Enson Inoue Speaks on Humility as a Black Belt

At his seminar last weekend, MMA Legend Enson Inoue explained to the group about his decision to demote himself from black belt to purple belt, after feeling modern Jiu Jitsu has passed him by. This was a great perspective discussion for everyone that trains for a lifetime.


Enson Inoue:
Did you guys ever hear about that whole situation where I demoted myself to purple belt? When I came back into Jiu Jitsu, after laying off for a long time, I just didn’t feel like I was a black belt or black belt level. So I decided that I’m going to put on a purple, just a personal journey. And I have like maybe like 13 black belts in my gym in Japan. And because they’re up with the game, they would give me that idea, like, Okay, Enson, you’ve improved the enough to get your purple belt now, I mean, brown belt. Put on a brown belt now.” That’s all I did. And I put on my purple belt, my students hated it. They were like, “Don’t put on your purple belt.” I was like, “Don’t worry about it. It’s for me, it’s my journey.”

John Lewis is the one who gave me my black belt. So I notified him of the decision and he said, “Whatever you think is best.” And then I felt a sense of a little bit of a hesitation on his side. So I called him and I said, “Hey, John, so what’s up? Are you seriously okay with it.?” He goes, “Well, you’re one of my proudest black belts. I don’t give out many black belts. And I just feel really bummed that you’re going to go back to purple.” And I explained to him that I’m not. When I put on my black again, I’m not going to say that I got it from someone else. I’ll always be your black belt, but it’s a personal journey. And he says, “Why do you think that you need to put on your purple belt?” And this is the example I gave him.

And I told him that if I was a cell phone expert I went to prison for 10 years and I came out, I was a cell phone expert back in the day when we had flip phones, those Nokia phones, those flip phones. And I went to prison for 10 years and I came out of prison and there’s these fricking smartphones That you can actually go on the internet and shit. I don’t think I could call myself a cell phone expert. So when I told him that he goes, “Enson, how dare you consider a black belt in Jiu Jitsu like a cell phone expert?” He said, “I see a black belt in Jiu Jitsu more like a doctorate.” And I was like, “Okay. Where’s he going from here?” And he goes, “If a doctor stops practicing and he decides 10 years later to get into the field again, he’s not going to update all the research and update all the practices and the techniques that they have changed by taking away the doctor out of his name and go back to college and go back to med school. He’s going to update himself as a doctor.”

So John told me he believes that I should get my skills back as a black belt, being a black belt. And I was like, “Ah, yeah,” but I didn’t feel like it was a statement. And the funny thing is John reached out to me and said, “Do you know why you don’t want to put on your black belt anymore?” And up until then, most of the guys were saying, “Well, this is such a good proof of humility. There’s so much fake black belts and you’re demoting yourself. It’s so humble.” And I didn’t think it was humble. I thought, “Maybe I’m humble without knowing it, but I said, ‘What the hell.'”

And he told me, John Lewis through a whole curve on me. He said, “There’s a lack of humility as a black belt.” And I was like, “Oh, lack of humility as a black belt.” And he says, “Yeah, you feel uncomfortable being a black belt and not being able to pass a purple belt’s guard.” And when he mentioned that, I sat back and thought about, I realized that he was right. So, I had to learn more humility, put back on my black belt and still suck, but still working on it.

Understanding WHY You Are Learning Specific Fighting Techniques

Having a deeper understanding of the “WHY” you are learning certain techniques will greatly increase retention. It’s easy to go practice a bunch of moves and get a workout, but fighting involves strategy and understanding of possible outcomes. Here Coach Chuck discusses with his Kickboxing class some of the finer points that affect students’ learning/application of techniques.


Coach Charles Martinez:
Not every single one is for every single person or every single scenario. You may take away from that, “Oh, this one and this one,” and then maybe a long time down the line, you’re like, “Oh, I get it now. I see now this person doesn’t give me that step, or this person, I just show it and they take a step away.” Well, now these options are gone because those are short options. So the right weapon for the job. Sure, you could kick off of that. If you go, “Hey, can I kick off this?” I’ll probably go, “Sure. Depends. What did they do?”

You don’t always get to choose. If they crowd you, then there’s weapons that are short. If they pull, there’s weapons that are long. You don’t always get to decide in your head ahead of time, “I’m going to do this and this.” It just doesn’t work that way. You show something, they give you space, and that’s just your feelers out there finding, “What’s the right tool for this person?” The beginning part of the round, beginning part of the fight, you’re just analyzing their reactions. You should be setting the traps then. “Oh, every time I do this, you go that way?” That should start to register. Sometimes it’s a list, sometimes they’re all applicable. Depends on your skill level. Sometimes all you got was jab, left kick. “Oh, okay. I got it. That’s where you were. It’s fine.” It’s just planting a seed for later. Thank you. Thank you.

Using Feints and Level Changes to Land Punches in Kickboxing

Here Coach Vince teaches his Kickboxing class how to use feints and changing levels of your punches to create responses from your opponent, as well as create openings to shift. We pride ourselves on providing a higher level of instruction than most places. Come in and find out why our members stay with us so long.


Coach Vince Salvador:

If I start turning my shoulder, his hands will come up. You can use this in boxing, use it in MMA, kickboxing, whatever, because he has to respect my shoulder feint, because a lot of things can come from here. I can go here, and go here, go here. A lot of different things. If my body turns, it’s hard for him to see it. But if I just go, he’s going to throw the hardest overhand of his life, and I’m going to probably fly backwards. But if I can use this… Look what his body does when I do this? He compresses. That’s how that works. Again, down, one, shoulder feint, one, shoulder feint. Now, that everything was coming out of the middle, his hands come to the middle. I go around the gloves.

See, this is where I need to wedge myself. Look. If I’m punching when I’m moving here. Watch. Even if he throws the right hand, look. I want to be right here. Now, I can throw the hook and everything else. That shoulder line sells a lot, because, look, if I do this… Throw the right hand. Look, I can move. He didn’t even see me switch my feet. All from the upper body motion. Also, this is one I throw a lot. Look, throw the cross. My body’s switching, but it’s all from this shoulder line. Look. A little more advanced movement for you guys off the shoulder feint. One, two. Same shoulder feint now. Look. Here, now, he thinks everything’s down the middle, because I threw the one, two.

So, block down the middle, block down the middle. Look. Now, I go one, shoulder feint, I’ll come around. Watch my foot. Watch my foot again. Two, shoulder feint. Good. Watch your shoulder. And I’m already set up for the kick, look. Try it out. Down the middle. Yeah. Shoulder feint. You can land this all day. If this guy starts doing this… You know what I’m saying? If his hands come down, especially if he thinks you’re going to shoot. All right. So, If you go two first to the body, and now you shoot. Now, the second time he comes around, I don’t know what the fuck’s coming. It could be a body shot or a shot. Now, I go here.

Michael Chandler, a lot of guys are using this shifting, the steps to that right foot, right foot to the outside. But that’s just a simple way to set it up. Get to that level change through the body. Because, look, even if I do this… Yeah. Now. Yup. Good angles.

The Arena Combat Sports Gym Programs

With more than 100 classes a week, The Arena offers programs to train you no matter what fighting style you prefer. We have daily classes in Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Submission Grappling, Wrestling, Judo, MMA and Strength and Conditioning. Come check it out for yourself.

The Arena MMA Fight Team Prepares for Cage Warriors

This Sunday August 1st, we will have three of our professional MMA fighters representing us at Cage Warriors on UFC Fight Pass. Tune in to cheer on Alex Trinidad, Enrique Marte and Kevin Wirth!


Coach Charles Martinez:

This Sunday August 1st, we have three professionals fighting for Cage Warriors at Humphreys on the Bay. Cage Warriors is a huge European show. One of the biggest shows in the world, and this is their first show ever in the States. They’re a mid-level show that leads guys to the UFC. So if you perform well there, the next step up would be the UFC. We have Kevin Wirth, who’s been with us for his last, I believe seven pro fights, good striker, game all the way around. He already has some good mid-level show experience, so he’s kind of right there knocking on that door, call to the big show.

We have Alex Trinidad, who’s been with us his whole career. Alex came to us already as a great wrestler, fought his whole amateur career with us, became an amateur champion. And now this is his eighth pro fight and he’s right there looking to make a name for himself. This is his chance to perform on a big stage.

We have Enrique Marte, this is his second pro fight, he did 10 amateur fights with us. He was a number one ranked amateur in California, multiple times champion as an amateur. All these guys are looking to perform on this stage just to get their name more recognized and hopefully get that call to move up to the big show. Cage Warriors airs on UFC Fight Pass, so everyone will get the chance to watch their fights and we have Kevin Wirth and Alex Trinidad on the main card. So if you tune into UFC Fight Pass you can actually watch their fights.

The Arena MMA Team Trains For Epic Fighting

Once again out amateur MMA team is ready to represent at Epic Fighting on Friday July 23rd at the 4 Points Sheraton on Aero Dr. After over a year of not having any shows to compete, our team is ready to put on a show with 4 guys fighting! Show up and support as we continue our winning ways!


Coach Charles Martinez:

Charles Martinez:
This is coach Charles Martinez from The Arena. We’re in our final stages of preparing for Epic Fighting on Friday, July 23rd. We have four people fighting on the card. And we have Blair Santo making his third amateur fight. We have three debuters, Tyler Eyhart, Paul Head, and Bobby Winther. It’s the return of Epic Fighting after basically a year and a half off from COVID.


We’ve had lots of guys fight on Epic in the past. A good local show. It’s nice to have finally have shows starting again. And we’ve had multiple guys fight there as amateurs that are now professionals. We’ve had multiple amateur champions, so we’re looking to continue our winning tradition. We’re a heavily military-populated gym, and three of our fighters are actually in the Navy, so, for me, that’s a special point of pride since I was in the Navy. It’s nice to start that next generation of people on their path.


Varying Angles of Attack for MMA and Kickboxing

Here Coach Chuck shows some simple angles from footwork. These options vary from sport to sport and our coaches are well versed in the differences of Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA. Knowing the options for each sport are critical. Angles of attack are important in all types of battles. Superior angles set people up for success.


Coach Charles Martinez:
I throw the jab, I throw the reset. As he advances, I step, circle. My lead foot should be pointing outside of his feet, but I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go… Because now his line beats my line. All right, so from the jab, pendulum, retraction, my lead foot’s pointing outside. I can just sit here and start throwing. If my foot faces the wrong angle, my hips face the wrong angle, he just has to open his foot slightly and he’s winning the line.

All right? So you jab inside, step, pivot… See how his lead foot’s pointing outside my lead foot? Everything’s lined up for him to throw. The only thing I can do is spin. That’s the only option I have. Let’s go.

You could even carry that post into the collar tie. Right? So if I get to here and I go here, I can start to collar tie here. I can even start… Sometimes I can get to here and swim, and now I’m locked up. Right? All because I was outside the hand… If I was really tight here, he could elbow me. Right? But here, even if he tries, it creates this pummel.

The knee is there, elbows are there, especially from that step through the right hand.

Yeah, if you just frame the head, elbow is there, then you can start trying to eliminate the arm, but that’s just from keeping the head off.

Jab, inside leg, kick, retract, right hand. I step, my foot is just outside of his foot. I don’t grab plump. I don’t grab the head. If I grab the head, it tells him to clinch. But he just defended the right hand, I slot machine, and then from there, there’s a million options. But the big thing is I get that first knee. All right? I throw the right hand, I step, I’m just outside his foot, my hips are lined up, my hand goes to the top of the head, other hand comes in, slot machine, and I’m off.

The right hand is defended… So right hand, slot machine, then I get all those same pummels, all those same options. And if I need to, I just pivot off that foot because my foot’s already outside of his foot. So if all I get is the knee and pivot, then I can just stay softball too.

How and Why to Break Your Rhythm in Kickboxing

What you throw may not be as important as how you throw. Everyone is throwing the same strikes, but changing your rhythm, feinting and faking make it difficult for your opponent to react. Here Coach Vince Salvador shows how to vary combinations to increase your likelihood of landing.


Coach Vince Salvador:
I have one, feint, one two. And I make it look like I’m going to kick by looking down for a second. Right? So, that’s two different feints. Head feint, a visual feint. All right? Now he thinks low is coming. I go high. So I looked down, punch high. So again, hit him with the first jab. Second one I feint. There. When his leg comes down, I fire on that leg or I just keep continuing with my hands. Right? Depending on the situation where he’s at, but now I’ve layered my attack. So the first one. Right? Second one. Now he’s knows that blocking. Now he knows so he’s blocking. I go one there, feint, chop back into that leg. So again, one, big feint. Here look down. Two, three. Low kick or two, three body shot, wherever you guys want to go with it. Right? So again, one, big feint, look down, two, chop. Right? Try it up. Good. So watch. Like look down for a second. All right? So I got one, feint, look down.

So when I set everything up, his legs like start to come up. You don’t have to extend that jab. I can go here, but I can go one, feint, two. Right? I can use the feint to throw my power to set up the hook. So I can go look one, feint, two, three. So you can alter it for your body style, right? For your body type. So I don’t have to go one, big feint, one, two, three. Sometimes I can go one, big feint, two, three, chop.

So go right into it.

Coach Vince Salvador:
So try going into that right after that. It’s a one, feint, two, three, low kick. Closing your eyes ain’t going to help you with the blocking. Got to keep your eyes open. Elbows down. Look at my elbows. So if I’m relaxed, my shoulders don’t burn and I can control everything I do. But if I’m here every time he punches now, I make a big reaction. Now look, all of this is open. Right? But if I’m right here relaxed and he punches, whatever he throws, I’m relaxed. So if he goes for his drill, he goes one, feint, one. Right? I’m still looking right at him. Again. Again. You see how that reaction helps him build his reactions. You see what I’m saying?

Look at my elbows. So if I’m relaxed, right? I don’t, my shoulders don’t burn and I can, I can, I can control everything I do. But if I’m here every time he punches now, I make a big reaction. No, look, all of this is open, but if I’m right here with, and he punches whatever he throws, I’m relaxed. So if he goes for his drill, he goes, one thing, one, I’m still looking right at him again. Yeah. You see how that reaction helps him build his reactions. You shouldn’t turn.

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