New Zealand martial arts icon Sensei Terry Hill, 7th dan Goju Ryu Karate and former World Full Contact Goju Ryu Karate Champion, will judge tonight at UFC Fight Night Auckland.
Hill, a lifelong martial artist and head of the Terry P Hill Martial Arts Association/San Bu Kai Dojo, has been judging fights across the spectrum of combat sports since 1979.
In 1997, Hill judged the very first mixed martial arts, known at the time as 'No Holds Barred', bout in New Zealand at the Powerstation in Auckland.
'No Holds Barred' wasn't just a title, these early fights had little to no rules, allowing for headbutts, soccer kicks and bare-knuckle punches.
"Nothing left the first round," said Hill. "It was nasty."
Hill lives the life of a true martial artist, constantly training and honing his already considerable skills as a fighter, coach and official.
"What this comes down to is being diverse and and regularly training," said Hill. "I am constantly training, always judging fights and watching fights on TV. That is what judging needs."
(As someone who has trained under Terry I feel comfortable saying that the training he is talking about includes strict physical discipline too - he gives even his most promising students a solid whipping during sparring.)
Hill, renowned for his accuracy and impartiality in officiating, often referees bouts in which his own students are competing.
"Ninety-five percent of the time people don't mind, and if they do that's no problem, I'm happy to let somebody else officiate."
Hill likens judging the combined disciplines inherent in mixed martial arts to being a great mechanic.
"If you want to be successful as a mechanic, you've got to know how to use a spanner, but you also need to understand how the car works and how everything combines together to run the car."
Patrick O'Brien, director of Combat Kings NZ, says Hill was the obvious choice for a local official.
"Terry embodies the integrity of a true martial artist. He's a great person, a great role model, and he's a pioneer of combat sport in New Zealand, so it's only fitting to have him officiating in the UFC's historic first event in NZ."
Carlo Meister, head coach at CORE MMA, praised Hill's dedication.
"He's the head official of an Australasian MMA show every other weekend. His life has been truly dedicated to martial arts and he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down."
UFC Fight Night Auckland begins 5.30pm and is free-to-air on Sky Sport.