all the debate about the different styles contributing
to mma. I decicded to catch up with an all round grappling
legend Martin Clarke, (8th dan judo, Grandmaster
Sombo wrestling and 6th dan jiu jitsu) fresh
from his recent victory in Arizona.
Banks: Firstly I would like to congratulate you
on the Gold medal you recently won during the 2001 World
Masters for judo in Arizona. What sort of training regime
did you go through to get ready for the competition?
Clarke : As a Young Man I was known for
my speed and agility, most considered for a superheavyweight.
I moved as fast as a middleweight. Sadly time and old
injuries have caught up with me. For 12 months I trained
for power and stamina. At the competition I weighed in
at 25 stone won all my fights on Ippon with throws, armlocks
Banks: I understand your father the late Nobby Clarke
must have had a great influence on your martial arts career,
were there any other influential figures in the martial
arts who you really admired?
Clarke : My mother Margret who was the
first women black belt in Kent, first women professional
Judo Coach, Geof Gleeson 9th who made me understand
the philosophy of Kanos Judo and how it applied
to everything we do. Bill Wood 7th Dan he had
a great knowledge of Judo
Banks: What do you consider to be your greatest competitive
achievements in your career so far?
Clarke : World Sombo silver 1986, World
Master Judo Gold, 2001
you any plans to compete again any time soon?
Clarke : I will have to have a total knee
replacement in the near future they have told me once
this has been done I will not be able to contest again
know youve always been considered to be a tachi-waza
specialist, what is your favourite technique in terms
of judo or sombo?
Clarke : In my younger days a very fast
Uchi Mata (Inner Thigh) and a drop knee seoi nage (Dropping
Shoulder throw). As an Oldie Haria Maki Komi (Sweeping
winding throw) O Sot Gake (major outer hook)
Im sure your aware the popularity of mma competitions
in this country is getting ever greater. Have you given
any thought about getting some of your students to compete
in these events?
Clarke :I have had people train with me who
have competed in this type of competitions but I am mainly
a Jacket Style wrestler. Although CombatSombo has a club
in Ashington Northumberland run by Gary Pollard who do
extremely well in these type of events. Like most things
it is supply and demand if I get enough interest and the
money is right I will do it.
started to put on Combat wrestling competitions that dont
involve using a gi. What brought this about?
Clarke : As I said I am mainly a Jacket
Wrestler but I have won some freestyle events so I can
see how wrestling without a jacket can help my Judo and
before the Gracies and Ultimate fighting in fact
25 years ago I used to run Shiai Jutsu competitions this
is something I invented where you were allowed to kick
and punch as well as wrestle. I run all told 6 events
it was not a success and thought it would never catch
on. HOW WRONG I WAS!
places abroad have travelled to for training and competition?
Clarke : US, Canada, Germany, Malta, Canary
Island, Belgium, Holland, France, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey,
Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Poland
any of your students getting ready for international competitions
in sombo or judo at the moment?
Clarke : A lot of players compete
in Veteran events but one player Ashley Costa was due
to go to the Worlds in October but broke his shoulder
last week so he is out of it
I know at the moment your working hard to get the popularity
of the sombo scene back to the level it was in the 80s.
Have you considered organising any more international
sombo competitions to be held in England any time soon?
Clarke : I have considered it and rejected
it because the British Sombo Federation has insufficient
funds and I would have to fund it, some thing I am not
prepared to do on a large scale. I funded the Europeans
in 1990 and the Worlds in 1992. I only just broke even.
Every year we run a British Open where foreigners can
participate but I am afraid the World Sombo/Sambo community
is not very supportive of events in this part of Europe
Who is the toughest person youve fought in competition?
Clarke : Russian World Sombo champion Vladimer
You were a member of the 1980 Olympic judo squad, were
those happy times for you?
Clarke : No it was a very stressful time,
as you know the governing body for Judo is the British
Judo association I came from the BJC and IBF. The heirachy
tried to treat me as an inferior, on one occasion I was
asked to denounce my own parents needless to say I did
not. The Players themselves were a nice enough bunch and
it is them that run the BJA now thank god, but it was
hard work for four years trying to prove yourself all
the time. It left me a much stronger person. International
Sport is not always about ability it is about not what
you know but who you know.
are your goals for the future?
Clarke : Expand the IBF and BCSA experiment
with other forms of wrestling, play more golf own a small
Do you feel youve become a better person because
of your involvements in the martial arts?
Clarke : Without a shadow of doubt my whole
philosophy is that Martial Arts/combat Disciplines are
only a vehicle to producing better human beings.
Is there anything youd like to say to people in
the UK and abroad?
Clarke : Martial Arts/Combat Disciplines
is about hardwork there is no quick fix.
to do one style well before you start cross training.
because you enjoy what you are doing doesnt mean
you can make a living out of it.
Arts politics has nothing thing to do with Martial Art
Thanks for the interview.
12 March 2002