• UFC 144

'Honoured' GSP visits spiritual home of martial arts

ESPN staff
February 25, 2012
GSP in Japan

Ahead of this weekend's stacked UFC 144 super-card in Japan, martial arts aficionado Georges St-Pierre took the opportunity to train in the birthplace of hand-to-hand combat, Tokyo.

The reigning UFC welterweight champion, who has always considered himself a martial artist and gives great dedication to studying the different arts, took instruction on how to use a katana (traditional Japanese curved sword) from children from the Kawai Kindergarden School in Tokyo.

GSP - who has mastered so many martial arts and added them to his Octagon skillset - was taken to school by the kids when it came to Kenjutsu.

"In school in Canada, we play hockey," St-Pierre commented. "I always wanted to be a Samurai when I was a kid, but those kids hit me pretty hard."

St-Pierre fared much better when he visited the Kyokushin Karate school, a martial art that forms part of the base of his own fighting make-up. The champ took an appreciative class through a series of katas (Japanese for 'form', practicing individual techniques) and was clearly very excited to be at the birthplace of the ancient martial art.

"Karate was the first martial art I was ever taught," he said. "It is an honour to be here where it started. For me, karate will always be a very important part of me. It is not just a fighting style, it is a way of life."

GSP, along with UFC president Dana White, also exchanged gifts with Saitama City Mayor Hayato Shimizu during a visit to Saitama City Hall.

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