Basically, I've been a pure kickboxer for years. I've always had aspirations of competing as a mixed martial artist, but I've had very little grappling experience. I started kickboxing almost five years ago, but do to injuries/surgeries and life in general, I've really only had about two and a half to three years of training in that time. For the past two years I've been training in Muay Thai along with the more western kickboxing style, which I have learned are incredibly contrasting yet surprisingly complementary styles. I've had four amateur Muay Thai fights, my first fight was a draw. Second was a third round TKO victory for me. I won a tough unanimous decision for my third fight. My fourth fight was fought as an exhibition because my opponent out-weighed me by thirteen pounds, which unbeknownst to me meant that they wouldn't be declaring a winner or loser. I technically won the match, but it's an unofficial victory.
I've always loved any and all forms of grappling. I've considered myself to have more natural ability with grappling than I have with striking despite my dedication to striking arts. I wrestled for a little while in middle school, I did some self-defense based grappling while training in Combat Hapkido for a few months (it was a class available at my kickboxing gym) , and I've rolled with some Jiu-Jitsu guys and MMA fighters before. Other than that though, nothing. There simply has not been any quality grappling of any style in my immediate area. However, a few weeks ago my kickboxing coach (owner of the gym) asked me if I'd be interested in taking some Judo. Little did he know, I've wanted to train in Judo since I was about ten years old. I obviously jumped on the opportunity, and I intend to dedicate myself as much as humanly possible. The man who came in to teach the classes has been doing Judo since 1964. He said he was very big into competition, and was a multiple time Navy Judo champion and State Judo champion. To be blatant, he seems like one of those old dudes who has lost a couple of steps on a physical level, but has an unimaginable understanding of technique and ability.
So, I know that Judo alone isn't enough to become a proficient grappler in MMA today. I'll obviously have to train without the Gi and work on aspects that aren't really seen in Judo (leg-locks and whatnot). But, I feel like it's a fantastic art to transition from striking to grappling with. It seems to work well from the strong Thai clinch I've developed, and at the very least it seems useful for defending myself against strong submission artists whom I'd want to fight on the feet.
Anyway, what do you guys think? Any tips? Concerns? Let me know, and I guess I'll let you know how my training/fighting is going in future posts...