The Unwritten Rules of Mixed Martial Arts

Last week, we considered the evolution of mixed martial arts, specifically:

How do we define the ecosystem of mixed martial arts? Where are its boundaries?

The most obvious boundaries of MMA are its official competition rules. Techniques carrying the highest risk of injury are typically banned:

  • Headbutting
  • Eye gouging
  • Hair pulling
  • Biting
  • Fish-hooking
  • Attacking the groin
  • Striking the back of the head, or spine
  • Striking the trachea

Significant as they are, these explicit rules do not fully capture the difference between a sporting event and a “martial art” (when conventionally defined as an art of life and death, killing and self-preservation). The majority of rules governing MMA fights are implicit. Continue reading The Unwritten Rules of Mixed Martial Arts

In Defense of the Dojo Kun

In thousands of halls across our great nation, an archaic manuscript hangs on the wall. Written many decades ago, in a time and place quite foreign to our own, this inscrutable document anchors us to a primitive culture that we would do well to forget. I submit to you that it holds no value to us today; as rational men and women, we should put our sentiments aside and discard this anachronism immediately. Our traditions must not be allowed to stand in the way of progress.

What makes this document so odious? Simply put, it is subjective. Instead of identifying specific behaviors for its reader to follow, it describes general principles and leaves each reader to interpret them as they see fit. These statements are so vague and meaningless that they could conceivably be used to justify anything.

Who decides what this document really means? Continue reading In Defense of the Dojo Kun

In My Dojo, Cheaters And Failures Are Welcome

Nothing fails like success because we don’t learn from it. We learn only from failure. ~Kenneth E. Boulding

Want to become an admired and successful martial artist? It’s easy: just find a style and dojo where the rules favor your natural traits and talents, and insist that everyone follows the rules.

Do you have long legs and flexible hips? Try sport Taekwondo.
Overweight? Take up Tai Chi or knife fighting.
Prefer horizontal combat? Enroll in a BJJ class.

If this sounds like ridiculous advice, it is because you expect more than comfort and fraternity from your martial art. You want a practice that enables you to grow, and to realize your latent potential. Martial arts are supremely useful for this purpose because, at their most basic level, they have no rules; with no impermissible attacks, no fault is too small to remain uncorrected.

How to Become a Failure

Immanent success in martial arts is always a simple matter of lowering your standards. Failure, in contrast, becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. And as the opportunity for failure decreases, the rate of learning slows.

Martial arts skill vs. practice

Progress in martial arts tends to follow a logarithmic curve. When a ten-year veteran of the arts possesses only three years worth of skill, it is probably because they long ago exhausted their opportunities to fail.

There are many ways for a student to increase their failure rate. Continue reading In My Dojo, Cheaters And Failures Are Welcome

Robbie Lawler’s Ruthless Wing Chun

EliteXC Saturday Night Fights
EliteXC Primetime, headlined by Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano

I’ve always known that, sooner or later, the Chinese art of Wing Chun Kuen would be represented in a professional mixed martial arts bout. I just didn’t expect to see it in MMA’s historic prime-time debut.

Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler

On May 31, 2008, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler forever settled any reasonable doubts about Wing Chun’s viability in real combat. And he did it by accident. Continue reading Robbie Lawler’s Ruthless Wing Chun

Colbert Sensei Teaches Kids Discipline and Respect

Stephen Colbert

Don’t worry if a rule makes sense—the important thing is that it’s a rule. Arbitrary rules teach kids discipline: If every rule made sense, they wouldn’t be learning respect for authority, they’d be learning logic.

From I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert Sensei

Attention, busy parents: do you need an authority figure to enforce a set of arbitrary rules on your children? Visit your local dojo today!

How Fast Are You? Check Your Reaction Time with this Online Test

It seems my critics are right: I am a little slower than average.

Patrick Parker (of Mokuren Dojo) and I were discussing the feasibility of intelligent responses to physical attack. Patrick asked:

What exactly do you have to do to get the faster intelligence that Chris says we need? Well, really we can’t. From my understanding of the neuromuscular machine I don’t really think that you can make the brain/spine/muscle machine work faster than it already does. There is hardwired into us about a ¾ second delay (if not more) in the OODA loop.

A search for evidence supporting or refuting this unavoidable delay, led me to the Human Benchmark reaction time test. Continue reading How Fast Are You? Check Your Reaction Time with this Online Test

Does “Final Fu” Give Martial Arts a Black Eye?

A Fight to Become the Top Dog

Final Fu, a martial-arts themed reality show, made its debut in July. According to the producers’ description:

Final Fu is an unprecedented series that will pit the best practitioners of their respective styles against one another in an arduous competition of challenges and stand-up, tournament point fighting to determine which art is capable of producing the definitive martial arts champion.

Does this show deliver on its promise? Is it informative or entertaining? Will Final Fu have a positive or a negative impact on the public perception of martial arts? Continue reading Does “Final Fu” Give Martial Arts a Black Eye?