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Your favorite martial arts/combat sports legends?

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In every fighting art, there are legends. Be it greek wrestling or MMA, these legends will always be remembered for either contributing to their art or just being the freaking best at what they do.

They've served as inspirations for millions; some have even become mythological in nature due to the effects of time.


So, which legends have inspired you in your martial art? Who do you seek to emulate, and why?


Here are mine:


1. Harry Greb - Boxing

This dude was just plain awesome. Aggressive, relentless and with a will of titanium, he exemplifies everything I admire in boxing.


2. The Great Gama - Pehlwani-style wrestling

Aside from his unbelievable strength, this beast of a man went undefeated in a career that spanned 50 years. He also had a killer mustache.


3. Miyamoto Musashi - Kenjutsu

Not only was he a peerless swordsman in a time where swordmasters of the highest caliber walked Japan, but he was also a man of great character and philosophical insight. I'd have loved to sit down and have a chat with him, but I'd try damn hard not to piss him off.


4. Nai Khanom Tom - Muay Thai

A guy so good at Muay Thai that they even have a holiday in his honor. There's something so cool about winning your freedom in a bout against a master fighter from a rival nation.. or nine such fighters without rest.

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Not incredibly original, but mine would have to be:


1. Miyamoto Musashi:

As you said, I'd love to learn a days worth from him. But not someone I'd want to cross. One of my favourite quotes comes from Musashi:


"There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.â€

2. Bruce Lee:

Not a very obscure choice, but I'll say it! I find his philosophy of "take in everything, throw away what does not work for you" to have great utility (for me at least) when it comes to training. Or diet. Or work. Or life. (you get the idea).

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Saenchai and Jack Dempsey. Absolutely brutal, the both of them, but in a methodical way. 


The Codex Dobringer, from the late 14th century, has a quote I really like in it. I'm not positive who wrote the line because four different fencing masters contributed, but it goes:  


For practice is better than art,

your exercise does well without the art

but the art is not much good without the exercise.


That resonates with me.

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Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate.  He was a very modest man: in his own autobiography, he declined to describe his own training method for horse stance and quoted a journalist's description. (He would climb up on the roof of a concrete bunker during hurricanes, take up his stance sideways to the wind, and hold up a tatami mat like a sail.  The wind would blow him off the roof, and he'd climb back up again.) 


General Thomas Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, AKA General Alexandre Dumas.  Father of the famous novelist, highest-ranking person of color in any Continental Army (second-in-command to Napoleon Bonaparte) and stupendous badass.  He was a champion fencer, personally led commando raids during the Second Italian Campaign, and provided the inspiration for many of the events in his son's novels. (Three duels in three hours?  That was him.)

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