Lyoto Machida and the Best Traditional Martial Artists in MMA
As mixed martial arts has become the most dominant combat sport in the world, lost in the fray are the ancient traditional martial arts.
Many fighters started out training in styles such as karate and kung fu, but few in the game still utilize these techniques.
Those that still integrate these arts into their game have found a great deal of success with unorthodox movements and uncommon attacks that baffle opponents.
Here are the top traditional martial artists who have found the most success in MMA.
German UFC lightweight Dennis Siver is one of the hardest-hitting strikers in the divison.
Siver started his martial arts training in 1994, studying Judo and Tae Kwon Do before becoming a kickboxing champion in 1997.
Having earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Siver has shown an affinity for the art during his MMA bouts.
Often, Siver will utilize a devastating spinning back kick that he will drive into the midsection of his opponents. He actually knocked out Nate Mohr at UFC 93 with this kick, earning him Knockout of the Night honors.
Siver's prowess for striking has shown the MMA world that traditional martial arts also possess powerful techniques.
Georges St. Pierre
UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has a deep background in Kyokushin karate.
A third-degree black belt in the art, St. Pierre utilized his striking base a lot earlier in his career, although his style of fighting is drastically different now.
Despite becoming more of a wrestler with kickboxing skills, St. Pierre still has reverence for his traditional martial art, always entering the Octagon in his gi.
In the video above, St. Pierre displays his skill at katas during the UFC 129 open workouts, performing Pinan Yondan Shito Ryu, an ancient Japanese kata that can be seen in many different styles from Shotokan and Kyokushin to the Korean styles of Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do, where it is called Pyong Ahn Sa Dan.
UFC Lightweight John Makdessi is the best traditional martial artist in the lighter weight classes.
Having a black belt in Shotokan karate as well as having experience in Tae Kwon Do, Makdessi has amassed a perfect kickboxing and MMA record by utilizing the unique and creative strikes from these arts.
Makdessi loves to use the lead leg, something that these arts are known for, often using a side kick and hook kick to hit opponents.
Coming off a spinning backfist knock out of Kyle Watson at UFC 129, Makdessi will look to continue his winning ways as he puts his karate to the test against Dennis Hallman at UFC 140.
Former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Cung Le is one of the few Sanshou practitioners in MMA.
A black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well, Le is one of the most creative strikers in the game as he uses a devastating spinning side kick and quick roundhouse kicks to decimate opponents.
The former champion uses moves that look like they belong in the movies, which is apropos for Le as he has had a successful action film career.
Le's exciting style has shown just how flashy, yet effective, these arts can be in MMA.
Former UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida comes from a family steeped in the traditions of Shotokan karate.
His father, Yoshizo Machida, is a master of the art and taught all of his sons this ancient style. Lyoto's brother, Chinzo, is actually a professional MMA fighters as well.
As for Lyoto, he brought karate back to the forefront of the martial arts world when he won the title at UFC 98. Bringing back the austerity of the art, Lyoto showcased karate's effectiveness when trained in the proper way alongside other styles.
There has been no better ambassador for the traditional styles than Lyoto in MMA.