As some of you may know (or are about to learn), I believe MMA has a lot of valuable qualities. It has improved awareness for grappling, wrestling, and fighting at multiple ranges. It also shot across the bow of phoney and stagnant traditional arts – daring them to put their money where their mouth is.
Because of MMA’s core focus on effectiveness many TMA’s have had to take a fresh look at what they’re doing and how they’re doing it (which I think is beneficial).
That being said, MMA has experienced some serious growing pains and suffers routinely from “demons” that stand in stark contrast to the true nature of martial arts. Some of those demons have been poking their ugly heads out lately and I wonder if it’s just a bad series of events, or a larger trend.
Anderson Silva Gets Taunty
Anderson Silva is easily one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history. His ability to control distance and timing is uncanny, and his technique repertoire is impressive. Basically, he makes it look easy a lot of the time. Unfortunately, he recently abandoned all the respect and dignity that he infused into his earlier fights.
At UFC 112 Silva matched up against Demian Maia, and throughout the fight he taunted his opponent. While Silva did handle his business and landed plenty of good shots on Maia, he spent even more time dancing around and acting foolish.
Dana White was so angered by this turn of events that he refused to hand Silva the championship belt (which he successfully defended), instead giving it to Silva’s trainer before storming out of the stage area.
Mayhem Miller Brawl
In a recent StrikeForce fight Jake Shields defeated Dan Henderson. All was going smoothly until the post-fight interview. As Shields was answering questions about the match, Jason Mayhem Miller entered the ring and sidled up next to Shields, giving him a cock-eyed stare. Once Shields noticed him, Miller took control of the mic and started challenging Shields to a rematch.
Nick Diaz (Shields trainer) took exception to the pompous maneuver and pushed Miller away from the mic. From there it degraded into an all-out brawl. Shields and his entire crew tried to jump Miller on the spot, but as the carnage commenced a team of security personnel jumped in and tried to separate everyone.
The situation devolved due to the petty and inappropriate antics of Miller combined with a thuggish lack of control on the part of Diaz, Shields, and their team.
Paul Daley’s Cheap Shot
At UFC 113 Josh Koscheck was able to defeat Paul Daley. Koscheck dictated much of the fight and by the end was looking to be the clear cut winner. At the sound of the final bell, the two broke. As Koschek began walking to his corner, Daley followed him and swung a big left directly at his face.
As it turns out, Koscheck had spent the last 30 seconds of the final round berating his opponent while controlling him on the ground. He said things that were “much worse than your momma jokes” and did his best to steal as much dignity from his opponent as possible. Although these kinds of head games are not rare in MMA, Daley clearly took exception and chose to take a cheap shot after the fight was over.
Dana White summarily removed Daley from the UFC shortly after he found out about the incident.
The Sum of It’s Parts
On one hand, I think we all understand that fighting is a highly intense experience, which makes it difficult to be under perfect control at all times. These fighters are experiencing significant adrenaline dumps and are put in harm’s way. It’s tempting to argue that these incidences are just part of fighting, and that only soft-shelled wusses would bother to worry about it.
Personally, I find reason to be concerned. If MMA wants to be considered a legitimate sport and pastime like football (which MMA execs certainly DO want), they are shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly by proving all of their critics right. People that don’t like MMA are quick to point out the examples of juvenile, bone-headed, and disgraceful behavior amongst its participants. This recent slew of events gives them more ammunition than they need.
If MMA wants to be considered a martial art in the classical sense, these examples are moving them further and further away from the kind of character development and personal responsibility stressed in established arts.
Of course, there are plenty of examples of shady behavior in traditional arts as well. Remember when that Olympic Taekwondoka kicked the referee? That wasn’t so good. But MMA is at the height of its exposure right now and is at a pivotal point in regards to how the public sees it.
If MMA wants to move passed its reputation of being a face-punching playground for bullies and thugs, this type of stuff has to stop asap.
I hope MMA as an art can pull through it because I believe it has a lot to offer.
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In today’s video I’d like to explore the tonfa. Although the tonfa never made it into the pantheon of Ninja Turtle weapons (weak), it still enjoys a healthy amount of popularity. In fact, tonfa are one of the few classical weapons that are actively used in our current police task force.
Although you’ll rarely find tonfa-like items in your day-to-day life, the core ideas that make them effective are a valuable asset to any martial artist’s ‘playbook’.
Check it out as I explore the different ways of holding and striking with the tonfa (and engage in a little freestyle randori at the end).
Don’t try that last drill we did without expert supervision. It’s a valuable part of kobudo training, but people can get really hurt if they don’t have years of experience learning how to control the weapon with exacting precision. This is especially true for the spinning aspects of the tonfa.
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Just for kicks (PUNNNN!!!!!!) I decided to figure out the top 7 foot-smacks doled out in martial arts movie history. These kicks range from the acrobatic to the sheer face crunching. The criteria I used to determine the winners was a combination of style, athleticism, and influence in pop culture.
It was a difficult process as there are many great movies with sweet chin music, but the following stood out to me. Hang around until the end of the article and I’ll give a few runners-up that didn’t quite fit the bill.
Here we go…
7. Billy Jack – Face Whopin’
This iconic kick comes from the Movie “Billy Jack” and is delivered by Tom Laughlin. Laughlin plays an ex-green beret Hapkido do-gooder who runs afoul of the law. Find out what happens next when they back him into the proverbial corner:
6. The Transporter – Bicycle Kicking
When you think of bicycle kicks, you probably envision a skilled soccer player making a diving hit over his own head. This is much different. In the following clip Jason Statham finds a way to put the boots to all of his oiled up opponents:
5. Ong Bak – Knee of Doom
Have you ever heard of a knee technique referred to as a “knee kick”? I hope so, because I am using that as an excuse to include this hit from the movie Ong Bak. After a good minute or two of being taunted by his opponent, Tony Ja prepares something extra spicy once the round starts:
4. Enter the Dragon – Ohara Gets His
Almost every scene in Enter the Dragon is ground breaking and awesome. But there is one kick that actually led to physical injury of the cast and crew. When Bruce Lee finally fights Ohara, he lines him up for an absolutely brutal sidekick. The actor Bob Wall was ok afterwards, but one of the extras in the background broke his hand during the fall. That’s no joke:
3. Karate Kid – The Crane Kick
While it may not be physically impressive, is there any kick more iconic? The crane kick is what every d-bag relies on when they try to mimic or make fun of martial artists. It also inspired a generation of future karateka (yours truly included). It’s over Johhny yea, you did it!!!:
2. Kickboxer – The 360 Split Spinning Hook Heel Foot Kick
Is it possible to build an entire career on one face slapping technique? Yes. JCVD did just that and kicked his way into our hearts. The thing that makes this kick so powerful is that no matter how many times you see it (and no matter how many movies he uses it in), it still rocks. For your pleasure, this montage:
1. Enter the Dragon – Han’s Skull Crusher
I’ve never actually felt the vibrations of a kick through my TV until I saw this armageddon-inducing swat from Bruce Lee. In the final epic fight against Han, Bruce puts the beat knuckle down until Han is in a dazed state. At that point Bruce lines him up and delivers a blow so powerful that my nose is starting to bleed just thinking about it. If you watch carefully it seems obvious that they use a Han-doll as a stunt double, and I don’t blame them. In fact I hope there were no live crew members within a 20 foot radius. Enjoy the number 1 kick ever put on the silver screen:
The martial arts universe is home to a lot of awesome kicks, and here are a few that I thought deserved mention as well. Check out the following links if you want more foot flying action:
Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick – Certainly Chuck Norris’s famous roundhouse kicking meets the pop culture criteria to be a winner. Yet, despite the fanfare and entertaining jokes, I just don’t think there was enough here to trump the kicks on the list. I also discovered that Chuck Norris throws hook kicks far more often than roundhouse kicks, which made it difficult to find good footage of him from a movie (as opposed to Texas Ranger). I also had a tough time siphoning out all of the spoof and joke videos in order to try to find Chuck actually in action. You’ll notice the video in the link is a spinning hook from Return of the Dragon. Best I could do.
Captain Kirk Dropkick – Seriously famous, but from a TV show so I couldn’t include it.
Drunken Master Kick Fight – There is a fight of massive kicking in the Jackie Chan film “The Legend of Drunken Master”. Unfortunately no one kick stood out so I ultimately decided against it.
Wayne’s World II Flying Kick – The fight between Wayne and Cassandra’s dad is awesome, and everytime I see the dad pull off the flying kick I laugh out loud.
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This one’s wide open – any kicks that stand out in your memory?
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