Tag Archives: MMA

The Jab vs. The Straight Lead of JKD

By Al Alvir

Having just read The Straight Lead by Teri Tom, I was compelled to write about “The Boxing Jab.”  The straight lead works as a more powerful jab than the boxing jab, and it indeed has more reach than the classic boxing jab.  The problem is that the straight lead serves no additional function from a ‘regular jab’ than to make up for its lack of power in the wrist (as the straight lead’s form is to not turn the wrist) with explosive hip rotation.  JKD people tend to overstate the effectiveness of hip rotation in the jab, simultaneously underestimating the effectiveness of shifting weight and the dynamics of not rotating the hip with the jab.

The boxing jab serves as a tool for measuring distance and for setting-up an opponent.  The boxing jab, too, has numerous contact spots (aka pop spots, meaning the point of snap (this is discussed in other articles on Shootafairone.com), as a fighter has the luxury to jab shooting his hip with various torques.  This is a bad habit, however, for an educated fighter, because he is giving away positioning and taking his 2 farther from his opponent.  Also, when a fighter shoots his hip for a jab, it’s wasted energy, as it complicates such a simple weapon.  If a fighter can be successful throwing a straight lead, I promise that it will only be situational and will not happen against a person with better attributes.  I, myself, used to train the straight lead and was effective with it when it was effective (I meant to state it that way), but I found that I was way out of position for intelligent onslaught after missing.  But as I always say, “test it.”

It’s just a jab, either way.  It’s likely not going to knock-out anyone worthy of fighting.  The reason jabs are so important and effective is that jabs can be thrown rapidly and at repetition without unwise commitment.

The biggest problem of JKD’s straight lead teachings is that the teachers often aren’t schooled, or simply don’t teach, the progression of functionality; in other words, they skip the education on all the functions of that lead hand.  One example is keeping that lead hand up as insurance for 2’s coming from the same stance (same lead).  Simply put, JKD men often complicate the functions of the lead hand.  This complication, or over-complication, coupled with trapping and kicking and groundwork, makes it a ridiculous testament to its absurdity.  I mean, a damn book on a single punch was written for an amalgam of students the world over who are at opposing ends of JKD practice, and from which the majority of the pool is no good.  My friend, Bryan Lamont, is a JKD coach – one of the few good ones – who criticizes the poor JKD concept guys as well as acknowledges that most traditional JKD guys as sloppy and “all over the place.”  He remains loyal to JKD, yet I see him stray as I think any good JKD man should.

The straight lead mumbo jumbo and the detailed stance to the deferential treatment of Bruce Lee’s “writings” are all akin to hero-worship and go against what I believe were Bruce Lee’s teachings which were to keep things simple and direct.  The Straight Lead, as every single JKD book I’ve ever come across, is all about teaching style cookie-cut to a whole flock.  When Tom “scientifically” talks about stance, she undermines the effectiveness of infinite stances.  Boxing coaching – like baseball batting coaching or any proven sport – is broken down into the most fundamentally simple functions, allowing for the individual to evolve from that foundation in a very personal way.  Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson to Roy Jones Jr. to Floyd Mayweather Jr. got their styles from that foundation.  In JKD, Bruce Lee made a horrible mistake, as he himself prophesized, by setting specific “rules” or a “way” on style by detailing “his style.”  (*Aside:  Teaching such a linear stance will handicap some people from evolving and finding their own styles, as it is a more difficult way to learn how to shoot hips, weaving, slipping, offense, and moving in angles. This may be better explained in a different article, but I digress…)

Now, I am not against the straight lead, as it is called here.  Great boxers do it all the time.  Floyd Mayweather Jr. does it, but many boxing men call it an “up-jab.”  It’s a sneaky way to fit the punch between a opponent’s guard, and to find him from a greater distance.  Many boxers practice it as a sort of uppercut with the palm up and the punch rising under the chin from jab distance.  I always dismiss that stuff as signature stuff not to be taught on a greater scale.  Furthermore, it is important to know the most basic way of jabbing effectively before progressing into jabbing from different body angles, shooting the hips, and throwing the jab away from the face (aka “Lead hand no man’s land”).  Turning the fist and not the hips will provide for the best distance finder and the most practical use of energy.

Even if a well-schooled fighter throws a straight lead, he will not throw the straight lead from a high guard.  And well-schooled fighters sometimes have to have a high guard.  He may have to jab down and without turning his fist, he cannot produce the snap behind the shoulder; the vertical fist would have to be thrown with all the triceps muscle.  On a smaller note, a jab covers a little less area with the vertical fist and doesn’t cut someone as easily – this common boxer contention, however, is not the major reason turning the fist is better.  Additionally, a Floyd Mayweather Jr. shell stance is the best proven stance to throw the straight lead, but it’s important for fighters to get that chin behind that shoulder.  Mike Tyson did his version of the straight lead, but his speed advantage and his size made it necessary at times to turn his hip so explosively.  Punching up also naturally protects a fighter on that side, as the shoulder blocks the chin.

JKD practitioners such as Teri Tom discuss science behind punching, as I have in some earlier articles, and she and I are on par with the science.  Bruce Lee said “several inches and snap,” and I say “2-4 inches and snap,” but the difference is arbitrary.  But Tom discusses the Impulse-Theorem and retraction, to which I contend the reason turning the fist is better (again, see my other articles on the science of punching).  Take the hip out of the equation, and anyone will see a little more pop with the turning of the fist.

The Straight Lead is a great conversation starter, but it’s filled with misleading information and points that are amiss.  If Tom knows what she is talking about, the semantics can be challenged.  The cookie-cutter science may seem to simplify, but that’s a fallacy.  There is nothing simpler than custom skills and honest, uber-personal evolution while maintaining what this book complicates:  basics.

After all, it is just a jab.

I can hear it already… Straight Lead zombies swearing that it is much more elaborate than that.

On Luck and Referee Discretion in MMA

by Al Alvir

I will continue to study the goings-on of mma, but I will not stop complaining about its flaws until change is made. Fedor Emelianenko’s defeat to Dan Henderson was fun to watch on the surface, but it contained the underlying contradictions and drawbacks of the sport. Although this bout did not have the feature of a buffoon jumping up and down in a dry pre-fight warm-up or doing some victory dance after landing a Hail-Mary overhand, the outcome can arguably be credited to luck. Emelianenko knocked Henderson down after rushing in, fell into being swept, got punched, went limp, got punched in the back of the head a couple of times, seemed to recover, then the fight was stopped.

The halting of bouts in mma is much too subjective – to the point of exacerbating chance. After Cheick Kongo recovered and knocked out Pat Barry, no one cried foul at Dan Miragliotta not stopping it earlier when it seemed Kongo was out. That is, perhaps, the finest example of professional refereeing. With the protocol of stopping contests understood, and safety being the primary goal, consistency is essential for the evolution of mma. Let the fighters go out on their shields, as the saying goes. With the amalgam of prohibited moves in mma, it is negligent for referees to be given liberty to pick and choose when rules may be ignored. There are times in a bout, boxing or mma, when an illegal strike is made at no fault of the person throwing the strike; sometimes incidental contact is made in a controlled assault. When the person throwing a strike has an urgency to finish a fight, however, he often loses control and punches the back of his opponent’s head, and referees tend to allow it in mma as though it is just incidental. Incidentally, mma fighters habitually lose control, and it’s one of the most glaring pieces of obliviousness in these sportsmen’s existences. I had never before opposed hitting to the back of the head in any form of fighting, because I believe that it’s a fighter’s fault for having the back of his head exposed. But in a sport such as mma in which there is an overabundance of small rules, as well as an overabundance of immature/amateur artists of stand-up fighting, “no rabbit punches” should be enforced in a timid ground and pound as well as in a near conclusion to any fight. It’s an unspoken convention of fighters to hit the back of the head if it’s available. One prominent mma figure (who I will not name) told a class of fighters to “punch the back of the head of an opponent when he’s hurt, the ref won’t say anything.” It’s bad luck – and some bad technique (even Fedor the Great ran in like a schoolboy at a fight during recess) – that landed Emelianenko on his hands and knees, but the fight should arguably have gone on. Not to say that he wouldn’t have been really hurt, but I’d bet he would have liked the opportunity with whatever outcome.

On wrestling in mma:

When fighters aren’t running in and trying to get lucky doing the “rush and punch,” they often seem to just lay down – pure wrestling. I can think of a dozen ways to fix the problem of having a Tyrone Woodley rest on Paul Daley, or a Tim Kennedy lay on Robbie Lawler. (Yes, it is a problem because it undermines the object of fighting: to inflict more damage on an opponent than he inflicts on you.) Besides applying a Hierarchy of Fight Action for scoring fights (see article on Shootafairone.com), a “no advancement time limit” on the ground must be put in effect. If a person cannot transition or advance on the ground in a given time, the fighters must be stood up. There can’t be an indefinite amount of time spent in limbo. Again, the current provisions allow too much subjectivity and too much referee discretion. Improved definitions are overdue, as they would limit the variety of interpretations of inaction on the ground.

Lack of Mastery What Boxing Fans Knock about Other Fighting Sports

by Al Alvir

MMA, as well as all forms of kickboxing, have found little acceptance from the boxing public, and the reason for the divide has been recently toiled over by experts, over and again.  Besides the cultural divide that adds to the boxing-mma discord – poverty versus prosperity, individuality versus class structure, way of life versus self-defense – boxing people seem to just not respect how everyone else boxes.

That sounds fair enough.  But mma fans argue that their sport is more exciting, produces more knockouts, and provides better match-ups.

“MMA?  Better match-ups my [expletive],” historian Arthur O’Toole angrily explains with distinct sarcasm. “They get knocked-out because they don’t know the game they’re playing.  They seem great rolling around, but just because Mayweather doesn’t fight Pacquiao, it doesn’t mean mma has better match-ups.  Who wants to watch guys who don’t know what they’re doing trying to box?”  It depends what school of thought you come from when you explore what makes up a better match-up.  If you like a fast pace with the unambiguous game plan precursors in lieu of the intensive strategy of championship boxing, mma appears to make better match-ups, especially when those fights don’t go the distance.

Wilson Lee of SAFO Group says that “people want the immediate satisfaction of mma; short fights, hardly any pawn moves standing up, and mma is easy to understand on the feet.”  The less nuanced mma is exactly what makes some people love it and others hate it.  Lee added, “Besides the fanfare and clichéd effect of mma, and its feigned hardcore imaging, I guess it just doesn’t live up to boxing even in that skill-set [of punching].”

It’s not to dare and say that boxers are superior to other stand-up fighters or that a top Muay Thai kickboxing fighter would never beat a top boxer in a duel of skills; Muay Thai is a fantastically devastating art with many more tools at their disposal than boxers – 6 more limbs and a head butt.  And an mma fighter simply beats a boxer on the ground.  But the argument that O’Toole, for one, makes is that boxing at its best is so much more intricate than any other stand up fighting at its best.  “When these [other martial arts guys] use all these moves, it’s practically always complete stupidity that gets one guy beat.  He gets hit with some retarded haymaker that he showed for 4 rounds or some stupid jumping trick,” O’Toole explained. “They suck at what they do, how the hell am I gonna wanna watch them employ someone else’s art like boxing.”  This notion that fundamentals is lacking in the muddled composition of mma, and even kickboxing, may be as much in your face obvious as it is pervasive to the fighters’ understanding of any detail about strategy and technique.

Not all fighters – even the best – are going to know how to do all moves in most sports.  There are too many moves even in a single discipline of boxing, and there are too many styles of fighting.  There can be a slick pocket fighter like Pernell Whitaker, a stick-and-mover like Muhammad Ali, a workman like JC Chavez, or a stalker like Mike Tyson.  And within those styles are innumerable attributes and signatures and variations.  But all boxers start with only the fundamentals, then they are expected to build their own style of their own constitution.  The problem is that outside of boxing there is a class structure by which fads and imitation rule.  You have practicing fighters learning in groups in settings that don’t address their individual demands.  What works for one fighter is adopted by all, even when inappropriate in style.  “Even in baseball camps, you have a bunch of kids reviewing and practicing the same moves as everyone else,” said Eric Morrissey, an amateur pitcher who recently started boxing training. “But no one gets the particular attention they need.  That structure just never works.”  Like baseball, this problem causes the identities of many mma fighters, besides a few elite ones, to become a confounded mess of borrowed go-to moves that lack the application of any technical process.  Their game plans prove to be overly simple.  O’Toole cites that “mma at its best is just as good as mediocre amateur boxing” and many objective pros on all sides may agree.  I’d say that top stand-up in the mma, to be generous, is more at the level of semi-finalists in USA Boxing amateur tournaments.  They seem like robots with all the poorest habits.

In regards to the more advanced facets of boxing skills, in mma there are so many options that the fighters seem to perceive that they don’t  really need to set-up any brilliant traps.  How often is there what is called “the game within the game” in mma that isn’t obvious even to a confounded viewer or commentator?  At best, and it really is not so impressive, the strategy of mma is almost always “box the wrestler, wrestle the boxer.”  Boxing people argue that mma fighters’ stand-up fundamentals are so poor the majority of the time that deciphering habits in mma is as simple as noticing that one guy holds his hand low:  It’s as though mma trainers can deduce, “His rear hand is a little low so you can throw 5 overhands back to back, and hope for 20% accuracy and a knockout.”  I joke, but to boxing people, they can see mma is that bad without exaggeration.  The material fact is that good strategy at a high level of any sport is not cookie-cutter game plan just as it is not mystery work or mindless trial and error.  “Styles make fights,” so there is great individual application for every top fight, moves and subtleties that are very hard to pick-up on and take months of training aside from instinct.  For a boxing trainer, it takes a quarter of a lifetime to be able to notice the little things that mean so much.  But the intrigue of a masterful competition can only be accomplished when all the details of pure fundamentals are met by both fighters.  Then and only then can good strategy be extracted in stand-up fighting.  It’s less about applying a new move than it is about setting-up the move.

The greatest boxing trainers – like Cus D’Amato, Eddie Futch, Chickie Ferrara to name legends – are masters of psychology, body language, the mechanics of pain, illusions, and historical perspective.  And the fighter applies what his trainer communicates to him; the great fighter takes all he is showed and improvises.  It becomes brutal jazz at its best.  There is an old truism that “a great boxer is a great liar in the ring.  He makes you think one thing and puts you to sleep with the other.”  And good boxing consists of every variation of all those things mentioned.  But it’s not guesswork.  And it’s not just simple science.

Fundamentals are not only about form and the physics of technique.  The surface of basic boxing is even more complex than average fight fans may think.  Because boxing is so much about timing, it’s the “when” that matters more than anything.  Situational knowledge that can be applied through “between round” instruction or on a whim’s command seem to be absent from most “world-class” mma stand-up.  And proper fundamentals – even after a beginning fighter learns how to throw perfect punches and movement – means finding the right distance and following the basic conventions before the subtleties (i.e.. don’t start with a hook to the body from the outside, don’t reach over the jab when you throw a 2, throw touches until the time is right, throw straight punches when opponents have good hooks, scatter the jab, move then punch, punch then move, slip to the back foot is safer, and the list goes on – still, the margin between great amateurs and top professionals is enormous).  Many of these basic kind of things, mma guys and kickboxing coaches don’t seem to communicate to their fighters.  It’s as though they treat these simple practices as advanced boxing, if they treat it at all.  I, personally, have never heard any of those mma coaches even touch upon any simple boxing conventions on the line of those listed.  I never heard any valuable tips besides the most obvious throughout my years in martial arts gyms.  The things everyone hears in even the lamest McDojo atmospheres are tips to “keep your other hand up when you’re punching” or to “turn your fist over on the hook” or to “keep your chin down, shoulder and eyes up” or “to stay on your toes.”  Do seasoned practitioners ever get the more strategic basics outside the boxing gym?

The claims that stance and distance are different in mma and boxing is a convenient lie that helps bolster the image of other fighting arts.  The fundamental boxing stance should be exactly the same for Muay Thai and mma.  Distance, too, doesn’t change from fundamental boxing mechanics to other arts.  One boxing trainer sarcastically said, “you should neither reach nor be too close…  That’s the art of distance.”   And boxers are not conventionally taught to stand linear to their opponents – that’s a myth.  Boxers are not even taught to be in a crouch.  The only thing that changes is that boxers have the luxury to stray from the fundamentals – e.g. turning sideways like a Floyd Mayweather Jr. with his shoulder roll, constantly attacking from a crouch like Mike Tyson.  There is also an added necessity of having to be aware of other weapons in other arts which makes the need to be fundamentally sound arguably more important.  Yet mma is littered with fighters who continue trying to discover how to punch.  Fedor Emelianenko tells people to bend their wrists, flexing their fists slightly and to always make a fist – a laughable non-boxing fundamental (although some fighters turn their hands slightly to match the angles).  Bas Rutten used to say that not turning the fist over was the proper way to punch.  If the whole sport of mma ignored the mumbo-jumbo and focused on the nuance of action of fundamental boxing, maybe the mma fighters would be better in the boxing range.

Other combat sports athletes may compensate for their lack of decent leveled boxing skills by never being in the pocket, because they don’t have to be.  They usually have to be stronger or more in shape to win in mma especially (in regards to stand-up), almost never smarter.  All fighters seem to love to talk about it being a chess match and a science, but the only arts that can claim that legitimately are Jiu-Jitsu and boxing – everything else is strength and attrition based.  Even world-class kickboxing is made up of kicking and brawling, and when the brawling gets too intense, they start kicking more.  There are inside games in Muay Thai, but again, it’s more physique than intelligence.  In boxing, Freddie Roach pointed out, “It’s not the mistakes that the other guy makes I care about, but I’m trying to pick apart all the habits… not whether he’s fast or slow.”  This makes sense in the world of elite skills because mistakes there are more restricted and not as handily exposed as they are in low level fighting; they’re not so loud and obvious and countered so easily.  You have to, then, attack habits, even good ones.

When mma fighters adopt a new move or a “cool technique,” it is often overused to the point that it becomes insultingly predictable.  The fact that those moves still work proves that the quality should be insulting to a schooled audience not fooled by the hoopla of the UFC.  From Dan Henderson’s KO of Michael Bisping to Jake Shield’s left Thai kicks against Jean St. Pierre, the nuance is virtually absent from stand-up fighting in mma.  For all the few boxing talents like BJ Penn, GSP, Anderson Silva, and Junior Dos Santos, you have a bunch of empty handed hacks.  And if anyone thinks that Frankie Edgar running from BJ Penn was top-notch boxing, I’d agree only if it were the novice quarter-finals of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves, not main event pay-per-view (even in the amateurs, experts like to rule those points wins as robberies of the nature of amateur boxing).  The hand-skills of Muay Thai fighters to K1 kickboxers are also outrageously low-level from boxers’s perspectives.  Shannon Briggs alluded to the mma and K1 fighters he trained with and fought against (in his brief stint at K1) as being like beginners with their hands.  But the argument is that they are different sports.  But they box because boxing is a major part of every combat sport.  Perhaps, it is just not good enough.

In mma, the bout structure exacerbates the problem.  Long-term damage to the body in mma (punches, knees, kicks) is almost a non-issue because the fights are so short (11 minutes less action than in championship boxing bouts (18 minutes less including breaks), 15 minutes less action in seasoned non-title boxing bouts (22 minutes including breaks)).  If a body shot has any affect on a fight in mma, it usually is immediate.  And studies have shown that a greater elapsed time in sports including breaks adds to the mental toll of rigorous physical exercise; in other words, getting it over quicker by having fewer breaks is easier because “sportsmen find ways to take rests on the playing field when they are given fewer rest periods.”  In boxing, the longer bout duration, shorter round duration, and more rest periods have made for more strategic and competitive fights.  Before timed rounds were incorporated into boxing over a century ago, fighters would create their own lulls in activity which made for boring, drawn out fights.  “Hug fests,” they were called even then.  Sound familiar?  Even Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock II was a half-hour survival fest – in retrospect, it was not at all that exciting.  In ancient Greece, boxers developed cauliflower ears from avoiding the grueling punching battles, and incentives to make action were often matters of life and death after the fight.  If the rounds were a little shorter in mma, maybe we wouldn’t see in-shape guys flailing and buying time or just lying on top of people.

Rest plays into strategy.  5 round UFC championship bouts often appear to have a clear winner whom the tides seldom change against by the conclusion of the fights.  The winner is often consistent with who is winning in rounds 2 or 3, and it often only changes with a lucky punch or a desperate submission – seldom is it controlled strategy.  If one guy expends himself, it is usually due to bad pacing or being out of shape.  The championship round drama evident in boxing is ever missing in the current mma format.  The less prevalent midsection punching slowing down the other fighters typically does not happen.  Only leg kicks show that cumulative effect, but leg kicks are more easily defended than body-blows, as evidenced in today’s mma.  Of course there are some extenuating reasons that make the games different, but arguing that boxing doesn’t translate into mma is reprehensible merely for the fact that mma fighters try to do everything I mention (and even bobbing and weaving, which I haven’t mentioned, is more common in mma today by the better fighters); the majority just do it so poorly.  Perhaps nine 4 minute rounds would be a good compromise for championship mma.  The 5 and 7 rounds suggested by Dana White may just add more of the same low quality fighting.

It can safely be said that in mma, their ignorance counts on viewers’ ignorance to propel their sport at every outing.  On one mma site, closing the distance was discussed, but not a single bullet matched sound boxing (that’s where I read that an overhand is used to close distance – but that is called lunging in boxing).  When Kenny Florian said in the postfight wrap-up of GSP vs. Jake Shields that the fight was a great example of strategy and top level stand-up, my company and I were floored (figuratively, of course).  St. Pierre, who is a great fighter and who mentioned, by the way, that he didn’t know boxing before he met Freddie Roach, fought a terrible fight and practically had only one eye.  The fight was a bore of anticipation, a tragedy of stagnancy.  Thank Jake Shields, however, for that.

It should delight fight fans who want mma to excel “righteously” that people like George St. Pierre are trying to evolve the sport and take every facet of it to a level that is acceptable on every one of its playing fields.  Frank Shamrock is one of the first mma practitioners to comment on mma’s lack of growth.  “MMA has progressed very little in the last 10 years.  The weakness in mma is punching and it has been like that since 1999,” Shamrock explained on Inside MMA.  “Boxing is the hardest, most finite sport to learn.  [It’s about] timing.  Punching is the fastest, easiest way to mash somebody.”  For now, whenever mma exhibits a high level of mastery in the stand-up, one guy is usually humiliatingly outclassed.  Otherwise, it’s usually a tough man contest in which they trade blows without a semblance of science.

In time, perhaps we’ll witness great mma stand-up like we have consistently witnessed great boxing for many decades – literally great boxing.  Until then, would anyone care to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao wrestle each other?

Well, besides their wives?

Trainer Talk: Disney World – Build It in Your Goals

by Al Alvir

More people quit when they don’t have a target goal and an estimated amount of work that needs to be put into reaching those goals.  Most gyms, however, use intangible language: 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc.  How fighters perceive time must make sense.

Are your fighters losing focus or quitting at times you don’t expect them to quit?

The problem is not necessarily them.  Did you explain what is needed to reach every individual’s goals in your gym?  Did you even bother to set individual goals?  If not, so much for your individualized training mumbo jumbo.

6 months of training is a lot different for someone training bi-weekly than someone who trains 3x a week.  Also, some people train for 2 hours a day, others only a measly 1 hour.  Intensity of training is another factor that cannot be easily measured.  In mma, splitting up a day for boxing, Muay Thai, and BJJ means more time or more focus needs to be put in.  I’ve seen gyms where fighters stretch separately for each discipline and waste tremendous amounts of energy warming up even when they’ve built heavy sweats.  That’s due to the BS class structure I always criticize. 

In regards to time, if someone had allotted 75 hours of training in 3 years, it would only equal 25 hours a year.  The best way, or the least evil way, for that to allow any retaining of knowledge would be for a person to train for 1 hour every two weeks.  For a full-time professional fighter, 75 hours in 3 years can mean about three days of training a year.  Retaining knowledge in such a way – or the former – is highly unlikely.  Neither way works; it’s just not enough time training.  Ubiquitous studies in academics show that this happens with people when there is a lack of goals and an indefinite time (see achievement goals and educational foundation).  Fighters simply need target goals AND a given time to reach it.  They need a periodic finale… followed by time off.  Then a new goal and a new finale and more time off.  Top professionals’ finales are fights.  For early stage fighters, finales could be almost anything.  It’s up to the trainers to help set that focus.

It is, therefore, necessary to account for hours, days, and frequency (average days between trainings) of supervisional trainings by keeping a detailed log.  Boxing culture doesn’t make this easy, but I don’t mean to take attendance to reward or hold back anyone like a dumb McDojo, but only to account and analyze progression, regression, and how individuals learn.  If a guy shows up 5 times a week for months, any trainer has to figure, “This guy will get burnt out, so I need to set goals and give him a date.”

Note: if there is a fighter who is excelling quickly but with fewer hours and frequency than others, you can assess talent or see what that particular fighter is doing differently. Training at home?  Exceptional learning curve?  Sneaking off to a better gym?

Fighters must take time off.  Training in boxing and mma is more intense than any other pursuit and, like baseball and football, fighters need time away from the gym and ring, their field.  It’s just as important as time in the gym.  Even top pros who typically train 8 intense weeks train throughout the day with long breaks.  It allows them to be more efficient. 

When they win, they go to Disney World just like everyone else.

Top 10 Reasons (or Examples) People Don’t Know $h!# About Boxing

by Al Alvir

  1. They think the essence of boxing is about going toe to toe. Boxing is about strategy and technique, not brawn. It’s “hit and not get hit,” not “hit back and get hit.”
  2. They don’t recognize the one thing that made Mike Tyson so    amazing was not just his offense, but his defense.  And an all-time great chin made him more durable than people realize. (I mention him because he is a good focal point of information for this era of fighters and fans of all backgrounds.)
  3. They think knees and elbows in mma or Thai-boxing necessarily nullify inside punches.  Many fighters from those sports acknowledge that punching is the most effective tool on the inside.
  4. They think mma’s greater number of moves make it more strategically compelling than boxing.  It’s actually the opposite.  Like Frank Shamrock said, “It’s the most difficult part of fighting… there’s so much going on in the small, finite space…”
  5. They think a straight and a cross are the same thing.
  6. They think being tough translates into being a good fighter.
  7. They think a boxer’s rhythm can be “imitated.”  In actuality, it is just repetition and individual comfort that make boxers move so naturally.  Even mma guys who have many years practicing stand-up develop the boxer’s rhythm.  Non-boxers often feign being loose, touch their heads unnaturally, paw their jabs for no reason, over exhale on feel-out jabs (jabs during the feeling-out process), bounce with no affect (yes, a verb), etc.
  8. They don’t realize that power can never be ascertained from appearance (shadowboxing or hitting a heavybag), but results only.
  9. They love to mention when they think someone has good footwork just because the fighter runs successfully.  Yet they don’t know the half of what the moves are in footwork or if it’s being done truly well (step and slides, spinning, angles and positioning, shuffles, distance, etc.)
  10. They can generalize about everything that even their specific suggestions are general.  E.g. “John Doe should throw left hooks more.” But can he point out exactly how and exactly when that hook should be thrown?  9 out of 10 fans, no way in hell.

New Rules for MMA (a la “Real Time with Bill Maher”)

By Garrett Morris

  1. Mike Goldberg must stop referring to fighters who have 7 fights as great when proceeding to praise them just because they didn’t lie down.  Hell, even when they lie down he sucks up.
  2. No more “cool” gimmicks. New tattoos for every next match, ring-walks that are as rehearsed as their victory laps.  Everyone trying so hard to be cool.  Simply, it’s not cool.
  3. People must realize that the 8 sided ring was just a gimmick from Chuck Norris’s movie so aptly named….”The Octagon.”  It’s just a fenced ring in which the fences affect the fighting, not really the shape of the ring.  What a way to brand a product.  What about a hexagon or jumping it to 10 sides?  “10-Sided Fence” just doesn’t sound cool.
  4. Gyms with names of famous fighters who are still fighting or are never around to coach must come with disclaimers.  What’s so Miletich about a Miletich Fighting System in another state than where Miletich actually trains?
  5. Successful fighters must stop selling their success as a sign of being qualified as a coach. The qualification for coaching is being able to communicate knowledge.  It takes patience and a love for coaching itself.  Being a successful coach is a sign of being a good coach.  But be careful about what success means.  If there’s a famous coach, people are going to flock to him even if he knows little.  And champions will still arise from a quack coach.  Show me how he coaches me and I’ll tell you if he’s any good.  That’s the best gauge.
  6. Fighters must be checked for body stench and bad breath before a fight and especially before training.  It’s one thing in boxing, but when your face is in someone’s ass-crack who is a bit swampy that day is going to result in quick submission after quick submission.
  7. Not everybody who says, “thank you, I respect him as a fighter” is “a class act.”
  8. No more bowing except before and after fights, and no uniforms.  Fighting is one of the most thoroughly self-serving pursuits and it works for a reason: it’s fundamental discipline, private and personal.  Everyone’s journey is separate. Bowing and wearing uniforms is just a way to institutionalize people.  Throughout history nonconformists have turned out to be the greatest fighters and the greatest fight minds.  Fighting culture is based on social competitiveness and individual expression, not team spirit and synchronization.
  9. Your equipment sucks if denim and shoes ruin it. Gone are the days of the grimy gyms that fueled the fires of young kids and seasoned fighters looking for inspiration. Today, gyms everywhere have pretend ruggedness embellished by chain-link perimeter fences and blasted hardcore music.  Nothing says “This place is not hardcore” more than anything that says “THIS PLACE IS HARDCORE.”  What’s with gyms filled with a line of crap heavybags and a lack of assortment for complete training? And no jeans?  Wtf.  They seem more concerned about dress code than fight training.     
  10.  If you don’t know how to punch, don’t use weights or resistance in shadowboxing, and don’t sledgehammer tires.  Learn form before brawn. 
  11. No more calling out numbers to a group of fighters to throw combinations.  I’ve been to Muay Thai gyms where they have these idiot line classes in which a large group of newbies are throwing combinations they have no ability to pull off.  And if a fighter knows his stuff already, why the hell does he need some ass-clown yelling what combinations to throw?

Q&A with the World Fight Club

by D.J. Morrissey

D.J. Morrissey: What is the WFC?

Andromania: The WFC is essentially the World Fight Club, we are the world fight club for so many reasons. We incorporate all styles of fighting such as boxing, wrestling, kickboxing MMA, professional wrestling, jiu-jitsu. Where else can you find all of these different styles of fighting under one roof, on one card, for one ticket? That is essentially the idea of what we are trying to brand as combat entertainment and that is basically the WFC.

D.J. Morrissey: Why did you start the WFC?

A: The WFC began as a hobby with two or three other friends got together about 10 years ago after realizing the price to continue training in any dojo or gym was extremely expensive. We realized that as much as we would like to continue practicing martial arts we couldn’t afford to train in a traditional setting, so we decided that we would train to together, find an open park on a Sunday afternoon, do some training, some sparring, and basically just keep ourselves in shape. As it grew and more people started to come down and they were better at different things and we would have classes together. Some guys were better at boxing, wrestling and various martial arts. Different guys came down with different styles and we would train each other it became a giant network for martial arts. We would train with each, teach different exercises, keep each other in shape and have a great time doing it. The first 2-3 years it was all about coming down and getting a good workout. After a while we started doing our training sessions at our old high schools on days that weren’t busy and eventually we started gathering crowds. As we began to practice regularly every Sunday, people caught wind that these guys were competing against each other in martial arts matches every Sunday. As we continued to do it more and more, we began to develop a fan base. We had a little bit of a crowd, people cheering for us and it got us thinking, got us a little excited. People would stop in their cars and come over to watch and we got to thinking; what was just a simple hobby to us was entertaining to others. We started thinking, hey what can we do, we are skilled, we are in shape and we like the fact that we can entertain people with our martial arts. We said you know what, why not have some sort of competition so at that point we created the first championship, When the WFC started I was the guy that pretty much got everyone together, called everyone up, made sure everyone had transportation and basically ran the show. Since I had the most amount of experience out of everyone I was assumed to be the number 1 guy. I had guys with 3, 4, 5 years of experience in martial arts, and at that point in time I had about 12 years of experience, so being the most skilled I won the most matches. People would look to me for training not only because of my experience in martial arts, but my background in personal training. I would make sure people were eating right, working out the right way so that they could build themselves and progress. So after a building our crowd and having a group of guys who were committed, we decided that we needed some sort of ranking system or title and we created the WFC championship; one single title which would represent the best fighter of all the styles whether it be boxing, wrestling or jiu-jitsu. We began to have tournaments every week and we would crown a champion. The title might have changed hands every week, but fortunately for me I became champion and stayed champion and in the ten years of WFC I have only lost my title 3 times. Having the most experience and being champion it became an ego thing for me as well. I wanted to remain the number 1 guy, walk in the champ and walk out the champ. After about another three years we decided to organize and host a show. We realized that whether we were at a park, an old high school or a friend’s house, people would come by to watch us. In October, 2006 the WFC had its first show, the King of New York Tournament. Everyone came in with a clean slate and we actually created a new title that night called the Submission King Championship. I wanted to walk out of there with not only my WFC title but the Submission King belt as well but unfortunately I didn’t win that belt and the person who won that belt still holds it until this day. We knew at that point that we were on to something and wanted to make history in combat entertainment so we decided to develop a full season of matches. On April, 20th, 2007, WFC Live was born, we built the website, we developed characters, Andromania was born and we decided to run with the ball. We had a great year in 2007, our very first show was our biggest show to date but unfortunately the cops came and actually liked what we were doing and wanted to stay but because we weren’t very professional at that point in time and people were competing in street clothes they shut us down. They thought it was just some brawl at first but then they say the cameras and the lighting and everybody having a good time but they still had to shut us down. After that we decided to take it one step further and at the next show, we had a keg, barbeque, a DJ, everything to keep our fans entertained. It became a party that you wanted to say that you went to. You wanted to be able to say that you went to a WFC show. You could go to a keg party, a friends BBQ but where else could you get all of it combined with the combat entertainment of the WF They thought it was just some brawl at first but then they say the cameras and the lighting and everybody having a good time but they still had to shut us down. After that we decided to take it one step further and at the next show, we had a keg, barbeque, a DJ, everything to keep our fans entertained. It became a party that you wanted to say that you went to. You wanted to be able to say that you went to a WFC show. You could go to a keg party, a friends BBQ but where else could you get all of it combined with the combat entertainment of the WFC. You can say to yourself, oh I went to a UFC match, oh I went to a boxing match, oh I went to a professional wrestling match; but where else can you go and pay one price and see MMA, pro wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, submission wrestling. No one else has it, nobody else is doing it except the WFC – World Fight Club – which has grown from a hobby into one of the most recognized underground fight clubs around. We have our videos on our youtube.com channel, receive emails from people around the world who love what we are doing and we have surpassed any expectations we had for ourselves when we started. We are always looking to take it one step further and in 2011 we plan on doing that with our website wfclive.com and with our shows.

DM: Not only are you the creator of WFC, but also a fighter, how did you get started fighting?

A: I got started fighting pretty much because I had to. I am 5’5 and growing up I was the skinny kid, the small kid, so in order to not get beat up, I had to learn how to fight. I used to be a pushover, they called me Piñata because I used to have a sweet tooth and when the kids beat me up in elementary school, candy would come flying out of my pockets. I then decided that enough was enough and had to figure out “what could I do?” I was always considered the most athletic kid who couldn’t play a sport by my friends; too small for basketball, too light for football and I couldn’t catch or throw a baseball. I always liked watching action movies, martial arts movies so I decided to take a class, and believe it or not, on my first day I got beat up by a girl. I thought that martial arts weren’t for me at that point in time and decided to just weight train and get as strong as I can. About a year later I decided to give it another try and started taking classes, really started getting into kickboxing and the rest is history. Flash-forward to today I have been training in martial arts for over 16 years. I started with Tae-kwon-doe, Snakefist kung-fu, Muay Thai kickboxing, American and Chinese boxing. In high school I learned how to wrestle. I got the inspiration from watching UFC and, specifically, Dan Severn, I didn’t understand what he was doing and it intrigued me; then I saw him beat up a Muay Thai fighter on one of the shows and I decided to learn more about it. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join the wrestling team and the rest is history. I attribute most of my success as a wrestler to having an understanding of Aikido and being able to use one’s opponents force against them. Wrestling then really became my passion. In 2000 after I graduated high school a friend asked me if I’d like to get back into martial arts, and at that point I began the creation of the WFC. A bunch of friends and myself (sic)started looking around for places to train and found them all very expensive so we decided to train with each other. I started to blend all of the various arts that I had trained in to become an MMA fighter. With my background in personal training and nutrition I was able to keep myself in good shape and on a regimented diet and that is basically how I began fighting. DM: How did it feel the first time you used your training in a real fight? A: I was never one into street fighting, fighting always intrigued me but I didn’t necessarily like fighting. About the 5th or 6th grade I came across somebody trying to kick my ass and it was amazing to know after that, that at least this stuff does work; I was able to defend myself. It felt great and from that point on I decided to keep on doing it.

DM: What part of your fight game needs the most improvement?

A: I would say everything. No fighter wants to feel comfortable and build habits; you don’t want to become a one trick pony. It’s important to work on everything, be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. I never think that anything I do is perfect. I’m always trying to punch faster and harder. I always try and work on everything everyday and make sure to keep my fundamentals strong both by practicing them and teaching them during classes. DM: What would you say your go to move is during a fight? A: Because I’m usually the small dog in the fight I like to use my upper body strength to create angles and get them off balance. If it’s a kickboxing match I’ll use my 1-2-3 combo. A jab, cross and then roundhouse kick to the leg to chop them down. In an MMA match I would look to start off with some strikes and then use my wrestling against my opponent. In a wrestling match I’ll get the guy on the ground as quick as possible, make them tire down by using their energy to attempt to get up and if submissions are involved I will usually go with the rear naked choke or the guillotine.

DM: What are your thoughts on the state of MMA today?

A: If I could sum it up in one word, that word would be “inflation.” Any guy who rolls on the mat for two months thinks he can get in the ring. A guy who knocked somebody out at a bar thinks he can go in there and strike. It’s really pathetic today to see such a great sport like Vale Tudo and Pancrase, real fighting become almost like a fashion show, everyone’s trying to walk down the runway strut their stuff and make a quick buck and get out. Now you got guys, it’s all about tattoos and who has the better Affliction shirt and I hate it because what happened to hip hop and professional wrestling. It’s all about their reality TV shows and promoting those fighters while real fighters can’t even get a contract. That’s why I feel this sport will go out of business eventually because it’s not quality over quantity. It’s quantity over quality right now because their aren’t very many real fighters being employed right now. The state of MMA today is actually its own worst enemy. Its own success will be its failure and I find it deplorable. That is why I hope one day my WFC can rival a company like the UFC and truly bring back the art of fighting into entertainment.

DM: What are your aspirations for the future as a fighter?

A: My aspirations as a fighter are pretty simple. Unfortunately age is a factor and I don’t foresee myself becoming a professional fighter. I want to use my fighting abilities to help further the movement that is the WFC. I will look to use my knowledge to train the fighters of tomorrow and hopefully help breed a new generation of great fighters and entertainers through my organization.

DM: What are your aspirations for WFC in the future?

A: What I want to accomplish with WFC is plain and simple. I’m looking to get out of the backyard and onto the TV. Outside of my background in fighting and training I have experience in film and I love to entertain and I want to bring the WFC into your homes to entertain you. We want to take that next step from the underground throne to the mainstream. You can check us out at wfclive.com and on our youtube page at youtube.com/wfclive.

A Review of the Underground Backyard MMA Show: World Fight Club Live

by DJ Morrissey

On Saturday, August 14th WFC put on their 10th Anniversary show.  The generically titled show, “The Main Event,” had most of us at Shootafairone.com skeptical to say the least.  Shootafairone.com heard about this underground show and had to come see what the fuss was all about.  Most of Shootafairone.com contributors believed, after viewing WFC’s youtube clips, that WFC was probably fake or, at least, embellishing real martial arts.  The brand of entertainment, basically mma with the over-the-top flare of professional wrestling turned out to be much more worth-while than we had expected. 

The show was held in a backyard – by invitation only at an otherwise undisclosed location – where there was a live dj, beverages, food, t-shirts for sale and a real show, scripted and entertaining.  The highlight of the show, though not to undermine the actual bouts, was the host, Laffity.  He did his job like a professional with an apropos tone and jokes that could put Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan out of work.  The show’s twist is that the combatants engage in actual combat, but they each had character angles and personas like you would see in professional wrestling.  The fighters all train in numerous disciplines and seem to put their hearts in it.  It was like watching actors off-Broadway or in Washington Square Park, brave enough to do what you would never dare do: make a fool of yourself in front of a large crowd.  But WFC guys were actually good. 

On “the Main Event” card, there were only 3 fights –two submission matches and a kickboxing match. The first match pitted Rico against a stocky linebacker-looking The Black Mountain. Rico put a feisty effort in against his opponent, but his size eventually proved to be too much for him.  Wix then defended his Submission Championship against a newcomer, filling in for an injured fighter, and who chose the name Cheesecake.  The two fighters engaged each other and several submission maneuvers were attempted and blocked by each competitor in a display of their jui jitsu.  Eventually, Wix locked in an arm bar which sounded the end of the night for his opponent.  Just before that, however, Wix used Cheesecake’s socks to choke him out – indeed, a professional wrestling stunt, but entertaining none-the-less.  The third match of the evening had Andromania (Andro) defending his Open Weight Championship against The G.O.A.T.  The two fighters battled for 3 one-sided rounds.  The more skilled Andro deserved to lose his belt according to most onlookers, as the G.O.A.T. was just too tall.  On a level of skill, the G.O.A.T. didn’t look seasoned, but he has the show and the size to become a WFC occult star.  The theatrics continued when Andro was “jumped” in a humorous finale of broken tables and painful stunts reminiscent of the NWO days.  All in all it was a fun day.  You wouldn’t think it was WWE or the UFC if you had a chance to watch it, but rather somewhere in the middle.  Above all, it was what it was meant to be, entertaining and fun.  And remember, they could be considered the originators if this kind of show ever gets popular, as they have been around for over 10 years.  WFC gets a big nod from me and my friends at Shootafairone.com.  If you want to look into this further, check these guys out at WFClive.com

Fear Training – The Essential Aspect of Training in Martial Arts

By Al Alvir

Some of these issues have been addressed in “The Problem with Bruce Lee’s JKD,” but it is discussed here in more depth as this has been an on-going discussion with several of our readers.

Martial Arts schools are typically “business above all things,” so every potential martial artist/fighter must look at everything honestly.  First of all, all belt systems that I have ever come across are arbitrary. They’re just selling points to appease people who need to be patted on the back.  Whether it’s t-shirts systems, or patch systems, dojos and schools have arbitrary ways of monitoring people’s improvement. They’re so arbitrary in their methods that the rewards are also so arbitrary, needing to be made tangible.  Meaning, knowing you beat the next guy in some competitive face-off is usually not enough.  Some academies, as they tend to be named, use levels and phases with no definitive measure for passing people to the next promotion. If they feel like it, you will be promoted. 

I implore you to really think about why you got that last promotion.  What relevance does the testing have to ability?  Talent?  Pity?  Just showing up?  Who says the criteria maker, the black belted business owner, has the best say just because he has the last say?

This coddling of the martial artist is the heart of the problem.

Schools view its members as being sissy-pants (the choice term), so what people need to improve is seldom practiced.  That need is fear.  While most schools’ only practice is trying to keep its members and getting new ones in, the best boxing gyms (the ones that produced the toughest everyday fighters), for example, used to do the opposite.  They tried to keep out weekend wannabe’s and they discouraged people who couldn’t do it.  That old-school gym is not as omnipresent nowadays, but the balance continues to be needed outside of boxing.  Martial arts schools need to apply fear to its curriculum when it comes to all lower-rung students. 

Fear is, perhaps, the most important aspect of fighting to control. So, simulation is hardly simulation without the aspect of fear – whether it’s fear of pain, injury, or humiliation. Humiliation can manifest in many ways in the mind – how will I react, how will I perform, how will I be perceived.  “What will I do when everything in my body tells me to quit?” “What will I do when being a coward is the easiest decision?” “How will it look if I lose?” People are forced to face these fears only when they are in real battles, so the simulation that many gyms practice is more like pretend simulation. People may say they want to do martial arts, but they just want to delude themselves.  People may say they want to be in a controlled environment that simulates the street corner without the probability of serious injury or robbery, but they really just want to pretend.  Because being on the street corner in a situation is dangerous and the ONLY thing you can be sure of is that you will be afraid.  Training, therefore, should teach you how to control that feeling above all things, skill-wise or otherwise.

In regards to self-defense situations, one question that the self-defense based mind-set would generally answer easily is: “What will I do when being a coward is the safest decision?” If it’s safe, they would probably go with that.  But think about all the fights you have had in your life. In retrospect, “self-defense” is probably a poor euphemism for upholding your dignity (in law enforcement there is an exception).  You can probably go through life safe and healthy without ever getting into a fight. In elementary school, you could have absorbed the minor humiliations and ignored whatever semblance of pride you may have had. As an adult in a compromising situation, you could just be peaceful and brand yourself a coward.  And as a potential victim of a crime, as anyone always ever advises, just hand over your wallets.  And if you really have to defend your life, I always encourage a surprising strike to the groin to get the job done sans any costly martial arts education.  That, only after trying to run.  And still, more forethought and savvy could have probably kept you out of that situation as a whole, and if it ever were a potential threat again, self-defense would only be your back-up for stupidity.  Like the anecdote of the girl walking into a dark alley, my advice for self-defense is to not walk down that alley if it seems dangerous, duh.  Most similar situations practically spell-out the signals: “DARK ALLEY. Choose something else.” 

Martial arts is simply for people deluded into a concept of self-defense and that they’ll have to protect their families, or it’s for people who want to know how to fight for every other reason. No matter what any martial artist or boxer may chalk his passion up to, it is insecurity that usually drives anyone to put effort into such a competitive pursuit, as any.  And in fighting, it is surely insecurity that drives people into wanting to practice harming anyone who may try to harm them – by definition, but the Freudian debate is for another time. In any case, at the core of combat training, fear is the only thing that must be simulated–or it is not at all simulation. 

The fact is that most average people fear not being in control of a situation, not being in control of what the other person does. What could happen if I had to use my weapons (strikes, holds, or actual weapons) in a given situation?  In boxing gyms, fear is the inevitable fact because boxers have to face real danger in sparring.  Karate dojos do not offer as much on a macro scale — point systems, touch sparring, and slow-motion reenactment simply aren’t as scary (because they are not anywhere near as dangerous or damaging) and are not as likely to cause the fight or flight dilemma well experienced fighters have been through.  People tend to be comfortable in how they want to see themselves and how they want others to see them, so they don’t want the challenge of being afraid.  This is why most people are comfortable with traditional martial arts over mma, and it may be a valid reason for the trend of mma popularity over boxing.

So, for whatever skills you are motioning through, and whatever drills are mimicking real speed conflict, if the practitioner does not experience the closest thing to the real thing, the training is far less useful than it seems.  Many other people fight so much in the gym that any fear is numbed by, at least, knowing exactly how they act in dangerous situations of real pain and real reactions, and they are learned in what happens in real physical contact.  They know themselves and are in control.

Practitioners in all martial arts, however, must be very careful in how they approach real physical contact for training.  Again, it’s a must that they stay honest in how ‘scary’ training or simulation drills may be.  I, personally, have never witnessed any pad-less sparring that would create the same situation of fear or urgent realism as being in a boxing ring with gloves, a cup, and headgear.  They either go too light or they don’t hit to the face when there are no pads.  Conversely, I’ve sparred in situations of wearing full riot gear – either both my opponent and me, or just on my opponent – and it, too, is not as realistic as being in a boxing/kickboxing sparring match.  Riot-gear requires the men in the gear to “act” hurt, and it never really rings true to what happens in the street.  Perhaps, it’s different at your gym or dojo, but be honest to how realistic your work-out is.  And if you are not numb to danger, realize that the butterflies should linger.  If not, you should step-up your training. And be afraid.  Be very afraid.

The Inherent Cowardice of Ground-fighting


(This is a follow-up to Garrett Morris’s “What Makes MMA Gay?”  I preface this commentary by making it known that I am a full supporter of mma and want the sport to grow.  I want people to see that mma can be so much better so that fighters from all disciplines may follow mma in the future.)

Grappling (Greco-Roman wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, etc.) is just not satisfying for many fighters, no matter how effective it is in MMA competition.  Aesthetically, it isn’t pleasing to the worldly viewer or to many a fighter.  Even in real life situations, as in avenging a wrongdoing, wouldn’t it behoove one to do damage to one’s enemy by taking that person’s dignity through beating him on equal ground? – equal ground meaning “equal leverage.”  By equal leverage I refer to a free standing position in which there is no intrinsic safe ground, as in clinching positioning or grappling.  Isn’t this why we fight instead of shoot guns?

Consider this:  Two uniformed lawmen get into an argument about their schedule.  One guy smacks the other in the face.  The other reacts by tackling him.  They wrestle until one officer manages to gain dominant positioning, and he puts handcuffs on the other cop.  Then, he lies on top of him and starts beating the downed officer.  And maybe he puts the helpless guy into a knee-bar.  What is so cavalier of any of that? What does it prove on the playing field of fighting? What fighting need does it satisfy?

This is subjective, and it could vary from opinion to opinion, but the above situation would probably warrant a rematch by the logic of fighting principles.  The guy who was handcuffed would probably think it was unfair (perhaps he would never use his handcuffs in a supposed fair fight with a fellow officer), and he’d want to fight again.  Fighting, beyond the visceral anger and self-defense notions, is about satisfying a curiosity, “who would win on fair ground?”  It is about damaging an opponent while an opponent can damage you (not after gaining unfair positioning), and it’s about making the statement that you are worthy.  Borrowing from Rocky Balboa, fighting is about saying, “I am.”  Even when someone’s intent is to humiliate another person, he chooses to do so through fighting because it satisfies his personal duty to earn it.  There is honor in fighting.  And if it were only about self-defense, one should walk in droves, carry a gun, or just be a sissy.  That old cop-out of “self-defense” is virtual nonsense.  Fighting is almost always a choice.

Many grapplers choose to tumble and toss on the ground, perhaps, to satisfy some desire; they like to fight that way.  This is precisely the root to why people talk about mma sport with the tongue-in-cheek reference of it being “gay,” or homoerotic.  They want to be close, in tactile quarters.  Of course most fighters probably have no homosexual thoughts when they are wrestling.  The same goes for any sport with head-to-toe bodily contact, like football; “it’s only gay if they make it gay,” as the saying goes.  The question so many people pose against mma is: “Do they make it gay?”  Surely, there must be more gay people drawn to grappling arts than stand-up arts because of the nature of grappling.  Its latent and suggestive intimacy is almost distinct.  Why do guys wrestle their girlfriends and their children?  There is a closeness stimulated by the fun and varied positions of dominance in wrestling, even without the sexual innuendo.  On top of that, it’s safer; you can practice wrestling without getting hurt.  Wrestling is akin to play-fighting, so why would anyone choose to turn real fighting’s intense emotions (although it’s better to be calm) into a wrestling fight?  If two friends were wrestling as a joke and it became serious, they wouldn’t continue to wrestle-fight.  They would probably stand-up and square-off.  This is the notion of eroticism that wrestling toils with: when a couple wrestles, rubbing bodies, it may get hot and heavy.  So, two men wrestling just seems inappropriate.  Whatever the case, many guys like to roll around twisting and contorting with other men because it’s more accentuated to those guys’ senses – gay or not.  Is that why so many kids seek contact sports?  But they should remember, however, that more surface area bodily contact does not connote more impact.

Stand-up fighting has never been about jockeying for such positioning in which one fighter gains unfair advantage then proceeds to hit his opponent.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is awesome in that respect—it is all about leverage—but this is exactly what also makes it a yellowbelly game.  Boxing and kick-boxing have always been about the use of fine idiosyncratic skills encompassed in a moment, or on the opposite of the spectrum, the ever exciting “free-for-all” – standing in front of a foe and brawling, shot for shot.  But stand up arts have always maintained a grave element of danger that is less prominent in grappling arts.  For the majority of the public, wrestling seems more strategic than boxing because it holds true for people who don’t know anything about fighting.  If you get two guys who never boxed or wrestled, they are going to be more strategic in wrestling each other.  They wouldn’t know the angles, defense, set-ups and traps that are part of standing up, but they could probably improvise with some holding maneuvers however technically incorrect they may be. And every guy thinks he can wrestle – even if the last time he wrestled was in elementary school.  Not too many guys think they can box unless they proved it to themselves with some correlating experience – stand-up is simply much scarier of a pursuit.  There are many smaller guys who may rather wrestle Brock Lesnar than stand up with him because he’s so intimidating, and Brock Lesnar was an All-American wrestler.

A guy can roll at the gym for hours without damaging himself.  Imagine light sparring for an hour.  It would surely be much more afflictive.  Millions of people with my sentiments of boxing and kickboxing don’t understand the appeal of men rolling on the ground together.  Rolling by itself, the part of training important for fighting in mma, may be more frolicsome (gay) than any and all aspects of martial arts.  I, personally, have no understanding what joy guys get out of it.  I’m not homophobic, but the close wrestling is not for me.  When I did BJJ, I was uncomfortable to the point when I wondered if the guys I was rolling with were ‘getting off’ on the grappling – they fancied the heavy contact, but I did it just because it was an aspect I wanted to know in case someone took me down.  I understand that everyone has different boundaries of discomfort.  And that is exactly it – it is what it is on its surface – discomfort.

Grappling is unsatisfying and sort of tasteless to viewers who want to see competition, not dominance (or worse, tumbling that appears to be more consonance than competition).  It lacks the bravado and valiant aspect of stand-up fighting.  One fighter said, “There’s much more skimble-skamble in MMA.  If you can’t stand you can get on the floor.  There is an anticipation of so many possibilities.”  Those possibilities tend to overshadow the bore of it all and it is a lie to many new viewers of mma who see fighters either stand up and box poorly or get on the floor.  They don’t see a true assortment of mixed martial arts.  The grapplers grapple and the stand up guys stand.  The freestylers flail until they fall.  And when they each clash it turns into a stupid stalemate until the usual grappling match or the skill-less stand-up.  In boxing, it can be argued that there is more talent needed and more discipline – a chess match of offense and defense, skill versus skill.  In mma, one could figure out how to gain advantage by not matching his skill to the other fighter’s skill, and rather by “playing a different game.”  Grappling itself is about maneuvering positioning to a safe and unequal ground.  Wrestlers are, perhaps, drawn to mma because of this dynamic.  If your hands are really good, the other guy can try managing to wrestle with you, or vice versa.  In boxing, you can’t get away from danger by taking someone to play Scrabble instead of chess if your chess game is weak.  Corollary to this, any big guy could be thrown into mma and he could roll around or punch and possibly survive for a long time.  This is much less likely to be done in boxing without the guy getting mauled and humiliated.  And in mma, it’s easier to give up; you can tap before any damage has incurred or you can lay in a fetal position covering any significant blows from landing while the referee hurries to halt the fight.  No one will notice your “no mas” in mma.

Grappling is a tedious game of maneuvering that usually takes much too long to produce excitement, if any.  Many grapplers even express that it is more gratifying to win on their feet by KO.  Conversely, it is often a greater blow to fighters’ dignity when they’ve been KO’d.  One mma spectator said that getting on the ground always seemed like hitting or being hit in the balls – “a B.S. fight, a cheat,” if you will.  “Whether someone wins or loses on the ground, it always seems to be a jip.”  Even after a hundred mma events, the ground and pound and even the submission have lacked the valiant factor—how much blood and guts and determination did it take.  One bit of pressure on a joint and you tap.  And once you’re in a dominant position, it’s academic.  “If that’s what a good fight comes down to,” a friend suggested, “may as well get a gun instead of fight like these guys and forget these corny martial arts.”

What is it about choking someone out that appeals to some people?  I somewhat see the value in clutching someone into a helpless position and feeling his body go limp.  It is an exhibition of domination.  But this tells me that the person who would rather choke-out someone hasn’t learned how to hit, hasn’t ever cracked someone hard, or can’t hit that hard. One Muay-Thai boxer who converted to mma said to me, “When you’ve felt the exhilaration of hitting someone in the face for real, you will never want to tackle or take-down another man again – unless that’s your thing (sarcasm).” The thing about grappling is that any man can choke-out someone in the right position.  Knocking-out someone is so much more difficult—it’s arguably a truer display of skill and power than outwrestling someone with weight or muscle.  I’m not saying that knocking-out a 16 year old boy is more impressive than choking-out a Gracie, but knocking-out a Gracie could cause so much more damage to a Gracie than choking him out.  It may even be more demeaning.  Knocking-out someone is just so much more electrifying and to the point.  It’s sudden and quick.  And for those who say, “In the street, working submissions, if you choke someone out you kill him, or you can break his arm,” how often is that going to happen?  Really, what bar brawl or real self-defense situation is anyone going to be granted such an opportunity without being pulled-off the opponent, stomped-out, or imprisoned?  How practical is it even in its most primal, non-cowardly application away from any organized competition?  And don’t responsible martial arts practitioners always preach for people to just give up their valuables in any real situation such as robbery?

Fighting on almost every level is about pride and bravado.  Skill versus skill.  Man to man.  Except for the rare self-defense, life or death situation, there are unwritten rules to fighting.  There are actually morals.  Whether in a neighborhood beef or stepping outside a bar, a fight is almost always about respect, not survival.  One can walk away in tact, unharmed and with all his possessions in most encounters even if he may end up looking like a “sucker.”  So fighting is not just to exist; if you fight, it’s out of dignity.  And nothing gets respect like standing up and “fighting like a man.”  Consider that if someone bites (unless he is crazed and out of his mind), grabs testicles, or lays and waits for someone to break it up, he is arguably the coward of a fair fight.

Then is it so ridiculous to have an unexpressed agreement on how to fight a streetfight?  If not, then you can incorporate weapons or cheating.  Fighting, anyway, is not the fighting we imagine without an absolute isolation of weapons, whichever those weapons may be (no use of garment or inanimate objects, no spitting, no fish-hooking, no clawing, no biting, no jumping-in, no ear-tearing, etc.).  Because when you allow some weapons in certain positions and prohibit those weapons in other positions, only then, do you have an utter farce.  When speaking of three types of fighting (mma, street, and self-defense), mma grappling and street-fight grappling each exude this contradiction.  I once watched a barfight in which one guy laid in some amateur side control-like position and began vomiting uncontrollably on his foe’s face, much of which went into the supine guy’s mouth, seemingly accidentally.  It was the most hysterical and appalling sight, especially as the man seemed to use his throw-up to blind his opponent while he viciously beat him bloody.  My friends and I walked away shocked, but we also realized there was a moral to the story, aside from any jokes:  The outcome of the fight was inequitable, empty; it was just plain “unfair” or it was a fluky way to good self-defense.  At that moment, I knew that any grappling could only be completely rule-less in order to be an appraisable martial art.  No one could know its value unless it was used in no-holds barred, life-or-death situations (like JKD, this would be almost impossible to test).  In other words, grappling should only be used for complete self-defense, as even grappling in mma does not incorporate the most effective possibilities (“cheats” as I call it) that could be so useful in any life-or-death setting:  biting, heat-butting, eye-gouging, crotch striking, ear-tearing, etc.  And, I guess, vomiting.  It is arguable that the new mma is just a diluted sport with displaced skills, displaced strategy, and the restriction of bodily weapons.  Basically, grappling in mma, or in a civil street-fight, is just a bad representation of fair-fighting.  Stand-up fighting is simply not close-range enough to exude any of the contradictions I speak of.

There is cowardice inherent in grappling, even with the use of extreme self-defense tactics (“cheats”).  Because one would have to “cheat” to make it efficient and without the “cheating” the danger is limited.  Furthermore, people who don’t like the idea of being hit in the face and standing on fair ground would rather be in positions they think they can squirm out of.  They want to smother the danger that they conceive and jockey for position, jockey for a mismatch.  Even if two skilled wrestlers battled, it would come down to one of them finding some convenient advantage—but they often fight a boring match made up of defense, no openings, and no risks.  Wrestling combatants use the ground as a weapon, and even if they both have the weapon at their disposal, they are only sort of “trying to use the weapon first.”  It’s almost like they are not purely matching skills; one guy gets a hold, by chance more often than one may think, and then the other guy is left at a disadvantage until some other slip-up.  In wrestling, strength and size accounts for too much to be considered a supreme skill-set.  For people in a fight who are pinned and pounded, what then?  It may not even prove anything but dominant size.  If a stand-up fighter is choked-out, he may even say, “What could I do?  He beat me, but he didn’t want to match his skills against mine.”  This is the culturally opposing outlooks on the two styles of fighting; of course a wrestler is going to want to take a stand-up guy to the ground, but to stand-up guys it just seems like the sissy way to fight.  It’s like a “bitch-fight” in which two girls are trying to control the other person in order to beat-up the other one – the only difference is that girls pull hair.  In stand-up fighting, fighters don’t care about controlling, manipulating, or dominating the other person.  The sentiment of stand-up guys seems to be “do whatever the hell you want, you ain’t worth my time but to knock your ass out without having to lay-down with you.”  Most people tend to grapple because they know that anyone, to some extent, has the possibility to wrestle to a stalemate in a given situation, avoiding jeopardy (even if only for a minute).  Many guys have been known to hold-on for the duration in mma contests.  People who don’t know anything about fighting will wrestle if they fight.  And the stronger, bigger guy is almost always the one who wants to grapple.  If that’s not a big red flag indicator of cowardice, you must have missed the object of what fighting is about: fairness and honor.

And so, when applied to mma, while I do recognize the greatness and importance of ground fighting in self-defense and overall martial arts, I personally second the old notion and applaud it: “I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.”

* …It is common opinion in the fight game that there is nothing sweeter than knocking out someone who is trying to knock you out.  Such is the reason why “the Manly Art” has been better known as “the Sweet Science.”