(Special to Global Training Report)
Erik, what is your martial arts background?
I began my training in 1974. I completed three years of judo,
three years of classical wing
chun, eight years of amateur boxing, three years of aikido and
thirteen years of taekwondo and sport
When did you begin your association with Dan Inosanto?
I moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles in order to train with
Guru Dan Inosanto in 1986. I also came to go to college and try
to get into the movie business.
: What movies have you appeared in?
So far, I've been in American Ninja 5, Bloodsport
3, The Riot, Fist of the North Star and Battledome.
Whatfs it like being an action movie actor?
The movie industry brutal. It makes vale tudo fighting seem like
an afternoon at the beach.
What other martial arts training were you doing when you hooked
up with Guru Dan?
At that time I was currently fighting in full contact karate,
boxing, and judo.
I also competed in gymnastics.
When was your first vale tudo type competition?
I always used to spar in the vale tudo style before it became
popularized by the UFC, however my actual
first 'Shooto' match was in 1992.
Who were your primary grappling instructors?
I studied judo with Osmo Milan, Filipino dumog and traditional
ju-jutsu and chin-na with Larry Hartsell and Dan Inosanto. I
studied Greco-Roman, freestyle and collegiate wrestling with
Rico Chipparelli for two years. I also worked with the Gracie
and Machado Brothers (see below).
When did you first hear of the Gracie Brothers? What did you
hear about them? What was your reaction?
I first heard of the Gracies in 1986. They openly challenged to
fight anyone in the world in Brazilian
jiu-jitsu to prove their system was unbeatable.
I was a little intimidated in the beginning however I was eager
to learn and train with them. Once I got to
know the Gracies I found out they were the kindest people I'd
When, where and what study with the Gracies? (In other words,
did they have a curriculum that you followed, or did you tell
them what you wanted to learn, or what?)
I began training with the Gracies in 1988 until the present day
predominantly in Southern California. I was with Royce and
Rorion Gracie for two and a half years, Rickson Gracie for four
years, and the Machados for two and a half years. Royce and
Rorion had a standard set of techniques that they taught to
every student. It was basic self defense in standup, ground was
basic passes, escapes, reversals and ways to dominate and
control your opponent. Submissions in the beginning was more of
a secondary attack where the main concern was positioning and
establishing the base.
Did you have the opportunity to roll with any of them? How did
you feel about their grappling approach and philosophy compared
to the grappling that you had already done? In other words,
were they doing the same thing, but better, or did you feel that
they had a different concept of what grappling was and should
Erik: Yes. Their skill and knowledge on the ground was of
the highest level I'd
ever seen or experienced. Their ground
positioning, escapes and attacks were of an exceptional level. I
think they had a slightly different concept
regarding more controlled or dominant
guard and mount and more stressed positions compared to other
forms of grappling then being practiced..
Were the Gracies emphasizing sport or self-defense when
you first met them?
Royce and Rorionfs training was more towards the self-defense
which was what I was interested in at the time. With Rickson and
the Machados it was more sport/competition orientated.
Why did you go to the Gracies originally for self-defense? Did
feel there was something missing in your previous karate,
taekwondo, judo, kali, etc., training?
Yes, I was missing self defense on the ground. Other
styles did not really address this very realistically. Like
people would say "I do not go to the ground" and
assume that because they don't want it to happen, it won't
happen. The Gracies changed a lot of people's thinking about
in retrospect is your assessment of the kind of self-defense
techniques they taught you?
The headlock escapes are great, the submission
counters, escapes and positioning and hip movement
are all superb.
Roberto: Apparently, Paul Vunak was training with Rorion and
Rickson about the
same time you did. Did you meet him and did he have a special
"streeth oriented approach to jiu-jitsu?
I trained with Paul at Ricksonfs school. Paul was putting the
flow series, which changes the entire complexion of the ground.
his game and adding the striking, head butts and elbows and has
a great bite
Were you ever present at any of the Gracie challenge matches
are on the Gracie in Action videos? Were you yourself
ever tempted to participate in one?
No, neither of the above. I believe that to go out looking for a
fight is the wrong attitude
and a major sign of insecurity and discontentment. Of course
there are sometimes exceptions to the rule. I'm more into the
sporting aspect rather than getting 'geared up' for the ultimate
street fight approach. I think
Roberto: What rank did you attain in Gracie jiu-jitsu and when?
Are you currently
training in this style?
I have held my blue belt for the last seven years. I was ready
to test for my purple belt with Rickson but I had to go away and
fight for a weekend so the belt was given to someone else. I was
told I needed to compete more for their team. I still roll
around on the mat with friends who hold a black belt. I've
really focused more on wrestling in the last couple of years.
Were you fighting professionally before the UFC, or did the
success of that event inspire you to become a professional
The UFC definitely opened my eyes to
vale tudo. Most of the competitors in the UFC were
'rough and tough' but not necessarily technical.
Are you still fighting? Any fights coming up?
At the present time I'm contemplating retirement from my
fighting career with the Japanese Shooto Association due to
inactivity and several offers having fallen through. I still
have the drive and want to fight. I feel my level is stronger
and faster than ever. My style of fighting has drastically
changed over the last few years and I still think I have a few
good years left in me.
I understand that Dan Inosanto is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fan and
recently earned a black belt from the Machados. Anyone who has
hit the mat with the Brazilians knows getting a black belt in
their style is quite an accomplishment, for anyone at any age.
Have you rolled with him or watched him roll? Your impression?
Does he fit jiu-jitsu into the JKD Concepts thing, or does he
just accept jiu-jitsu as a separate thing completely.
Yes, I've rolled around on the mat with Guru Dan on several
occasions. Actually, I was the one to
give him his first lesson in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He tends to
incorporate some groundwork into the Jun Fan
class by working different arm lock
attacks from every position as a warm-up. He then spars in all
different positions on the ground with
Your martial arts background is unusually well-rounded. Have you
ever had to use any of it on the street?
Yes. I was a bartender and a bouncer for ten years. I would
consistently have to break up fights. Face to face I used wing
chun for close cover and hit, muay tai and kali for elbows, head
butts, knees, kicks and foot stomps, aikido and chin-na for
wrist/arm/finger locks, jiu-jitsu for choking and silat and judo
for throws, whatever came out at the time; striking, locking or
Most guys seem to think the best style is whatever style they
do, and the best techniques are the techniques they do best. Do
you have any thoughts on what the best
style for effective self defense is, or the best combination
of styles, or best techniques, or best training methods?
Train like an athlete, not like a technique junkie/weekend
warrior. Train your physical
attributes, your reaction times, speed and Strength and most of
all endurance. A good defense is a strong offence. Shoot
wrestling combines the best of
standup, throws and submissions and a well-rounded type of
martial art for a fighter. If you have more time Brazilian
jiu-jitsu is great for self-defense, however you need to round
it out with some striking. If you have one skill and not the
other you only have half of the puzzle.
Do you have a personal philosophy of fighting?
Yes, sweat is the lubricant of success. The more you sweat in
peace the less you bleed in war. Develop an indomitable spirit,
one that cannot be crushed and have a strong faith in God.
Are you still teaching at the Inosanto Academy? What do you
teach? Can you describe the curriculum there these days?
Yes. I teach three classes, twice a week--vale tudo, kickboxing,
combat submission and shooto. There is a curriculum that teaches
all classes. We have jiu-jitsu twice a week and the academy is
open Monday through Saturday.
Have you worked with Bas Rutten, Mark Kerr, Pedro Rizzo, or the
other guys who are or were training out of the Beverly Hills
Jiu-Jitsu Club, which isnft far from where you train?
I know Bas. He's a good guy, funny, full of energy. But I
havenft trained with him. I have worked with Rico Chipparelli,
Frank Trigg, Vladamir, Randy Courture and Dan Henderson, the RAW
team Wrestlers. They helped me with my takedowns. I tried to
help them with their submissions.
Some people believe the vale tudo fad is going to fade away
soon, probably, to become a form of pro-wrestling
with mostly worked fights. What are your thoughts on this
subject? How will it impact on your fighting, training, and
teaching in the future?
Vale tudo is the wave of the future. Cross training is the new
to do in all martial arts schools. People are getting better as
on. The level of fighters has grown, their overall understanding
of the game
has become universal. The impact that it will have on my
fighting will be
that my experience will have to pull me through with my
I'll stay on the cutting edge of whatfs new, training methods
Do you have any thoughts on Royce's recent defeat by Sakuraba in
Pride? Did Royce do something he shouldn't have or didn't do
something he should have, or was Sakuraba just too much for him
on that particular night no matter what he could have done?
I always cheer for Royce when he fights. He and Rorion were my
first jiu-jitsu teachers. I always hope that he does well. I
didn't see the fight yet so its
hard to speculate. The way the fights go today, you need to have
striking ability both standing and on the ground and good
skills to stay on the cutting edge.
Do you have any thoughts on how the recent defeats by Royler and
Royce will affect the NHB scene in general and
Jiu-Jitsu in the USA? In other words, is it time for striking to
be emphasized rather than ground fighting, for a change?
I think that Roycefs defeat will set up a fight between
Rickson and Sakuraba.
The level of the NHB fighters has changed. Cross training is
plays a vital role in the success of the fighters of today. If
you are only
good at one part of the game you only have a piece of the
submission is one game and the NHB is another. Just because one
is great at
one game it doesn't mean that it rolls over to the other!
Assuming that the "besth style is a mix of various
styles, how would
You combine them to produce the "besth style? In other
words, is it better
to begin with a grappling foundation and then add striking, or
way around? How do the other styles, like kali and aikido and
fit in. Does it totally depend on the person, or are their any
everyone can rely on?
I believe that if you are good at one you need to add or at
least understand the other in order to learn how to counter that
aspect. It's basically kickboxing (modified), wrestling and
ground submission fighting. The number one rule is to develop
the attributes and for conditioning to train like an athlete.
Any plan to compete in Abu Dhabi in 2001?
You are someone who has been around a long time and knows the
and outside of the martial arts world. Anything you say would be
When I first started fighting professionally in 1992, there
people who wanted to get into the NHB Arena and mix it up. Now
their mother is fighting. People will do a few years of
jiu-jitsu or wrestling and
suddenly they want to get in and fight. I believe this is the
new craze of
competition, like tournaments are for wrestlers and games are
players. Itfs the adrenalin rush that makes it the 'new thing
Anything else youfd like to add?
I get a kick out of some of these knuckleheads that get on the
write shit on people. These are obviously not the fighters
are armchair 'Mr. know it all' warriors whose only fight will
only ever be
on the computer with words or in the dojo - on the mat. Not in
event where they might have to put it all on the line. If they
know that on any given day they could be number one and the next
they would lose
their ass. Any competitor knows itfs about being humble,
appreciative, not cutting down others to make themselves shine.
Never do the
talking but be the one who is talked about. if you don't have
to say.....shut hole!
Ifd like to say that a lot of the smaller fight card champions
have come in to compete more and the pay scale has dropped
drastically. There were guys fighting who aren't used to
being paid to fight so they were paid peanuts compared to
before. Now the audience participation has grown and the pay
scale has started to go back up. Hopefully soon fighters will be
paid once more what they are worth and the level of competitors
will be stronger. It is by those who have suffered that the
world has advanced. It is by suffering that we are far more
productive in life!