Thursday, March 15, 2007

...are you asking me for a CHALLENGE?!?!?

Today I got this question from someone about UFC/MMA:

I got to thinking after watching Hughes wrestling /
boxing / jiujitsu style of fighting and how prevalent
that is within the UFC, what happened to all the Bruce
Lee type dudes?

This is a stupid, but serious question, but doesn't
the dominance of someone like Hughes with that type of
style just go to prove that all those flashy strikes
and jumping around and that kind of shit may look good
in the movies, but are really just a waste of time on
the street?

Seriously, has there been some pure martial artist
(Karate, Kung-Fu, Shaolin Monkiness) that has done
well in one of these tourneys?

That, my friend, is a wonderful question.

Notice how whenever you're watching UFC or Pride or any MMA bout, you will never ever see this:

If Mister Miyagi was a master of karate and could kick anyone's ass, wouldn't he dominate any MMA competition?

Why is it that so many people you meet who claim to be a "black belt" in a martial art are about are about as warrior-like as a labradoodle and you feel you could probably take 'em?

I think as a lot of people who grew up watching the karate kid are probably wondering what's up with all this.

Traditional Martial Arts (TMA) like aikido, taekwondo, etc, are just that -- traditional -- and things based on and emphasizing tradition and form above all else are rarely all that practical. Failure of something to adapt and evolve in an ever changing world is a good way to get passed up, and fighting styles are no different. TMA folks aren't doing it for the practicality of it, they're doing it for the tradition of it, and die-hard practitioners of TMAs, when asked about practicality against other forms, will likely dismiss other forms as being "impure" or argue why their arts are so much more practical by explaining how they would counter this and that or utilize pressure points and death strikes.

By coincidence, in the gym locker room today, I overheard a conversation between someone asking an aikido guy what the difference between jiujitsu and aikido was. According to the Aikido guy, a US Army officer, Aikido was much more practical for soldiers because in a combat situation, it is much more useful to break someone's neck than to roll around with them on the ground.

One reason TMA practitioners will give for their suspicious absence in MMA tournaments is that their art is "too lethal" and that they don't want to kill their opponent.

Nothing says "I'm gonna let you break my neck" like this picture:

Check out this vid to see him pwning with strikes and grappling.

So what is it about the grappling/wrestling and kick boxing that makes these guys so much better than the Masters of Aikido? Why is it that any state-level high school wrestler could own a most taekwondo blackbelts? Why am I confident that as a lowly BJJ blue belt, I could easy submit any of the aikido blackbelts that work out at the gym on base? The answer is pretty simple:


Combat sports like kickboxing and grappling all have that in common. While TMA practitioners are working on their katas and moves that only work if the person does what they want them to do, grapplers and kickboxers are sparring. Three times a week when I train, at some point during the "sparring" session, I will go for at least 6 minutes at 100% of my abilities to try and submit the other guy, and he is trying to do the same thing to me. Sparring is exhausting and conditions a person physically, while getting them used to up close and personal one-on-one competition where losing sucks and often times hurts like a bitch. Imagine only dry-firing a gun because you can't bare the possibility of hurting someone by firing off a round -- once you DO fire the gun at a target, you'll never hit it like you expected. The staunch TMA practitioner's inability to spar at 100% is the very thing that prevents them from being effective at their art in a "real" situation against a highschool wrestler or in an MMA competition. Ironic, isn't it? Sparring is also what keeps a lot of people out of grappling, because they don't really like the up close and personal aspect of it, nor do they like the prospect of being humbled over... and over... and over... again. Starting a combat sport that involves sparring is a tough road, and it's understandable if people don't want to stick with it.

I'm not knocking TMA -- they teach poise, confidence, and discipline to young people, make them stronger and teach them how to punch and kick. But as the Gracies showed the world through their Gracie Challenges, when it comes time to put up or shut up, grappling was far more practical, and as tournaments like UFC emmerged, styles evolved requiring a combination of striking and grappling, all of which have the common theme of sparring.

When I heard the aikido guy advertising his style's ability to "snap an opponent's neck" and move on, I really got a kick out of it. Even as a practitioner of aikido he's living in Hollywood, and probably imagines himself flowing through buildings in the Sunni triangle snapping necks Stephen Segal style. In that way I think some TMAs give people a false sense of confidence because they're not forced to put their skills on the line every single day by sparring, which result in very humbling experiences every time you train. To each his own though. Watching these guys in their aikido costumes with their smug, "pure" TMA demeanor makes the odd victory of mine on the thankless road of struggle, conditioning, and humbling losses all the more sweet. Their delusion makes me stronger.

Thanks for reading.


Blogger Jinxy said...'re saying that Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović would wipe the floor with Ralph Macchio?

Even with that whole standing on a pylon swan leg kick thing of his?

I dunno. I saw the movie. Sounds kinda fishy to me...

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Paully, you're saying that it's really not that easy to snap a mere 3" thick spinal column reinforced with muscle and cartilage with the near-infinite strength one can harness from his fingers and wrists? Not even if that person is middle-aged and has his over-dyed hair slicked back into a menacing ponytail?

I'm going to have a hard time with this one.


1:58 AM  
Blogger brando said...

Yeah, I took Tang Su Do in high school, and while fun, it did have a certain cheeziness to it. It was exactly how you put it, they were all about form and purity. There were only a couple of people in the class that I actually thought were cool.

The odd thing I always found was that I didn't want to let anyone know that I trained, because everyone wanted to have a discussion about who could snap who's neck, and the conversation quickly turned to borderline threats. It would be like genuinely arguing about if Cyclops could defeat Mystique, and being dead serious.

"Well, he'd shoot her with his eye beam. So there."

"Nuh-uhh. She's change her appearance, and sneak up on him, and snap his neck. Hiyakka!"

I think the very idea of someone taking martial training makes others feel defensive and insulted. It quickly brings out the "so you think you're better than me?" attitude. Within seconds people will imply (or openly say) their intent to attack you. Which in my instance, was simply further proof that I'm surrounded by sinister fools, that I need to defend myself against.

I usually kept it a secret, because I wasn't very keen on the idea of people casually telling me how they were going to smash me in the head with a brick when I wasn't looking.

2:26 AM  
Blogger mikey said...

Hopefully I wont get smashed in the head with a brick...because I have been getting "humbled" over and over and over again at the local gracie den of choking here in the east-bay. It has put your "lowly bjj blue belt" into perspective. In addition to my new practice of braz jiu-jitsu, I have found out that i look like a fucking idiot with tits in a gi.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Brando -- it's funny you mention that, because a lot of dojos in the USA won't allow their students to wear their gi to and from class cuz people are always fucking with em. And yeah the brick smash thing is awesome. Another favorite is "well I'll just shoot you."

you'll shoot me? i think it's in both of our best interests if i just eye gouge you right now.

fadi / jinxy: you both bring up very valid points. the crane kick was banned from MMA because it simply wasn't fair to everyone else, and mr miyagi would only teach to ralph macchio. when he became too dominant, they banned him and the move from the sport. it's very hush-hush and political.

either way i'm going to have to ask that you both suspend your disbelief because you're not practitioners of a true martial art.

mikey -- you're training bjj? why didnt you tell me? how often are you training? what school si it? who's ur instructor? blahblahblah?

7:39 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:39 AM  
Blogger brando said...

Ah yes, the good ole “I’ll shoot em” argument. Here’s a conversation that is similar to a few I’ve had.

Some Guy: “I don’t know why you do that karate bullshit. It’s not like it would really work in a real fight.”
Me: “My training is more practical than your training, which is no training at all.”
Some Guy: *defensively* “You don’t know how well I can fight?!”
Me: “I have a pretty good idea. I’m never going to regret knowing how to do an armbar.”
Some Guy: “If you try to do karate at a rock concert, you could slip on some spilled beer. I would just shoot them.”
Me: “Do you normally take firearms into concerts?”
SG: “No.”
Me: “Do you normally carry firearms on a daily basis?”
SG: “No.”
Me: “Do you even own any firearms?”
SG: “No.”
Me: “OK, so you’re telling me that if someone used deadly force against you and you had a fraction of a second to react, you would go get a pistol buying licence from the sherif, go down to a weapons store, choose a weapon, wait for the background check, buy the weapon, buy some ammo, learn how to even operate a weapon because you’ve never fired one in your life, load the weapon, return to the concert, find the exact location of your attacker, and shoot him?”
SG: “....”
Me: “....”
SG: “ I don’t know why you do that karate bullshit. It’s not like it would really work in a real fight.”

It seems like there is a type of person that really doesn't want you and me to train in self-defense. I wonder why? What if someone demanded that you wouldn't lock your house? What if someone demanded to know your bank PIN? hmmmmmm. I'll be keeping my eye on those people.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

One valid question that a lot of people ask is "What about multiple attackers?"

well, i dunno too many arts that are going to work "practically" against 3 grown men who aim to hold you down and beat you. running all the time is actually a pretty good form of self defense training.

i dunno why peeps think that "street fights" are like kungfu duels. being a black belt is great and all, but unless you're imbued with a spidey sense, there arent too many defenses for a sucker punch other than good situational awareness and not hanging out with fucking idiots. low profile. gray man. dont atttract attention. those are more effective than anything i think. cuz you never know when you'll be standing in the line at pancheros exchanging friendly, witty banter with a stranger when his friend blasts you in the face for no reason whatsoever.

9:10 AM  
Blogger brando said...

"I'd just shoot em with a laser beam! yeah. How ya like me now."

Do you have a laser beam?

"Well then I'll just run em over with my monster truck! Then I'll get out and give them the dragon uppercut, and the sonic boom!"

3:07 PM  
Blogger Hoss said...

Good explanantion Paul. It seems like you take about everybody out of their element, except the jiu jitsu guys, once the ground-and-pound starts.

The UFC is finally putting the kibosh on their fights becoming drawn-out rasslin' matches. About time they started making them stand up after a minute or so of move and counter-move.....

10:18 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

i dunno man, i can appreciate the ground fighting aspect of the ufc. im still undecided on whether or not i agree with the whole standing them up thing, because ground game is very interesting to watch.

to me.

but it doesnt sell the tickets, so i understand from their perspective...

1:48 AM  
Blogger Hoss said...

I guess I just get tired of watching some of those matches where they turn into four-and-a-half-minutes of the five of a guy just in the superior position with little activity going on. I'm all for the ground game as long as there is at least the appearance of some positioning or activity going on that will advance the fighters position or set-up for a kimura or something. But, you have to admit some of the wrestlers are still of the mindset (from wrestling officiating)that retaining top position at the expense of any action will still get them a decision.

And I hope it's for the advancement of the sport, I hope it's just not to sell tickets.

3:20 AM  
Blogger Jinxy said...


Multiple attackers? What are you talking about?!

Everyone knows that they all just get in line and wait their turn to attack Martial Arts masters one at a time.

10:33 PM  

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