Great Martial Artists: Benny Urquidez
By: Dale Norfolk elementalkickboxing, kickboxingleeds, bennyurquidez
Kickboxer, martial arts choreographer and actor
I remember it very clearly, despite the years beginning to drag on now. It was a warm summers day in the east coast mecca of summer holidays that is Skegness1. It was the early to mid-nineties, I had been cruelly tempted into a black board shorts but had refused to give up my combat boots. My black nail polish had seen better days and I was dodging the sun as I ambled round the massive outdoor market2, that resides near to Skeggy in the small town of Ingoldmells3.
I ducked in and out of stalls that took my eye, things with skulls, things with spikes and of course at that time video tapes4 or VHS. As a picked over the action, horror and sci fi movies, I gave little hope of finding anything to add to my growing martial arts movie collection. Ruling out trying to find something with Jackie Chan5 or Chuck Norris6.
It was then that I found it, at the back of a box in the dark recesses of a dusty stall, not per say a martial arts movie but a video box labelled Kings Of The Square Ring7, a blurry picture of Muhammed Ali8 on the front, obviously trying to draw in the boxing fans.
It was £1.50, which by today’s standards is not a whole chunk of change, but at the time, it would equal a night and half’s arcade expenditure. After reading the back of the box blurb a few times I invested.
Having to wait the rest of the holiday, before I could return home to my beloved Ferguson Video Star9 in all its top loading, remote on a wire glory. I was not disappointed. A collection of almost short article pieces focusing on:
Muhammed Ali Vs Antonio Inoki10 – Boxing11 Vs Wrestling12
Benny the Jet mini documentary.
Willie Williams13 – Karateka Vs Man Eating Bear
Immediately as a self-confessed Mark14, I was drawn in the boxing versus wrestling, which is a story in itself.
But the highlight of the cassette and a name I had never even heard to that day, Benny Urquidez15. In the grainy footage contained I watched a compact man in exhausting gym sessions as a rather stiff announcer explained his pedigree, then came the fights, one of which I will try and find for this article, one that ends with a jumping back kick (Tobi Ushiro Geri)16. The kick lands hard in the abdomen and after a quick throw the opponent is not just taken off his feet but unable to stand for several minutes. In fact, I keenly remember the announcer calling the result of the match, whilst you can vaguely hear the anguished cries of the downed man.
As I have continued through my martials arts journey, I have pointed out the name Benny the Jet to those who want to know more. And it is with this piece I hope to bring you on board with my adoration.
Name: Benny Urquidez
Known As: The Jet
Date Of Birth: 20th June 1952
Height: 168cm (5’6”)
Weight: 66kg (145lbs)
Place Of Birth: Tarzana17, California18, United States of America19
Black Belts in:
White Crane Kung Fu28
Founder of Ukidokan32 Karate
KATOGI super-lightweight (-63.6 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1978
Muay Thai Bond Nederland34 (M.T.B.N)
M.T.B.N. welterweight (-66 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1984
National Karate League35 (N.K.L)
N.K.L. lightweight (-70.5 kg) world champion (3 title defences - vacated): 1974-1975
Professional Karate Association36 (P.K.A)
P.K.A. lightweight (-65.9 kg) world champion (2 title defences - vacated): 1976-1977
Standardized Tournaments And Ratings System37 (S.T.A.R) System World Kickboxing Ratings
S.T.A.R. undisputed welterweight (-66.8 kg) world champion: 1985
S.T.A.R. undisputed super-welterweight (-70.5 kg) world champion: 1974
World Kickboxing Association38 (W.K.A)
W.K.A. super-welterweight (-70 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1993
W.K.A. welterweight (-66.8 kg) world champion (0 title defences - vacated): 1985
W.K.A. super-lightweight (-64.5 kg) world champion (14 title defences - vacated): 1977-1985
World Professional Karate Organization39 (W.P.K.O)
W.P.K.O. lightweight (-65.9 kg) world champion (0 title defences): 1975
World Series of Martial Arts Championships40 (W.S.M/C)
W.S.M.A.C. lightweight (-79.5 kg) world champion (4 title defences - vacated): 1975-1976
W.S.M.A.C. open weight (unlimited weight) world champion (1 title defences - vacated): 1974-1976
Record: at time of article
Draws/No contest: 4
Wins by KO: 57
Urquidez was born with martial arts already in his blood, with his mother a professional wrestler41 and his father a boxer42, by the age of 5 he was competing in ‘Pee Wee’43 boxing. Before starting his instruction in Kenpo at the age of 7, gaining his first blackbelt by the age of 14.
It was around this time that he first began competing in the point fighting circuit in California, but 10 years later he had tired of the no contact discipline. Entering the World Series of Martial Arts Championship, a very rough environment saw him win the tournament, before entering serious competition such as N.K.L, W.P.K.O, P.K.A, W.K.A, All Japan Kick Boxing Association (AJKBA)44 , Shin-Kakuto Jutsu Federation45 and New Japan Pro Wrestling46 (N.J.P.W). Where he fought for two decades gathering a professional record of 58 wins and no losses.
It is over this time his legacy and reputation was built. In 1977, knocking out Katsuyuki Suzuki47 at a major event in Japan. Which had transpired from the event, where Antonio Inoki fought Mohammed Ali.
From these multiple organisational matches, a number of titles were won (See Titles above).
Little is detailed about his life outside of his fighting achievements; however, his in-ring footage gives more than enough entertainment. During his fighting career, he has remained a proud supporter of his heritage, a member of the Blackfoot48 tribe, often wearing native American garb to the ring.
Officially retiring in 1989, that didn’t not stop him competing, as in 1993, he came out of retirement to beat Yoshihisa Tagami49, to win the World Middle Weight Championship.
Not to say that he is not without his controversies over match stipulation and such a dominative no loss record.
Beyond his accomplishments in the ring, Urquidez, has used his skills in not only formulating his own martial arts system, Ukidokan (A Way Of Life) and is a continual giver of lectures and courses. As he continues to teach even today.
Another part of his legacy being the martials arts movies he had appeared in, and choreographed fights and stunts for as given here below:
Year Of Release
Wheels On Meals51
Actor/ Fight Trainer88
Actor/ Fight Choreographer89
Tango & Cash55
Down The Drain56
Actor/ Fight Choreographer
Actor/ Fight Trainer
For Life Or Death62
Grosse Point Blank63
Actor/ Fight Choreographer
And Now You’re Dead64
Actor/ Fight Coordinator90
Actor/ Stunts91/ Fight Coordinator
Actor/ Fight Coordinator/ Stunts
Kick Boxer II: The Road Back70
Bound By Honor71
Good Cop/ Bad Cop72
Natural Born Killers74
The Big Hit77
Fight Trainer/ Stunts
Price Of Glory80
Fight Coordinator/ Fight Trainer
From making my find in the east coast market to today, I always remember this as one of my first tangible aspects of martial arts. The acrobatics of Jackie Chan for me are always entertaining, but not something I could ever see myself being able to pull off. What Urquidez showed me is savagery of real fighting, the power and progression of martial arts in earnest.
I also feel that this is a good marker to hold for practitioners who are not brutes as myself, despite his smaller frame Urquidez holds power much larger than this and uses his full potential each time.
Below are a number of fights I have dug out of the internet, but one film recommendation I can make from the above is Grosse Point Blank. In whish the lead star John Cusack92, is a devotee of the teachings of Ukidokan. The fight we’re they face off is more than a story progressing encounter but a sparring match between master and pupil. (Sound tracks pretty kickin’ too)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtiPRTDfeYE - Urquidez Vs Cornin93 (1974)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1Evh_kxkmo - Urquidez vs Kurban94 (1974)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1zcd0fFnxU – Urquidez Vs Okao95 (1977)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yE_7kErlBQ - Urquidez Vs Jackson96 (1977)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ0HvBBYYQs - Urquidez Vs Suzuki97 (1977)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfHDavtiBZA - Urquidez Vs Onuki98 (1978)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyaITbSNsYw - Urquidez Vs Simerly99 (1979)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV0lOnTgezY – Urquidez Vs Onuki100 (1980)
https://www.elemental-kickboxingleeds.co.uk/admin/entries/blog/1439-working-the-body - relates to above video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTV9__7p1Iw - Urquidez Vs Koshikawa101 (1982)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnPx727xUb4 - Urquidez Vs Fujimoto102 (1983)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlc3kTA9S58 - Urquidez Vs LaRoche103 (1985)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5umMAObUJc - Urquidez Vs Tagami104 (1993)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyH7S9-YGBw - Hong Kong Death Match
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy0-Dt9mPiI – Remember that back kick I was talking about.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-ltRBEu0IU&t=54s – Meals On Wheels (1984)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TMS5FEIoSs – Dragons Forever (1988)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0ScNLt2zNc – Grosse Point Blank (1997)
35. Created by Chuck Norris, now defunct
47. No possible reference