Enson Inoue: Yamato Damashi

Enson Inoue
Enson has taken time to help his wife SJ McCann embark on her pro fighting career. This photo was taken after her pro MMA debut in Shooto, October 2017.
©Rumina Sato

“I’m lucky to be alive today, because I live by the Yamato-Damashii code!”

Enson Inoue
Enson and friends head up to the Tohoku region to hand out supplies to those still displaced in temporary housing after the 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake. His next mission will be the 51st.
©SJ McCann

Japan’s symbiotic relationship of old and new in one of the foremost ultramodern and densely populated mega cities on the planet is a fascinating dichotomy. Among the futuristic manga-robot shows and Pokemon addicted teens still resides a hidden code of the Samurai. Is this symbolic Samurai spirit a fading tradition in contemporary Japan? Enson Inoue is a man that believes its ethos still has a seminal place in modern day Japan.

“If you accept it in your heart that you’re going to die, a broken arm is nothing, your excepting death now, your accepting to die in the ring that day!”

Enson Inoue
Symbols of Japanese culture & enlighten warrior script are woven into Enson's skin.
©Nagao Susumu

Enson Inoue smiled a kind smile and shook my hand in a gentle manner. A sudden flash-back came to mind, that was the right hand that rocked Frank Shamrock and attached to that is the tank-like body that beat Randy Couture with what can only be described as an atomic-arm-bar from hell. Enson is a fair sized man. 5’11 (1,80m), 210 lbs (95 kg) frame which is placed upon a heavily tattooed plated upper body that appears to be wider than the Seikan tunnel.

“The reason I got into the ring is because I wanted to build myself as a man.”

Enson Inoue
Enson finishing Randy Couture with an atomic arm-bar from hell.
©Hody Jae Huh

Symbols of Japanese culture & enlighten warrior script are woven into Enson’s skin in the form of highly illustrated body ink. These imposing tattoos appear to be a reflection of his inward samurai code. This intent was indeed backed up by his many wins in tournaments around the world. His ‘fight or die’ approach got the attention of his Japanese peers. They honoured him with the rare title, “Yamato-Damashii”, meaning “the brave, daring and indomitable spirit of Japanese people”.

Floyd Mayweather finds happiness buying nice cars, I find happiness in seeing the smiles on people’s faces, which I think lasts longer.”

Enson Inoue
In recent years, Enson has been traveling and teaching seminars - mainly grappling and MMA. This was shot at German Top Team in Reutlingen, Germany.
©Till Scheel @Gorilla Photo all Rights Reserved.

Interview with Enson Inoue

Enson Inoue
Facing off with Enson with a verbal combination - Round 1.

Enson Inoue is a softly spoken man with a tone of conviction and forwardness. He owns the space he is in and emanates edgy confidence that one can only earn the hard way. This inner duality was fascinating and I wanted to explore his sometimes conflicting warrior past with his new altruistic path. Enson then explained, he once had a run-in with the Japanese Mafia aka ‘Yakuza’ (literally meaning – ‘The Extreme Path’) over member who had been running his mouth off in connection to one of Enson’s training camps.

Enson Inoue tracked down the man and beat him like a gypsy’s quilt, but was kind enough to hold his life-drained body off the ground. Not unlike an adult Tiger playing with its cub, he was careful to not cross a line. He showed respect even in the mists of handing out some personal discipline, that no dough, left its receiver looking rougher than a dog’s bark. After a discussion with some of the mafia member’s it was agreed that this younger member was out of line and all was forgotten.

“The pilgrimage opened up the idea of making me realize how wonderful it feels to actually help people.”

Enson Inoue
Enson Inoue surveying the damage after the 2011 Tohoku disaster.
©Daniel Herberson

In a time gone-by, any form of disrespect shown to a member of the Yakuza is usually dealt with the self-inflicted cutting-off the end of the persons own little finger at the first knuckle, which was then wrapped in cloth and handed to the offended senior member. I then noticed that Enson has all his fingers, so a second career in piano playing is still on the cards.

Enson Inoue
Enson travels to Hawaii (Honolulu) several times a year to set up and sell his powerstone bracelets with his company Destiny Forever LLC. His next trip will be March 29-April 10.
©Chris Wong

We mused over past attitudes in reflection of today’s social trends of self-imposed online authority and a lack of accountability shown by today’s online world. Enson agreed, It’s a time of trolling and keyboard warriors, it used to be a time when, if a man had a problem with you they would either talk “man to man” or sort it out and it was finished, now they just troll you. Not suggesting that we should go around cutting off the ends of these coward’s little fingers for trolling, but in retrospect, it might slow down their words-per-minute type count!

“I don’t care what people tell you, there’s no way that Coca-Cola could make millions of dollars without Yakuza connections!”

Enson Inoue
Enson is currently writing his second book - a follow up to his first titled "Live as a man. Die as a man. Become a man.". The books are autobiographies that chronicles his journey through life, the fighting world and beyond.
©Till Scheel @Gorilla Photo all Rights Reserved.

The fighting life is now a thing of Enson’s past and he has no interest in stepping back in the arena. In his book entitled ‘Live as a Man, Die as a Man, Become a Man’, echoes a narrative of redemption, self-empowerment and helping others.

Enson Inoue
'Live as a Man, Die as a Man, Become a Man'

We moved on talking about Enson’s new love ‘The Japan Walk’. Making trips by foot across Japan and giving back to local people who need help along the way. He runs a Foundation assisting with the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and earthquake relief. This is an on-going relocation program after the Tsunami left over 300,000 Japanese people homeless.

Enson Inoue
Enson credits a lot of his mental toughness to his Kickboxing Sensei - the infamous "Watanabe Sensei" who's views are rooted deep in Samurai philosophy. He has been training (and still trains) fighters for 49 years.
©Till Scheel @Gorilla Photo all Rights Reserved.

“They all have different types of properties for every type of stone.”

Enson Inoue
Handmade bracelets by Enson Inoue which can be found on

We closed by discussing Enson’s other passion ‘Destiny Forever’. This is Enson other path to encourage spiritual healing through the use of quartz crystals. Enson renders and sells quartz stones which he skilfully crafts into attractive bracelets and personalizes each one into a unique artisan gift. These stones are said to contain varying positive energies which can help people’s emotions in times of stress.

Enson Inoue
In 2016 Enson and his wife SJ established Purebred Kennels Japan where they had their first successful litter May 2017.
©Till Scheel @Gorilla Photo / arrangement by Gori Bulls

“I want people to know, just because they are not in the news anymore, does not mean there is still not hurting!”

Enson Inoue can be contacted at – and

Enson Inoue Facebook
Read more like this