SUNDAY, November 15th, 1998, AT 2:55 AM
IKF SAN SHOU
A Knockout Success!!!
On any given weekend around the world in nearly every country, gladiators of the ring fighting sports meet in the ring of battle in the toughest one on one sport in the World... Kickboxing! But lets just take the sport of Kickboxing one step further... Add in throws, sweeps and takedowns and you have San Shou. Or as they call in in Europe, Full Contact Karate under the leadership of the IFCKF (International Full Contact Karate Federation) But call it Full Contact Karate, Chinese Boxing, Draka or San Shou, it's all the same thing and it came from one origin... "San Shou". Sure, a fighters goal is to win and to win by domination if possible. But when the IKF and Team USA travelled to a small country below Russia known as Armenia to the town of Yeravan, we discovered something much more valuable than a victory by knockout. We discovered that no matter who wins or loses, there are no strangers to us in our sport. Only friends we have never met yet.
Many here in America had no idea the event even took place, and probably still wouldn't have known if we didn't report about it here on our web site. However, to the 6,500 plus spectators in the crowd on November 7th at Hamaleer Stadium in Yerevan Armenia, they'll be the first to tell you, you missed a great show! But the show was only a small part of what this country had to offer in friendship and hospitality towards all of us on Team USA. To truly understand how sincerely grateful we all were to the people of Armenia, let us start from the beginning.
We took off from Los Angeles Airport on Monday, November 2nd about 6:PM and after traveling through 8 different time zones and approximately 12 hours later we arrived in Moscow Russia. A quick run through customs and it was back on another plane to Armenia about 3 hours away. We arrived in Armenia a bit past midnight Armenia time and as Team USA stepped off the plane we were greeted by cameras and press reporters, interested in our arrival. Dressed in full matching USA uniforms top to bottom, the fighting team consisted of
Featherweight Dominic Viloria of North hollywood CA, USA. Welterweight David Solomon of Azusa, CA, USA. Middleweight Doug Evans of Redwood City, CA, USASuper Middleweight Cary Nathan also of Redwood City, CA, USA and Cruiserweight Eugene Jackson of East Palo Alto, CA, USA Along with the US Full Contact Karate Federation Associate Ken Arutyunyan of North Hollywood, CA USA who organized the team itself and myself, IKF President Steve Fossum. I went along to oversee the event for the IKF as well as be an assistant coach for Team USA. I was also asked to do some announcing during the event as well.Arutyunyan a native of Armenia put the team of 5 fighters together on very short time notice. Two of the fighters had never done San Shou style fighting ever before. Featherweight Dominic Viloria, 32 for example is an experienced Muay Thai fighter with a 26-3 record. However he had never done San Shou style fighting before with the throws and takedowns. At the last moment the team needed a Welterweight and Arutyunyan found David Solomon. However, Solomon, unknown to Arutyunyan, had never even been in a full contact bout before let alone Full Contact San Shou. Solomon, who holds a black belt did though have a lot of experience as a continuation fighter. At 18, Solomon was the youngest of the team and in for quite an experience.
The remaining 3 team members were the pride of Redwood Cities, Gladiator's Training Academy. As a full contact kickboxer, Cary Nathan had struggled before, posting a record of 3 wins and 4 loses. The last time we saw Nathan fight was against Jerico Lane of Redding, CA for the IKF California Super Welterweight title in Hayward, CA back on May 11th, 1996. A bout he lost by unanimous decision. However few people knew that Nathan had been active as a San Shou fighter over the years having fought quite a few bouts in San Shou Style events. At age 37, Nathan was appointed as the team captain. Nathan was still battling a severe cold but wouldn't miss the trip and experience for anything.
The last time we saw 25 year old IKF Fighter Doug Evans he was fighting for the IKF Amateur Muay Thai Rules United States Middleweight Title in San Francisco CA. It was a bout he was stopped in at 1:17 of the 4th round by Harry Vacarro of San Diego, CA, USA. Evans' record as a Muay Thai fighter is 10-2 with 8 KO's and although impressive, Evans best game is in the throwing and fighting style like that of San Shou which came in handy when doing NHB/Cage fighting bouts around the Western US & Hawaii.
Rounding out Team USA was a man high on life itself. With a name like Eugene Jackson, it just sounds like a name that's been around awhile. Ask anyone who travels within the circles of the exclusive west coast submission/NHB/cage fighting events and Jackson's name reads like a household name. This would be the first time I had ever heard of him let alone seen him perform. From a first glance, Jackson, owner of Gladiator's Training Academy in Redwood City, CA, looks like a Bear ready to Rumble. And don't get me wrong, he can "RUMBLE". However, more important is the story behind this strong man. Some may remember his name from the troubled streets of East Palo Alto CA. From those streets, Jackson, with the love and support of his wife and kids, rose up and grew into a strong leader among his peers. His passion for his family is just as strong as his passion for his training. He proved to be the gentle giant among us all with his respect and appreciation towards everyone. Jackson is not just a great fighter, he's a respected gentleman who never demands any respect but proved to everyone that he was always deserving of it. Armenia was an experience for all of us, but for the 32 year old Jackson, he was like a young child on vacation in awe, praise and appreciation of everything we were a part of. Lights, camera, action! Pictures, interviews and autographs! A world obviously much bigger than the streets of East Palo Alto California. Get use to the fan fare Mr. Jackson. Your life will truly have a lot more than the 15 minutes of fame we all are said to be blessed with in life. Even at 32, Jackson, in my opinion has a lot of fight in him proving his strength, speed and stamina in our workouts together at the IFCKF's gym in Armenia before the event. Little did we all know that inside him was a grizzle bear just waiting for it's moment to perform. But Evans and Nathan knew...They train with him daily at Gladiators.
Meeting us with the press at the Armenian Airport was the President of the IFCKF, Gor Vardanian and his protective security staff. Vardanian, like Jackson was soft spoken as well and it was obvious this man was a very powerful individual in Armenia. Probably what impressed Team USA the most was the gracious hospitality and true friendship Vardanian and his associates gave to us all. Although in another country, everyone there made us feel like we were at home. It seemed anytime we asked for anything, we always got the same response from our head bodyguard, "No Problem" which was always followed by action. Once we got our bags we were taken to a beautiful new customized van which proved to be our exclusive limo transportation vehicle during our stay. We were taken by escorted motorcade to the Dvin Hotel where we were given our rooms and a chance to rest a few hours before starting a busy week.
Over the next several days we were shown the town by Vardanian and his associates. Every day was filled with eating fancy meals, meeting more great people of Armenia, sight-seeing, shopping and of course daily training sessions at Vardanian's IFCKF's gym. As each day past, each of us as part of Team USA got to know each other a little more. Sparring and grappling with each other in training as well as sharing our past. It was a chance for all of us to relax without the pressures of our daily lives. Once again, as the saying goes, we were no longer strangers to each other, only friends who had never met. As time went on, the bond of Team USA was not a bond of fighters. Over time, we became more than a team, we had become brothers watching over each other in a far away land. But as all fighters know, the most important day was Fight Day, which came soon enough.
That day had finally come, November 7th, Fight Day, Armenia vs USA. It was just like out of the movie "The Best of the Best". The weigh-ins were held in an official capacity with all judges, referees, trainers, coaches and other officials present at the hotel. Within a couple of hours, everyone had made weight and now came the waiting...until fight time to go to the venue.
At about 1:30 PM, Armenian time (1:30 AM USA West Coast Time), we loaded up into our limo van and were escorted to the Beautiful and Dynamic Hamaleer Stadium. Once inside, our security team escorted us once again to the teams dressing room where they set up camp. Within a couple of hours it was opening ceremony time. With the stadium dark, a spotlight focused on a distant corner the announcer announced the entrance of Team USA and through the smoke of the smoke machine they appeared, one by one. Jackson took the lead followed by Viloria, Solomon, Nathan and Evans. This was their moment and they made the most of it as a team. The crowd of 6,500 plus stood to their feet giving a gracious and dynamic Armenian welcome. With their arms waving to the crowd, Team USA took the stadium by storm with their custom red white & blue team uniforms and hats designed by Team organizer Ken Arutyunyan. After Team USA came Team Armenia and then the other fighters of the night for the events other bouts which included Russia and Ukraine. Once the fighters surrounded the San Shou Style Ring (Platform floor with no ropes) there were several presentations, including the awarding of 4th degree black belt to IFCKF President Gor Vardanian from Chuck Norris' fighting style. When presentations were done, all the fighters returned to their dressing rooms to wait..and wait....and wait....
Team USA had to wait for 5 undercard bouts to take place which included a total of 42 rounds of fighting. When the other bouts were finally completed, once again, Team USA came out followed by Team Armenia. As each fighting pair were introduced, they met at center stage/ring, and as a show of sportsmanship and friendship, they exchanged gifts along with a handshake and hug for luck and prayers for a great match. When introductions were done, it was finally FIGHT TIME for Team Armenia vs Team USA.
First up for Team USA was Doug Evans. He weighed in at 72 3/4 Kilos or 160 lbs. His opponent, 23 year old Ohanian Karen of Armenia was highly favored with a record of 25 wins and only 1 loss with 12 knockouts. The first round started with Evans scoring big with leg kicks and throws. But the Armenian crowd lifted to their feet when Karen knocked Evans to the floor with a strong spinning back kick. It seemed to be the only strong kick Karen landed in round 1. Both fighters exchanged evenly with punches.
(At the end of each round, the scores are announced which was actually a great idea we thought for ANY type of ring fighting. Maybe we will begin this in kickboxing with the IKF.)
At the end of this round 1, the judges had Karen winning which was a big surprise to those of us scoring at ringside. However, let the fight go on. In round 2, Evans was committed to the throw and within a few seconds, Evans took Karen "AIRBORNE" and slammed him to the ring floor knocking the wind out of him. Karen tried to stand but his knees wobbled and he collapsed. Although there was a little bit of a question among the Armenian judges on how to score the knockout, the judges eventually awarded Evans with a knockout and a quick 2-0 TEAM USA lead. (1 point decision win, 2 points KO win)
Second up for Team USA featured highly rated Muay Thai fighter, Dominic Viloria who earlier weighed in at 57 Kilos or 125 1/2 lbs. His opponent was a VERY experienced fighter in this style of fighting. At 19, Miranian Varazdat of Armenia had a San Shou Style fighting record of 18 wins and only 2 loses. He weighed in at 59 Kilos or 130 lbs. All of us knew Viloria would be working the leg kicks early but what we didn't expect was Viloria being rushed to the edge of the ring where he turned his ankle on the ring edge, slipped and fell, hitting the back of his head on the corner of the ring knocking him dizzy. After looking into his eyes, Team USA cornermen, Evans and Jackson kept him down to avoid any serious head injury and Team USA forfeited a knockout loss to Team Armenia. The score now stood at an even 2-2. After reviewing this bout on Video, the video showed that Varazdat had hit Viloria with a solid forearm as he approached the edge of the ring, but it was not noticed by the referee.
Next up for Team USA was team captain Cary Nathan who weighed in at 75 kilos or 165 lbs. His opponent, a much younger 19 year old Israelian Gor of Armenia was no child in the ring with a fight record of 17 wins and only 2 loses. The biggest disadvantage to Nathan though would not be his cold that had drug him down in training all week, but Gor's height. Nathan stood 5'8". Gor towered above Nathan at 6'3". When the fight began, Nathan went to work in a methodical, work horse ethic, gutting out each and every takedown he knew while scoring with leg kicks and overhand rights. When the scores of round 1 were announced, it was a tie and the way Nathan's cold was effecting him, it was a mental victory in itself for him. In round 2, Nathan again went to work. Not just stand up fighting, he "Went to Work" sticking to a skilled game plan. Nathan again scored on the inside with throws and overhand rights. When round 2 came to an end, Nathan's cold proved to be quickly wearing him down physically. As the announcer announced the results, Nathan was announced as the winner of round 2 and again, it pushed him even stronger with his mental edge. However round 2 came with a price. Nathan broke his lead knuckle on his right hand and knew now he had to focus on his throwing skills. In rounds 3, Nathan's hand throbbed miserably and his focus begin to slip. At the end of the round, it was announced Gor had won and now each fighter had 1 round a piece and a tie round. Nathan was in pain, and the match was all tied up with 3 rounds to go. Things didn't look promising for Nathan and Team USA. Again, he dug in like a draft horse pulling a plow. Grinding out throws and strikes, and at the end of round 4, the judges announced another tie. Again, Nathan won a mental victory and he again let the tie score remind him that he was still in the bout, pain or no pain, fatigue or not, he can still win. At Gladiator's Training Academy where Nathan trains in Redwood City, they have a saying, "Your Weakness is my Strength, Your Fear is my Courage, Your Loss is my Gain." It was obvious Nathan was focusing on such a message on this night. Another strong methodical work ethic in round 5 and as the round ended, the announcer announced Nathan winning round 5. Team USA erupted with excitement, pumping Nathan up at ringside. However, Nathan knew there was still 1 round to go. With the way he was feeling, a knockout by Gor was not out of the question. A knockout and Armenia goes up 4-2. Nathan didn't have the strength due to his cold for a knockout himself. Also, his right hand had swelled even more in pain which left him with no power punch. A loss in this round and Team USA would not take a lead, ending up tied still. Nathan took the floor for round 6 shaking hands with his opponent to begin the round. As if he were to take the future and outcome of Team USA into his own hands, he dug in again, inch by inch, throw by throw, Nathan's mental edge worked on Gor, frustrating him over and over again. When the final bell rung, we all had no idea who would win the round and then came the announcement, "Winner, Cary Nathan, USA" and Team USA went wild. A 3-2 lead with 2 bouts left.
Team USA next had, 18 year old David Solomon who weighed in at 66 Kilos or 145 lbs. His opponent, was 21 year old Avakian Vache of Armenia Vache's didn't know Solomon had never been in a full contact fight before and with a Full Contact San Shou style bouts record of 33 wins and 6 loses, it looked bad for Solomon. Not many were giving much of a chance to the young and inexperienced Solomon once it was discovered he was not an experienced full contact fighter. Many said to expect a quick knockout. But also, no one knew the type of training we all shared with Solomon over the last week while at the gym in preparation for his match. Sometimes, the mind can endure what the body questions. As round 1 begin, Solomon's Team USA pride stood tall, not cowering down to Vache as expected by some. Solomon stood strong throughout round 1 despite being thrown several times and as expected by the throws of Vache's, the first round went to Armenia and a 1-0 score. It was clear Solomon was inexperienced in defending from throws but his corner crew helped him out tremendously. By the end of round 2, Solomon was still standing toe to toe with Vache taking everything Vache had to give him but also, Solomon was beginning to land some strong strikes as well. Still though, Vache wisely kept taking advantage of Solomon's inexperience in defending the throws and scored big on them. Round 2 went to Vache but in round 3, Solomon begin to get comfortable. He realized Vache wasn't hurting him at all with his punches and kicks and Solomon begin to fire back several strong combinations. As round 3 ended, Armenia went up 3-0, however the match to those on Team USA was not about winning anymore to the young Solomon. It was about Team USA Pride and Mental Strength and Solomon had a lot of it in the ring on this night. In round 4, Solomon scored big with hand and feet combinations but Vache still had the edge on throwing which gave him the round again. By round 5, Solomon's stamina looked like a fresh race horse as he danced and slipped Vache's attacks. Solomon scored on kicks and punches again and it was Vache who looked beaten and tired. However, the throws scored big for Vache once again and proved to win round 5 for him. Solomon came out fresh as ever in round 6, now comfortable in the ring, afraid of nothing Vache had for him while Vache was clearly tired and if the bout had 2 more rounds, there may have been a different winner. Solomon was now able to stop several of Vache's throwing attempts in round 6 and was even throwing Vache now. As the fight came to an end, Vache was announced the winner by decision and the Teams were all tied up again at 3-3. However, a personal victory was won when the round 6 winner was announced and it was Solomon. He not only survived Vache but he did what few non contact fighters get to do. Feel the "RUSH" of Full Contact Fighting. Great job David!
As the night came to an end, it was time for the big boys to take the stage.Eugene Jackson hit the scales earlier in the day at 87 & 3/4 Kilos or 193 lbs. Jackson's original opponent, Khachatrian Vahram pulled out the week of the fight for unknown reasons and was replaced by someone with quite a bit more experience than Jackson expected. Jackson, 6 wins and no loses with 6 KO's would instead face 26 year old Artavazd Harutunian of Armenia who topped out at 88 Kilos or 193 1/2 lbs. Jackson knew he had his work cut out for him in this match when it was discovered that Harutunian's fight record in San Shou Style fighting was 24 wins, 1 loss, 3 draws with 18 KO's. The stage was set for a war between the Big Bears!
As round 1 begin, Jackson waited patiently for Harutunian to make a move but he just circled Jackson. Wanting to get busy, Jackson lunged in a very quick and strong shuffle side kick to Harutunian just missing him short. Jackson again rushed Harutunian and he retreated off the platform. As they restarted, they begin to circle again, then suddenly, Jackson charged like a grizzly on attack, knocking Harutunian back with punches and eventually off the platform. Harutunian's body and head bounced on the floor and he quickly went into convulsions, shaking uncontrollably on the arena floor. Dozens rushed to his side working to free his mouth piece and get an airway in his mouth so he could breath. Four ringside doctors rushed in and took control trying to control Harutunian's convulsions and save him. One begin heart pumping on his chest while the others worked on the airway. As doctors worked frantically and the crowd stood silently in shock, all members of Team USA knelt on their knees at ringside and begin to pray for Harutunian not knowing what was happening and only fearing the worst. Finally the scare was over and Harutunian's eyes gained control and he spoke a bit as he tried to sit up. Doctor's kept him down and put him on a flatboard and lifted him to a stretcher and rushed him to the hospital. It turned out he was OK. After the fear for Harutunian had been calmed and everyone was assured he was going to be OK, the judges awarded Jackson the win and Team USA won the event 3-2. Yes, it was a win, but more important, Team USA would like to send out our prayers to Harutunian in hopes he is completely recovered from the fall. Victory is always good, but as Harutunian's opponent Eugene Jackson put it himself, "My concern is for Harutunian, not the win of a fight. I just hope he's OK and that he knows our prayers are with him."
When the night came to an end, Team USA was well respected by everyone and if not for the security wanting to get us all out of the arena, we might still be there signing autographs and getting pictures taken. Cary Nathan and Dominic Viloria got to experience the Armenian hospitals after the event. Nathan had his hand put into a cast and Viloria had to have his foot casted as it suffered a small break when he came off the ring edge. At the after event party, glasses were toasted many times to everyone and for the sport of Full Contact (San Shou Style) Karate in Armenia. As Team USA's toast put it once again to end a fantastic trip to a beautiful country,
"As we prepare to leave your country, we make a toast to those of you we call our new friends tonight. Whether in this room or those many individuals not here that we met while in Armenia. You were all strangers to us when we arrived, but an old saying has proven true once again, that You were never strangers to us, Only friends we have never met yet. Cheers to Armenia and we all thank you for your gracious hospitality to us all."
When asked if we would like to return in May of next year for another event we all said of course we would. Then we asked if we would still have the same people working with us and our Personal Armenian Bodyguard who always had the answer Team USA wanted to hear answered one more time for the road.........."No Problem" ......See you all in May for another fantastic event.
(*) Just a note... There was only "1" negative to a great trip; Special Thumbs DOWN to Aeroflot Airlines for CANCELLING our flight from Moscow to Los Angeles when we arrived in Moscow from Armenia on our way back home. And NO we didn't want to stay over "3" days, maybe another trip but on this one, we were all ready to come home. However special thanks to the agent in Moscow who worked to re-route us through New York and American Airlines so we could get home close to our scheduled time. Also, a thumbs down to Aeroflot for allowing smoking on an international flight. We all want to thank you for our headaches. A little hint here..."Smoke travels through the air...and we were in an ENCLOSED Cabin..." Althought the travel time back was 35 hours, at least we made it safely...Well, maybe not one of Doug's bags though... Did you get that bag Doug that American Airlines lost of yours? We hope so.... Next trip... BRITISH AIRWAYS ONLY and NO SMOKING PLEASE... Just answer us..."No Problem..."
All the bouts and the event can be found
on this YOUTUBE Clip
SUNDAY, October 18th, 1998, AT 6:00 PM
& San Shou Sensation
The IKF would like to congratulate top IKF San Shou Martial Arts Fighter and DRAKA Sensation, Cung Le of San Jose, CA, USA on his recent victory over Dan Garrett of Pasadena, Maryland, USA. The bout was held in San Jose and promoted by Scott Coker on Saturday night, October 10th. Le was in control of the entire bout with exciting throws and takedowns, showing great kickboxing skills as well as landing several devastating legs kicks and punches on Garrett. Le knocked Garrett out at :20 seconds of the third round. Cung Le is making the fighting style of San Shou a worldwide favorite from his exciting DRAKA performances where he has yet to lose.
To assure true San Shou credibility, IKF Cofounder and head of IKF World Officials Dan Stell of Fairfield, CA, USA was the official San Shou bout referee. Stell is also a top DRAKA official with Marcos Rosalas of Bakersfield, CA, USA. IKF San Shou President Tat-Mau Wong of San Francisco, CA, USA (Also a past San Shou Champion) assured the TV commentary would be accurate to the San Shou rules as he handled the TV fight color commentary. The event will later air on ESPN 2. We look forward to Le's next bout which will probably be on the next DRAKA event. The date of that show has yet to be announced. Martial art celebrities at the event included, Ernie Reyes Jr. & Ernie Reyes Sr. Past World Kickboxing Champions, Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Peter "Sugarfoot" Cunningham were also present. To contact Cung Le, click HERE!
There is a possibility Cung Le may fight an IKF San Shou Title Bout on the undercard of the IKF Sanctioned Don Wilson comeback bout on March 27th, 1999. Wilson is confirmed to face Dick Kimber of Lynn, Massachusetts, USA (48-2 with 46 KO's) for the IKF Pro Full Contact Rules Cruiserweight World Title. The bout will air "LIVE" on PPV cable TV. For details about the Kimber-Wilson bout, click HERE!.
Saturday, October 3rd, 1998, AT 3:00 PM
It's not often you find such a fighter and person as Martial Artist, Cung Le. You will see the IKF promote this great fighter as much as possible. Now DRAKA and San Shou sensation Cung Le has a web site that his students have formed. It's new and still being built, but worth putting on your "Favorites" list so you can keep up with the latest on this Great Fighter, Martial Artist and Person. He is truly a man of honor! To check it out, click HERE! Look forward to seeing more of Mr. Le on the next DRAKA event coming soon. We will inform you of the date when we know it soon.
Mr. Le is scheduled to fight again October 10th at the San Jose Civic Auditorium in San Jose, CA, USA. The event will be promoted by Scott Coker's West Coast Productions and Tony Thompson. For ticket info, call 408-998-BASS. For other info, contact Mr. Coker at (408) 371-8122 and tell him hello from the IKF.
OK, So the IKF has listened to all the complaints about the China San Shou event (Click HERE and scroll down) and we are now answering your requests as we step foot into the world of San Shou! The IKF will now officially sanction San Shou events but with IKF American Style Rules which are listed below. We hope to bring the San Shou style of fighting to a new level as the newest division of the IKF.