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Master Bob Schirmer: USA Coach

Master Bob Schirmer, coach for Team USA and founder of Combat-Do, began training in Mixed Martial Arts long before it became popular. His martial arts training began in the 60′s and even as a teenager he competed in the core disciplines of what we now call MMA: Boxing, Wrestling, Judo and even Tae-Kwon-Do.
A fierce and prolific competitor in his youth, Master Bob fought on five continents, under every imaginable ruleset, at times even representing the United States and the United States Marine Corp in matches dating as far back as the 1970s. Schirmer is perhaps best known as a competitor, though, for a 1999 MMA match against the legendary Carlson Gracie Jr. in which he controlled the action against the bigger, younger Gracie.
In 2005 Schirmer was one of only seven martial artists inducted that year into the Grappling Hall of Fame. Inducted with Master Bob were Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti, Tiger Schullman, Lloyd Irvin, Renzo Gracie and Royce Gracie.
Master Bob Schirmer is an 8th degree black belt, a remarkable accomplishment for someone so young. Master Bob was awarded the rank of Master from the United States Jiu-Jitsu Association in 1994. A representative from the association spent a week at the school training and was so impressed by Bob’s jiu-jitsu that he returned the following week with the coveted Master belt and presented it to Bob making him a 37 year old Master.
O Sensei Phil Porter, the highest ranked Judo and Jiu-Jitsu instructor in America, trained with Master Bob and after a few days promoted Master Bob to sixth Dan in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu and named him the Hall of Fame Martial Arts “founder of the year”.
Master Bob grew up in a fighting family. As a small boy he was taught boxing from his father. Robert Schirmer Sr. was an accomplished boxer in Chicago, a golden gloves champion and the US Army Champion (European Theatre of Operations). Robert Sr. also worked with top professionals of the day as a sparring partner for champions of the 50’s and 60’s like Tony Zale and Billy Conn.
Robert Sr. was a soldier and demonstrated great courage and conviction during World War II. As highly decorated airborne ranger with the 82nd airborne division, he made several combat jumps. From the start of the war in Africa, to the Battle of the Bulge, and all the way to Berlin he saw many horrors of war. Many of his good friends perished in the “war to end all wars”. Robert Sr. instilled in his son the confidence that he could accomplish anything if he tried.
The young Robert Jr. was sparring in boxing even as a young child. Bob and his friends would put on boxing gloves and gather to fight in the back yard of the apartment building where they lived. A patch of concrete between two buildings served as their ring and every day after school the matches would begin.
Kids from all over the neighborhood would flood the little concrete slab to try their hand at fighting. Bob was always very small and had to develop great speed and movement to overcome the longer reach and strength of the heavier kids from the neighborhood.
In the winter of 1963, the young boxer became a “mixed” martial artist. Bob started wrestling that year at Hawthorne playground under the tutelage of coach John Abate. Bob became a fixture at the facility and the old horsehair wrestling mats became his laboratory.
Even as a youth Bob was known for his fanatical work ethic and every day after wrestling every kid from around the neighborhood, he would work out until the coach would close down the gym at 9:00 PM.
Wrestling became a major part of his identity. Coach Abate would pit him against anyone weighing less than 65lbs. The first year he wrestled at Hawthorne he won Chicago’s North Side Championship, the first of many.
John Abate directed Bob to the Military Arts Institute and Bob began to learn Judo to compliment his wrestling. Master Shin, his Judo instructor, would encourage him by putting him against many senior belts and grownups.
Master Shin held Bob back from Tae-Kwon Do until he turned twelve years old. As a teenager already competing and winning championships in Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, and Tae kwon Do in the mid 1960’s, Bob Schirmer was arguably the first American Mixed Martial Artist, and without question a pioneer of American Mixed Martial Arts.
Four decades later, Master Bob is internationally famous for having fought on five continents and representing the United States of America in Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, San Shou, Tae kwon Do, and MMA.
Master Bob Schirmer is now as focused on coaching as he was on competition. This direction in coaching has shown that the Combat-Do system of fighting is second to none.


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