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UnderGround Forums >> Kazushi Sakuraba: The Jester of MMA


3/23/13 4:25 PM
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Jack Slack
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Hey guys,

Felt a bit guilty about a list article I wrote yesterday to get on the BR front page, so I decided to get back to what I love and write in detail. I asked on twitter which legend people would like to hear more about and Sakuraba and Igor were by far the front runners. I've written loads of Igor stuff but I've never touched on Sakuraba, which is weird because he's basically the only fighter who I've ever been moved to buy merchandise from - that's how important he is to me as an influence.

Hope you don't mind clicking the link and as always I love all the feedback you can give me (and be brutal with this one because as I always say, grappling is NOT my strong suit).

Cheers,

Jack

Kazushi Sakuraba's list of accomplishments is simply astounding, but because of the unnecessary and brutal losses he accumulated as he dragged his feet about retirement, it is easy to forget just how great a fighter he was. If you have forgotten or don't know just why Sakuraba is so revered in Mixed Martial Arts circles, I shall give you the run down on some of his feats.

- Sakuraba defeated numerous world class 205lbs fighters including Vitor Belfort, Kevin Randleman andQuinton Jackson when he is comparable in build to some modern welterweights and easily made 185lbs in the twilight of his career.

- Sakuraba defeated four members of the legendary Gracie family when they were still a name to be feared in the sport.

- Sakuraba's first bout with Royce Gracie went 90 minutes (the longest MMA bout in history) by Gracie's request and ended with the Gracie corner throwing in the towel.

- Rather than drop out of the tournament which the bout was part of, Sakuraba went on to fight IgorVovchanchyn—the scariest striker in MMA at the time and a heavyweight—to a respectable loss in the same night.

Kazushi Sakuraba is truly an all time great in the MMA world, but an often under—appreciated technician. Sakuraba is an excellent example of a fighter who excelled in "anti—technique". Similar to the boxer who will drop his hands and throw looping counters, Sakuraba would put himself in calculated danger on the mat to secure his infamous kimura lock or a knee bar.

While I am certainly nowhere near as comfortable talking grappling as I am when I am talking the ins and outs of striking, I cannot help but appreciate the unorthodox methods that made Sakuraba such a difficult man to fight in his youth and have made him such an inspiration in my own training.

Sakuraba's fights often featured prolonged periods of fighting from this position.

Sakuraba is sporting his traditional orange hot pants and a Renzo Gracie backpack

I'm sure anyone who has seen a single Mixed Martial Arts event in the last five years will be able to tell me why that is such a poor position in the traditional positional hierarchy. Whether you're a wrestler or a jiu—jitsu fighter, you want to be the guy with a body lock from the opponent's back.

With the opponent's hands locked around him from behind, however, was whereSakuraba—the anti—technician that he was—did much of his best work.

Not even bothered

From this position Sakuraba would work to figure—four his grip and separate his opponent's wrists. Once this was accomplished he could simply spin with the kimuraand try to wrench the opponent's shoulder while standing—as he did to Renzo Gracie—or he could use it to turn them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CUeiuHxu9RE
 

Take a look at how Sakuraba actively and repeatedly gives his back to Kevin Randleman(of suplex fame) en route to separating Randleman's hands and using the kimura to turn him

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7sdfCQBJBIg

Relying on the kimura so heavily (not to mention giving the opponent one's back so routinely) above steady movement through the positional hierarchy is not the jiu—jitsu norm, but plenty of active competitors have realized the benefits of the kimura as a positional weapon rather than a submission attempt.

Sakuraba has separated Randleman's wrists.

As Sakuraba falls back and wrenches Randleman's arm, Randleman rolls.

Sakuraba follows Randleman up to attempt an armbar.

Here is the great Andre Galvao using a diving kimura to force a predictable reaction out of an opponent and using a vicious armbar to take his opponent's back. Galvao also uses the kimura grip routinely to take opponent's backs as they roll into him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ooxLySN8C4Y
 

Something interesting to note about Sakuraba is his choice to "turk" the legs of his opponent when using the kimura. Where Paulo Filho and others take the kimura grip from half guard and use it to preoccupy the opponent as they pass, Sakuraba would actively hook his opponent's legs to keep them from moving as he attempted to finish the kimura.

Continues at http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1578304-kazushi-sakuraba-the-jester-of-mma

 
3/23/13 4:25 PM
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caseharts
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I have to ask. Why not Jackslack.com?

I'll stop bringing it up. Good post Phone Post
3/23/13 4:34 PM
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6ULDV8
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Sub.  That man is one of my heroes.

3/23/13 4:54 PM
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GarlicSauce
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I've ever watched Sakuraba fights or known why he was so revered. This is a first step to knowing. It's smart of you to explain the subject this way, because there *are* a lot of people who only know UFC's MMA. Great job.
3/23/13 4:58 PM
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Samoa
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GarlicSauce - I've ever watched Sakuraba fights or known why he was so revered. This is a first step to knowing. It's smart of you to explain the subject this way, because there *are* a lot of people who only know UFC's MMA. Great job.
A great treat is yours should you take the time to watch Sakuraba's early years. Phone Post
3/23/13 5:05 PM
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DiscipleDojo
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Watching Saku's fights should be mandatory viewing for all fans of the sport. Period.

 

And Jack Slack, as much as I hate clicking on BR...I made an exception in your case. But man I wish you wrote for another site.  :)

3/23/13 5:06 PM
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INDK
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Sakuraba was brilliant, just watch his fight with newton Phone Post
3/23/13 5:09 PM
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DiscipleDojo
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Also, Jack, you should consider putting your ebooks on Kindle at a reduced price. I think you'd sell a lot more (and I'd be first in line).

3/23/13 5:09 PM
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Samoa
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INDK - Sakuraba was brilliant, just watch his fight with newton Phone Post
Sakuraba v Newton and Braga are great early NHB fights that showed well rounded fighters and exchanges in an age where fighters were FAR more "one discipline" than today. Prototypes of "MMA" when it was still NHB. Phone Post
3/23/13 5:15 PM
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Truemanc3
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Samoa - 
INDK - Sakuraba was brilliant, just watch his fight with newton Phone Post
Sakuraba v Newton and Braga are great early NHB fights that showed well rounded fighters and exchanges in an age where fighters were FAR more "one discipline" than today. Prototypes of "MMA" when it was still NHB. Phone Post

Yeah Newton did well in that fight.
3/23/13 5:18 PM
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D241
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http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/mma.cfm?go=forum.posts&thread=2151285

 

beat you op

3/23/13 5:19 PM
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ramaham
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INDK - Sakuraba was brilliant, just watch his fight with newton Phone Post
Some of the best grappling in an mma fight ever. Phone Post
3/23/13 5:29 PM
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Ponyboy
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Benson Henderson surely watched Sak and used the technique in the first post almost every time someone had his back to get out.
3/23/13 5:35 PM
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D241
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That fake leg kick to get the opponent to check it while Sakuraba goes in for a single is just brilliant.

 

This was a guy who was innovated.

3/23/13 5:54 PM
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IAmNotImpressedbyYourStocktonSlap
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He was a very smart fighter. Very high fight IQ. Phone Post
3/23/13 6:13 PM
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jkd_guy
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In Phone Post
3/23/13 6:13 PM
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Bromovich
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Sub. Phone Post
3/23/13 6:31 PM
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jacktripper
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Sak has participated in fixed fights Phone Post
3/23/13 6:33 PM
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Matrixkick
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In on this piece! Phone Post
3/23/13 6:38 PM
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Samoa
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jacktripper - Sak has participated in fixed fights Phone Post
Lots of early fighters did. Phone Post
3/23/13 6:58 PM
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timmyfront
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Sak is still my favorite fighter.

anyone that handles Royce for 90+ and then goes the distance with a prime Igor V is aces in my book.
3/23/13 7:00 PM
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Jack Slack
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jacktripper -  Sak has participated in fixed fights Phone Post

Yep, a loss to Kimo apparently.

If you're talking about Rampage, that guy has an excuse for everything.

3/23/13 7:01 PM
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Condit's Face Broke My Hand
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Brilliantly creative fighter. I think Dana said Sakuraba was his favorite Pride fighter. Phone Post
3/23/13 7:02 PM
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Condit's Face Broke My Hand
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Jack Slack -
jacktripper -  Sak has participated in fixed fights Phone Post

Yep, a loss to Kimo apparently.

If you're talking about Rampage, that guy has an excuse for everything.

I don't think the Rampage one was, but I have read that the one against Vitor was. I don't know if that is true or not though Phone Post
3/23/13 7:05 PM
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Silhouette
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jack i love your striking articles but there is a lot of misinformation in this one IMO

Saku didnt really ever use a "turk", a turk would be lifting the leg high with his heel to the sky. He hooked renzos leg because thats the way they came down after the turn and coming off the ropes, and most catch guys routinely hit the kimura from there as when he tapped Royler it started in half guard.

when he tapped royler he was in north south, and the sub came from a pass attempt from half guard, he locked it up and methodically moved to side to north south

Saku did not routinely give his back up, against randleman he was tripped then slammed, early in the fight it was a failed kick, against renzo he bounced off the ropes after a sweep attempt. He was a wrestler, so he came up to all fours, but he never "gave up" his back.

Against Royce the almost kneebar you talk about was hit off a failed takedown attempt by royce. Saku dropped his hips as if to hit a sit out then grabbed the knee from there. Saku was hunting the kneebar early from a lot of scrambles

Saku was a master of always having good positioning, to say he put himself in calculated danger is just wrong imo, He was always in good position and putting his opponents in bad situations

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