The Martial Arts

 

I love practicing the martial arts for three reasons.

  1. The workouts kick my ASS.
  2. What I’m learning is practical. I travel a lot, and I like the idea that I could protect myself and my family if needed. Basketball is crazy fun for me, but it isn’t useful in the same way.
  3. My instructors and partners are good people. From what I’ve experienced, people who practice these lethal art forms are honest and hard working. The culture is one of deep respect.

Last year I practiced Jiu Jitsu and right now I’m practicing Muay Thai. Here’s a short word on each art form:

Jiu Jitsu is the art of grappling on the ground. If you go to youtube and type in “street fight”, you’ll see that eventually every fight ends up on the ground. Jiu Jitsu teaches you what to do once you’re down there. If you are on top, how do maintain your control? If you are on your back, how do you A) get back to your feet, or B) attack from your back?

Muay Thai is a specialized form of striking. In Muay Thai you learn that your body has 8 weapons: two fists, two elbows, two knees, and two legs. You learn how to dance in front of your opponent, how to protect yourself from strikes, and how to throw your own combinations. Throwing an effective punch is harder than it looks on TV. On my first day of Muay Thai training, I spent a long time learning how to stand.

From Taekwondo to Judo, Karate, Boxing, Kick Boxing, Wrestling, there are a lot of fighting disciplines. But it’s clear that some disciplines are more useful than others. UFC fights in the 90’s and early 2000’s proved that a well trained Jiu Jitsu fighter has a very good chance of out-matching a striker, even a bigger and stronger one.

UFC fights are fascinating from an intellectual perspective because they attempt to answer this question: If two people face off, and all other things are basically equal (the fighters are the same size, there are no weapons, both fighters are healthy, etc…) who will win? Which fighting technique, or combination of techniques, is actually the most effective? UFC fighters are today’s Roman Gladiators. They really do “fight to the death,” but the referee’s job is to intercede exactly at the point that death is imminent.

I never thought I’d be a die hard UFC fan, but since when did Mrs. Fanny Fate ever give a shit about what we thought we’d grow up to be?

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