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Did you know that a ninja student won a UFC championship? It’s true.
It was in UFC #3: “The American Dream”, and his name was Steve Jennum. In fact, Jennum was the only person, other than Royce Gracie, to win a UFC championship at that time.
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So, how did a Ninja come out on top against all of those highly trained and experienced fighters? This article discusses the major points that contributed to his win. Use this, not as a guide to see how he won, but as a way to understand the difference between how most people think of winning, and how a practitioner of the art of ninjutsu thinks about it.
First, Steve Jennum was an alternate – not one of the primary fighters.
What that means is that he didn’t have to go up against other fighters before reaching the final round against powerhouse fighter, Harold Howard. This allowed him to be fresh, and ready on all levels.
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But, don’t let that sway you to believe that Jennum only won because Howard was tired and he was not.
In the opening foray of the round, Howard, although he had just won his own fight just prior to facing Jennum, was still powered up and ready to go. This was evident when he unloaded a punch that should have blown the Ninja across the octagon!
But, what happened next, not only changed the fight, but startled Howard so much that I can still see his reaction today.
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When Howard slammed Jennum with the same powerhouse punch that has allowed him to win countless fights before this, Steve used a basic move in the Ninja’s arsenal that Howard had never seen. When the punch hit Jennum squarely in the head, his body was already in motion – pulling back into the Ninja’s ichimonji no kamae.
This strategic shifting of the body allowed Jennum to receive the punch with little to no damage. And, when Howard paused, confused with the result of what should have been a knockout – Jennum counter attacked and took the fight to Howard. In the world of ninpo-taijutsu, “the ninja’s body-art,” this tactic utilized the ninja’s sui no kata ‘water-mode’ of strategic defensiveness.
Pulling back and then crashing back in with full body power strikes – like the movement of the ocean as it pulls away from the shore only to roll over itself, gathering power, and crashing back in against the rocks – Jennum became the champion of UFC #3. Instead of relying on tricky moves that required strength, speed, or conventional power…
A ninja won UFC #3 with a technique taught to basic students in the art of ninjutsu!