Gods of War: Gokor Chivichyan

Bloody Elbow.com
May 11 2013

Gods of War: Gokor Chivichyan

By T.P. Grant on May 11 2013, 3:00p

One of the finest grapplers to come out the Caucasus, Gokor Chivichyan
came from the grappling obsessed former Soviet nation of Armenia to
become possibly the mot complete grappler in the world.

Born on May 10th of 1963, in Yerevan, Armeina Gokor Chivivhyan was a
fighter right away. By the time he could walk he was picking fights
with larger children, and was winning. At age 3 he joined a wrestling
school and and by age 6 Gokor was also training in Sambo. When
training Gokor consistently trained with older boys, and he progressed
very quickly.

In 1971 Gokor won the Armenian Junior National Sambo Championship, and
then the next year he won the 10-12 year old division while still 9
years of age. At this time Armenia was part of the Soviet Union, and
in 1972 Gokor qualified for the Soviet Jr National Sambo

In 1973 Gokor began training in Judo and he would win the Armenian
Junior Judo Championships in that same year. He would then travel to
Russia and take second in their Junior Judo Championships, losing the
finals match by referee decision. This was Gokor’s first loss in
competition, and he used it to fuel himself. Gokor returned to Russia
the next year to claim gold at both the Judo and Sambo Junior

For the next five years Gokor would collect gold medals at National,
U.S.S.R., European, and International level tournaments. In 1980 Gokor
was in consideration for the USSR Olympic Judo team but was passed
over for another Judoka who would go on to win a gold medal.

That next year Gokor’s family would defect to the United States and
take up residence in Los Angeles. There he began to study under Gene
Lebell, one of the United States’ first great Judokas. Lebell had won
back to back American championships in the 1950’s, had won tournaments
in Japan, had defeated Milo Savage in a proto-MMA match, and by the
time Gokor came to the L.A. had begun working in Professional
Wrestling, learning the no-gi grappling art of Catch Wrestling.

Gokor was still a teenager at this point, and just learning English.
Training with Lebell was famously tough: he trained in and out of the
gi, used a full range of submissions, and in no gi training grabbed
skin like it was a gi. He also began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
with the Mahcado brothers around this time as well. In the 1980’s
Gokor competed in a variety of competitions: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,
submission wrestling, and, of course, Judo.

Gokor in Judo Tournaments, Grappling, Sparring

Gokor claims to have taken part in many “No Holds Barred” Fights, but
it is unclear if this refers to submission wrestling matches with a
minimal of rules or full on Mixed Martial Arts matches and few records
of these fights exist. He did claim several bare knuckle fighting
titles, but again there are no official records, which isn’t uncommon
in that period of American proto-MMA, but claims are fuzzy on if these
matches took place and against what level of opposition they would
have been against.

At this time Gokor’s focus was still primarily on Judo. The goal of
going to the Olympics and winning gold still burned in Gokor. He
pushed very hard for U.S. citizenship so he could represent the United
States in his adopted hometown of L.A. at the 1984 Summer Games, but
was unable to secure citizenship.

Gokor claims he was traveling between the U.S. and Russia regularly in
the early 80’s and still competed for the U.S.S.R at some events, and
that he qualified for the Soviet team, but they boycotted these games.
It is still unclear how he was able to do this as relations between
the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the early 80’s were still very tense and
travel between them was very controlled. It might have been that Gokor
competed under the U.S.S.R. banner simply by function of his
citizenship status and not with the blessing of the U.S.S.R. judo

In 1987 Gokor won a Judo International World Cup while representing
the U.S.S.R., but finally, with the help of the U.S. Judo Federation,
Gokor was declared a citizen of the United States. He rushed to
collect enough competition points to make the 1988 Olympic team bound
for Seoul but there was not enough time.

Global politics and bad luck had taken their toll, Gokor’s dream of
competing in the Olympics would never be realized. In 1991, Gokor
opened his Hayastan Academy in North Holloywood and began teaching
grappling, along with striking techniques he had learned during
training for NHB fights. Gokor’s competitive career was largely over
at this point, but he did win the U.S. National Judo Open and took
part in a full on MMA fight in the World Fighting Federation. The
promoters wanted to match Gokor with Akira Maeda, but when unable to
sign him they found an impressive looking Japanese fighter, dubbed him
“Mr. Maeda”, and put in him in the ring against Gokor. The result was
something of a farce as Gokor was clearly a vastly superior fighter
and won with ease in under a minute.

But that is just the beginning of Gokor’s legacy, as he has gone on to
become an even more accomplished coach. In 1997 Gokor was awarded the
U.S. Judo Federations “Coach of the Year” award. The Hayastan Academy
has is now home to one of the most fearsome Judo teams in the U.S. In
2008 they stormed the first U.S. Nationals that was jointly held by
the two competing Judo organizations in the U.S. and Gokor shocked
everyone when he borrowed a gi , won his way to the finals in
Openweight, and then won gold despite injuring himself.

In addition to becoming a top Judo gym, Hayastan has also become one
of the most successful gyms at applying Judo in Mixed Martial Arts

Two of Gokor’s star students are Judo and MMA stars Karo Parisyan and
Ronda Rousey, both beginning their training under the Armenian while
they were still children. Parisyan’s high flying, highlight reel
throws made him the face of Judo application in the UFC . Rousey would
win bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games for Team U.S.A. and then went on
to become a sensation in Women’s MMA. She became the first UFC Women’s
Bantamweight Champion and took part in the first women’s fight in the

Gokor also has coached Gegard Mousasi, Manny Gamburyan, Sako
Chivitchian, and Extreme Couture head grappling coach Neil Melanson.

A 9th degree Judo black belt, 1st degree Razryad Grand Master of
Sambo, a rank reserved for multiple time world champions, and 6th
degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under John Machado, experience
in Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling as well as Catch Wrestling
training all make Gokor one of the most complete and credentialed
grapplers on the planet and a more than worthy addition to our
Pantheon of modern day Gods of War.

For more on Gokor

His biography from school website and documentary made by his academy.
Both get a little vague at key times, but even if there is some
fluffing of history here his accomplishments as a coach, and the rave
reviews from very respected grapplers who have rolled with Gokor
dispel any questioning of his skill or knowledge.

His official Facebook page

Thanks to Zombie Prophet and Jordan Breen of Sherdog for their
assistance in the research of this article.