I suppose this has been discussed before, but I personally find it fascinating how a single person can, through nothing more than an idea and determination, leave such a huge mark on history. Of course, for MMA.tv we should just talk about who influenced MMA...
Jiro Kano, sorry but with all the Bruce Lee worship maybe there should be more posts about Kano. The man took his own little sect of Jujitsu and made it an international martial art! He literally invented the idea of randori, or training live. HIs teachings then touched not only judo/japanese Jujitsu, but BJJ, Sambo and San Shou/San Da
Mas Oyama. Sure, lots of the stuff said about him is bull, including the bull stories, but to think that an ethnic Korean living in a prejudiced Japanese society could start what would become the biggest Karate movement in Japan. It has many off shoots now, including of course K-1.
But let's not forget Oyama's student Kurosai, who trained Fujiwara, the greatest Thai boxer Japan ever produced. Fujiwara then trained Sayama, who startd Shooto.
I'm gonna throw a weird one in here, Antonio Inoki! I know, he never fought a real match in his life and was a very stiff wrestler. He bored the world to death with his Ali match. But he got going in Japan the idea of mixed style matches. Sure, they were fake, but it started an idea that eventually created the real Japanese MMA world.
Inoki brought Gotch to Japan, which gave us all the shoot organizations.
Inoki is also the guy who sent teh very young Sayama to start training kicks with Fujiwara, for Inoki's so called MMA shows...