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Everybody MMA, now!

November 12, 2013 The Wine Time Dad 2 Comments Category : , , , ,

Wait a minute.. This post isn't about female sex appeal!

Two men are locked into physical combat and beating eachother senseless. The blood from their wounds mixes with sweat and flows down their faces and over their eyes, creating a ghastly visage to all bystanders (notedly not to the two combatants). One combatant breaks the other's arm in one match and in another one fighter, unwilling to give up, gets his forearm dislocated at the elbow. It's hard to watch but will you look away as these two fighters give real meaning to the phrase "leaving it all out on the field? Are you, deep down inside, enamored of the exchange of martial techniques and watch combat sports as a physical chess match? A chess match that is far more intricate and beautiful than just two men exchanging blows? Don't get me wrong- sometimes it is only superficial violence and just a nasty KO, but there is beauty and complexity to a seemingly simple technique delivered at the right moment. You know what I mean?

If this sort of exchange between two hardcore competitors is your cup of tea, then keep reading.

If not, good riddance.

Now just replace 'men' with 'women' and reread that first paragraph. Even if you're a fan of the sport, are you taken slightly aback? To be honest with you, it only made me flinch as much as if a man had been in the same situation, the first time I watched women's MMA. The truth is I loved the fight dance no less. It was just as beautiful, and the "chess moves" no less clever. Women are just as natural to fighting as men are.

And the first time I saw a women's MMA fight...

I have to admit that I was worried it would somehow confirm my most uneducated and unfounded fears. That women fighters would look horrible. Be horrible. And, look awkward and foolish. I didn't actually believe that this is what I would see, but it was more of a morbid alternate reality fear that I had. A "what if" scenario. But, the truth was that the first fight I saw (Gina Carano vs Cris Cyborg) was spectacular. They were as technical or more so than the men. Best of all, unlike women's basketball, they were/ are exciting. As it turns out, women are phenomenal fighters. I had hoped they would be and it was comforting to have my apprehensions laid to rest. I grew up doing martial arts most of my life and the women I ran into were just as dedicated and talented as the men.

(skip over the next part, if you don't want to get distracted as this next part is a tangent. I rather you not get distracted)

I even remember a time...

... Long ago, when I was not a black belt (and underage), so they placed both sexes of the same age group together. It was my first tournament as a purple belt and while I felt I was a competent at sparring, I watched, amazed, as this pretty tough girl beat the crap out of one guy after another in our group... I recall my sparring instructor telling me not to hold back when I faced her, but being in the ring with a girl I didn't know what to do. My pre-conceived notions of weak and dainty girls quickly slipped through the drain at my feet as this athletic looking chick of a similar height stepped up to me. All the chivalry and respect and sexism, ingrained since my youth, that prevented me from seeing this person infront of me as a competitor was gone. A dainty princess, indeed! A piece of glass with flaring nostrils and thick arms. So, when they said, "Fight!" I just went easy on her until she unloaded on me and knocked the wind out of me. I shook it off and continued until she almost broke my nose. I believe she had actually held back but still... She hit hard. 

To make a long story short, I didn't lose the sparring match to her. Her physical toughness and technique literally beat the reservedness out of me. After her second unanswered point, I made her pay and left her crying on the floor. They always cry...

Still, in the car ride home, after the tourney, I thought about how I almost "let" that girl kick my ass.

(anecdote over)

If you don't believe me, go to youtube and watch a few fights. Hell, watch the new season of TUF (The Ultimate Fighter), just disregard all the drama bullshit and concentrate on the matches. Watch it all with an open mind. Watch it with the same open mind with which I try to watch football (another horrendously violent sport with a lot less sportsmanship and far more boring).

Ultimately, if you're looking for meaning to the inherent violence of MMA, don't. Try to understand the physical and mental contest between the two competitors who are at the top of their game, before you start to judge. Don't immediately try to delve into some sort of grander social context because in my opinion, at its heart, MMA is about physical competition in it's purest form. It's just the fighters, their hard won skills, their conditioning, and their wills.

Such that, when it's all said and done, the only difference between men and women in the MMA ring is their sex, really. Women have no less a right than a man to walk in that ring, or any ring, and prove themselves in hand to hand combat. I'm sure Bruce Lee would say something about how we all have the right AND duty to express ourselves in the best way we know how because to not do so would be a tragic disservice to who you are meant to be.

Without getting a discussion about equal rights, feminism, and male/ female psychology (mostly because I don't know about it and am too lazy to find some research for you), you could watch any of those fights and confirm for yourself that women deserve the same forum of physical expression as men- every fight I watch confirms this belief.

In fact, having women in fight sports is very complimentary to the men's side of it. I noticed this while watching the current season of TUF (The Ultimate Fighter). Men should have more women as coaches and training partners as it would probably force them to see the fight game from a different perspective. It may drive them to excel in different ways. I think it's possible that women trainers and coaches may have as much or more success pushing male fighters to win where an all male coaching staff my hit walls or plateaus.

Don't quote me on any of this, however, I'm no expert- just a fan.

Ah! That's more like it..
The moral of all this is that if one day my daughter comes to me and says, "Daddy, I'm gonna be in the fight game. I wanna kick ass for a living." I will look at her and say, "So... What do you need from me to help you?"



  1. I think it's important for folks to realize that, especially in martial arts, it's always been the person, not the gender of the person, that counted. I think a lot of people have these preconceived notions about what "men should do" and what "women should do." The thing is, it should come down to what a person loves to do that counts. If they love martial arts, if they love the fight, why should anyone stop them?

    The best lesson I ever had on this was in grade school. The gym teacher would divide the boys and girls into two basketball teams and girls played girls, boys played boys. One of the girls was very, very good at the game and was very annoyed by this - she wanted to play against everyone. And who could blame her? There's honor in that struggle, and she would hold her own against any guy that went against her. Why should her wish to be the best be denied? It's the same in any other sporting event - we should want to watch the best take on the best.

  2. That's my whole rambling point.. That if you reduce the act, in this instance sports, to it's most basic principles, then it's impossible to argue that one group of people should be denied access.

    We had a girl who played on our soccer team in Highschool during my freshman year but when they introduced a girls team the following year, she was so disappointed (of course all the other girls were happy cause they just wanted to play soccer). She loved playing on the boys team because it gave her some special status. Unfortunately, the truth is that she really couldn't compete with the boys beyond a JV level... Now, if she could have made the boy's varsity squad and competed with the bigger, faster boys, that would've been something!