MMA Or Karate?
John was bristling…. He’d been watching all the latest ‘no holds barred’ tournaments, shaved his head and left the obligatory UFC lines of hair, shaved his goatee into the ‘Chuck Liddell’ style droop moustache and had the ‘buy your cola here’ in Chinese tattooed on his arms and Maori designs on his shoulders
He’d also hit the weights – but in the wrong way, he’d been bench pressing and ‘pushing’ big time, this had lifted his rib cage and separated the internal connection between upper and lower body, the shoulder development had also broken the arm to body connections – which meant he was using upper body muscular strength instead of core muscle strength utilising connected power from the feet.
He looked fierce, rather like a disproportionate, disconnected Frankenstein, his drug use was obvious. His conversation was all about ‘sprawling’, ‘mounting’ and ‘ground and pound’
All through the warm up he worked hard, in the basics he didn’t want to stop moving and was discreetly adding in extra movements or just constantly shifting around. His kata was laboured and you could tell he hated doing it and was just working up to the sparring
His first sparring round was against Rick, one of the brown belts, after a little ‘stand up’ John went for the ‘shoot’, taking both Ricks legs and upending him with his shoulder. As Rick hit the matted floor John mounted him, pinning him and prepared to ‘ground and pound’, but didn’t. A beaming smile broke on Rick’s face and as they got up he shook Johns hand “good one John! Well done!” Rick was gracious in defeat and John was happy to see his training had paid off.
Second round was with Bob a 45 years old sandan, a tall, thin, intense, slightly geeky looking guy that had endured the martial arts scene since his teens, Bob had used his peripheral vision to observe all the activities since John had entered the club and simply stood still in mu kamae – a natural stance with his hands down by his side. This confused John somewhat, as he hadn’t encountered a stationary opponent before – let alone one with no guard!
John shuffled around Bob, changing angle, but Bob didn’t even follow him with his eyes, let alone his body or guard. With no guard to ‘shoot’ under, John went for a punch combination, but as his first tentative jab went in Bobs hand snaked up wedging through the jab and gently palm heeled John’s chin, pushing his head and centre of balance over his already unsteady feet and he stumbled back plopping unceremoniously down on his backside. Bob’s countenance remained unchanged as he shifted angle slightly.
John now thought he had his strategy sussed and took his guard again, he moved around to find the best angle and then feinted the jab to draw Bob’s arm up and then tried the shoot under the arm, at Bob’s legs. Bob had already worked this strategy out before John had even thought of it himself and slid his legs away at the same time using the raised hand to slap the back of John’s head, sending him sprawling to the mat face down, if he hadn’t been able to do a first class front breakfall, it could have resulted in a nasty injury, as it was, only his pride sustained damage.
Bob allowed a friendly smile to cross his face as he extended his hand to help John to his feet.
“I don’t understand how you could do that” John said mystified
“Not too difficult John, it’s called practice.”
“But I’ve been really working on those moves at my MMA classes.”
“For how long?”
“At least a year!”
“I’ve been working on mine for over 30 years….”
“Yeah but I’ve also been doing classical karate and the mixture should have beat yours!”
“Water and oil at your stage though John, they’re working against each other.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve worked the surface of both arts and at that level they don’t mix, you’ve been weight training but not for martial arts, so you’ve broken any internal connections that you may have developed with antagonistic muscle tension pulling your frame out of alignment – and if you haven’t developed the connections yet – the training that you’re doing is only taking you further away.
“But I feel so much stronger!”
“How you feel doesn’t come into the equation. How effective you are does. I defeated you with mindset, distance, angle and balance control, I’m sure that a good MMA fighter would have developed those skills, but you haven’t yet, your strategy was also primitive.
“So where’s the problem?”
“You’ve just got to make your mind up where you want to go, at the moment your training is in conflict. You’re half doing karate working on posture, alignment, core muscles, tendon strength and the internal system, but then you’re going down the gym and building muscle more in the cause of vanity than usefulness – and then – you’re grappling and wrestling at another club!
It’s like trying to climb a mountain by going up and down a little way using several paths. You need to pick one and go straight to the top first, then from the mountain top you can look down the other paths and see what the route is.”
“But I enjoy what I’m doing.”
“Then there’s no problem, as long as you can take what comes with it. You look ripped for the girls and tough for the guys, you’re up to date with all the latest sexy MMA terms, but a good martial artist in any discipline from karate to MMA will rip you second backside in combat.
“I want to be good, but I also want the other things.”
“Then you’re simply not ready for any of them, you’re a martial arts ‘fan’ not a martial artist. You have all the trimmings and none of the heart.”
This made John angry, “that’s not fair!”
Bob’s usual easy countenance changed to a steely look “what are you going to do about it?”
Bob put his arm around John “you see? You can’t have it all, life’s just not like that.”