MMA is not COMBAT
This is not fighting, this is sports.
Although the funniest man on the internet, in my opinion, disagrees with me the fact remains; MMA, boxing and kickboxing are sports, not war fighting systems.
The debate has raged and raged ever since this guy named Sean (no connection to the aforementioned funny man), who lived down the street from me, got his mom to pay for his black belt at Masters Studios of Self Defense but Chris Angel still hilariously smacked the shit out of him over a misplaced Dr. Dre compact disc, in Sean’s own drive way.
As Sean lay curled in a ball just behind the white mini-van, sobbing and holding his stomach, which Chris had just propelled his size 10 Vans into, another bystander, Randy, commented that “Wow. I think Sean should quit that Karate shit.” This resonated with me because although unknown to the prince of obvious, Randy, I also practiced Karate, Shotokan, at a little Dojo run by a former Marine and his wife, not two miles from the strip mall where Sean got his Mc-Black belt. I had been in a couple of fist fights already; two-or-three punch affairs that appeared to be the sum total of an epileptic seizure, a bushel of bursting clown balloons and a screeching night hawk, where the worst case scenario was a busted lip or a black eye, and I had done OK; meaning I hadn’t ended up in the fetal position, sobbing. But seeing Sean’s ass whipping reflected what I hoped was not an option for me; that my hours and hours spent sweating with Shotokan practice and visions of Van-Damage dancing in my head had been totally fucking wasted.
Flash forward five years and there is me, disgusted, telling a much older man, regrettably, in front of his daughter and son, “These techniques are ridiculous. Jesus Christ, I’m done with Shorin-Ryu Kenshin Kan.” And I went stomping out the training room in the gym at the Marine Corps Air ground Combat center in Twenty-Nine Palms California like a complete prima-donna. The next day I went with Gerald Strebrendt out into town and started learning Brazilian Ju-Jitsu with the now infamous Rafiel Torre at High Desert Ju-Jitsu.
What caused me to turn my back on seven years of Karate, having practiced both in the USA and in Okinawa, was the simple realization based on recent experiences (fights), training I received on entering the Marines, and the explosion of cage fighting, was that most traditional martial arts are simply not effective when it comes to violent combat, and that standing around doing what amounts to dance moves is not going to help you kick anyone’s ass on the street or in a war-zone.
The UFC and CAGE FIGHTING
Before the UFC, muscular bald guys with goatees, shitty tribal tattoos and tight shorts could only get together to punch and kick each other and lay in erotic positions while being part of something that rhymes with Risen Grapes.
Dana White and the UFC changed all that, by giving chemically maladjusted meat heads who were just “sort of okay” at everything a place to try to kill each other. UFC started in 1993 and since has had 157 events. The progression within the sport of Mixed Martial arts has been dramatic and other events such as PRIDE FC, STRIKE FORCE, KOTC, BUSHIDO and DREAM have come and gone with each event pushing the envelope of what was possible and expected from this new breed of professional prize-fighter.
In the early days of UFC, many of the contestants were tough men from tough backgrounds that were simply OK with climbing into a metal cage to fist fight some other guy. People like Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz and Tank Abbot to name a few. These men were fighters first and athletes second. Some of them managed to transition to being an athlete first but many could not and this ultimately meant that as the sport progressed, these classic bruisers who had learned about grappling and wrestling from necessity were marginalized and left behind.
I think however, that these men were people who could actually fight on the street far more successfully, than meny of the top-level competitors in the UFC today. In fact, being the kind of person that has the instincts and the circumstances to be involved in violent “real word” altercations is the kind of thing that will keep you out of the upper echelons of this sport these days and that’s not a bad thing. If MMA hopes to rise to the level of other major professional sports, it has to weed out the bad guys. Because generally speaking, a man who has no problem cracking open some guys skull in a bar fight, also has no problem breaking any one of the innumerable rules and regulations governing a pro sports organization; you can’t have guys hanging around eye gouging each other because that shit is horrific.
MMA vs Combat
In combat there are no rules. Shit happens at a million miles an hour and anyone involved is probably scared shit-less. Real street fights are the same. I’m not talking about the “fights” you had when you and this guy pushed each other, yelled and screamed at each other, pulled each others Tap-Out T-shirts and then everyone broke you up so you could both go fist each other in the men’s toilet there at the club.
I’m talking about the fights where nothing is said or screamed because party A is trying to surprise party B with a dangerous object to their head/face/dick. When someone breaks a glass on your eye or smashes a Heineken bottle into your face, you are essentially in a combat situation and you better hope you don’t poop on yourself. In these situations there is no time for complex techniques and nobody is trying to make you tap out but rather they are trying to make you die-die. If someone is beating on you with a large wooden chair, they are trying to kill you and no matter how many times you practiced that slick leg lock, that mahogany chair is still crashing into your face.
MMA is sport and it’s an exciting sport at that. However it is just that and nothing else. If you are doing MMA to learn how to kick everyone’s ass to make up for being insecure your entire life, go for it, but you should define “everyone” as those people who will come onto the mat and respect the rules or will just lay there quietly while you touch them gently, quivering with excitement.
For a long time elbow strikes were not allowed in MMA because they were considered un-sportsman like. Standing up and stomping and kicking a downed opponent are currently considered un-fair and certain people are even trying to outlaw low straight kicks to the knee and leg area on the grounds that this kick could really “injure an athlete permanently.”
The fact is, all of these techniques, particularly stomping and kicking a downed opponent are fantastic things to do in a Combat situation. Wearing a fifty pound combat load and a hard, re-enforced combat boot, a Marine driving the heel of his boot to the head of a downed opponent forcing its compression against a cement or hard packed dirt road is sure to cause massive trauma; considerably more than rolling into an arm bar.
Looking at all the options and data it’s simple enough. MMA is one way to learn how to fight, but there is nothing saying it’s more effective than any other way. Although, Affliction T-shirts and tribal tattoos mean that you can listen to intense videos on MTV and feel validated, all it takes is a violent person committed to hurting you and a risk assessment that is outside of your box and that stiff jab and killer-triangle choke quickly come to mean dick.
Gaijinass speaks truth, give me more:
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Like I mentioned in a previous post to a person talking about his belts and their colors.
All that training just to get KTFO’d by a stone.
That’s the way it is.
The problem with “Martial arts” is that idea to turn the other cheek. Nope. Not if you want to walk away with all your parts and no holes in you.
Good article. I found this line very interesting and it summed everything up real nice: “all it takes is a violent person committed to hurting you”. I think this is absolutely true. However, facing this kind of person is kind of rare in most 1st world countries (I didn’t really visit the south side of Chicago all that much…can you blame me?). I think most people that have enough free time and money to engage in their own interests only pick up fighting arts to protect themselves from a violent person committed to humiliating them. I’ll admit that this was a major reason for me. Additionally, using killer instinct during any battle with an audience will make you look very, very bad. This is the world I’m familiar with at least. Haven’t met any deranged muggers, serial killers, rapists, enemy soldiers, cannibal warlords, or mortal enemies so far yet. Can you really train for facing these people?
I believe you can train for facing them but to be blunt it simply is not “fun” and that’s what most people in 1st world place actually train for: Fun and Fitness. Actual genuine combat ability might be in there someplace but it’s way down on the scale. Plus, most teachers, coaches, Sensers, Sifus whatever, really have no idea how to do this themselves.
Sounds a lot like something Steve Morris would say.
The bowels do have an embarrassingly funny way of ‘jettisoning their load’ when unexpected danger sort of springs up out of nowhere.
I think I will now make time to watch Masaad Ayube’s interviews again. And pray for good times.
Belated praise for the great post.
I have seen someone shit themselves once and it is not something I need to do. I got hit so hard once sparring, just a perfect, huge right hook to my body, I had to immediately get out of the ring and go to the toilet. It was pretty epic.
Great post Swami Gaijinass. Paul Vunak’s Progressive Fighting System/JKD is about as close to real as one can get without the real thing. It sure feels like the real thing at time, or so says all my bruises, et al. Eye gouge, head butt, throat punch, groin attack, joint destruction, improvised weapons, etc, all have to be “practiced” so as to be a “natural” and immediate reaction if one is to survive an attack in the street/combat. I had a lot more trouble on the North side of Hartford, CT than I have had living here in Chicago for 20 years. (3 gun to my head muggings, one with a pistol butt strike to my orbital bone, but only one attempted weaponless car jacking on the South Side and one win of a road rage in the middle of the street fight- my girlfriend started that, thanks..). Reading the situation is 9/10ths of the battle, and if violence must occur, no mercy and then get the fuck outta there fast. Good Luck out there…
Reading the situation is huge. That is what gives “bad people” the upper hand, their (read our) willingness to immediately dispense violence. I really do think there is something genetic there, but who knows. But it is also learned. I think if people could spend some time in my head just seeing how often I check over my shoulder, size people up, look for exits in every room, think about how I kill the people I am at a bar with etc…I’d probably get institutionalized.
No…your normal and I think most everyone is not getting this post…the way I read it.
With respect to the person who mentioned another art closer to real fighting….
I took a person into the urinal at Shin Osaka station. I told him to pretend he was taking a piss so he put his hands into the urinal. I told him to watch the door as he thought I was about to hand him weed. The guy who trolled me on GP.
I slapped his head so hard his teeth crunching off the tile was the last I heard before I took off on the train going the wrong way.
You can’t train for me. I will kick your face while you nod out. I’ll fill you with brews until you can barely move and then beat you. I am paranoid and stressed always terrified of disrespect.
Drunk guy walks past a motion activated light which activates an iR camera..it records in 10 second bursts. Together it’s 5 10 second videos of a guy flicking a cig on the ground and looking at the cam ..being approached..hit with a doubletrouble stunner and punched in the back and elbows with a gloved hand holding nucks. He worked and lived in an apt rented by my areas version of TEPCO. He…never saw him or heard from anyone and the vid showed he didn’t look at the cam…but he did flick the cig on the street infront of my school. He got wasted from behind for nothing and he maybe never understood..why would that happen?…cuz I thought he disrespected me.
If we talk about being able to handle trouble to protect a child or girl ..O.K., I get that and can do that but otherwise Ima be a low down scandalous spineless paranoid little bitch with yellow on my belly or whatever folks say but the other dude will be down from behind at the moment I choose and that …..you can’t do anything about that. Nothing.
Fueled by Fear. Absolute parafuckingnoia.
There is no counter move.
“Are you kidding me? I’m terrified, I’m terrified of losing, I don’t wanna get punched by another human being…what kind of stupid fucking question is that? You wanna get up there? Are you stupid? What kinda fucking question is that?”
I get what you are saying but I also have a different take.
I think training for and assuming some kind of heinous assault is in the cards at some point actually can give you an edge. Maybe it’s just a split second, enough time to turn your head to the side so your teeth don’t get shattered or the training could give you the instinct AFTER being hit to keep moving and get your hands up: from personal experience that one.
Is it exhausting walking around everyday thinking likee this? Sometimes…but after you have been tagged or have been the one glassing someone else, fuck it, I’d rather be mentally tired than in the ER.
Bottom line, the right kind of training, mental and physical, gives you and edge.
My friend?….maybe he is/was? Navy Seal close quarter combat trainer told me at a BBQ last August that he knows I’m nuts but he thinks he could
“take my Binky”. That’s how he said it…..I dunno?
I said “thanks”
He asked “for what” and I said now I know he sees it like that so I gotta just beat him from behind if my paranoia ever convinces me that he’s gonna make a move.
Then he incredulously says he was just playing but now he’s getting a bit “raised”.
I told him that everytime I see him for the rest of my life I’m gonna naturally wonder if this is the day you take binky? I don’t even know what a binky is but he ain’t taking nothing by force and Ima head him off at the pass from behind.
He went to get another beer and I moved my chair to about 10 ft behind him to the left. He comes back and asks wtf I’m doin? and I says I’m gettin ready for whatever..I can hear him from over here.
Am I crazy? He keeps looking forward and away in defiance while yelling “step off me man” (He’s a brother from New Orleans)
“I ain’t on ya..MAN….I’m 10 ft away..MAN”
He just keeps yelling till his wife comes from the water and they ended up leaving in about 10 minutes while he heaved shit into his big van…but he never looked at me again and he has cut communication with me.
This started from a binky and I still don’t know what that is.
He has a brand new kid…why you gonna talk about taking my shit and think that is gonna go well? He was the guy who asked me to assault a person he thought was cheating with his lady and I was stopped at the last second because he wasn’t REALLY willing to go all the way. We lose contact (he cut me) for 3 years..just hooked up again and he’s awesome for planning shit and we work well together but 2 alpha males…it can go off the rails easy.
The problem with lumping MMA with anything is that MMA means “Mixed Martial Arts” – most of these guys already learned a martial art prior to being a professional MMA fighter (and wrestling should be considered a martial art; in fact, it’s THE oldest martial art ever). Nobody teaches “MMA” per se, they teach you wrestling, boxing, muay thai, etc. Even if in the competitive sport itself where you follow set rules, MMA, by heart, isn’t “one way” to fight. So calling it “it’s just that, and nothing else” is too generalized, as the ultimate potential within MMA itself had barely been touched yet (just like how boxing didn’t start out the way you see it now – it evolved)
You also mention “that these men were people who could actually fight on the street far more successfully, than meny (sic) of the top-level competitors in the UFC today.” is a flawed assumption, supposedly because those supposed “street tough” guys will win using dirty tricks that you can only do in the streets. You’d think a high level MMA guy wouldn’t know that more than your average guy on the streets, and would utilize the same things a lot easier, with the advantage of having trained their basics and fundamentals in fighting, backed with monstrous athleticism? Heck it became more athletic now because the competition level had gotten higher, and with everyone pretty much having a good mix of their skill sets, they’ll use anything they can to gain the edge, and one such edge is athleticism. “Complex techniques” are only complex to those who don’t understand how they work, and why they use it against other high level guys. Otherwise, an MMA guy would also be fine with just grabbing a bar stool and jamming it on some guy’s face when in a bar fight.
If you actually know some of the actual pro fighters, or are in the industry itself, you KNOW that they’ve had street and bar encounters, and won them. They wouldn’t have gotten far in MMA if they never won their fair share of fights outside the ring, and it’s public knowledge for guys like Chuck Liddell, Lee Murray, Bas Rutten, Wanderlei Silva, Rickson Gracie, Uriah Faber, Enson Inoue, Ken Shamrock, Mark Hunt, Roger Huerta… etc. I can name drop a shitload more without even mentioning the ones whose encounters aren’t public knowledge.
There are too much comparisons to the early UFC, the Vale Tudo fights in Brazil in the 90s or earlier themselves would be a better comparison when judging how high level MMA fighters do when there are literally close to no rules at all. Even though the tapes for those events are hard to get, no MMA discussion of the past should sidestep these events. as the early UFC was a joke in comparison, thanks to all the one-dimensional “martial artists” who has only has no idea how to grapple.
So much “what ifs” in street fighting, the beauty of MMA is that despite the rules, there really is smaller room to say those “what ifs” in even standing. You don’t see those old, one-sided beatings as old-school “no rules” MMA anymore because these are now fights between people who has the same weight class and skill level.
As for the “bad boy” reputation, it’s funny anyone ever mentions that, because I get that impression from a lot of traditional martial artists or supposed “self-defense” experts, while MMA guys I’ve had the pleasure of talking to are among the nicest guys, most humble and chill guys I’ve met. Ever see those karate guys being cocky, having chinese/japanese character tattoos, always saying “they can beat this fighter” (likely namecalling an MMA fighter, or MMA fighters in general), or won’t say it, but be passive aggressive about it. It does happen in both worlds, but I mostly see most (not all, let me state that clearly) TMA/self-defense guys conveying their own negative traits onto MMA fighters as if they’re in some higher moral ground.
Erik Paulson, arguably one of the best coaches in MMA, has said that he teaches MMA. He has said there is no reason for people to go looking into the actual arts themselves because he did that for them and streamlined it all into a system. So your first point is shut down by a big name.
Complex techniques are always complex. Period. The rules in MMA make these techniques possible. It’s far more difficult to hold a man in your guard and set up a chicken wing when he is head butting you in the face. It’s much more difficult to for a knee bar when, as I mentioned above, there is a chair coming down on you. It’s much more difficult to shoot a slick single leg when you are in a room full of furniture or in the back seat of a car. The Gracies, another big name obviously, have said many times in multiple interviews that BJJ is not a street fighting system. It’s for sports and relying on it in a life and death fight could get your killed.
There is a REASON elite military units and police forces learn special tactics. You learn to not punch but to strike with your hands open so you don’t break the fragile bones in your hands which would then mean you can’t operate a weapon system. You learn to NEVER go to the ground because mechanically you are immediately at a disadvantage. Not only is this common sense, but it’s also been reviewed at length by militaries and police agencies around the world based on actual live combat situations. I know this because I have worked instructing both military personnel and police.
Beyond the techniques, there’s the mind set. If you train in a sport fighting system, your mind set, however intense, is still that of a sportsman. You are not preparing yourself to make the split second decision stab someone, clear away and secure your area from potential further attacks. It simply isn’t part of your training system. It’s a logical progression then to think that someone that DOES train like this and IS athletic and IS committed to it has a distinctive upper hand. Combat is not scripted and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t have the luxury of a perfect meal plan, carefully planned workouts and recovery time and plush hotel accommodations before you go to battle. In fact, it’s completely likely that you haven’t eaten for days, and soaking wet with 100 pounds of gear on your back. Or, you just finished a double shit and are walking home in the snow running on 2 hours of sleep when three guys jump you. The point is the randomness that training in MMA simply does not address. The unknown. Just look at how fighters react when details about their fight changes. They are (understandably) upset and it can easily throw their game off.
I wrote this post and I stand by it. I have been involved in Wrestling, boxing, shoot fighting, muay thai and kickboxing, Sambo and BJJ now for 15 years. I know lots of pro fighters and have coached pros and fought myself. It’s a sport. It is a combative sport yes, and an MMA guy will likely beat up some office worker in a straight up fight, but life and death COMBAT it is not and it doesn’t prepare people for that either.
Damn good article. One hell of an important point to it too. I Like the Tank mention. Always had fun watching his fights. No real skill just charge in with everything he had and either drop them fast or lose as he inevitably wore himself out… and then sadly as he missed the learn some technique boat his matches started ending in losses before wearing himself out. A drunk fat guy can still get lucky and knock you unconscious though, and once that happens your techniques don’t stop him from stomping you into permanent mental and physical handicapt. So somewhere out there in some bar or street fight is a very angry and dangerous drunk fat man (not refering to tank here just to the random danger of a fat angry drunk guy).
Fat angry drunks have been the terror of many situations for a long time.
A drunk’s blance gets all strange, so telling when someone is setting their feet for a full-force-all-weight-behind-it-sleeping-pill becomes a bit difficult. Booz seems to alter physics and allow for some really strange dispersal of weight. Also the fat behind a strike can somewhat make up for lack of muscle and technique. Then factor in that you have to get it right everytime and random angry guy only has to get lucky once. You get a sum total of OUCH from this kind of equasion. I am not some huge fat drunk guy. I am a very short individual. I don’t get into fights really. Still, I don’t take fat drunk guys for granted and assume they are harmless and certainly wouldn’t do so if I ever got trained to fight. If there was a sure fire way to train that made sure you could only be beaten by those who had trained further in that method and eliminated any chance of something unpredictable then that is all you would hear about. A great point your article also makes/hints-at is that trainers should tell their fighters to avoid street brawls because if you are wanting to go pro you can’t do that (I.E. do your big billed pay per view pro match) after getting busted up by some jack-@$$ that took you by surprise (used an unpreidctable fight dirty move) out of the ring.