I know of the criticisms that MMA fighters have with traditional martial arts. They think they are often ineffective and silly. That too often is a valid argument but there are those who train to fight in the traditional arts and do it well. One of the comments I hear is that there is no art in martial arts; it's not art, it's fighting. No, fighting is fighting and martial arts are martial arts. When you just train to fight you ignore things like culture and respect that are essential to martial arts. Respect for the teacher means a familial respect, he's your parent in the art, you treat him and the other students with respect as family. It doesn't mean you can't beat him but just beating someone is not the only theme in a traditional school; developing a relationship with the world is. My teacher, Sifu Mark Foon, once said to me, "It is sad that at the end of a man's life he can only say he learned to kill but never to heal. What worth is he?"
I have been around people that live, eat and breathe MMA/martial arts and develop no other skills in life. If your school only emphasizes fighting then that is the only skill you have. How long will that serve you in life? How does that teach you how to get along in a relationship or at work? When your body starts to fail with age what have you left to live for? It's like a model who thinks her youth and good looks are going to last forever. When the inevitable changes of time come they have nothing left to fall back on. If you've been taught to develop your mind, body and overall awareness you begin to mature with age rather than to just fail with age.
The McGregor/Nurmagomedov fight to me epitomizes this stark contrast between just fighting and an art. Disclaimer: I'm a mick by ethnicity, I speak some Gaelic and I play Irish instruments. I should, by all appearances, support McGregor but I don't. He does not display honor and respect in or out of the ring. Nurmagomedov does. I know trash talking is a huge part of MMA and boxing but it thoroughly disgusts me that the arts have become so vulgar and vile. Of course what else should I expect from them but it's way over the top. When does McGregor turn it off in real life, when does he treat the world around him with respect? I don't know much about his personal life but there are so many fighters from different areas who are often abusive and mean spirited at home. I was working an MMA event and the fighters were leaving the building. There was an area roped off for the crew for pizza after their 15 hour day. Some of the fighters removed the rope and started taking the pizzas. I walked up and told them to stop, it was not for them. One shouted, "You gonna tell an MMA fighter what to do?" The others all started laughing. I answered, "Yes, get away from the tables." One guy picked up a piece of pizza , shoved in his mouth and went nose to nose with me, slobbering pizza. I did not back down. The promoter saw it and grabbed the guys. I was told that the head of the league later suspended these guys. Amazingly rude behavior entitled because they're tough? So they are the same as a gang, MS13, Hells Angels? Might makes right? What defines what is and is not acceptable behavior? What motivation do these guys have to develop anything other than rude behavior? I think the ideals of civility and respect are lost in MMA for the most part. It's just fighting with no other character development.
I saw a documentary of WW2 pilots recently. One of the pilots told a story about being in a dog fight with a Japanese Zero pilot. He damaged the Zero badly and it was falling. The Japanese pilot looked over at him and saluted him as he headed towards his death in the ocean. He respected his opponent even though they were truly mortal enemies. One of the greatest displays in respect over the years in sports is the Army/Navy game. Two opposing armed forces going for the big one. I used to watch it with my dad who has a WW2 Navy lieutenant and frogman. It was a great time between he and his friends, mostly army. The teams respected each other in success and failure. Where is that today?
I have been in martial arts for well over four decades. In my job I have worked with professional fighters for close to thirty years ranging from boxing on Friday Night Fights with Teddy Atlas to the World Series of Fighting with Bas Rutten, HBO Boxing, Showtime Boxing and others. I've trained in kung fu , karate and aikido along with some boxing. Guys like Teddy and Bas are a delight to be around and kind to everyone around them. Years ago Teddy said to me, " the difference between boxing and MMA is that the boxers respect each other and the MMA guys hate each other." I don't think that is entirely true but I get his point. I think the younger fighters coming up are very one dimensional. I worked on one of the very early UFC fights. There was a fight between a Japanese man and an American. The Japanese guy lost but at the end of the fight bowed to his opponent and said, " thank you for showing me my weaknesses, I will work on them". I was totally impressed by this act. It's been a long time since I've seen anything like it.
This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy: Do not think dishonestly.
The Way is in training. Become acquainted with every art.
Know the Ways of all professions. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
Pay attention even to trifles.
Do nothing which is of no use.
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