Friday, October 07, 2005

MMA anyone?

Selamat;

So, while we're on the subject... O.k. maybe we weren't but we were definately standing next to it.

MMA is the hottest martial arts thing - or at least was a few years ago... I'm a little slow on these things. I don't even know who the latest and greatest silat guy is - though I think it might be Steve Benitez... Anyway, you can pretty much tell by who ever is getting pulled into Dan Inosanto's Academy. He is either causing it or chasing it. At any rate, MMA is still hot as far as I know and in any case, it's a subject that has been around forever it seems. Yes, of course, it's the "new" thing but it's really just a new label for the "old" thing.

Maybe it's a truly new idea brought to light or maybe it's the Bruce Lee thing coming around again, but in any case, it's here and in my opinion it's as old as martial arts but with a slightly newer disregard.

The essence of it is this: Take a bunch of pieces of martial arts and combine them to create a personal style that covers most sportive situations. Then, train the crap out of them until you are good. If you want, mix in some "rhoids," protein shakes, and herbal supplements and bam "YOU ARE THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING MACHINE." Basically, take what is useful and throw away everything else - but the new twist is to do it in very specific studies. Go to someone who will teach you good, high level, techniques that you can just learn and work on applying them. Essentially, get what other people have worked their butts off to find out over years of study and then add it to your aresenal so you're ready for the UFC. (Too bad people have sold what took them years to discover to someone else in only a matter of months...)

The basic logic is probably sound, but the essential question remains - if you study pieces can they offer you a legitimate form study or is it just a grab bag full of stuff that has to keep being added to? Will your growth stop the moment you stop finding the newest best technique?

First off, MMA is not new. There have always been people combining new ideas together. The primary difference that I see is in the purpose and thoughfulness of those things chosen. That is the primary difference between a mish-mash of stuff and a system. A system has any number of pieces from any number of other systems that can logically be walked through and made sense of from start to finish. That is, that they offer a conceptual framework, principle framework, physical framework, etc. MMA on the other hand seems to only seek answers to specific questions - much like statistics. Useful as long as the right questions are asked but limited in overall scope. I liken MMA to getting a Technical Degree where more traditional studies might be the equivalent to getting a Bachelor Degree and eventually being able to go on and get a Masters or Doctorate. The purposes are not the same and only for a time will the results be the same.

MMA is not the same as studying multiple systems. Rather, it is the study of pieces of systems that answer specific questions or seek to resolve specific problems within the confines of a specific format. The problem then, is when the format is changed.

One of my first instructors always said that the "secret to martial arts was training, training, training." As I have gotten further and further into my silat studies I recognize that Pencak Silat really can contain the answer if you are willing to explore it. It is not something that can be taught and it is not something that should be taught. It should be left for the pesilat to discover so that it is there's personally.

So what? Well, I personally have not known anyone involved in MMA who was able to continually evaluate ideas and formulate new ones based on those evaluations. That type of skillset only comes from someone who has a bachelors or masters in one system and has then added to it. The framework was already established and THEN they went on to add to it.

For those who might be duped into MMA from the start, I caution you to look critically at all of the best people out there and examine what there roots really are.
Anyone?

Hormat saya,
Sean

10 comments:

Phil said...

Ok, first of all, you need to update more frequently than once a year.

Second, you're dead on. However, I will say that the MMA "fad" has raised some good things to the greater MA consciousness, those things being:

1) Realistic and alive training with contact is essential. Doesn't mean it's the only thing you do, but it needs to be there.

2) Grappling and groundfighting can happen. True, it's usually once people get tired and they start falling all over each other, but it does happen, and it needs to be addressed as a combat reality.

So, those are some good things I'm taking away from the whole MMA/BJJ (it's hard not to put them together) fad.

SilatBlogger said...

Hey Phil;

Yes, I definately agree with your two points but I would suggest that few people have considered what the real issue is. I mean, why does realistic (assuming resistance here) and contact training work? Why does grappling and groundfighting happen.

In the past, I have always assumed it had to do with the simplicity of technique and in a way it does. It can also have to do with timing, and speed of execution. Ultimately all of these things revolve around the idea that this thing is happening fast.

I would suggest that it has nothing to do with the complexity of a technique per se but rather that movement-to-movement ratio and position-to-position understanding. I have termed this the Combative Relationship. For instance, if you have learned Masukan Tangan, you know that we are essentially combining our evasion, our parry, and our counter attack into one movement. Why does this work when doing them in pieces does not? It's all about time and opportunity if you will.

Grappling and groundfighting occur simply because it is an effective way to slow the whole thing down. That is why when people are afraid or tired they "glom" on to you and begin grappling. It's an instinctual method we use to slow the chain of events down.

Running away does this as well but using a different method.

Michael said...

Sir, with all due respect your ignorance regarding MMA is staggering.

First, you state:
"Go to someone who will teach you good, high level, techniques that you can just learn and work on applying them. Essentially, get what other people have worked their butts off to find out over years of study and then add it to your aresenal so you're ready for the UFC."

There are very few "high level" techniques in MMA. What most people refer to as "high level" or advanced techniques are simply basic techniques drilled to near perfection. The few true "high level" techniques to be found in MMA are typically advanced submissions attempted by only the most experienced of grapplers, typically World Champion or Abu Dhabi Champion level grapplers.

This brings me to my next point. You said:
For those who might be duped into MMA from the start, I caution you to look critically at all of the best people out there and examine what there roots really are.

I have taken your challenge to examine the best people in the sport and here is what I find.

Matt Lindland - Olympic Bronze, Wrestling
Hidehiko Yoshida - Olympic Gold, Judo
Randy Couture - 3x Olympic Alternate, Roman Greco Wrestling
Fedor Emilianenko - Bronze Medal, 1998 Russian Judo Championships


...and that's is just what I can think of off the top of my head. I could go on and on about the pre-MMA accomplishments of many fighters. Shoot, I could run myself ragged just trying to remember all of the Mundial, Abu Dhabi, and Pan American Jiu Jitsu champions who now fight MMA. My point is, be very careful about questioning the back ground of MMA fighters in ignorance, you may be surprised, and you may look foolish.

You said:
"if you study pieces can they offer you a legitimate form study or is it just a grab bag full of stuff that has to keep being added to(sic)"

Why would you have to keep adding to it? There are a finite number of ways to effectively punch and kick, there are a finite number of useful techniques to be used in a clinch, and there are a finite number of techniques needed to be an effective grappler. You don't have to master all three disciplines to be an effective fighter. You need only be proficient in all three in order to find the weak spot in your opponents armor and exploit it. Whether you face that opponent in a ring, a cage, or on the street, this basic principle remains unchanged.

You said:
"A system has any number of pieces from any number of other systems that can logically be walked through and made sense of from start to finish. That is, that they offer a conceptual framework, principle framework, physical framework, etc. MMA on the other hand seems to only seek answers to specific questions - much like statistics. Useful as long as the right questions are asked but limited in overall scope."

Listen, to an MMA fighter there is only one question to be answered: How do I defeat the man standing before me? All else is nonsense. I do not train to get spiritually enlightened or for any of the other reasons that people train in a combat art. I train so that, when
faced with an opponent who means to harm me, I can defeat him. MMA answers that question to a T. I train until I am competent in all ranges of unarmed combat (Striking, clinching, and grappling), I then find my opponents weakest range, take the fight there, and defeat him. The truth is that the point of a martial art is to win in hand to hand combat, and all the talk of solving problems and answering questions doesn't change the fact that a well trained MMA fighter will do just that against just about anybody short of a better trained/physically superior MMA fighter. That is the whole point. The crucible of competition has weeded out all useless techniques and all that is left is that which is effective. Are there some techniques and stratagies that exist for the sole purpose of use in competition? Sure. It's inevitable. It's also meaningless. If a fighter can pick somebody up, slam them on the ground and pound them into the mat, or out strike somebody, or slap a rear naked choke on somebody in the cage, guess what? They can likely do it in the street as well.

Look, I'm not trying to bash you. You are entitled to your opinion. I just get tired of TMArtists bashing MMA as a basterdized, half breed style when the reality is that not a single one of them would step into the ring with Randy Couture or Georges St. Pierre, and even if they did all of the secret deadly techniques that they have studied for years and years would not prevent them from getting knocked out or submitted within minutes. I believe that would be true no matter what rules the fight was contested under. In a NHB fight to the death, my money is still on the MMA fighter.

I apologize for any spellng or grammatical errors, it's late and I'm tired.

SilatBlogger said...

Hi Michael

Thanks for your post. It's always good to get a different perspective.

There may be a few misunderstandings between what I wrote and what I meant. Unfortunately, the web and especially email is like that.

First by "High Level" you assumed I meant "Advanced techniques," but that's not at all what I meant. I personally don't believe in advanced techniques as much as advanced ability of basic techniques. What I mean then, is that you may perform a single leg takedown let's say and do it functionally correct, yet someone with High Level skills can teach you details that help you. Perhaps it's how to deal with a resistant fighter or some other aspect or how to make the technique cleaner. Please be careful of assuming you are dealing with a classic TMA person. I'm not.

*******
This brings me to my next point. You said:
For those who might be duped into MMA from the start, I caution you to look critically at all of the best people out there and examine what there roots really are.

I have taken your challenge to examine the best people in the sport and here is what I find.

Matt Lindland - Olympic Bronze, Wrestling
Hidehiko Yoshida - Olympic Gold, Judo
Randy Couture - 3x Olympic Alternate, Roman Greco Wrestling
Fedor Emilianenko - Bronze Medal, 1998 Russian Judo Championships
********

Again, you've misunderstood my point. Here my point was in regard to the fact that these people have a deep background study in another art. Most (maybe all) good MMA types have a solid foundation in at least one art before they begin the process of assimilating pieces of other arts for the purposes of MMA study. My warning is for those who just try starting out in MMA with no MA experience at all. And that's all it is - a warning.

*******
Why would you have to keep adding to it? There are a finite number of ways to effectively punch and kick, there are a finite number of useful techniques to be used in a clinch, and there are a finite number of techniques needed to be an effective grappler. You don't have to master all three disciplines to be an effective fighter. You need only be proficient in all three in order to find the weak spot in your opponents armor and exploit it. Whether you face that opponent in a ring, a cage, or on the street, this basic principle remains unchanged.
*******

On this point we just disagree but I would like to clarify. Are you saying that once an MMA fighter learns his material that he never adds to the arsenal? He will be doing the same thing now that he will be doing in 10 years? No one will come along that will challenge what you or they have learned with anything new? From what I've seen MMA has already changed and along with that change has come a change in techniques. My point is that if you have no conceptual framework or deep understanding, you will not learn to adapt but will have to find someone to teach you the answer instead of being able to find one for yourself.

Now, regarding your statement that an MMA fighter could take on all comers is only valid if the tables are equal. To that I could agree. Enter into the fray a weapon and I'm not sure I would put my money on the MMA guy but you are allowed to your opinion as well. I also have no doubt that the MMA guy who trains 4, 6, or 8 hours a day can beat the crap out of most TMA guys, but I think there are a lot of TMA out there that could, if prepared properly, do very well against MMA. For most of us though, it is not our full-time gig. So apples to apples I don't think the MMA guy has any advantage - DEPENDING heavily on the TMA that they fight. For sure not all TMA are created equal. Just as sure, not all fighters are equal - TMA or MMA.

Thanks for the discussion.

Mispellings? Who cares! :)

Mike said...

OK, I can agree with much of what you say, but we still have some differences of opinion.

Your point regarding the background of MMA fighters is well taken, I did indeed misunderstand, but more on this below.

I would submit (no pun intended) that MMA is still developing, still defining itself as an art, but at some point in the not too distant future, it will reach a point where it will no longer advance significantly. It will essentially become a complete system unto itself and will be taught as such.

I believe that the MMA champions of tomorrow will have started training MMA from the time they were young, just as boxers and Muay Thai fighters do now. They will not consider themselves Jiu Jitsu specialists, Kick Boxers, Wrestlers, Judoka, or any of the other backgrounds that today's fighters come from. In essence they will all be "freestyle fighters" or MMA practitioners.

When that time comes I predict that MMA will become mostly static, much as boxing and wrestling and every other competition martial art are today. They go through cycles where one part of the game or another is in vougue sure, but boxing today and boxing 50 years ago are about the same. Same with wrestling, Judo, Karate, Muay Thai, etc. MMA will reach this point, it may have already. The conceptual framework you speak of will then become well established.

Do I believe that new techniques will come along and challenge the status quo, maybe, but they will be few and far between. The sheer number off mma competitions being held dictates that if it can be tried it will be tried. Useful techniques will be picked up by others and absorbed quickly, useless techniques will leave the ring/cage on the stretcher with their practitioner.

As for weapons in fighting, I agree that MMA does not prepare one to face an armed attacker. I believe that no art truly does. If you survive an attack by an armed foe without serious injury, you are likely a combination of very skilled and very very lucky. When faced with an armed foe, one should either flee, or produce a weapon of their own with which to engage the enemy with. Preferably one with .45 stamped on the side. Anybody who tells you that they are certain they could regularly face knife wielding attackers and emerge unscathed is dillusional. Just my .02

BTW, your civility is refreshing. Many people cannot engage in this type of conversation without resorting to ad hominem attacks and profanity laced tirades.

SilatBlogger said...

Hello Again Michael;

It doesn't pay to get too worked up about this topic. I have nothing to prove to you and you have nothing to prove to me. It's just idea exchange and if we cling too tightly to our ideas we are bound to become disillusioned IMO.

In any case, I've done a share of NHB fighting with no protective gear and have the permanent health issues to go with that. The art I teach now is a result of those times, but also has a different perspective, which is that of weapons and my experiences in LE.

I think you're right about MMA advancing to a point where it no longer makes significant advances. At that point what will it be called? :) Theoretically it wouldn't be appropriate to still call it MMA because it will itself have a conceptual framework making it an MA.

I would also say, that is where the danger lies - not just for MMA practitioners - but as proof - it has already been the problem for TMA in a sense. Once a thing is no longer organic it starts to become too defined and once it becomes too defined it becomes more limited in scope in my experience. This is what has happened to TMA in many cases.

I do disagree that an art can't prepare you to face an armed attacker but we may really just be disagreeing on the notion of "truly."

Of course there are too many variables to even begin a deep conversation because not only do you bring the skill of the attacker and the skill of the "defender" into play, but the weapon and it's leverage multiplied by the skill of the attacker. I don't believe that you HAVE to have a weapon to succeed. It could help, depending on the type and your skill, but it can also hinder (this is where many TMA and MMA and every other person in the world disagree with me it seems).

It can hinder because we tend to think of having a weapon as a tool of equalization and then we use it as such. Meaning we are more inclined to enter into a dueling mode with the opponent.

Whereas, if I am unarmed, I am more inclined to run or to try to find a different way to battle than to meet the attacker head on - force to force.

This not to say that, you can necessarily escape unscathed - possible but not probable. More likely that you will be hurt, possibly severely, but also not an absolute.

My belief, from my experience, is that you can more effectively engage an attacker with a weapon if you have great intent to SERIOUSLY hurt them in a sudden and overwhelming way. In addition, if you actively engage versus passively. In other words, if you are the attacker you have a greater likelihood of success. This does not always mean the guy with the knife trying to mug you. You can still assume the role of the attacker and bring it.

This is actually a statistical fact regarding knife encounters, that whoever is the attacker is likely to be the victor 65% of the time, than someone who acts defensively. In the remainding 35% there are single losers and both parties losing so it pays to be the attacker.

In any case, thanks for the discussion.

SilatBlogger said...

Here I meant TMA - "Theoretically it wouldn't be appropriate to still call it MMA because it will itself have a conceptual framework making it an MA."

Michael said...

Regarding what to call MMA when it becomes codified as its own system you make a good point. Personally I like the term "freestyle fighting", ymmv.

As far as MMA becoming stagnent, I don't worry about it to much. Since MMA is practiced with very few rules, as I said before, new techniques will be constantly attempted, and then intergrated or discarded. Those that are adopted will be made to fit within the existing framework, which will be relatively static.

Regarding this statement:

"It can hinder because we tend to think of having a weapon as a tool of equalization and then we use it as such. Meaning we are more inclined to enter into a dueling mode with the opponent. "

I will confine myself to that which I am familiar, namely CCW and guns. Every CCW holder that I personally know (and number is large) has basically the same attitude regarding the carry of a deadly weapon. Roughly stated:

"Because I have a deadly weapon I will be more polite, more willing to reason with a belligerent individual, and far less likely to lose my temper than if I was unarmed. The awesome responsibility of carrying a gun, and the ramifications should I be forced to use it demand the utmost respect."

Again, this has been my experience. YMMV

Michael

SilatBlogger said...

I have heard people speak this way, but judging by what they do and what they say are often differing.

My experience is the opposite. People who carry have told me that they are more inclined to go places that were less safe (and therefore more likely to engender some type of confrontation) than if they were not carrying some type of weapon. I myself have fallen prey to this reasoning too.

As human beings we do this in differing ways such as when in a group of people versus just a single person.

However, my comment is more about combat that is imminent versus pre-combat.

emy said...

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