Yoji Anjo vs Rickson Gracie Dojo Storm - Flashback to 1994!
A thought that has undoubtedly crossed any martial arts instructor's mind is "What would I do if I get dojo stormed?"
Dojo storming is defined by the Urban Dictionary as:
Challenging a dojo. It can refer to one or more people who basically like the name suggest storm into a dojo and challenge the people who are there. In the modern age it's becoming more uncommon for these things to happen. Which may be a reason for the sudden prevalence of Mcdojos.
Today I want to talk about one of the most famous dojo storms in the history of martial arts. This story dates back to December of 1994 when Japanese pro-wrestler Yoji Anjo flew to California to challenge the legendary BJJ fighter Rickson Gracie.
For this story to be properly understood, it's important to understand the martial arts climate of Japan in the early 90's. MMA at that time was very young. UFC just started in 1993, Pride FC wouldn't debut until 1997. YouTube wouldn't be a thing for more than a decade. The Japanese had a lot of pride in their fighting styles and pro-wrestling was huge! While the pro-wrestling matches were works, many of the fighters thought they would be effective in MMA (and many where - like Sakuraba).
Of course martial arts had spread worldwide, but in particular, grappling was big in Brazil. The Japanese vs Brazilian fighting rivalry is one that has gone on since the 1930's when Helio Gracie fought Japanese Kodokan Judo fighters in Brazil. Rickson also fought (and won) an MMA event called Vale Tudo Japan in 1994 and was widely viewed as the top Gracie competitor.
One of the pro-wrestling champs, Nobuhiko Takada, publicly challenged the Gracies, and Rickson in particular. Rickson responded that he would not fight him in Japan (as he suspected them of fixing fights). Instead, Rickson proposed that he would fight anybody, but only on his terms.
So in December of 1994, Yoji Anjo, pro-wrestler (and later Pride FC fighter) decided he would be the one to put Rickson in his place. Accompanied by members of the Japanese press, Yoji flew to California to confront Rickson at his LA dojo. Anjo came to LA under the guise of inviting Rickson to fight in Japan (in a fight for the UWF promotion). As Rickson refused to go to Japan, they decided to settle the score right then and there.
This was not to be a fight in the gi, with rules, and a referee. This was a real, no rules match. No gloves, to ref, no time limit, and no money.
Rickson was quoted as telling Yoji "If we fight for money, I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.”
The Japanese press was not allowed to stay inside during the fight. One of Rickson's students did record it but it has not been released.
After the short fight, the press was let back in and the question of who won was obvious.
A few days later, Anjo returned to Rickson's dojo with a gift and a letter of apology:
As an aside to this story, a Gracie vs Anjo rematch was set up for Pride Shockwave 2004 when Anjo took on Ryan Gracie. Ryan won with an armbar in 8 min 33 seconds.