In one of our recent articles, we stressed the importance of
Mixed Martial Arts events and their role in the
evolution of martial arts. We insisted
that martial artists should train in a practical and modern way instead of
sticking to forms and traditional routines that lead nowhere. Although I
believe that MMA events have contributed a lot to martial artists, I must
admit that they had some really bad side effects. They made everyone believe
that martial arts are all about hitting hard, taking steroids to build huge
muscles and destroying their opponents. As far as true martial arts are
concerned, that is never the case.
Since the Stone Age, the small and weak man had to face wild beasts that
were a lot stronger and deadlier than he. He had to find ways to survive or
he was doomed to extinction. Today’s athletes that compete in MMA events
often face the same dilemma. In our days, normal heavyweights have to test
their abilities against giants like Bob Sapp and Semmy Schilt.
Against such formidable opponents any so called “hard-hitter” cannot survive
if he is not backed up by proper technique. These giants will always hit
harder and no matter how strong any normal person is, he will make a small
mistake and that will be his end.
Martial artists often get discouraged when watching MMA events. It seems
that these events prove the superiority of brute strength and killer
instincts against traditional martial arts techniques. Recently I was
watching some Pride FC tapes along with some friends. After ten minutes they
were very concerned about my mental health. “Are you crazy”, they said “how
can you watch these matches? These people hit people’s heads like maniacs
and almost kill them. This is not martial arts”. I tried to explain to them
that this is not the case. I do not enjoy watching people getting hurt. I
watch these matches because every once and a while, a true martial artist
enters the ring and wins against one of these beasts. And just because of
the strength of these beasts, those who beat them are true martial artists.
I learned more by watching Gilbert Yvel beat Semmy Schilt
or by watching Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fighting for his life against Bob
Sapp than I ever learned in any martial arts classroom. There are people out
there like Mirco Cro Cop, Royce
Gracie, Minotauro Nogueira and others that prove the superiority of
proper technique against brawlers and giants. I mean that if a triangle
choke can stop somebody like Mark Coleman or an armbar can stop Bob Sapp,
then I will add these techniques to my arsenal because they truly are
effective. So are low kicks and knees from the clinch, etc.
Strikes, especially to the head, harm people sooner or
later. Fighters that depend on their strength, mass and stamina alone do not
last long. Only the ones that know how to avoid getting hit last long. It is
like bullfighting; no matter how strong the bull, he will finally go down.
The spirit of martial arts applies to all aspects of life. It applies in MMA
events and in martial arts training, whether it is done for survival in the
rings or on the streets.
We cannot become giants. We have to adjust our training to be able to fight
against bigger opponents. We should not be overconfident about our hard
shins, strong punches and finishing holds when we have only tested them
against opponents that are the same size. Strength is not everything and
there are a lot of techniques that have the ability to knock out larger
opponents. We must train smarter and not just harder. The idea is to use
simple principles like leverage, body mechanics, proper distance and
footwork in order to survive against a guy that has a longer reach and mass
and can only be compared to a mountain. I will finish this article by
quoting Royce Gracie: “The idea
of jiu-jitsu is to give the little guy a chance to beat the big guy.”