Recently one of my Facebook posts garnered a bit of attention because I called MMA what it is…a combat sport, not a martial art. Several wanted to argue with me about why it should be classified as a martial art and the post went on so long that I had to delete it because it was a waste of time. MMA is an acronym for Mixed Martial Arts. While MMA is nothing new, as all martial artists have been mixing what they learn forever, it has become synonymous with combat sports thanks to the UFC. There are many schools out there marketing they teach “MMA” but in reality we all do to some extent. While that is being said we are looking at MMA as a combat sport today since that is how it is most recognizable to people.
What began a simple post about how I see the UFC as a “show” ran into a long discussiong about whether or not MMA classifies as both a martial art and as a reality system of true fighting. Both of them are not good classifications for MMA by any means. MMA, in its combat sports arena, is just that…a sport, with rules, where two contestants vie to win a prize / contest. It has rules, a lot of them, for the “safety” of the two combatants. It is not a real fight, not even close to a real fight. It has judges scoring it, a referee managing the fight and looking out for the safety of the combatants and has medical staff standing by in case of an injury…all of which WILL NOT exist in a real fight.
In the title of this blog post I state there is no honor in war. This is not directed at the military service people at all as I believe what they do is very honorable. It is directed at a real life fighting situation. Over the years that I have been on this earth I have worked in many capacities of violent occupations. This has included as a correctional officer, bouncer in some very nasty bars and even as a bodyguard. Unfortunately I have been in my share of scrapes, been shot, been stabbed and been beaten silly…but my traditional Karate training saved my ass more time than I can count. In all of these past career choices one thing I learned was that being a nice guy in a real life fight gets you pounded and beat up. That is the reality of it all.
Many years ago I had a guy come into my dojo asking about lessons. He was all about how great he was at martial arts and how no one could beat him in a real fight. All he wanted to do was spar with me. Well, I was young and full of a mean streak so I agreed. Right off the bat I beat the snot out of him before he was even ready for me to attack. As he lay there on the floor bleeding and crying he looked at me and said that what I did wasn’t “fair” and that he wasn’t “ready”. My reply was to look at him and say “Well that’s how a real fight goes. You came into my dojo, told me how “tough” you are and that you wanted to “fight” me. This is what you get. Do you want more?” Needless to say he got up and walked out cussing the entire time at me.
While many people would think what I did wasn’t called for to me this guy wanted to prove something and I am not in that business. His first mistake was to admit that he wanted to fight. In a real fight talking is worthless as I have seen many people talking tough guy gibberish only to get laid out right in the middle of their sentence. That is the reality of fighting. There are no rules, no honor, no respect…just violence. So to state that the MMA matches people are seeing today are as close to a real fight as it gets is the same thing…gibberish.
In my dojo my advanced students are taught that they have to decide when it is time to fight…and then do anything, and everything, necessary to GET AWAY. They are taught to eye gouge, to bite, to claw…to hit the person with a crowbar if they need to. While this may sound extreme to some it actually isn’t. We train safely in the dojo to prepare to remain safe outside of the dojo. When we train we have great care for our partner but when we have to use our skills there will be no care for our opponent. Going into a violent encounter with the mindset of compassion for the attacker is why people get beaten up, raped, kidnapped or worse…killed.
It is important to note that there will never be any promise or guarantee to surviving a real life violent situation but we should always train to be ready. A good Zen saying on the matter goes like this:
Student “You teach us be ready for war yet you talk about living peacefully. How can we do that is we are training to fight”
Sensei replies “I would rather be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war”.
That sums it up pretty adequately…