The Pit (mixed martial arts)

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The Pit [1] [2]
The Pit (mixed martial arts) logo.jpg
Est. 1986
Founded by John Hackleman
Primary owners John Hackleman
Primary trainers John Hackleman
Rick Metzler[3]
Chuck Liddell[4]
Luke Riddering
Joe Lynch
Glover Teixeira[3]
Justin Lucas
Eric Umali
Past titleholders Chuck Liddell
Prominent fighters Chuck Liddell (UFC)[5]
Glover Teixeira (UFC)
Justin Jeffrey Lucas
Court McGee (UFC)
Ramsey Nijem (UFC)
Antonio Banuelos (DREAM)[6]
Scott Lighty (Strikeforce)
Training facilities United States Arroyo Grande, California
United States Henderson, Nevada
United States Malibu, California
United States Atascadero, California
United States Camarillo, California
United States Kokomo, Indiana
Website The Pit Headquarters

The Pit is a professional mixed martial arts association and training camp that operates in Arroyo Grande, California; with a branch in Henderson, Nevada, and affiliate schools throughout the United States. Founded in 1986 by John Hackleman, its fighters have competed in various promotions such as the UFC, WEC, DREAM and many others. The Pit became world famous when Pit black belt Chuck Liddell became the UFC light-heavyweight champion.


The Pit was founded in 1986 in Woodland Hills, California as a training gym that teaches the art of Kajukenbo, or Hawaiian Kempo as it is now known. Its founder, John Hackleman started the school as a means to teach a more straight forward, no-nonsense approach to martial arts. Initially, The Pit was intended to be a martial arts school for training serious fighters only, and employed a logo depicting a Grim Reaper-like fighter. Eventually Hackleman gave the school another name that would attract kids and families, and used the name "KuZen" when the school opened to the general public. The Pit currently operates out of Arroyo Grande, California and gained worldwide notoriety when Chuck Liddell became UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion.[2][7]

The Pit boss[edit]

In 1985, Hackleman moved from Hawaii to California and renamed his martial arts style to Hawaiian Kempo. The Pit is the only Hawaiian Kempo school that uses the Ke-m-po spelling, instead of the more commonly used Ke-n-po. Hackleman describes his style as more hardcore than other Hawaiian Kenpo schools. He gave school the style name "KuZen," a word derived from mix "Ku," the Hawaiian god of war, and "Zen," for Zen Buddhism. This name was intended to attract children and families to his school. [2]

Training style[edit]

Hawaiian Kempo blends kickboxing, western boxing, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Kempo,and wrestling. The Pit places a heavy emphasis on "CrossPit"[8] The Pit's specialty strength and conditioning fitness program developed in the vein of CrossFit.[1] In order to add more time for a more fitness-oriented curriculum aimed at producing well-conditioned athletes, training katas were eliminated from the original KaJuKenBo formula. Practicality and usability are emphasized in the areas of striking and grappling. Bag training is emphasized both standing and on the ground.

Since the school began accepting non-fighters, they train students from the age of three years old and up. The school uses 3 separate belt systems; one for three- to eight-year-olds, one for ages nine through 13, and one for adults.[1][9][10][11]

Fighters who have trained at The Pit[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Ultimate Regimen: A fighting champion gets intense.". Sports Illustrated - 2007-04-09. Retrieved 2007-08-21.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "chuck" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "chuck" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b c "John Hackleman article". 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  3. ^ a b "ThePitMalibu - Instructors". 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-13.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "instr" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ "ESPN Page 2- This guy scares you?". 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  5. ^ "UFC notebook: Liddell, Ortiz truckin’ on ‘Route 66’.". The Boston Herald. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  6. ^ "Antonio Banuelos_WEC_Pit_Tapout reality show". Yahoo!Canada. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-22. [dead link]
  7. ^ "About The Pit". thePit.TV. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  8. ^ "". 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  9. ^ "The Pit Hawaiian Kempo". 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  10. ^ ""Pit Boss" John Hackleman Speaks About Liddell’s Loss". Chuck Liddell: Official Site. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  11. ^ "Hackleman Keeps It Old School for Liddell". 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 

External links[edit]