In Part II of our new series covering some of the combat sports world's elite coaches, we take a deeper look at Henri Hooft, striking coach to the famous Blackzilians MMA team, based out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Centre in Florida. Style Dutch kickboxing and Muay Thai. "My style of fighting is aggressive and we’re trying to knock people out, and that’s what we do," Hooft says of his particular blend of striking for MMA. We’re not boring and just come to show up. No, we want to try and knock somebody out. That’s my mentality and it’s my mentality in life too. You either do it or don’t do it at all.” "I'm a kicking and punching, straight forward guy. I don't use too many of these flashy stuff," he also revealed, fitting in perfectly with the Dutch ethos. Background Hooft started out over 30 years ago and learnt his trade in the world renowned kickboxing gyms of Amsterdam, Holland, which have produced many of the 'K-1 style's' most successful combatants. He was mentored and coached by kickboxing legend Rob Kaman at the famous Meijiro gym, and that set him in good stead for competition and then his own coaching career. "It's in our genes," he's said of the Dutch love for striking arts. He gleaned much of his mentality and coaching methods from the styles he grew up with in his native Holland, and that includes no mollycoddling or cotton wool, but hard work and hard sparring. “We always spar hard,” Hooft has commented in the past. “It’s a fight. Remember – Ultimate Fighting. In the beginning, there were not even rules.” He also trained in Thailand, adding different elements to his game including more clinch work and elbows, with the "Dutch style" being slightly modified with more boxing and footwork. Notable Fighters In kickboxing, he has coached the likes of Peter Aerts and Tyrone Spong, both world champions at the highest levels of the sport. In his current role at Blackzilians, he has played an important role in shaping recent performances for the likes of Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Silva and many more. Fight Experience Hooft was a legitimate competitor with national, continental and international titles to his credit. "I won over 100 fights, give or take," he says of his record, and that's something he believes is engrained in the kickboxers of the Netherlands. "You fight everybody, you fight always. Tyrone (Spong) is 28 years old, he has 112 fights, and he’s a 10-time world champion.” Favoured Equipment
Image by Ryan LocoHooft is kitted out in Jaco apparel - they are known as Tenacity in Europe due to copyright issues. You can find all of their gear on Fightstore Pro. Hooft also likes to use Fairtex Thai Pads. Interesting Fact Hooft was a footballer as a youngster, but sampling Kyokushin Karate got him into martial arts and led him to the world of kickboxing, where he's been ever since. Footage The Blackzilians are supported by Jaco at the Jaco Hybrid Training Centre. You can purchase Tenacity - Jaco's European branding - HERE!