Mixed Martial Arts – Marc MacYoung

Is two guys beating the snot out of each other and rolling around on the ground violent? Yes. But that type of violence is only one small slice of themuch larger and complex pie that is violence.

A complex and dangerous topic that involves a whole lot more than one on one, mano y mano, consensual conflict. A situation that doesn’t have the safeties and fail safes of sports based competitions … which is what Mixed Martial Arts are.

They are not combat, nor are they self-defense.

Therefore, the overstated claims regarding the effectiveness and value of mixed martial arts are demonstrably false. And all it takes to show why these claims are false is a trip to fields outside the MMA market.

Yes, you heard us right. Marketing has strongly influenced what people think the mixed martial arts are good for. What’s worse is it has strongly colored what people think self-defense is. When we talk about “the mixed martial arts market” we are not only addressing the training itself. We are talking about the complex blend of issues of marketing and commercialization we more fully address elsewhere.

MMA Have Become A Religion
We have several issues with mixed martial arts. Believe it or not, our problems are not with the training itself, nor the effectiveness of the moveswithin a specific context. In fact, we consider MMA training to be both useful tool and a chance for tool development. Nor are we against macho sports that allow young males to pit themselves against each other to enhance their social status among their peers.

Having said that, one of the biggest issues we have  with MMA is how many frothing at the mouth religious fanatics it has created.

And face it, a barking moonbat is a barking moonbat. It doesn’t matter if said moonbat is
A) standing on a street corner screaming at you to ‘repent ye sinners
because Armageddon is at hand,’
B) he’s proclaiming on internet forums “That headbutts and eye gouges
don’t work for self-defense because if they did work they’d be allowed
in MMA events” (1).

That is a person who’s fervor and dogma has taken him to his own Little Private Idaho. Someone who’s internal reality has not only eclipsed actuality, but who has confused advertising claims for knowledge and experience. Such a person rabidly believes that the narrow focus of his dogma is all encompassing.

And like the Catholic Church of Medieval Europe, the ‘anointed priests’ of mixed martial arts and grappling are getting very rich and powerful off their followers.

Safe High Stakes Gambling
There is a mindset that has unfortunately become common in this culture. It’s what we like to call “Safe High Stakes Gambling.” When put into these terms the logical fallacy of this kind of thinking becomes immediately obvious. The idea is people want to participate in the chances to win big money. But at the same time, they do not want to risk losing anything. In fact, the new definition of losing appears to be — what used to be known as — ‘breaking even.’

This is what happens when the stakes are emotional. And aside from nice fat purses and training fees, that is pretty much the only thing that is at stake in MMA bouts. Sure there is bruising and pounding, but that happens to you win lose or draw. So those aren’t the stakes. Notice for example certain terms abound in these circles; submission, dominate, premier, pride, ultimate, championship and tapout. We bring this to your attention because they make a strange contrast with other words associated with in MMA circles. Words like fights, fighting and rage.

Now contrast those words with words that are — in a nonsport context –normally associated with fights, fighting and rage. Namely, death, crippled, homicide, hospitalization and, of course, aggravated assault and arrest. At least those words are commonly thought medical and law enforcement when  members of the ‘Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club’ decide to ‘fight.’

And this is why it is incorrect to call mixed martial arts, grappling or any martial sport — no matter how intense — self-defense; much less combat. These stakes are not on the table. Can you be injured in a MMA bout? Of course. However, the intent of the participants is not to go into the ring to cause hospitalization, permanent injury or death.

In the mixed martial arts participants seek to ‘dominate’ an opponent. Although there are commonly references to ‘punishment,’ in MMA these terms do not have the same connotations. Bouts are stopped once victory is clearly achieved, including the loser surrendering. In street fights, assaults and homicides the victim have no choice. The victim is rendered helpless and then the brutal punishment begins. It is this savagery that results in hospitalization or death of the loser. We do not use the word ‘victim’ because quite often the loser was very much actively engaged in the creation and escalation of the conflict.

Our point about all of this is that the participants of mixed martial arts sporting events, get the rush, the emotional high of ‘winning’ these events, and the ego gratification of calling themselves ‘fighters.’ But they aren’t really risking anything beyond their pride and bruises. When the death and injury toll of the entire professional and amateur mixed martial arts circuits from around the world match a single weekend tally of emergency rooms in any major US metropolitan center, then we’ll believe that mixed martial artists are fighting for stakes higher than self-esteem.

Mixed Martial Artists Are Harder To Take Out Of Their Comfort Zone
We’ve pissed a lot of people with that last section. However, it is critical to realize that as intense and aggressive as mixed martial arts training and competition is, it is NOT self-defense. It is a different mindset AND skillset.

Self-defense is what you have to do when someone is coming in with theintent to physically hurt you!

This isn’t going to be a sporting match. Nor is it going to be a bout to establish social status, intimidation or to psyche you out. Those are goals of fighting –especially among young, inner ‘tribal’ members seeking to establish themselves in the social hierarchy. Stop and think about it, for countless generations and cultures have encouraged wrestling and sporting events among their young to channel this energy.

What they did not encourage is to take an ax and embed it into a fellow tribesman head. Because that would weaken the tribe and leave them vulnerable to the predations of other tribes. While you wanted the young tribal members to have a fighting spirit in times of need, sports were a safe way to channel this energy. And yes, these skills were a foundation for other more effective methods of warfare, but they were not what you did on a battle for your life. But realize, at no other time in history have martial sports been so actively promoted as self-defense — namely because most people in civilized society don’t know what it really means to fight for your life.

Despite the claims that MMA are self-defense, after the bout, you go out and have a beer with the guy. He is in your tribe so you don’t want to hurt him. On the other hand, in a situation where you are in physical danger (a.k.a. a self-defense situation), the guy coming at you is NOT of your tribe and he means to hurt you! He doesn’t want to fight you. He doesn’t want contest with you to see who’s the alpha male. Again, that is inner group fighting, fighting between different groups (intra tribal) is to weaken the other tribe by injuring or killing its defenders. When it is actual self-defense, you aren’t going to buy him a beer afterwards.

All of this leads us to the point of this section. That is because mixed martial artists tell themselves that they are such big bad fighters because they play in such a rough sport they are functionally blind to weaknesses of their system. And unlike other systems, you can’t prove them wrong without seriously injuring them.

For example if a Tae Kwon Do player believes that his art is good for self-defense, all an MMA practitioner has to do is shoot in, tackle him and grapple him. Want to make an aikidoist’s life miserable? Box him. The dancing/sniping Savate kicks take away the control of range and distance that most boxers expect to have when fighting Eastern style martial artists. All of these experiences take the person out of his comfort zone and show the stylist that there are issues that what he does doesn’t address.

But how do you disembowel a mixed martial artist to show why grappling someone with a blade is a bad idea without hurting him? How do you, while changing levels yourself, fire an upward vertical elbow into a grappler’s face without breaking his neck to show that there really are effective counters to the shoot? How do you without doing it, convince someone who is big enough, strong enough and in good enough physical condition to soak up the type of impacts that are generated in sports based fighting systems that when combined with a twist that same impact will shatter his bones? And while we’re at it, how do you convince that same big strapping lad that as big and strong as he is, he is not invulnerable to weapons? More over, how do you convince him — without busting a bottle over the back of his head — that unlike in the ring, he’s got to be aware of unidentified combatants?

Inherent in everything a MMA or grappler does is:

A) The tap out.

B) The referee intervening
C) One on one conflict
D) Safety equipment (such as mats)
E) Specially designed moves that are
1) Designed to ensure the safety of the participants
2) Extend the match for the enjoyment of the audience

Those are non-issues in both self-defense and street fighting. In those arenas the goal is to injure and disable your opponent from the very start. And contrary to what the ‘priests’ or fanatics of the MMA say about “all they’d have to do is crank it up” or “We have dirty tricks too” or — our personal favorite — “we train blindfolded so we’ll be able to keep on fighting after someone gouges our eye out” (Yep, that’s another verbatim quote from a MMA fanatic).

In closing, we’d also like to suggest you try this experiment. Take the last MMA event that you saw and do some mental Photoshopping. First, take the participants and imagine them in street clothes. Now imagine them in a bar. What would you call that? Is it self-defense or is it a fight?

The reason we ask you is that is what the security camera is going to record. Now, put your face on one of those combatants. That recording is exactly what the cops, the District Attorney and the jury is going to see as well. And  despite your claims that it was self-defense, what they are going to see is you fighting.

So despite what the fanatics and priests of the mixed martial arts tell you, MMA is NOT self-defense training.


1) And no, we’re not making this up, this was actually posted on a MMA forum. We were contacted by a reader of the (this space intentionally left blank) forum who was confused. Confused because while they didn’t sound right, comments like that were stated with such confidence and blind dogma and were accepted by the group without question. The reader contacted us and asked us to comment on the ideas being bantered around on the forum. When Marc read that statement he spewed coffee all over the keyboard.

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