Double Leg Take Down

                            Way of Japan Black Belts 2012

By Sensei Domi

There’s a story behind this picture.

First of all this picture was taken several weeks ago.  The head instructor, Shihan Abe Belardo, a life-long friend and associate, called about taking a group shot of the black belts.  I worked about an hour away when he called and he said that he’d wait for me.  I wasn’t keen about taking a picture with a bunch of young shodans, but Abe asked and it’s one of those things where he’d call me up every five minutes until I relented.   So I showed up in my work gear and met up with a group of friends not seen at least in twenty years.  This little reunion was in fact nostalgic because it retrieved a memory of a karate tournament that if I remembered correctly occurred in 1981 or so, plus or minus a year.  I just moved to Delano from the San Francisco Bay area and I wanted to sponsor a karate tournament inviting schools around the area.  Nothing fancy.  It was at the Delano Parks and Recreation Center, big enough to section off four rings.  It was a fighting tournament, no katas.  To our surprise, about 300 competitors showed up to fight.  With the additional spectators and officials, it was cramped but adequate enough to stay within fire department maximum limits.  Anyway, good tournament and I decided to fight in the middle weight division where I was fortunate enough to win but at a cost. 

Now rewind several weeks. 

When I moved back, I started training again with Abe.  Since the last time we trained, he just opened up his Shotokan dojo.  I moved to Hayward and resumed my training with an Okinawan system.  When we got back together, I had heard he joined the (then) new Muay Thai kickboxing movement and was fighting in the ring circuit but also kept his traditional dojo.  I hopped on board and was introduced to a new series of techniques that included thigh kicks and double leg takedowns.  What I really liked about this double leg take down was that it was a simple technique where you shoot a right hand over the head of your oppent and follow up with a round kick to the front and back leg, sending the opponent to the ground with a resounding "thud".  A good fighter and strong athlete, I knew I had to learn and adapt.  So learned and incorporated kickboxing in my regime and fighting arsenal.  I had about two to three weeks of kickboxing under my belt and felt real good about using them when and if needed.

Back to the tournament.

After climbing the tournament bracket in my division, I fought about four fighters from different schools and won each bout.  My opponent, Ricky Mendiola, a world class kickboxer, also won his bouts easily.  Since then, I’ve never seen him fight but knew him and his family who were from my home town (his brother and sister went to school with me.)  Okay, so I knew he was good enough to be ranked as a world contender in his weight class, but I was confident about my abilities and I wanted to try some of the new techniques I learned in class, more specifically double leg take down.  I felt that since Ricky was a kick boxer, he wouldn’t mind laying flat on his butt.  So we touched gloves and fought hard.  He threw a couple of thigh kicks which weren’t allowed and he was admonished with a warning.  The next kick he caught me with a hard round kick to my ribs.  I about threw up my guts.  Kick boxers have absolutely no idea about control.  It was beyond excessive and I should’ve gotten a point for it.  Nope, the judges gave him the point.  This pissed me off to no end, so the next two points came easy with me using well timed front kicks and a reverse punch to the solar plex.  Kick boxers like Ricky were trained for power and not necessarily for speed so I instantly picked up on this advantage.  With the score 2 to 1, all I needed to do was finish this and off to the Grand Championship I go.  My head told me “double leg take down…do it!”  So when the judge screamed “hagime” I swung into action.  Unfortunate to me, Ricky had a similar plan.  Problematic to me was that when I shot my leg down towards his back thigh, he decided to swing his knee up.  From a strategic point, his knee with the full force of a world champion kick boxer, landed square on my cup.  Bear in mind, prior to the match, I spent the extra money for this what they called then a “banana” cup, a curved shaped protector made from durable plastic.  A sledge hammer couldn’t put a dent on it.  Unfortunately, this expensive piece of plastic designed to stop armor piercing bullets did not save me. 

Smiley Von another black belt said I looked like a cockroach in convulsions. 

Ricky, however way he was able to do it, smashed my cup inward and flattened it on my scrotum. 

Ouch. (Like you can never imagine).

I went to the dressing room to inspect the damage; and to my surprise, I found that my protector was destroyed.  Believe it or not; it was flattened like a pancake and it pressed against my body (parts).    Not feeling well but being mister macho man I was, I went back to the ring using the spare cup that I kept after buying the indestructable banana version.  Ricky said he was sorry though I doubted it.  Though damaged, the next point was mine and I won my division.  For my efforts, I won this dinky three inch high trophy.  Surprisingly, I kept it for a very long time.  Wish I still had it. 

Well part two of this story was that I had to fight the winner of the light weight division:  Benny Alcala.  Now Benny was this little tornado that threw lighting speed punches, nothing that I couldn’t handle because I had equally fast techniques, but on that day, with the pain reminding me why I should never ever execute double leg take downs on world class kick boxers, my speed waned.  As a result, Benny beat me by a point with his signature back fist reverse punch combination.

This reason why this group shot is so important is because those two gentlemen who are in the mid and late fifties are in this picture along with me, not to mention the head instructor who seemingly forgot to teach me how to defend against a pile driving knee after miscalculating the recently learned "double leg take down."

We didn’t have videos then to relive those memories.  I just have this story and a nice group shot with me and the two guys that made this special post possible.

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