Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MMA vs. Reality

By Matthew Schafer

Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved

First off, I am absolutely 100% sick and tired of talking and/or writing about MMA. In nearly any conversation I have about martial arts or self-defense with people, and in nearly every single training class I give, someone brings up MMA in some fashion and I’m forced to relate MMA to what we’re doing and visa versa.

Today even Tai Chi instructors have to talk about MMA. I was at a Tai Chi class the other day and some knucklehead brought it up. What the hell does Tai Chi have to do with a competitive sport where people roll around on the ground simulating gay sex? For some asinine reason that I fail to understand, everyone seems to confuse MMA with anything close to reality. I cannot begin to communicate the depths of to which I am sick of talking about MMA.

Having said that…the other day I was getting ready to leave the house to go work out with my senior instructor in a private class, when he called me up and told me that a co-worker of his wanted to come workout with us. His co-worker, we’ll call him Ted, had little to no martial arts training but he was big into MMA, he had 6 amateur fights so far, and we was interested in learning a little bit about what we do. Normally I would have said “no”, after all dealing with another MMA person is not what I need, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, after all we could always use another warm body to throw around.

Ted seemed like a nice guy and he had some skill but it was obvious right off the bat that we were coming from different worlds. We talked a lot about causing various injuries to people and I could tell that made him quite uncomfortable. I wanted to make the class interesting for him so we went over things that pertained to MMA, like how to get out of a rear naked choke and other various holds.

The first thing I noticed is that he had little to no actual martial arts training what-so-ever. Getting out of a rear forearm choke, or a rear naked choke, is something I consider to be a white belt technique but hardly anyone knows how simple it is. We went over quite a few basic things that I think everyone should learn within their first 2 or 3 belts and each and every time he stated that not only did he not know what I was showing him but he’d never seen anyone in the MMA community doing it either. This just goes to show that MMA people are not actually martial artists and they really have little to no actual training.

The second thing I noticed is that in each technique we did he changed the context back to sport fighting and he also changed the end result. To get out of a forearm choke I taught him how to rip his attacker’s shoulder and that freaked him out a little. He said, “Oh, I don’t want to really do that to someone” and he turn the technique into a takedown or choke.

The running theme of the workout was, “Oh, I don’t want to really do that to someone”. Although he really liked what I taught he was very uncomfortable with it as a whole and the discussion of injury made him scrunch up his face a little.

As he left I told him, “If you come back sometime I’ll show you a great technique for when you’re on the ground and you have some guy on top of you. If someone is sitting on you, punching you, you can actually just rip the guy’s knee and flip him off of you in one movement. It’s really easy and very applicable to your sport”. He gave me a half smile, half grimace and walked away.

What I’m really trying to get at here is that MMA and martial arts come from two totally different contexts. In the martial arts, because we don’t go looking for fights, when someone attacks us it generally an act of criminal violence and therefore could easily end up with our serious injury of death. Therefore, our goal when attacked is to cause serious and disabling injuries to our attacker because anything else won’t change the situation in our favor.

However, in MMA the situation is totally different. MMA guys are not martial artists and do not engage in combat. They’re athletes, nothing more. Their goal when they step into the ring is to best their opponent WITHOUT causing injuries to them. MMA people really don’t want to hurt their opponents because they’re all just athletes and they don’t want to screw the guy up and mess with their career. Ted was very interested in learning how to flip someone off of him when he was on the ground, but the second I mentioned ripping the guy’s knee he didn’t want any part of that.

Ripping a guy’s knee is reality, it’s what violence really is, and it’s what defending yourself will really take. MMA is not reality, it’s fighting without injury and fighting without injury is just two guys playing grab-ass.

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