding a stretch for 5-10 seconds; the muscle will relax further into stretch. Your muscles know to the exact length how far and fast they can stretch. It is called Autogenic Inhibition.
- For example, when you stretch, and the stretch stops, hold for about 5-10 seconds. The muscles will relax further, increasing the stretch.
The inhale supports the contraction and the exhale supports the relaxation, the stretch. When you inhale and exhale using the first 2, it increases flexibility more.
- For example, inhale as you stretch to the tension point of the stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds then exhale into the stretch further. You will feel the stretch open immediately.
Use all three things to optimize the movement pathway for flexibility and mobility. Muscles need to adapt, to adjust flexibility and range of motion.
Isolated stretching vs. Resisted Stretching
Just stretching a muscle will not produce flexibility. It pulls the muscle fibers apart.
- Makes muscles lax losing ability to produce force and speed.
- Desensitizes muscles diminishing explosiveness.
- Loses resiliency.
- Produces inhibition- muscles cannot contract forcefully and fast.
Static stretching is not detrimental. The problem is the aforementioned when you do strength training or force production because your muscles don't respond effectively.
Static stretching will not injure you. However, to gain flexibility statically, you sacrifice power and force production.
Muscles absorb force when you add resistance to the stretch. Static stretching, does not.
Stretching with resistance allows muscles to maintain elasticity to create a more forceful rebound contraction. Without it, it like bouncing a basketball in the sand. Muscles need to be able to stiffen to be springy and explosive like bouncing a basketball on the ground. You want muscles to be resilient and springy, having the ability to stretch and recoil fast with power.
- Research says, regular heavy stretching with resistance for 10 minutes three days a week increases strength, speed, and power as well as enhances flexibility and mobility.
Stretching before competition and training diminishes force production and relaxes muscles due to lengthening, diminishing springiness and explosiveness. I always prefer doing slow resited stretching with weights or resistance bands because it maintains and enhances, springiness, explosiveness, and flexibility, all at the same time.
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The Key Is to Customize Your Forms by Playing With Them!
When facing a real attack, creativity and fast thinking are crucial for overcoming an opponent. The human problem, however, is that in a moment of stress, people tend to resort to a single, familiar response — whether it works or not. The goal of martial arts training is to help the student develop the ability to solve various tactical problems in moments of crisis. To achieve this, several attributes must be cultivated. One of the most important is the flexibility of mind needed to make good tactical decisions. What may be surprising, however, is the method that traditional arts use to develop flexibility of mind: kata.
Kata, or forms, have been taught in the fighting traditions for hundreds of years. The thing that makes them so effective as a learning tool is what's overlooked in most modern schools, where forms are often treated like an annoying curriculum requirement. Classical forms are composed of actual self-defense techniques that are based on sound and reliable principles. So the first step is to actually practice forms "for real." This means that forms training must include not only the solo performances but also the bunkai, or two-person applications.
Now, some people say they practice bunkai, but they're misleading themselves if their practice consists of defending against stylized attacks that bear no relationship to what one is likely to see in a real-world encounter. And they're misleading themselves if the responses to those stylized attacks — supposedly, the movements from the form — depend on distance and anticipation to work. True bunkai is the purely functional use of movements from kata against common forms of aggression.
Note: To test whether you're practicing true bunkai, have your training partner attack with intensity and realism. If you can't make your application work, it probably is not true bunkai.
When kata are taught properly, the first step is to provide students with a simple, realistic and usable interpretation for each movement of a form. Each individual move is taught as a response to a realistic attack. And it's taught on the assumption that the attacker is about the same size as the defender. But what if you're a 5-foot-6-inch, 125-pound woman training in a dojo full of men who are 6 feet tall and north of 200 pounds? Clearly, the standard techniques won't work as standardly taught.
This is precisely what makes kata training so important. The secret lies, first, in understanding that kata are practical and that practicality is expressed in realistic bunkai, and second, in acknowledging that realistic bunkai is ultimately about understanding and applying the principles of a technique. In other words, if you have a practical use for a kata movement, you have one good technique. But if you understand the principles of that one technique, you have a thousand techniques.
So how can kata be taught and subsequently fine-tuned in a way that maximizes practicality and conceptual understanding? The answer is to give yourself permission to think creatively about forms so you come up with a variety of bunkai that work best for you. And to accomplish this, you must give yourself permission to play with the forms.
And how does one play with kata? Any way you want. A simple way to start is to change the timing and emphasis. For example, while performing a downward counter (gedan-uke), the emphasis is usually on the downward strike. Instead, emphasize the beginning of the movement when your hand comes up near your opposite ear. Suddenly, you discover another striking action hidden within the movement. Your downward counter isn't a low strike away from yourself; it's a rising strike that moves toward your own body.
Another way to play is to start with bunkai and work your way backward. Perform a bunkai you already know but on a differently sized or abled opponent. While performing the technique, pay attention to modifications that you make to execute the move effectively. Once you have identified a modification, try to apply it to the solo performance of kata play.
The point is to learn to think freely and creatively. Playing with kata is a form of free expression. This leads to creative thinking and to the discovery of principles of effective self-defense. And this, in turn, leads to different ways to solve tactical problems and ultimately leads to the skill one needs to make good tactical solutions under stress.
Now, some very traditional practitioners will object to the notion of playing with kata because it implies "changing" the forms — a notion that attacks the very heart of the traditionalist sense of orthodoxy. But playing with kata does not imply abandoning the "orthodox" versions, however they're defined within a given style or tradition. In fact, it's the custom of the authors to practice orthodox kata, then to perform a personalized, played-with version of the same forms.
Other instructors might object, claiming that it will create confusion if students are given permission to personalize their own art. But imagine what would happen if students were taught to think on their own — and not simply parrot the teacher's movements. Imagine how much more they could get done during class. Instead of struggling with students who can't get something to work, the students can play with the movement themselves and find alternative methods that work for them. In this way, playing with kata can solve some very important dojo problems.
For example, if students think there's only one correct way to perform a technique, they'll tend to sacrifice technique and muscle their way through the move when necessary to make it work. But when students are encouraged to adapt techniques to suit their strengths, they begin to work independently on improving their technique through proper body mechanics.
Another dojo problem revolves around the fact that karate is a male-dominated adult activity. But if you look at the kids classes, there's a more even mix of girls and boys. What causes girls to quit training?
There's no one single reason, but part of the problem is that girls are not being taught how to adapt techniques to make them work. Most girls, as they grow, find that they can't muscle their way through a technique against an adult male to make it work.
Sadly, most sensei don't have enough time or knowledge to teach a different way of doing the technique when this occurs. Nor should they. Instead, if all the students are given the freedom to play with kata and the corresponding bunkai, those girls — who might be in danger of quitting — can learn to think independently as they modify their moves.
Another dojo problem is that training partners don't always attack in a helpful manner. This is especially an issue for women training with men because the men sometimes will try to demonstrate their superior strength with female training partners. Students who have been taught to play with kata and modify them for different situations have a much better time adapting to meet changing circumstances — all the while, still using the framework of the kata. For students trained in this approach, kata aren't stagnant routines; they're living things that can be manipulated and shaped to fit a variety of combative circumstances.
Who knew that playing could be such a useful learning tool? Students who have been given permission to think creatively about kata will become better fighters. They will have already learned how to adapt to different situations and circumstances. Sparring will improve with the freedom to think outside the box.
And should the students find themselves in a self-defense situation, they will be prepared to think on the spot instead of freezing when a technique doesn't work like it was supposed to.
The ability to think is arguably one of the most important fighting skills anyone can learn. A good fighter has a good mind. Kata are the perfect tool for training a strong, effective mind — as long as you're given permission to analyze, adapt, shape, understand and play with those kata.
April Taylor is a practitioner of Ryukyu kempo. She stands 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds — and regularly trains with 200-pound men. Chris Thomas is a longtime practitioner of the martial arts and a renowned instructor whose articles have appeared in Black Belt since 1981. He is also April Taylor's dad. Click here to visit his website.
Black Belt Hall of Fame member Fedor Emelianenko, considered by some the greatest heavyweight in the history of mixed martial arts, has been hospitalized with the Covid-19 virus. It was reported Thursday that the Russian fighting great had been taken to a hospital in Moscow. Though the hospital has not released any details of his condition, Emelianenko, 44, took to Instagram to assure his fans he's feeling well and recovering.
A former combat sambo world champion and heavyweight champion of the now defunct Pride promotion, Emelianenko retired from fighting in 2012 but returned in 2015. He is currently signed with Bellator MMA where he's gone 3-2 since 2017. There had been plans for him to have an epic farewell fight in Russia but the worldwide pandemic has put those plans on hold.