Jiu-Jitsu Cross-Training for NHB: A Denis Kang Profile


by Stephan Kesting 
Originally published in Grappling Magazine, September 2003

Denis Kang debuted in Grappling Magazine after his Pancrase match against the very experienced Minoru Suzuki in Japan. Denis was the underdog, but the tide of the fight soon turned against the heavily favored Suzuki. Denis connected with an overhand right so hard that the former king of Pancrase turned and jumped out of the ring in an attempt to clear his head and recover. This gambit did not succeed, however, and when he re-entered the ring Denis soon had him down on the canvas.. A few seconds later a barrage of punches from side mount forced Suzuki to submit.

Since that event he has returned several times to fight in Japan, as well as fighting in different events in Canada, the United States and Brazil. He is the current WFF light-heavyweight champion and represented Canada in the Abu Dhabi Grappling Championships in 2003. He has NHB wins in events as diverse as Pancrase, World Freestyle Fighting, the Ultimate Warrior Challenge, Western Canada Toughest and the Rumble in the Ring. He has also appeared in Grappling magazine, demonstrating the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with his instructor, 6th degree Black Belt Marcus Soares.

Technique 1: Counter to Knee Strikes in the Clinch

Denis is quick to answer when asked about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu’s role in No-Holds Barred competition. “Initially Jiu-jitsu fighters had it easy – nobody else knew how to play the ground game”, he says. “Then other fighters got wise and started training for these types of competition. Now Jiu-jitsu fighters have realized that they have to train specifically for these events, not just do some no-gi rolling whenever they have a fight booked. They realized that they have to cross-train in wrestling and in striking. This is why Jiu-jitsu fighters like Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira are now so dominant.”

Technique 2: Cartwheel Guard Pass

The necessity of cross-training is evident in Denis’s own training schedule. In addition to his beloved Jiu-jitsu, he also trains in kickboxing and wrestling, as well as doing additional conditioning. “When I am preparing for a fight I basically train twice a day: I might run in the morning and do BJJ in the afternoon, or I might box in the morning and teach in the evening”.

Technique 3: Neck Lock Counter to Double Leg Takedown Attempt

“Much as I like winning I also actually like training for a fight. Peaking for a fight, being at one’s physical and mental best, and knowing that you have covered all the bases in training is an amazing feeling. It is a good test of a fighter’s ability – I want to see where I stand relative to other people.”

His cross-training allows him to compete in competitions outside NHB as well. Denis has numerous wins in Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling tournaments, and even in a kickboxing match. Recently he decisively won the Canadian Abu Dhabi PreTrials, submitting two opponents and defeating a game Jeff Joslin on points.

Technique 4: Achilles Lock and Followup

Denis’s favorite fighters are well-rounded, aggressive fighters like Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira, Sanae Kikuta and Vanderlei Silva. “I like fights with constant action, constant aggression the whole time. I try to model myself on fighters who constantly try to push the action and not stall. Frank Shamrock’s fight against Tito Ortiz really raised the bar in this regard – he was constantly active, always trying things, even when he was on the bottom”. Watching Denis fight it is obvious that that he has based his style on these exciting athletes: constantly attacking with slick takedowns, knockout punching, and wicked submission attempts.

Stephan’s note: You can also check out the My MMA DVD with Denis Kang for cutting edge techniques and training methods.

Denis Kang now trains at American Top Team in Florida, and recently defeated the dangerous Russian fighter Andrei Semenov in Japanese Pride Full Contact, the most prestigious MMA event in the world!Stephan Kesting is a Vancouver-based grappler and martial artist. See his website, www.grapplearts.com for grappling videos and additional resources.

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