Posts Tagged ‘mixed martial arts’

GSP vs Hendricks

It’s been 20 years since MMA has exploded and I personally feel like it is the best and worst thing to have possibly ever happened to martial arts. We now have a showcase for applying martial arts in a limited rules arena, creating an environment to pressure cook fighting techniques for applicability. We have one of the most exciting sports ever invented. We have martial arts being cool and not cheesy now…sort of.

What else did we get with it? Well, there are some serious drawbacks. In the beginning, the fights we real and raw and brutal. Too brutal to sustain it as a mainstay without some overhaul and additional rules. It had some significant growing pains. And with rules you lose some reality. And with repetition and mixing of the arts and studying of tape you lose some of the spontaneity that makes for real fights. The fighters no longer train to fight anyone as much as they train to fight a specific person whom they have ample footage on to inspect.

When the weight classes appeared, a degradation took place as well. No we have 200+ pounders fighting at 170 and nutritionists revolutionizing the weight cutting process. Which is fine. It’s a sport after all.

And that’s what we have now. A sport. And again, that’s all well and good, but now I find myself as one of those folks I argued with for years saying “it’s not real fighting.” It was tantamount to real fighting and it has elements of fighting and very few could argue that a UFC fighter would have a hard time in a street fight against 99% of the population. This isn’t my point. The people that I say this in opposition to now are the ones who scoff at self defense because they don’t see it in the UFC.

The ones I speak of are the ones who “wanna train MMA” without wanting to train martial arts.

MMA = striking, takedowns, grappling & submissions / rules & money

There is a necessity to train these in blended settings but there is also a more important need to focus on the individual arts as well as pay respect to the arts. Too often now guys wanting to earn themselves a belt or be looked at heroically by their peers want to go jump into a cage and play fighter for a night. Insufficient training, lack of respect and humility, and just plain trashy behavior are rampant in the small amateur cage fights put on by shady promoters looking to make a payday.

And then we have the fighters who are essentially the Frankenstein monster of a team of analysts and trainers and doctors and the like who have culminated their efforts and produced a human machine for battle within the cage. Which is an interesting experiment and amazing to see what can be created, but not exactly conducive to a fighter vs fighter atmosphere.

Ultimately, these criticisms or critiques of mine are not to put down MMA. I think it is entertaining and informative and important. I’m simply pointing out the pros and cons and if anything warning about the potential degradation to martial arts as the proliferation of MMA only grows.

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Sometimes I want to shout at people, “Do you know how lucky you are?!” This is for several reasons, but as it applies here, about having a place and ability to train.

Not to sound like the curmudgeon old man saying “back in my day…” but really, that’s how I feel sometimes. Having traveled all over the country to train with anyone and everyone I could when first starting BJJ, I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have a huge academy with multiple black belts where Royce Gracie comes to visit! Yet, that is what our students have now at the academy where I and other Jiu-Jitsu brethren teach. Crazy.

But, other days I get it. If you don’t know anything about martial arts, and you hear that there is a black belt on every corner (in Karate or TKD or whathaveyou), you may not see the value. Or you may hear the price tag and think, “but I can join the health club down the road for like $40 a month! Why pay $100 or more for BJJ?” If you teach or even train at an academy that is worth anything at all, you feel my frustration with people for not understanding or appreciating what they have near them. So I will offer some ideas I have heard and come up with on my own over the years to combat ignorance.

First, let me address the price tag. For those who argue that lessons cost too much…compared to what? Seriously? If you haven’t trained, don’t know the benefits, you have no basis of comparison and therefore no grounds on which to argue. Second, look at what you currently spend your money on. If you skip a few fast food trips, cut out the overpriced coffee, get rid of an indulgent unhealthy habit or two, then you will easily come up with the $4 a day it takes to pay for BJJ training. I said $4 a day! Additionally, by cutting out those costly bad habits you doubly improve your health consciousness when you consider that you’ve replaced an unhealthy habit for a healthy lifestyle choice.

Next, the difference between training Jiu-Jitsu and training at McDojo’s Martial Arts Emporium down the road with their 50 black belts. Black belts are not easily acquired in BJJ. You can go into most Karate and Tae Kwon Do schools and sign a contract virtually guaranteeing you a black belt at the end of a length of time. Show up, memorize some forms and terminology, never having to test out your skills in any realistic capacity, you can still get a black belt…when you’re about 12 years old or younger.

I have never taken a test for a single belt or even stripe under Royce Gracie. If he felt like I had improved since last he saw me, he would tell me to put a stripe on my belt. Sometimes this would be a while. I never know when the rank is coming, so I am concerned only with training and improving for the sake of the art and my own benefit. I don’t disagree with those instructors who conduct tests for their students. I even see some value in it. Regardless or testing or not, you are guaranteed that you will have to improve, stay fit and able, and be sure you can make the techniques actually work. This makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (particularly Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) one of the most realistic martial arts out there. I would say the most realistic, but I will concede that there are others possibly. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

What’s more, you may find those saying they are not very concerned with self-defense, that they stay fit and healthy on their own, and that they have other hobbies. That is all well and good. But, my friend, have you even tried Jiu-Jitsu? For so many, it is a lifestyle that makes you want to move and learn and eat well and live better in every conceivable way! Why not try something that has those potential effects? And you may need to remind these people of the idea that, while there may be no good reason in the world to fight, there is every reason in the world to know how to fight! Oh, you have a gun for self-defense you say? You got it on you right now? At every second of every day? Because that is how often I have my Jiu-Jitsu with me.

BJJ may not be for everyone (I believe everyone can benefit from it however), so I don’t go out proselytizing all over the place. But I do speak my mind and share my knowledge and passion where those seeking more information may find me. I hope the aforementioned ideas might help you convince someone to give training a chance too.

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Whenever I teach something in classes or lessons I always try to make clear what the context is. Is this a self defense move? Is this more MMA? Is this sport?

I overheard a conversation about a particular sweep (I believe this person was referring to a single leg x-guard sweep but he didn’t know), and the complaint the person had was about the validity or applicability of it on the street. Um, there’s not much if any. But that’s not really the point.

As martial artists are we only to ever practice lethal, 100% street ready moves? Does any art truly do that? I know lots of arts like to criticize other arts for various reasons. How about these:

“Yeah, but bjj doesn’t work against multiple opponents!”

“Oh yeah, let’s see how well boxing does you on the ground!”

“Tae Kwon Do sucks!”

Some common examples. Can’t we all just get along. Belittling styles and systems doesn’t make yours better. And it’s none of your business what others think of your style. And there’s no superior art for every situation.

But I digress and return to my original point: is the boxer who practices hitting the speed bag criticized because that’s not how he will really punch someone? Do you criticize the Kali practitioner for drilling fluid repetitive hand exchanges because he won’t do that against a real opponent? Do you think that wing chun guy really believes someone will hold as still as that wooden dummy? It’s about drills, skills, and exercise.

I always say I like jiu-jitsu because you can pew circle it as real as it gets. You can’t train any other art as love or as full contact as jiu-jitsu. But having said that, I don’t break arms and pass folks out every practice. I wouldn’t be nearly as popular. I don’t know anyone who trains like that and if you do then tell me so I can stay the hell away from them!

And don’t tell anyone, but I love the sport stuff! I just posted a No Gi Berimbolo video the other day, and it’s not because I think people need to see it in order to defend against a mugger. But that move is awesome and has a very important function and place. I don’t think it represents jiu-jitsu as a whole, but it’s cool and worth doing on its own.

Let me make this simpler maybe. Is every single ounce of food you put in your body 100% nutritious and necessary? Do you even know what is best and most healthy for you? Even if you did, and you wanted to do only what was most right, do you think you could? Don’t lie. Variety is the spice of life and the key to longevity in your training is finding aspects of training to love.

On the flip side, I don’t recommend anyone ever divorce himself or herself from the foundational elements of the art. Whatever the art. Helio Gracie had a rubric of what made a true Gracie Jiu-Jitsu technique:

1. Street Applicability
2. Energy Efficiency
3. Naturalness of Movement

A Gracie technique had to fit these above all else. Having said that, even Helio didn’t train only techniques and positions that would keep him punch proof. He contextualized the moment and used the best tool for the job, because that is at the heart of his art as much as any other principle. But he and his lineage, one of which I am proud to be a member within, must needs keep the street/sport concept close to the chest. If you don’t understand that spider guard will not in and of itself help you in a street fight then you need to build your self defense knowledge bank and foundation a lot stronger…and don’t go getting into any bar brawls in the meantime, ok?

However, if you can react appropriately when swung on in the street; if you can get surprised and find equanimity enough to defend intelligently; and for the love of god, if you can get out of a headlock, then you have reached a level of competency in your training. Now kick it up a notch and learn how to deconstruct those moves, maybe compete in a tournament to test yourself out, or maybe begin experimenting with some trends. No harm done in that type of training. But keep the foundation alive always!

I guess what I want to say is let others live and work and play how they will. Don’t look down your nose at a karate tournament point fighter and say that won’t work in a street fight – he should know and probably deep down does. Don’t watch guys pulling guard in the Pan Ams and call them cowards – their are playing to the points of the game and increasing their chances of winning by playing to their strengths along the way. Maybe each of these people train different things and understand the difference between street and sport. Maybe they don’t. It’s not your concern either way.

I write this for you. I write this for me. I’m guilty of judging and belittling. I’m trying to do better. Thanks for reading my words.

Very.

That’s my opinion, that solo drilling for bjj is crucial for building fluidity, continuity if movement and creative visualization. I have always put a lot of thought into my solo drills, partly because I, like so many, didn’t always have constant partner access. So I would find core segments and movements within techniques, oftentimes the most difficult moves, and dissect these alone.

I remember Ido Portal saying, to paraphrase, “if you can’t move your own body, what business do you have lifting weights?” This phrase resonated with me, because I encounter so many people that try to impose their will while rolling yet they themselves lack the prerequisite coordination it takes to maintain their own balance during simple movements. Learn about your own body first and how to move it efficiently and this will let you know what you can make happen against an opponent.

Solo drilling works the precision of technical movement even better at times than partner work, because you have no partner to overly depend on. Therefore, you will see all your limitations and inadequacies under the microscope when you solo drill, making it impossible to cheat the movement.

You should be able to tell by this point that I consider solo drilling not simply rote repetition for the sake of exercise, but deliberate, careful, thoughtful movement with purpose. And whether it is standing, shooting or sprawling, turns, rolls, sweep movements, bridging, or some obscure contortion you find yourself constantly encountering, it is all good.

A good friend told me, “your body will do most anything you ask it to…if you ask it nicely.” So get on the mat, visualize the situation, and move continuously, constantly and consciously. Your body, your mind and your jiu-jitsu will thank you for it.

Here are some helpful drills I like for top game and bottom game using a grappling dummy:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submissions from kesa gatame, or “scarf hold” with Eli Knight, black belt under Royce Gracie.

http://www.youtube.com/eliknight173

1. Near side straight armbar
2. Near side bent armbar (Americana)
3. Far side straight armbar
4. Far side bent armbar (Americana)

Jiu-Jitsu in Fighting

Jiu-Jitsu has been proven to be one of the most, if not the most, effective martial arts in the world. What that means exactly varies depending on the source you’re consulting. Is it about self-defense? Is it about fighting? Is it only a portion or range of a fight or is it comprehensive and complete? To make it easier, first consider that there are essentially three types of fight situations:

1. Non-consensual attacks

2. Consensual street fights

3. Consensual sport fights

The first of these is typically what we think of when we think self-defense in the martial arts community. For example, if someone suddenly grabs you, sneaks up behind you or sucker punches you. These attacks have little or no prior indication that they will take place, and the victim typically wants to escape this situation as quickly as possible.

Second of these types, consensual street fights, are your typically agreed-upon bar fights, playground scuffles, or night at the club gone wrong. There are many similarities in this situation and the first category in regard to the lack of restrictions placed on the participants. The main difference here is that to some degree (typically more on one side than the other) the combatants have entered into the situation of their own volition. One or both persons in this type of fight could have avoided the situation easier than in a blind-sided attack, which is why I refer to this as a consensual street fight.

Thirdly, there exists the sportive element of fighting, which while it serves its place in the evolution and refinement of certain elements of martial arts, is a consensual combat relegated by agreed upon rules. Such rules as weight classes, time limits, point systems and prohibited techniques make this style of combat less realistic than unregulated combat, but it is fighting nonetheless and as such jiu-jitsu is applicable to it.

In each condition, jiu-jitsu has been proven effective through years of trial and implementation, repeatedly producing favorable results. As scientifically proven as possible with conditions as chaotic as a fight, jiu-jitsu has come out on top as a means of self-defense, complete and efficient across the most categories of fight situations. While the adage “there is no art superior all the time, but there is at a particular time,” may still hold true at its core, jiu-jitsu rivals any art in terms of applicability to the basic three common conditions of violence I am referring to in this post.

It can be argued that in MMA, one needs to know other elements of fighting in order to compete on the elite level today, but this wasn’t the case in 1993. Certain other styles are very effective in street fights as well, but typically require the defendant to be physically athletic enough to execute energetic movements. For me, ultimately what makes a martial art is its efficiency, practicality, versatility, and universal applicability. Based on these criteria, jiu-jitsu is king, offering the ability for everyone to defend themselves, improve their bodily awareness and athleticism, cultivate creativity and problem solving ability, and provide psychological and emotional well-being through equanimity.