20 Questions for the Machida patriarch

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AnDeRsonDaSiLvA Avatar

Joined:Jan 2008

Sherdog.com: Did you see Lyoto rescuing the real Karate?
Yoshizo: Yes, because the fight can’t only be about taking points from the opponent. For example, the guy can score 20 points in Judo, but if he takes an Ippon, he will loose, just like in jiu-jitsu. For what reason are the points important? If the guy is submitted or knocked out, it’s over. I always tell Lyoto that he has to finish the fight, not just take points. Once it starts, he has to try to finish as soon as possible. Of course, sometimes someone who paid to see five rounds will probably be disappointed to see the fight end in the first round, but the real fighter wants to see the fight finished as soon as possible.

Sherdog.com: Can you describe your first trip to Brazil?
Yoshizo: It was a very hard trip, a total of 40 days. The ship stopped in Hawaii, Argentina, Uruguay, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and finally in Belem. The ocean was so powerful that I remember that I spent the first 15 days vomiting. When I was down to 120 pounds, someone gave me whisky. Then I found out that if I got drunk, I couldn’t feel the ocean shaking the ship. After that, I got used to it and started to teach karate to everybody on the ship, and it was really nice.

Sherdog: What was it like after you arrived?
Yoshizo: When I arrived in Belem, I got a job thanks to Japanese immigration and a Japanese company that used to build roads. I worked on that for one year and then went to Rio de Janeiro, where I spent two weeks with Master Tanaka. Right after that, I went to Sao Paulo, where I met Inoki’s brother, and I started to take care of their academy. Later on, I went to Bahia, where I opened my own academy. Since then, I’ve taught more than 10,000 students, but only 250 received the black belt. I arrived here with only two pairs of clothes, nothing else, and I only knew how to say three things -- good morning, good evening and hungry. I didn’t sleep in the streets, but in the academies, without food, I dealt with hard times. After some time, I had my own academy and students. Today, I can say I’m a happy man. I believe every man has to do what he really likes in life, no matter if it’s common or different from other people. You have to try your best to be different from others. Today, that’s very difficult.

Sherdog: How do people in Japan see karate today?
Yoshizo: In the past, karate was just for self-defense and was used in fighting. Today, it’s much more like a sport and focused on competitions. I, just like many of my teachers, think the karate philosophy is being left out. Karate needs to be used to finish the opponent. Today, the fighters are faster, stronger and better prepared, but they fight to take points from the opponent. I think it should return to its origins in self defense.

Sherdog: How do you feel when Lyoto’s fights go the distance and people call him a boring fighter?
Yoshizo: The fighters need to work on his defensive positions; that’s why my son has never been seriously hit. But for the promoter, sometimes it was not a good show. There are many strong guys out there, and each fighter needs to have his strategy. Against Rashad, I told him to forget about the belt and take him down as fast as he could, and that’s what he did. This is martial arts. Anyone who practices a martial art knows about it, no matter which martial art it is. Our son is not making a show yet because, to make a show, you have to be really superior. In his last two fights, he has given a great show. Now, he understands he’s strong. I love Anderson Silva’s fights because he’s an artist inside the Octagon. A lot of people don’t like it because they think he wants to play and have fun. I don’t see it that way. I see him as a showman who’s very strong. Deep in his heart, he knows he can finish the fight when he wants. Anderson was born like that. Lyoto is different. He wasn’t born like that, but as he trains more, trusts his karate and believes in his style, he’s getting more confident and is giving a better performance each time out.

Sherdog: As competitor, were you more like Chinzo or Lyoto?
Yoshizo: Certainly Chinzo, because I was really fast. Between 23 and 36, nobody could touch me. I used my wrists very well. I’m very small, and I used to fight against guys who were stronger and heavier; if they touched me, I’d fall down, so I trained my speed a lot. I’m teaching that to Lyoto because he’s big, but when compared to some of his UFC opponents, he’s small.

Sherdog: You said Lyoto’s defense is very good. Do you think he would have won as many fights in MMA if he had a style similar to you and Chinzo?
Yoshizo: No. He would have lost already. Me and Chinzo have a real offensive style. We attack. Lyoto is more cautious, and thanks to that, he developed a lot of his defense. One of the best things about our karate in MMA is that it combines defenses and attacks. That’s why he’s doing so well in this sport.

Sherdog: What’s the difference between Machida karate and Shotokan karate?
Yoshizo: Shotokan nowadays is pretty much focused on competition. Machida karate thinks competition is very important -- we have many champions -- but we separate Machida karate. In the ring, our goal is to punish and take down an opponent. On the other side, Shotokan karate, which I also teach, is pretty much an educational sport.

Sherdog: Did you participate in any karate competitions in Brazil?
Yoshizo: I couldn’t compete in the Brazilian national championships because I’m Japanese. But in 1970, I was invited to participate in the Champions of the Champions Cup, where I beat five state champions from Minas, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Bahia. In the final, I defeated the Brazilian national champion, Caribe, who was very famous at that time. Back then, the competition was much more violent; the goal was to take down the opponent.

Sherdog: We see a lot of fighters win championships and take 20- or 30-day vacations. But Lyoto, after nine months of training without break, could not even take an eight-day vacation. On the second day, he called his trainer and said he wanted to train.
Yoshizo: Lyoto likes the routine of training. He likes to train every day. His goal is to always improve, not only to defend his belt but to test new techniques; that’s very important in martial arts.

Sherdog: What about urine therapy. How did you start doing that?
Yoshizo: Actually, this technique was used in China and India a long time ago. I started doing that after reading a book about a Japanese doctor who was in World War II. When the medicines ran out, he told the soldiers to drink their urine, and it worked as a vaccine. I started doing that three years ago, and it’s working fine. I never get sick anymore. Lyoto is doing the same, and he also likes the results.

Sherdog: Did your master send you to Brazil to make karate popular there?
Yoshizo: No, I wanted to go because I love to train. If I go two days without karate training, I get mad. When I got here, I received some support from Japanese friends who helped me financially so I could take care of the academy. There are other Japanese masters in Brazil who faced the same situation. Later, I was able to open my own academy in Belem.

Sherdog: Is it true that you took care of Conde Koma’s bones?
Yoshizo: About 30 years ago, there was a heavy rain in Belem that destroyed Mitsuyo Maeda Koma’s grave in the cemetery. His friend, Sakaeoti, who was about 80 years old at the time, told me about it. He always told me many stories about Mitsuyo, about how much he helped Japanese people who came to Brazil. Sakaeoti and I went to the cemetery, and I collected Koma’s bones and cleaned them. With the support of Kokushikan University, which rebuilt Koma’s tomb, we buried his bones again in a new grave paid for by the university.

Sherdog: Koma was a great fighter and was the man who taught jiu-jitsu to the Gracies. If it were not for him, we probably wouldn’t have MMA or the UFC. Do you believe his Samurai spirit may be helping Lyoto in the Octagon?
Yoshizo: My family and I believe in spiritualism and reincarnation. Koma is probably helping Lyoto.

Sherdog: Having spent 70 days with Satoshi Ishii, do you believe he can become an MMA champion?
Yoshizo: I can’t tell. He’s an excellent athlete. He never gets tired. I think he’ll adapt really fast to MMA. In the beginning, he was getting beaten badly by Lyoto, but after two months, he improved a lot. I corrected his posture, taught him how to walk in the ring. Sometimes during training, he cried, not because he was tired but because of the high humidity near the Amazon. He has the Samurai spirit and always finished every exercise I gave to him. I’ve heard he visited and trained at the Renzo Gracie academy in New York and people liked him.

Sherdog: What do you expect from Lyoto’s next challenge against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104? How long do you expect Lyoto to keep the title?
Yoshizo: I can’t say anything because it depends on him. He has to train and believe because he’s going to face Shogun, who’s also strong and well-prepared. Lyoto’s preparation for this fight will be very important. He needs to be strong, not only physically and technically; his spirit and his mind also need to be well-prepared.

Sherdog: Do you think Shogun will be a tougher opponent than Rashad Evans?
Yoshizo: No, Rashad was much more difficult and not just because of the technique. Against him, we were also fighting against the pressure of the crowd. He was the local champion. But, for sure, Shogun is a very tough opponent who will give us a lot of work studying his game.

Sherdog: What was the party like here in Belem when Lyoto returned with the belt?
Yoshizo: It was a big party. The mayor even invited us to have breakfast with him. Last week, we were invited by the Japanese consulate to have dinner with the Japanese community in Belem. It’s very good to have my son so recognized, as long as it doesn’t bother his training. If the event doesn’t bother his training, he will go. I already explained to him that a lot of people want this belt, so he has to be in great shape always.

Sherdog: Besides your son, who do you like to see fight in MMA?
Yoshizo: I like [Antonio Rodrigo] “Minotauro” [Nogueira] very much, because even when he’s on the ground, he can solve the situation very calmly. He’s a real fighter. Standing up, I like Anderson Silva, because he plays with the opponent. He’s a showman.

Sherdog: How do you think a fight between Lyoto and Anderson Silva would play out?
Yoshizo: It’s hard to say. They have a similar style. It would depend on how well-prepared each one would be. I can’t say who would win.


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Post #1   10/18/09 6:22:08PM   


Standup Guy

fizzle Avatar

Joined:Dec 2008
Really interesting read, thanks for the link.

Post #2   10/18/09 6:41:02PM   


Heavyweight Champ

postman Avatar


Joined:Jun 2007
Awesome Interview!

Post #3   10/18/09 7:49:33PM   


Heavyweight Champ

mrsmiley Avatar


Joined:Apr 2007
Camp: Nutthuggers Suck

That picture!

But great interview.
You can tell the guy has a lot of history.

Post #4   10/19/09 8:33:06AM   



KaibaThedon Avatar

Joined:Mar 2009
Camp: Dark Horse
drink your piss, become the next world champion

recipe for success

Last edited 10/19/09 1:57PM server time by KaibaThedon
Edit note/reason: n/a

"Time For Talk is Over"

Post #5   10/19/09 1:57:03PM   


MMA Sensei

tallica62 Avatar

Joined:Jun 2007
Camp: Alpha Mafia
i dont know why, but when i first saw that pic i thought "why is this guy drinking piss"..

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Post #6   10/19/09 2:15:55PM   



BlueSkiesBurn Avatar

Joined:Jun 2008
This pretty much clears things up once and for all. Machida pisses excellence and then drinks it to make sure he remains excellent. Eat your heart out, Ricky Bobby. You know, my friend and I were laughing about this last night after reading Jake Rossen's article where he says "I just hope he doesn't start bottling it." Made us laugh and wonder what it'd be like if you could buy The Dragon's piss. Or for that matter what this world would be like if urine was an acceptable mixer for drinks. "I'll have a vodka and piss, please. Oh, and bartender I want the top shelf urine, Machida, nothing less. I used Lesnar last time but that tasted like Coors Light and Sable. I'll stick to Machida" FYI, this is not fighter bashing. Just funny thoughts my friends and I were having. I fully understand that Urine Therapy is widely used and that Machida is not the only UFC fighter engaged in this practice.

Post #7   10/22/09 10:49:04PM