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     Kirik Jenness

Kirik Jenness


         Kirik Jenness may not be a household name, but ask any Mixed Martial Arts fan if they've heard of the Underground Forum and you'll get a resounding "Yes!" The Underground Forum is the premier MMA forum on the Internet with a smorgasbord of "who's who" MMA athletes posting on it.

        Kirik Jenness is the owner of (formerly that hosts the Underground Forum. He is also the author of one of the most popular Mixed Martial Arts books on the market today called The Fighter's Notebook.

        In this interview Mr. Jenness talks about his famous site, forum, book, training, Bruce Lee, and a host of other things.

        Be sure to visit and the Underground Forum. Information on The Fighter's Notebook can also be found there.

[Martial Direct] How did you get your start in the martial arts? Give us a little background.

[Kirik Jenness] My paternal family is pretty aggressive.

Grandfather was captain of the wrestling team at Lehigh, and beat a circus wrestler in the UK during WWI. Pop was captain of the high school wrestling team; got married at 18, and didn't wrestle beyond that. He was a founding member of the Harvard Judo Club though. So it was kind of in the blood.

Then one night, in 1973, by myself, in the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho, I went to the movies at the Holiday Inn. Showing was Enter the Dragon.

After that 90 minutes I really never wanted to do anything else.

And that was a while ago.

[MD] It's amazing the impact that viewing his movies has had on the careers of so many martial artists. What was it initially, that impressed you with Bruce Lee and drew your interest so much?

[KJ] I feel a little dopey admitting it, but Bruce Lee was the inspiration for decades of work. I am uncertain the precise nature of the attraction, but from that night I never looked back. Maybe it is because I was little (wrestled 115 in High School) and he was little, too, but could kick anyone's ass.

He simplified things too - just kick it's ass, what ever it is. Man I still feel that way some times.

Plus he was so cool doing it. Jim Kelly said of losing "I wouldn't even notice - I'd be too busy looking gooooood." But it was all Bruce.

I guess there is still a tug. I bought the DVD when it came out, and still enjoyed it. Trained a little harder on the abs the next day, too! (laughs)

[MD] Have you ever trained in Bruce Lee's art of Jeet Kune Do?

[KJ] Although I have worked out with a lot of guys who came up in JKD, I have never received any formal instruction in it.

[MD] What is the focus of your training these days? Any specific art or arts that hold a particular attraction for you?

[KJ] I am trying to learn more about Mixed Martial Arts. Although historically MMA drew (primarily) from BJJ, wrestling, boxing, and Muay Thai, I think it is now its own style or sport or art or whatever you want to call it.

There is so much to it that I feel like I don't know a thing.

In the back of my head, I would like to try fighting in San Shou at some point.

[MD] Do you think the study of traditional martial arts has been affected by the MMA movement?

[KJ] Not in the least. Everywhere I go, for decades now, one of the first things I do is grab the yellow pages, and check out the martial arts ads.

In a major city, you might find a handful of modest ads that make SOME reference to grappling or MMA, but basically it is the same old White Eyebrow Kung Fu- same as it ever was.

People have no interest in reality as it is hard, and not infrequently hurts.

[MD] What do you consider to be your greatest strength in your training? Your stand-up or grappling?

[KJ] I enjoy stand up more, without a doubt.

[MD] Why do you say that?

[KJ] Stand up comes more naturally. I feel like I always know what to do, even if it is taking a beating while covering up and worrying about tomorrow's headache. Grappling I generally feel like there has to be something brighter that I could try, but I am not sure what it is.

My pops said he tried tennis but didn't like it as he wanted to jump over the net and whack the guy with the racquet. Same thing. Grappling half the time, I want to smack the person.

[MD] I read all the time about the MMA vs. "Real" Self-Defense debate. What's your take on all this?

[KJ] That is a good question, one I have given some thought to.

While there are some obvious differences between the street and the ring/cage, I find it comical when all these overweight or otherwise utterly unimpressive "experts" archly point those differences out. Guys who fight as competitive athletes generally have a lot more experience in street fights than do these "authorities" from the magazines anyway.

The image of some blubber belly explaining to Ryan Gracie that sport fighting is not real fighting is as funny.

The guys who teach realistic self-defense that I most respect, like Tony Blauer, have guys who fight in MMA too.

90 some percent of what is taught in martial arts/self defense schools is a case of the emperor's new clothes - it doesn't work. They can't fight worth a nickel.

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