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Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

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  • Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

    A friend of mine on this forum has been working on an interview with Ken Shamrock that has been posted on mixedmartialarts.com. The first part is great and includes a lot of info about Shamrock's time in the original UWF and Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi promotions in Japan. For those that didn't know, UWF was a shoot style pro wrestling promotion in Japan that was basically a forerunner to modern day MMA. A lot of the UWF wrestlers were being trained in a style of submission wrestling that has deep roots in old time pro wrestling, passed on from one generation to the next by the legendary Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson. Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Karl Gotch split off after the UWF died in 1990 and they started Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi in 1991. Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, and Ken Shamrock split off from PWFG to start Pancrase in 1993. There is some great info from this period in this interview.

    Part 1 is here: http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/news...w-Part-1-of-7/

  • #2
    Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

    That Shamrock interview's really interesting..Gotch helping Shamrock on his submissions explains plenty about Shamrock in hindsight. I'm looking forward to reading the upcoming interview parts.

    Also, hypothetically it would've been interesting to have seen Shamrock in the 1980s UWF in Japan..He could've had plenty classics against Fujiwara, Maeda, etc

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

      That Shamrock interview's really interesting..Gotch helping Shamrock on his submissions explains plenty about Shamrock in hindsight. I'm looking forward to reading the upcoming interview parts.

      Also, hypothetically it would've been interesting to have seen Shamrock in the 1980s UWF in Japan..He could've had plenty classics against Fujiwara, Maeda, etc

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

        Yeah, man. I repped Bill C. when that went up. I'm finding the early MMA days really interesting, in general, and that interview will be a bit of a goldmine for information on it. One person had a comment at the end of the article, stating that the early days of MMA reminded him of the early days of big wave surfing, where there will only a few people, scattered across the world, doing it, and they started finding each other, and then it started to become a thing. I thought that was a great analogy.

        Seeing a Malenko brothers match in Japan, which was worked-shoot style, I knew they were a part of the scene, but I didn't know they had direct contact with Shamrock that far back.

        $

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

          Yeah, man. I repped Bill C. when that went up. I'm finding the early MMA days really interesting, in general, and that interview will be a bit of a goldmine for information on it. One person had a comment at the end of the article, stating that the early days of MMA reminded him of the early days of big wave surfing, where there will only a few people, scattered across the world, doing it, and they started finding each other, and then it started to become a thing. I thought that was a great analogy.

          Seeing a Malenko brothers match in Japan, which was worked-shoot style, I knew they were a part of the scene, but I didn't know they had direct contact with Shamrock that far back.

          $

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

            http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/news...w-Part-3-of-7/

            Part 3 is up, and it's all Pancrase. Ken still saying there were no works in Pancrase, though, and I find this really hard to believe. Shamrock is a fascinating combination of open and closed. One second he's telling you everything, the next, he's like a 1970s style wrestler, protecting the business.

            This exchange happens:

            Bill C: The two Suzuki fights- would you rather not speak on those, or can I bring those up?

            Shamrock: Yeah- you know the thing is you can bring them up but I can’t talk about them. I mean, I think I’ve said enough throughout my career- and the things that I have exposed, and I’m just not gonna go there again- I already got too much heat for it from the last couple times. But, I think people know who I am, and if it’s an organization that doesn’t say “ProWrestling”- I’m not going to put myself into a situation where I’m going to let somebody degrade me, it’s not going to happen. You know, I put myself in a bad situation one time, and I never let it happen again.

            What the hell is this about?

            $

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

              http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/news...w-Part-3-of-7/

              Part 3 is up, and it's all Pancrase. Ken still saying there were no works in Pancrase, though, and I find this really hard to believe. Shamrock is a fascinating combination of open and closed. One second he's telling you everything, the next, he's like a 1970s style wrestler, protecting the business.

              This exchange happens:

              Bill C: The two Suzuki fights- would you rather not speak on those, or can I bring those up?

              Shamrock: Yeah- you know the thing is you can bring them up but I can’t talk about them. I mean, I think I’ve said enough throughout my career- and the things that I have exposed, and I’m just not gonna go there again- I already got too much heat for it from the last couple times. But, I think people know who I am, and if it’s an organization that doesn’t say “ProWrestling”- I’m not going to put myself into a situation where I’m going to let somebody degrade me, it’s not going to happen. You know, I put myself in a bad situation one time, and I never let it happen again.

              What the hell is this about?

              $

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                I'm just now finishing up part 2. Fucking great shit right here. I've always been a big Ken Shamrock fan, probably since I was about 10! This interview really hits on some interesting info, some great questions asked, you can tell Bill really knows his stuff and did a lot of research going into the interview. I've fallen head over heels in love with the early pre-UFC Japanese shoot wrestling stuff lately. I'm really digging the Rings tapes right now and I REALLY fucking loved the PWFG shows that I've seen. You think about how everyone frothed at the mouth at how ahead of the curb Royce Gracie was back in the early days of the UFC, the Japanese shoot wrestling crew was right there with him but it's like they don't really get the credit for it. The reaction at the time I think was that Royce was inventing stuff or doing things that were new, when in fact they was nothing really new about it at all, it was all stuff that had been going on in the shoot style of pro wrestling for years and years. All of those guys were way ahead of their time. Shamrock was front and center for that whole revolution, to me he was the foundation that the UFC was built on, I don't think he gets the respect he deserves. To learn about Shamrock's roots in shoot style pro wrestling is to learn about how that foundation was built, where it came from, fascinating shit to me being a fan from the early days who never really knew the full context/backstory that tied into pro wrestling(until recently). This whole interview is really a treasure. Great fucking work Bill.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                  I'm just now finishing up part 2. Fucking great shit right here. I've always been a big Ken Shamrock fan, probably since I was about 10! This interview really hits on some interesting info, some great questions asked, you can tell Bill really knows his stuff and did a lot of research going into the interview. I've fallen head over heels in love with the early pre-UFC Japanese shoot wrestling stuff lately. I'm really digging the Rings tapes right now and I REALLY fucking loved the PWFG shows that I've seen. You think about how everyone frothed at the mouth at how ahead of the curb Royce Gracie was back in the early days of the UFC, the Japanese shoot wrestling crew was right there with him but it's like they don't really get the credit for it. The reaction at the time I think was that Royce was inventing stuff or doing things that were new, when in fact they was nothing really new about it at all, it was all stuff that had been going on in the shoot style of pro wrestling for years and years. All of those guys were way ahead of their time. Shamrock was front and center for that whole revolution, to me he was the foundation that the UFC was built on, I don't think he gets the respect he deserves. To learn about Shamrock's roots in shoot style pro wrestling is to learn about how that foundation was built, where it came from, fascinating shit to me being a fan from the early days who never really knew the full context/backstory that tied into pro wrestling(until recently). This whole interview is really a treasure. Great fucking work Bill.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                    http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/news...ew-Final-part/

                    The final part is up, which has a link to all the previous posts at the bottom.

                    I found it to be a really fascinating read. It made me like Ken more (and Royce Gracie even less).

                    Some highlights:

                    The early Lion's Den days sounds a lot like TUF. Ken had a small house on his property, where the fighters lived, and trained, and competed to become full fledged members of the Den.

                    The final initiation was 500 squats, sit ups, push ups, among other things, and this was after rolling with a prime Ken Shamrock for an hour.

                    Once they became members, Shamrock would make his new recruits train for eight straight hours before they grappled with each other because the novices would "then be too fatigued to hurt each other." Next level man shit right there.

                    There were a lot of NHB fights in his gym, whether it was Shamrock getting ready for UFC, or his students fighting each other, and most of this was caught on tape. But the tapes were stolen.

                    From day one, Royce Gracie had a personal dressing room, while everybody else shared one big room. I hate Royce Gracie.

                    They told Shamrock the day of UFC 1 that he couldn't wear his shoes, which Shamrock believes impeded his chances, and is typical Royce Gracie bullshit.

                    Shamrock has a mini-monologue about going to UFC 3 that might be the perfect representation of him:

                    I wasn’t there to become famous, I wasn’t there to make fifty thousand dollars. I was there for one goal, and that was to get revenge. It was to beat the guy that beat me. And, I thought that I was robbed- I thought they pulled a lot of shaky things to get that win. So, I wanted to prove to everybody that that’s what happened- it wasn’t because of my ability, because I believe that I was better than him- even with the amount of experience that I had and that he had I believed I was better than him. Even in the match, I felt like if I would have had my shoes, I would have been able to complete that leg lock- and even if I didn’t tap him out I woulda broke his leg and the fight would have gone differently. But because the shoes were taken away, it changed the dynamic of the fight- it kept me off balance, I never had been in the ring before without shoes and I never got a chance to experience walking in the ring without shoes. And so, going into that fight my mentality was it doesn’t matter. I mean I was a fighter, I was focused, I didn’t care- I just wanted to go.

                    $

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                      http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/news...ew-Final-part/

                      The final part is up, which has a link to all the previous posts at the bottom.

                      I found it to be a really fascinating read. It made me like Ken more (and Royce Gracie even less).

                      Some highlights:

                      The early Lion's Den days sounds a lot like TUF. Ken had a small house on his property, where the fighters lived, and trained, and competed to become full fledged members of the Den.

                      The final initiation was 500 squats, sit ups, push ups, among other things, and this was after rolling with a prime Ken Shamrock for an hour.

                      Once they became members, Shamrock would make his new recruits train for eight straight hours before they grappled with each other because the novices would "then be too fatigued to hurt each other." Next level man shit right there.

                      There were a lot of NHB fights in his gym, whether it was Shamrock getting ready for UFC, or his students fighting each other, and most of this was caught on tape. But the tapes were stolen.

                      From day one, Royce Gracie had a personal dressing room, while everybody else shared one big room. I hate Royce Gracie.

                      They told Shamrock the day of UFC 1 that he couldn't wear his shoes, which Shamrock believes impeded his chances, and is typical Royce Gracie bullshit.

                      Shamrock has a mini-monologue about going to UFC 3 that might be the perfect representation of him:

                      I wasn’t there to become famous, I wasn’t there to make fifty thousand dollars. I was there for one goal, and that was to get revenge. It was to beat the guy that beat me. And, I thought that I was robbed- I thought they pulled a lot of shaky things to get that win. So, I wanted to prove to everybody that that’s what happened- it wasn’t because of my ability, because I believe that I was better than him- even with the amount of experience that I had and that he had I believed I was better than him. Even in the match, I felt like if I would have had my shoes, I would have been able to complete that leg lock- and even if I didn’t tap him out I woulda broke his leg and the fight would have gone differently. But because the shoes were taken away, it changed the dynamic of the fight- it kept me off balance, I never had been in the ring before without shoes and I never got a chance to experience walking in the ring without shoes. And so, going into that fight my mentality was it doesn’t matter. I mean I was a fighter, I was focused, I didn’t care- I just wanted to go.

                      $

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                        I'm slowly getting through these. Just read parts 4 and 5. It is fascinating stuff. One thing that surprised me is how Japanese people watch MMA/shoot-style:

                        Originally posted by Ken Shamrock
                        Yeah, I believe that with the crowd, and the material, the information that they read and study- it’s different than the U.S. where people just go and watch, and scream and yell, they’re entertained, and they’re all having a good time- it just seemed like the culture in Japan was that they knew everything about the fighter, they knew their background, they knew what styles they had, what their favorite move was, and what their strengths and weaknesses were. They studied everybody’s skill levels- they even had these magazines that came out which would show strengths and weaknesses in a chart that they would hand out during the fights. So they were given information- while these people would go to the fights they would hand out these charts and different things to the fans so that they could be kept up to speed on what the matchup was, what the strengths and weaknesses were, and what somebody would be trying to attack and exploit during the fight.

                        They were very educated and very well versed on the fighters going into the ring, so it was amazing to watch the “oohs” and the “aahs” when something would happen- and the quietness is what really bothered a lot of fighters coming in from other countries, because they didn’t know what to expect or what to think. They were like “Wait a minute. Am I that boring? These guys aren’t cheering.” So they would start pushing themselves harder and they would blow themselves up- in our terms, get tired and push themselves too hard- and they would run out of juice and in the later rounds they would be so tired that they couldn’t move too well. So, it was definitely different to a lot of people coming from other countries when you heard the quietness, you could hear a pin drop- and that really bothered fighters in the ring because they felt like “Wow, these people are not getting into my fight”- which is not the case. They’re studying the fight and they wait for things to happen.
                        I wonder if the fighters used these magazines to prepare for fights - at least when it became a real shoot.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                          I'm slowly getting through these. Just read parts 4 and 5. It is fascinating stuff. One thing that surprised me is how Japanese people watch MMA/shoot-style:

                          Originally posted by Ken Shamrock
                          Yeah, I believe that with the crowd, and the material, the information that they read and study- it’s different than the U.S. where people just go and watch, and scream and yell, they’re entertained, and they’re all having a good time- it just seemed like the culture in Japan was that they knew everything about the fighter, they knew their background, they knew what styles they had, what their favorite move was, and what their strengths and weaknesses were. They studied everybody’s skill levels- they even had these magazines that came out which would show strengths and weaknesses in a chart that they would hand out during the fights. So they were given information- while these people would go to the fights they would hand out these charts and different things to the fans so that they could be kept up to speed on what the matchup was, what the strengths and weaknesses were, and what somebody would be trying to attack and exploit during the fight.

                          They were very educated and very well versed on the fighters going into the ring, so it was amazing to watch the “oohs” and the “aahs” when something would happen- and the quietness is what really bothered a lot of fighters coming in from other countries, because they didn’t know what to expect or what to think. They were like “Wait a minute. Am I that boring? These guys aren’t cheering.” So they would start pushing themselves harder and they would blow themselves up- in our terms, get tired and push themselves too hard- and they would run out of juice and in the later rounds they would be so tired that they couldn’t move too well. So, it was definitely different to a lot of people coming from other countries when you heard the quietness, you could hear a pin drop- and that really bothered fighters in the ring because they felt like “Wow, these people are not getting into my fight”- which is not the case. They’re studying the fight and they wait for things to happen.
                          I wonder if the fighters used these magazines to prepare for fights - at least when it became a real shoot.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                            Finally caught up and read all of this. I don't have a whole lot to say about it but I was captivated by this interview. It's great that Shamrock went so in depth about all of this. Just a spectacular interview due to the knowledge of the guy asking the questions, well worth the wait. I'll have this bookmarked for a reference for many years to come. Great work Bill. I'm looking forward to your interview with Bart Vale.

                            Re: The Lions Den tapes. Interesting stuff. I remember seeing a documentary that was a part of a King of the Cage box set of DVD's way back in the day that featured a bunch of great footage of the Lions Den circa 1999-2000. That was really the first real MMA fight team. Interesting stuff.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Japan’s Rich MMA History: The Ken Shamrock Interview

                              Finally caught up and read all of this. I don't have a whole lot to say about it but I was captivated by this interview. It's great that Shamrock went so in depth about all of this. Just a spectacular interview due to the knowledge of the guy asking the questions, well worth the wait. I'll have this bookmarked for a reference for many years to come. Great work Bill. I'm looking forward to your interview with Bart Vale.

                              Re: The Lions Den tapes. Interesting stuff. I remember seeing a documentary that was a part of a King of the Cage box set of DVD's way back in the day that featured a bunch of great footage of the Lions Den circa 1999-2000. That was really the first real MMA fight team. Interesting stuff.

                              Comment

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