Mixing up Mixed Martial Arts
By Garland H.
I think Garland has done a good job and has really thought outside of the box in his written assignment for the MMA class at the U of U. I have left almost all of Garland’s writing intact, that is to say, I have only edited it in a minor way in order to be posted here. To sum up his whole paper, I use his words at the end of the essay:” I think that if the reader opens his or her mind and looks at things with open eyes, they will see the utility of sport techniques in the self defense and combatives arena, and traditionally combative strategies and techniques within the context of a sport framework.” – Bart
Kali Tudo 1
Kali Tudo 2
I have written this editorial piece with the intention of opening people’s minds and helping shut down preconceived ideas about what belongs or does not belong in a mixed martial arts fight. I want the reader to keep in mind throughout this article that MMA is just a modern term for a certain type of pugilistic competition that incorporates striking and grappling, and does not necessarily preclude the supplementation of other arts to the thus far tried and true arts that comprise the personal styles of individuals fighting in mixed martial arts competitions today. In a more holistic perception of the wide-world of fighting, I also want to plant the seeds in the readers mind of where sportive techniques and techniques and tactics for combative or defensive application overlap in each other’s domain and pose to them a question; if something works, is it wrong? I have written what I believe to be true, I have trained in the Filipino Martial Arts for a few years but I do not consider myself an expert on these subjects.
The Filipino Martial arts are notorious for their combative applications, especially in regard to the use of knives and edged weapons and impact weapons such as sticks, batons, baseball bats, and so forth. Indeed the art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali as taught by Grandmaster Leo T. Gaje, Jr. and his son, Rommel is trained extensively by the Phillipines military, and has expanded to include firearms training and anti-terrorism tactics. Martial arts movie fanatics can also probably recognize Guro Dan Inosanto opposite his instructor in JKD and friend Sigung Bruce Lee in “Game of Death” wielding and manipulating two sticks in a beautiful and intimating show of skill and dexterity.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the Filipino arts are their empty hand and grappling components that can be readily seen in panatukan (Filipino boxing), sikaran (a kicking art) and dumog (wrestling). These terms are, for the most part, general nomenclature for ranges rather than a particular subset of techniques, as Filipino systems are usually family based and tend to systematize and organize their arts differently. Also occasionally included under the broader umbrella topic of Filipino arts are the Indo-Malaysian arts of silat and kuntao, of which there are just as many family based arts, but are usually distinct from Filipino systems in their movements to a discerning eye.
Perhaps the most prolific and cutting-edge force in the Filipino Martial Arts today is a group that has just recently been getting the coverage they have long deserved. The Dog Brothers, currently lead by Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny, has in the past few years released material on incorporating the Filipino Arts into different aspects of combat. They entered the world of firearms training with an emphasis on training at the zero to five foot range where most “good guys” are killed by knife wielding attackers along with firearms expert Gabriel Suarez in “Die Less Often” and “Die Less Often II” (see Tueller’s drill and the 21 foot rule).
They have also been covered by Discovery channel and MSNBC as well as other news programs for their rather unique method of practicing what they preach in their maxim “higher consciousness through harder contact.” – full contact stick fighting with the aid of only a fencing mask and hockey gloves for protection.
At this point in my paper, you are probably wondering just what the hell this has to do with Mixed Martial Arts. Well, the Dog Brothers are coming out with their second feature on using the Filipino martial arts in mixed martial arts, which they have aptly dubbed and trademarked as “Kali Tudo.” The Dog Brother’s idea is to supplement what works in the Filipino Martial arts in the context of mixed martial arts competition or how to make it work in the cage along with more conventional mixed martial arts techniques and strategies. As evidenced by their approach of finding out exactly what works in a full contact stick fight, the material in the first Kali Tudo tape is solid, and as with all of their titles, the second title is sure to live up to the bill “if you see it taught, you see it fought.” It is also important to state that the current alpha dog of the Dog Brothers also worked closely with Jean-Jacques Machado on developing grappling strategies with the stick different from those seen in conventional Kali and is himself well versed in jiu-jitsu as one can see in this highlight reel of his fights. (See this link for Crafty Dog Highlights)
What Works? (a rant)
Take the average individual on the street and ask them the difference between karate and kung fu and they will look at you as if you asked them the square root of some random prime number. Better yet, ask them the difference between mixed martial arts, jiu-jitsu, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The average everyday person with little to absolutely no interest in the martial arts does not make such distinctions or ruminate on martial matters. On the other side of the coin, ask a tae kwon do practitioner and a kyokushin karate fighter and ask each one whose kicks are “better”.
Although it may be amusing to watch the ensuing carnage, the real moral of this exercise is to bring to your attention the simple fact that talking about martial arts among martial artists from different backgrounds is like bashing Marx to a Communist, telling a Kantian philosopher that the Categorical Imperative is “slave morality”, screaming God is dead to a rabid fundamentalist, and talking trash about Manchester United to a bald and burly soccer hooligan in their own stadium all at the same time. You run the risk of trampling on something that another person holds sacred, and it is extremely important to note that opinions are just that unless backed by strong supporting evidence. Even then, it is necessary to note that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” in the world of martial arts. When introducing an opinion or idea that challenges the status quo of whatever a particular cult of martial artists consider their dogma, respect is of the utmost importance.
There is a long-standing controversy in the martial arts world about how to judge whether or not something is effective or practical by using a “street fight” as the benchmark. According to this school of thought, if something works “in the street” then it is the gold standard. The individuals that tend to support this ideology come from combatives or reality based self defense backgrounds and tend to tout the superiority of eye gouging, fish hooking, biting, hair pulling, spitting, using weapons improvised or otherwise, tail hooking (you really don’t want to know), and essentially anything else you can’t really practice with a partner over anything found to be effective in a sports arena. The other school of thought tends to be the combat athletes who fight competitively under strict sets of rules that stringently disallow these types of techniques and look poorly upon individuals that use them (remember the Holyfield-Tyson fight?), but actually practice their art on a non-compliant opponent who is intent on doing them harm as well.
The main question I feel is important to ask is…what the hell is a “street fight”?
The average everyday individual is highly unlikely to ever be involved in any sort of serious violence unless they live in Kingston, Sarajevo, Baghdad, or Kabul. The most common type of fight that most average Americans are prone to witness is a drunken brawl, which typically starts out with posturing and pushing, escalates to a haymaker punch, followed in short order by an attempted headlock and then the fight being broken up to the dismay of inebriated bystanders. Less common, but certainly feasible is when one of the drunks has some sort of weapon, or an entourage, which raises the stakes of the situation to a life-or-death struggle. Both of these situations could be easily avoided by being aware of your situation and then doing the smart thing by beating feet in the opposite direction, or employing well-honed communication strategies to disarm the situation verbally.
Using violence even in a self-defense situation is tricky from a legal standpoint, and using “too much” force, as decided by a vindictive state prosecutor and ignorant arresting officers, could place you in prison regardless of the true “objective correctness” of your response. I would simply like the reader to consider this: Is it better to use potentially lethal force and maybe live up to the maxim “better to be tried by twelve than carried by six” or box it out, as it were, with an assailant using high percentage “sport” techniques? Or…is it indeed better to mix the two in order to have a toolbox with just the right instruments for just the right occasion? I think that if the reader opens his or her mind and looks at things with open eyes, they will see the utility of sport techniques in the self defense and combatives arena, and traditionally combative strategies and techniques within the context of a sport framework.
Interesting comment on the The 21 foot rule -
The 21 foot rule is not a law, or even really a rule: it is a study. The study tried to determine the distance at which an officer could fire two rounds at a subject that was charging at him with a knife.
The problem is, bullets do not act as a magic wand to stop a subject. Often, due to a determined mental state or the presence of narcotics, numerous rounds are required to stop a subject. Also, unlike the study, in real situations officers often do not know a subject has an edged weapon until the subject is in motion, or even after they have been stabbed.