Spartan Reality Fight Series
© Marc Wickert
Spartan MMA events are quickly becoming the most talked about fight tournaments in Australasia. And Spartan’s Godfather, Kerry Dunne, is overwhelmed by the public’s response, with each fight night being a sellout.
Born in Brisbane, Queensland, Kerry was caught up in the 70s’ martial arts craze that swept the western world. "I was a product of the Bruce Lee generation, and like a lot of guys my age, I saw this little Asian guy kicking butt. I was very impressionable at about 11 years of age: I was going to be a professional golfer, and much to the horror of my mother, I traded my golf clubs in to pursue martial arts," says Dunne.
Kerry started his martial arts career in traditional ju-jitsu, which he practised for approximately six years, dabbling in other disciplines such as kung fu and kickboxing when he moved to Sydney in 1982. Eventually Kerry travelled to Japan where he made traditional karate a way of life for the next six years.
"I also did judo while I was over there and a number of other disciplines. It was in Japan that I started formulating the idea of putting something of my own together. I realized boxing had better hands than the karate or kung fu I’d been doing. Because I sort of got shown by a few good boxers…You know: ‘Hey, do you want to have a spar?’…‘Yeah, sure.’ So I got in there, and obviously these guys were superior with their hands.
"I’m not a dummy, so I realized boxing better prepared people for reality. And boxing hands were probably the way to go. I’ve been to Thailand 20 times now, and I used to go to a number of Thai gyms there. What they were doing was so superior to my karate from a practical point of view."
Kerry says a lot of traditional martial artists won’t compromise their styles, because they have put so many years into a particular discipline, and their pride won’t let them bend. He says they have trouble coming to terms with knowing that maybe what they have been doing isn’t as affective as they had thought.
"Whilst in Japan, I also did a style called Daido Juku under Azuma Sensei. Australia’s Andrew Dickinson told me I should go and check out Daido Juku. I’d heard about it before and its reputation for being a very hard karate. It was a very, very scary kind of training. I went home and felt intimidated because they did train extremely hard: full contact – not just to the body, but to the head and everywhere. It was very hard training. But I joined up because they incorporated boxing into the style. They also included grappling in their training."
Dunne says he only participated in the Daido Juku classes for about four months because he got hurt badly one night. He remembers sparring sessions sometimes lasting for fifty minutes, with fighters having to change to a new opponent every two minutes. He added that something was always getting broken as a result of the intense workouts.
"Most of the people who joined there were already black belts in other styles. It was a gathering of the elite martial artists. The majority of them were university students, and that’s the only time in their lives when they actually have free time. So they put everything into their Karate for those years.
"In Japan, most of the people who receive a lot of acclaim and fame for competition usually get it whilst they are at university, because that’s the time when they can devote themselves to training. They’ve already got into uni and there’s no pressure for them to perform academically. Unlike here in Australia, once they’ve made it into uni in Japan they’re almost certain to graduate at the end of the course. Over there, getting in to uni is the hard part."
Kerry says some mornings after a class he was unable to get out of bed to go to work. Eventually he gave the Daido Juko classes away, believing there were better ways to learn martial arts.
The system Kerry Dunne teaches today at his Shindo Gym includes a full martial arts curriculum in the style. Some disciplines included in Shindo are boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and submission wrestling without a gi.
"Spartan tournaments are a platform for some of my fighters who wish to compete. The only reason Spartan came about was because I used to put some of my guys in Chris Haseman’s Rings Event when it was going. When they stopped Rings, nobody was doing anything like it in Australia. Some people asked me why I didn’t put something together, because they knew I was pretty organized. So I did."
Spartan Reality Fighting was also a good opportunity for Kerry to offer his own students the chance to compete and to test their skills, which ultimately helped him to refine what he was teaching at the Shindo Gym.
Although Spartan was an extension of the Shindo Gym - put in place by Kerry for students of the gym wanting to test their skills, Dunne believes his Spartan MMA competition has also helped him to refine what he is teaching at the Shindo Gym.
"If I had never put guys in this competition, I don’t think I would ever have got my understanding of realistic martial arts up to where it is today. It really made me accelerate my knowledge because of my having to prepare people for fights. And with the reality of MMA tournaments, having seen what was working and what was not, it meant I had to cut a lot of the fat from the training and put more emphasis on such things as fitness and strong basics."
Eventually Spartan became the model for all MMA tournaments in Australia, and the platform for all MMA athletes wishing to put their skills and training to the test. At Spartan 8, held late in 2003, Kerry had to turn over 100 fight fans away from the doors. With Chris Haseman headlining Spartan 9 on April 3, 2004, Spartan’s popularity can only continue to grow.
To be held at the Troccadero in Surfers Paradise, Spartan 9 is expected to comprise eight or nine bouts of international MMA standard. Fans are advised to book early to avoid disappointment after Spartan 8’s early sellout.
For more on Spartan and ticket availability, contact Kerry Dunne on (07) 5571 5155 or firstname.lastname@example.org