Rob Van Dam recalls the beginning of his journey with martial arts.
Rob Van Dam is best known for his unique ring style. Back in the late nineties, Rob Van Dam was continuously wowing audiences with his acrobatic movements and flexibility that catapulted him to the top of ECW and beyond.
The variety of the kicks and flexibility that Rob displayed throughout his Hall of Fame career can be traced back to his training as a martial artist.
In his WWE Network Icons documentary, Rob recalls how a failed attempt at amateur wrestling in high school transitioned into a successful stint as a kickboxer and eventually a professional wrestler.
“By the time I was a junior in high school, I was sure that I wanted to be a professional wrestler, so I was dedicated and focused on fitness, stretching, lifting weights, whatever I can do to supplement that goal. Because of that, I joined high school wrestling. I didn't stick with it for very long. I weighed 165 pounds and I remember the coach saying, ‘I think you can get down to 135.’ Dude, are you kidding, I want to weigh 235. I'm trying to put on as much weight as I can. I wanted to reach my full potential, and not stunt my growth during the years that I was still growing,” Rob Van Dam recalled.
One day, Rob Van Dam would meet Kit Lykins, a kickboxer with a ring in his backyard. First, Rob Van Dam only wanted the ring for wrestling purposes but it turned out to be a pivotal day for him because he started his kickboxing journey at that time.
“When I was still in high school, there was a very pivotal day in my journey where myself and my friends, we found a guy in Battle Creek with a ring. We would drive by it and see this ring in the backyard so we went and knocked on his door, told him that we were going to be professional wrestlers and we needed a ring to train in. This guy, Kit Lykins, turns out he's a kickboxer and a promoter and he runs kickboxing shows.” Van Dam recalled.
He continued, “We would have to train with his kickboxers just to have the ring time. After all the drills and all the sparring, then us wrestlers could have the ring and do what we wanted… We were learning how to kickbox whether we wanted to or not. So, that was how I got into it. I really excelled with kickboxing and started really enjoying it.
“I was knocking everybody out, regardless of how much experience they had. I was able to take a lot of punishment. I was paying my dues way back before I ever made it into the world of professional wrestling.”
Ultimately, Rob Van Dam would make his way into the world of wrestling and utilize his kickboxing experience to craft his unique ring style that many still emulate to this day.
Elsewhere in the documentary, Rob Van Dam opens up without becoming a superstar with his ECW Television Championship victory over Bam Bam Bigelow. Learn more here.
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