Martial arts are so much more than just the sum of different self-defense techniques. For some people, martial arts are the way of life. They organize their life based on the guidelines of the martial art that they train and they consider it a blasphemy if anyone says anything bad about their martial art. That being said, in history, there were sporadic cases of dojo storms. A dojo storm is when one dojo’s practitioners will come into another dojo in order to duke it out. Typically, the leaders of the two schools wage a battle in order to determine which dojo is better. Well, in history, one of the most popular dojo storms was that of Yoji Anjo vs Rickson Gracie. You will get to learn more about the entire event below in this article.
Yoji Anjo vs Rickson Gracie Dojo Storm
The background of the event
First of all, it’s important to note the state of the martial arts climate of the time. The Gracies were well-established as having one of the world’s most effective martial arts systems taught in their family. Back in the mid-nineties, UFC was just starting out and Pride has not even started holding the events.
That being said, the Gracies had big rivalries with many schools of the country of Japan. And this rivalry dated back to the days when Helio Gracie fought various judo competitors from Japan. Rickson himself has fought in a Vale Tudo tournament in Japan and remained victorious at the end of it.
That being said, there were many Japanese martial artists that were having none of it. They couldn’t let the Gracies hold the throne as the world’s biggest martial arts family. So, one of them – namely Yoji Anjo – decided to take things in his hands and prove once and for all that the Gracies weren’t dominant in the world of martial arts.
So, he decided to personally go and challenge Rickson himself to a no-holds-barred duel. A thing to note here is that Rickson never accepted the invitations to Japan in order to fight. He did this because he believed that they would fix the fights. So, he would only fight under his terms.
And this is where Yoji Anjo comes into play. He originally set out with the intention to call out Rickson Gracie to come to Japan and have the duel there. He called a few Japanese press members with him and went to the Rickson Gracie dojo. It’s there that he changed the plan and made a direct challenge to Rickson Gracie himself.
The press members were told to get out of the dojo. Rickson told Yoji the following paraphrased sentence: “If we fight for money, I’ll stop whenever you tell me. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop whenever I feel like it”.
And so, the battle waged on behind closed curtains. It’s said that the match was recorded by some of the Gracie practitioners – but the recordings were never released. That being said, it wasn’t difficult to determine the winner of the match once the two competitors came out. Rickson was glowing with a dominant beam of his face while Yoji Anjo was left devastated with a bloodied-up face.
The match humbled Yoji Anjo – he’s said to have sent a letter to Rickson Gracie after the match. In the letter, he said he was sorry he stormed Rickson’s dojo. He also said that he would continue training and get better at his craft. He hoped that one day he would again have the opportunity to fight Rickson.
On his behalf, Rickson also held Yoji Anjo in held esteem. He told of the warrior-like spirit of his competitor that refused to tap despite the fact that Rickson had performed a deep and powerful choke. Eventually, he went to sleep – falling on his shield like a warrior.
However, the blood had not yet settled after the fight. This was shown by the fact that Yoji Anjo got back to Japan and told his people that he was jumped in the Gracie dojo by multiple opponents. Rickson was having none of this. He immediately sent one of his closest associates to Japan to sort things out. He gave him the tape of the fight to show it to the press. He also explicitly forbade his associate to make any copies of the tape. Word got around in Japan after people saw the tape that Rickson’s victory was completely legitimate. His reputation as a true warrior skyrocketed after that.
This battle is legendary as one of the biggest events in terms of the dojo storms. Nowadays you only get to see dojo storms in Asian kung-fu movies. We tend to forget that the dojo storms that we see in the movies are modeled after real events. And the Yoji Anjo vs Rickson Gracie Dojo Storm is as real as it gets. We hope that the Gracies will one day release the footage of the battle so that we can learn what exactly happened behind closed doors.
We don’t condone dojo storms in any way. However, we can’t really say that we are against them either. Some people take their martial arts seriously – and if they feel disrespected, then they are at free to do something about it. However, what we would never condone is a direct act of violence. Martial arts are above pure violence – if two rival schools need to duke it out, then they can do so in a sports fashion where nobody would get hurt in the end – but still, there would be a clear winner.
That being said, the Yoji Anjo vs. Rickson Gracie dojo storm is one of the biggest violent dojo storms in the history. It took a lot of courage and valiance for Yoji Anjo to step into “enemy territory” and challenge arguably the biggest martial artist name in the world – that of Rickson Gracie himself. That being said, Rickson also showed tremendous courage and poise by accepting the challenge. And the event’s outcome speaks for itself.
Note, the event’s outcome doesn’t mean that the Gracie jiu-jitsu was better as a martial art than the Japanese Judo. It only meant that under the given circumstances Rickson got the better of his opponent Yoji Anjo. We have to commend the fighters for the respect that they’ve shown to each other at the end of the match. We can only hope that there are martial artists that are prepared to go all the way like these two did in order to defend their honor and prove the world that they are the best martial artists in the world.
- Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock history of MMA Rivalry
- Rafiel Torre: Story of Fake BJJ black belt and convicted murderer
- What is Vale Tudo?