Saturday, June 28, 2008


I am sitting in front of my house overseeing a yard sale so I figured I'd take the opportunity to muse on an argument that seems to be coming back into vogue. The idea that certain martial arts are too lethal to test in competition was bandied about a lot in the early days of MMA. Unfortunately, it's back.

There's a double-barrel kind of idiocy that keeps this argument alive and both sides bring shells to the shooting range.

First is the notion that so-called traditional martial artists are privvy to secret, dangerous techniques that would overwhelm a "sport fighter." Iron claw, dim mak, yada yada yada. I'm sure that in the mists of history some martial artists honed certain techniques to be lethally efficient. Because in the past martial artists actually, like, you know...fought. The average 2008 kung fu dude may have amazing chi and thousands of hours of practice slicing watermelons in mid-air with giant scimitars but he doesn't have a lot of experience, like, you know...fighting. You're going to tell me that your preying mantis strikes are lethal because your teacher was told they were by some dude at a seminar in in 1974? In a perfect world they might be. Those strikes are pretty accurate on a wing chun dummy - not so much in a real fight. So traditional martial arts dude - don't overestimate myth when you have no practical experience fighting people who know how to fight. You might end up like this guy.

Now, the truly amusing part of this tragic comedy is MMA fans and practitioners who think that wrestling, BJJ, and Muay Thai comprise the sum total of effective fighting styles. That's a stretch, as it seems that a lot of MMA fans think the double leg takedown is the most devastating technique in a fighter's arsenal. It's funny that fans of a sport that embodies Bruce Lee's "style of no style" are so quick to settle on a handful of arts as being the total repository of worthwhile fighting theory and practice. There are things to be learned from so-called traditional arts - the counter striking of silat, the fast gap-crossing attacks of point fighting to name two. To my mind, the point of MMA is to give practical experience to martial artists who want to distill the pure, effective elements of various arts into one seemless package. So MMA guy - don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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