“And Our Roots Are Legendary”
(Photo Courtesy of the World Thai Boxing Association)
“We Honor Our Roots … And Our Roots Are Legendary”
OC Kickboxing & Mixed Martial Arts (OCKMMA) has been in Orange County, California for over twenty-five (25) years. We have been thrilled to be a part of the OC community for such an extended period of time — and give back to the community that has given us so much.
We would not have been able to accomplish what we have without our Legendary Roots — such as the Legendary Ajarn Chai (far left in the photograph) and the Legendary Guro Dan Inosanto (far right in the photograph).
Ajarn Chai Sirisute
Ajarn Chai is affectionately referred to as the “Grandfather of Muay Thai”. He is also the founder of, and the powerhouse behind, the World Thai Boxing Association (the WTBA). The WTBA was founded in 1968 and was created by Ajarn Chai to “establish, advance, promote, educate, and instruct the martial arts of Thailand throughout the world”.
Surachai Sirisute was born in Bangkok, Thailand on October 16, 1948. He is the son of a prominent lawyer and was encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps; go to law school; and practice law. Sirisute, however, had other ideas!
“I would kick my father’s heavy bag every chance I got”, remembers Sirisute. “I was a handful to my parents. Sometimes my dad would have me kick the heavy bag just to wear me out”.
Sirisute studied both Muay Thai and karate beginning at the age of six. Sirisute taunted the boys in a neighborhood Karate school taught by a Master Chen – who became Sirisute’s first teacher. The young Sirisute boasted that he could beat any kid in school – and Master Chen was shocked as he watched Sirisute mop the floor with his older students.
Sirisute earned his black belt in Shorin-ryu at the age of 12. He also entered the ring as a Muay Thai fighter – and had 72 fights.
Sirisute learned Muay Thai from Ajarn Suwong. “This is the champion that will spread Muay Thai to the falang (foreign lands)” said Ajarn Suwong – and this dream became Sirisute’s life’s work.
Sirisute retired from the fight game and came to the United States in 1968. He had long hair reaching to the middle of his back and was in superb, physical condition as he stepped off the plane for the first time. He soon discovered that 1968 America was vastly different than the Thailand fighting circuit. Sirisute found his way to, of all places, Woodstock. “Man, I thought Americans were completely crazy” said Sirisute as he witnessed the extreme behavior of the Flower-Child era first-hand at Woodstock.
But this was to be only the beginning of his American Adventure – for Sirisute, with a well-developed penchant for mischief, befriended a young man – who just happened to be a bona fide member of the Hell’s Angels. Before Sirisute knew it, he was teaching this notorious gang Muay Thai. “I had no idea who they were until the FBI explained it to me” shrugs Sirisute. “So, then I trained the FBI”.
However, Sirisute never forgot his vision – and he was determined to spread Muay Thai around the world. The early years were lean because Muay Thai was unknown – and hostility from other martial artists was fierce.
In those days, the standard practice was to smile, close the door, and beat the tar out of all challengers – and that is exactly what Ajarn Chai did. He was constantly defending challenges from other martial artists who found, much to their surprise, that this unknown Muay Thai fighter was unbeatable.
Many of Ajarn Chai’s early fighters (Mike Goldbach, Reggie Jackson, Glen Hernandez and Don Boyd) trained in Ajarn Chai’s backyard. It was this core of fighters that followed Ajarn Chai to Thailand in 1982 and became the first American team to compete in the Muay Thai World Championships.
In 1978, Sirisute met a young, Filipino-American junior high school teacher named Dan Inosanto. Ajarn Chai and Inosanto trained in Ajarn Chai’s backyard and they soon became close friends. Everybody knows the story of how Ajarn Chai told Inosanto to “kick leaves” and then went shopping – leaving Inosanto sweltering in the summer heat. When Ajarn Chai returned several hours later, Inosanto was so exhausted that he could barely stand – but his hands were up and he was still kicking. Sirisute exclaimed, “Oh my God…I forgot all about you,” and then held his sides and let out a piercing, falsetto cackle. (Actually Sirisute had not forgotten Inosanto but was testing him). Their friendship grew – and, through Inosanto’s contacts, Sirisute was able to greatly expand the awareness of Muay Thai.
Guro Dan Inosanto
Guro Daniel Arca “Dan” Inosanto was born in Stockton, CA on July 24, 1936 to Sebastian and Mary Arca. He is, without doubt,one of the most renowned, experienced, versatile and finest martial artists in the world. He is an expert in numerous martial arts disciplines – including Jeet Kune Do, Eskrima, Kali and Silat.
He began training in martial arts at the age of 11. He first received martial arts instruction from his uncle who first taught him traditional Okinawan Karate and later also Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. He was a student of the late Ed Parker, from whom he received a shodan rank in American Kenpo.
He was one of Bruce Lee’s closest friends and he is but one of only three instructors personally certified by Bruce Lee to teach his system of martial arts. Bruce and Dan not only trained together, but they also learned from one another. In fact, he started Bruce’s training with the nunchaku – and we were all mesmerized by Bruce’s phenomenal performance in Game of Death.
Guro Dan was one of Bruce Lee’s closest friends. In fact, he became the principal spokesperson, historian and expert for Jeet Kune Do after Bruce Lee’s untimely death (July 20, 1973).
He is also an integral part of OCKMMA’s lineage. In fact, he trained our very own Founder and Head Instructor Guro Daniel Sullivan. Guro Daniel obtained his Senior Instructor certificate under this great, martial arts legend.
“Guro Dan was the most influential person of my adult life” says Guro Daniel. “It is always a pleasure to train with, and learn from, this amazing martial artist”.
In addition, Guro Dan also trained OCKMMA’s very own President & C.E.O Robert A. Freeman, Esq. In fact, he was Robert’s PE Teacher at Malaga Cove Junior Hugh School in Palos Verdes, California and started our Fearless Leader on his life-long, martial arts journey.
“Guro Dan started me on my life-long journey in the martial arts”, says Robert. “As a result of this great man’s guidance and mentorship, I developed the self-confidence and self-respect to become a fighter, a lawyer, a mediator for the Supreme Court of Nevada and, eventually, a judge. He is also one of the main reasons that I fought under the OCKMMA banner and eventually became the owner of OC Kickboxing & Mixed Martial Arts”.
“We Honor Our Roots … And Our Roots Are Legendary”