Published by: Machete
Posted: July 11, 2009, 1:56 pm
MMA. A highly technical test of almost every aspect of the human body. Strength. Speed. Intelligence. Explosiveness. Flexibility. Rhythm. Stamina. Balance. Reflex. Endurance. Quick Wit. You name it. This is competition in its rawest form: Meeting someone on open ground and even terms. Someone who is ready for you. Someone who is virtually a physical equal. A duel. Raw, pure, and fair. Because when you take everything away, all the material things and the societal constraints, it just leaves you with two individual Homo Sapiens. And all it boils down to is fighting.
It's been on ever since the beginning of time. Humans have challenged and competed against each other in mortal combat since the dawn of civilization. It is programmed in our DNA. Little boys will always wrestle, and play with guns and swords no matter what their mothers tell them. Everyone is an expert when it comes to fighting. Everyone's a fighter. That is how stupid Tapout shirt-wearing fans get the nerve to say "He should have done this, he should have done that. He has no heart." to a guy with 20 fights under his belt. What the fuck do you know about heart, you cocksucking motherfucker? But hard as it is to say this, it is not their fault. They feel so connected to the fighter they are watching that they actually feel that it's them in there. It is a genuine feeling, an honest mistake made by people whose only shortcoming is ignorance.
What we have now is actually an incredibly civilized outlet for a basic primal instinct. Our athletes agree to meet each other at a certain place and time. They agree to a set of rules and attempt to completely obliterate each other, but stop when somebody wants to stop or when one guy seems badly hurt. And the moment it is over, they instantly revert back to normal human beings, treating each other with utmost respect and dignity.
And yet people frown upon it. They describe it as brutal, misguided, primitive, and barbaric. (But if you look closely enough at the slick movements of Georges Saint-Pierre or the grace of Anderson Silva, you will think the exact opposite.) When you tell someone that you practice combat sports, you get responses like "Where you bullied as a kid?" or "But it's so dangerous." or "What's the point?"
The problem with MMA is that people who do not take the time to understand it never see the technical aspect involved, and the incredible specialization of its athletes. All they see is the blood, which is exactly what the promoters want. Promoters do not necessarily care about what kind of fans they attract. All that matters to them is ticket sales, and the easiest people to attract (and the most abundant) are the boneheads who are led as easily as zombies by any pop-culture trend set this season. That is why they market it with the glamor and the fireworks and the entrance music and the flashy lights and the celebrities. They sell the blood, not the Martial Arts. The fanbase, consisting of 98 percent numbskulls, just wants to see two bad ass tough guys desperately trying to fuck each other up. And it made MMA the greatest threat to both Boxing and Professional Wrestling. One organization with both the reality of Boxing and the brutality of Pro Wrestling.
But MMA is not about bashing the other guy into oblivion. It's not about the other guy at all. More than anything, MMA is about yourself. When you mature as a fighter and put all that male-dominance and respect-gaining and macho bullshit aside, you see competition as another step in your journey to self-improvement. In the same principle as capitalism, competition puts participants in a situation that forces the best out of every individual. The guy opposite you in the arena is not your enemy. He is a guy who agreed to give it the best of his current ability to complete this chapter of your journey. He is there to try to give you a worthwhile test of your current level. The fight completes your training and shows how well you did in your quest to better yourself. That is why fighters embrace after a bout. They have agreed to be a test for one another. They became part of something real. Something that builds character, and they now feel closer than ever. You find out a lot about a man after fighting him. You see who and how he really is. You have tested him.
Of course it all comes down to the ethics of the whole thing. I mean safety isn't exactly the issue here. It's not like you can get smashed in the face by a ball moving at 90 miles per hour or fall down a snowy mountain at incredible speed or get your throat sliced by some guy's ice skate. But it's the idea of hurting people, not putting a ball through a hoop or running fast and jumping high or sliding down a mountain as your goal. It's the aggression and the "bad intentions" in every move that gives MMA its bad reputation to those who do not understand.
credit to Sam Sheridan, author of A Fighter's Heart (2007).
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