MMA Campfire Tales: Old School Violence, for a New School Sport

| July 20, 2013 | 6:01 pm | Reply

MMA Campfire TalesI’ve been running my mouth for years about how much I miss the old MMA blood sport days. A time when men were men, women were terrible at fighting, and referees were drunk. Yet there are elements of the new way of fighting that I’ve certainly grown to love. Gloves are cool, because they protect your knuckles from an opponent’s broken teeth fragments. “Rounds” really got under my skin for a while, but then I realized it afforded me sixty seconds to pee out the nearest window before action resumed.  Even though I’ve embraced the new way, something strikes me about today’s fighters: They’re way too nice.

Dana White’s “So you want to be a fucking fighter?” speech was great, but he went in a different direction than I would have. You’re in a sport where you’re accelerating your body parts rapidly at another person’s vitals in an attempt to render them non-functional. You’re in a sport where you bend and crush your opponent until they beg you to stop. So you want to be a fucking fighter? If so, why don’t you learn how to actually hurt people? Sportsmanship aside, there are many marks people miss to inflict maximum damage on an opponent, either because they’re too nice to try it or just haven’t spent enough time inventing ways to injure their fellow-man.  So you want to be a fucking fighter? Good, because while you were getting swoll at the gym and sitting in a sauna, I was thinking of how I’m going to jam my thumb into something squishy on your body. Still want to touch gloves bro?

MMA Campfire Tales Presents: Old School Violence, For A New School Sport.

Before I started this career of professionally making you angry, I spent years learning to kill. Karate, wrestling, firearms, archery, swords, knives, whatever. If it fits in my hand, I’m going to make it fit in your eye. While my MMA career started and ended on the drunken Montana circuit, my brain never stopped figuring out how to bring my wealth of murderous techniques and introduce them to the Unified Rules of MMA. These ideas aren’t illegal, but just spots where guys could stand to reach out and touch someone.  Here’s where my mind is at:

The Slow Spin Legkick

Nine times out of ten, a fight starts with a leg kick, which I’m ok with. Leg kicks are the jab of MMA and absolutely everyone uses them, either to little effect, or as a major part of their overall game.  While a completely viable method of attack, guys get a little too comfortable at the beginning of bouts, starting up like they’re garage sparring with their buddies, and throw the slow spin leg kick.

Throwing that range-finding kick, the fighter will invariably miss by a mere 18″ and perform a beautiful pirouette, apparently taking the scenic route back to a fighting stance. Don’t these guys know not to turn their back on an opponent? The thing is, no one in my memory has ever called someone on it, and by called, I mean inflicted a crippling injury. If your opponent isn’t taking this leg kick seriously enough to put a little gumption into the spin and return to fighting posture, you’ve apparently got to earn their respect. The first fighter that quick shuffles in behind the kick and hits a body lock takedown will get a steak dinner, on me. The first fighter that quick shuffles in behind the kick and greets their returning face with their foot will be my hero forever. This is a leg kick, not a vacation.

People Are Springy

Do me a favor here. Draw your arm across your body like you’re reaching to put on a seat belt.  Hold it for a moment. Now just let your arm go limp. Unless you lost your triceps in a freak accident, your arm will swing back around and wind up at your side. Every ligament and muscle group has associated sets that are there just to make sure you can’t accidentally rip your own arms off doing a jumping jack, but few fighters take advantage of the body and its inherit elasticity.

So, we wind up with guys “dogging” moves, pitting strength on strength for sometimes minutes on end, when you might be better served pushing rather than pulling. If I want your arm in front of you, I’ll start but pushing it behind you, not gritting my teeth and burning six thousand calories in a tug-o-war for your elbow. There are entire martial arts based on this concept, and instead of taking a look at the intricacies of these arts, dudes went out and got their name tattooed on their back. I guess this is too much to ask, considering it took the sport a good six years to figure out you could bounce someone off the damn cage for a takedown. People are just as springy as a chain link fence.

Necks Aren’t Just For Choking

If nature made a mistake putting our balls on the front of our bodies, with two angles leading directly to them, the neck should be part of a class action lawsuit against Mother Nature.  There isn’t an inch of your neck that isn’t important, and there isn’t an angle that someone’s neck isn’t there for the hitting, unless they’re standing on YOUR neck.  We do occasionally see a punch to the neck that causes a KO, and every time Joe Rogan yells “That punch landed right on the neck.” I yell “About fucking time!”.

You don’t need a lot on a punch or elbow colliding with someone’s neck to do some crazy things to the body, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to gently punch yourself under your ear and tell me how it goes in the comment section below. A blow to the neck can knock you out, screw up your sight, make you want to vomit, or any number of debilitating side effects you can’t get from the same short shot to the noggin.

The neck also isn’t built to move around at weird angles. The Thai plum clinch takes advantage of this, but you hardly see anyone messing with the flexion of the neck any other time. Why not get two hands on a guy’s head when he’s in your guard and start rolling his neck around? Once the head is pushed off to the side and you’ve created some space, why not rifle a hammerfist into the side of the neck? There’s a carnival of neck punishment out there and no one knows how to operate the damn rides.

Not everything needs to be a Kill shot

Seems odd to say in a piece about how better to hurt your fellow-man, but it’s true. MMA is a chess match, and at no point is it ok to pick up the pieces and wildly throw them until you knock over the king. While there are some old arts that are all about lining up a murderous punch and feeling it come out the back, most combat skills revolve around moving either yourself or your opponent into position for a finishing blow.

Obviously guys have made a career off of a “one shot, one kill” mentality, but they’ve also become the guy famous for receiving the same in later life. A systema master once told me “Fighters, who attack in explosive fashion, lose in explosive fashion. They live and die by the sword”. The thing is, almost everyone uses this method to one extent or another, even if they’re not Chris Lebening it up constantly.

Taking a 100% power shot to the gut sucks, but taking a 50% shot sucks just a little less. The difference is that a conditioned fighter can throw hundreds of half power shots and still have the strength in his arms to defend himself later in the fight. Some fighters have clued into this, and fighters like the Diaz bros, Joanne Calderwood and Tarec Saffiedine are making careers on high-output and lower-powered attacks. That’s some elite company and they shouldn’t be the exception to the rule.

It’s Not An Eye Poke. It’s An Eye Punch.

This isn’t nice, and it’s why I saved it for last. You’re not allowed to stick your finger in an eyeball, and I hate that it’s not harshly punished when people open-hand push someone’s face and cause an injury.  It’s something that’s easy to train out of your game, and a few DQs and point deductions would force guys to make the changes in the gym before Alan Belcher needs another surgery.

However, there’s nothing that says I can’t aim a punch directly into your eyeball and like it. Getting punched in the eye is a feeling I can best describe as having an air horn cave in the side of your face, and nothing is more disconcerting as actually hearing your eye hit the squishy bits behind your eye (FYI, it sounds like a really loud drop of water).

In boxing, guys are always targeting the eye with jabs, but the world of the 4oz glove opened up so many opportunities in a fight to truly fuck shit up; That little padded leather fitting in the eye socket, well….like a glove I guess.  It isn’t a cheap shot either, as it takes no small amount of skill to slam a punch home into an object the size of a quarter, and that one straight shot would pay out more than most of the overhand rights thrown today.

I could go on and on here, but those are the key elements of today that stick in my craw.  The bottom line is that you’re fighting, and while touching gloves, hugging, and mutual admiration are part of the before and after of the fight, there’s a whole lot of brutalizing to be done in the middle there.  A wise man once said “If you’re coming on, come on!” and I think those words still ring true today.

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Category: Exclusive, Featured, MMA

Mike Hammersmith (Featured Staff Writer)

About the Author ()

I'm a 20+ year veteran of martial arts and a fan of MMA since UFC 1, when my world was thrown on its head by the budding sport. I'm obsessive in the pursuit of martial abilities and have competed across the country in everything from Vale Tudo to archery to Scottish broadsword. Once my body broke down, I picked up a pen and went in the direction of writing. I specialize in betting advice, predictions, and I'm a walking encyclopedia of MMA trivia. I own a cafe in Exeter, NH called Hammersmith Sandwich Company and write out of my office between customers.

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