This is not fighting, this is sports.

Emlianenko Fedor

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.

Because only suburban, middle class white teenage boys actually give a shit.
Because only suburban, middle class white teenage boys actually give a shit.

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.


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.

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