In the Summer of the New Millennium, 2000, under the spire of Chevron’s shadows, a cabal of warrior-athletes built a palestra for collegiate, international, and Olympic wrestlers to re-purpose their craft for the new arena of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Behind a blood-red door off an industrial alley in 町田 ダンススクール El Segundo, CA; with no outward signs of commerce, the R1 Training Center quietly began what would prove to be a paradigm shift in skill-sets and expectations needed for success in the fastest growing sport in America. This fully equipped, no-nonsense facility was opened for business to serious men yearning to learn and perfect any martial skill required in their quest for excellence. Nearly a decade ago the pilgrimage commenced to what would become a Mecca for combat artists the world over.
Originally dubbed “R.A.W.” (Real American Wrestling), the vision was former World Cup Wrestling Champion, Rico Chiapparelli’s. It was Rico who in 1996 introduced the MMA world to then United States National team wrestlers and now: UFC Hall of Fame member, Randy Couture, Pride Light Heavyweight & Middleweight Champion, Dan Henderson, WFA Welterweight Champion Frank Trigg, MARS Absolute Champion, Tom Erikson, IFL Light Heavyweight Champion, Vladimir Matyushenko & Olympic Silver Medalist, Matt Lindland… they were to become known as: the R.A.W. Team. These were World Class athletes that had pretty much worn out their welcome at most martial arts gyms throughout Southern California. These nomads and ronin fighters went on a quest to find an “all disciplines under one roof” location to plant the R.A.W. banner.
Enter: Frank Shamrock, seems the younger Shamrock was searching for a spot in Los Angeles to hang his hat as well. During a conversation with Rico, Frank mentioned that he’d found just the right place, but alas, the deal had fallen through. He also mentioned that this it was the second time it had happened to the landlord at this very location… the R.A.W. boys decided: the time was right.
The South Bay area of Los Angeles has long been considered the birthplace and ground-zero for the infectious spread of MMA throughout the country – ney, the world. For it was here that Rorian Gracie began teaching his family’s brand of Jiu- Jitsu and developed a showcase that would eventually become the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Combat athletes from all corners of the globe began migrating to Torrance, CA; (once referred to as: Rio Norte) to learn BJJ’s secrets and set up shops of their own. Yet another South Bay city, known by locals for its sewage treatment facility, (as well as oil refining), was poised to become home for the next generation of MMA’s evolution. With UFC’s success came a hunger for a training center that focused on, by returning to, the wellspring of all things martial… hence R1’s slogan-mantra: “All forms are fluent.”
Such was the genesis of this: Heritage Hall of the Martial Way, known as ‘the place where the pros train’. Where, to this day, members can wrestle on the mats where Dan Gable trained his legendary national championship teams; trade bumps in the ring that John Cena (and others) developed his career; strike the heavy bags that Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini & Rob Kaman have tenderized; lift the weights that Mr Olympia, Jay Cutler has thrown about; receive the same training protocols that Randy Couture, Lyoto Machida and countless other combat legends have… And who knows, perhaps add a legendary chapter of your own to the ongoing saga that is: The R1 Training Center.