23 August 2017

Lessons to be learned from an unfortunate death

There is much that can be learned from this incident in which an MMA fighter killed a body builder.
1. They have now both lost their lives. The MMA guy is sure to go to jail for manslaughter. And for what? An insult? This seemed to have been just an ego fight between two "tough guys". At any point, one of them could have swallowed their pride and walked away. He (the MMA dude or the body builder) may have been taunted as a coward for walking away, but that is nothing compared to the eventual consequences. Now we have a dead tough guy and a jailed tough guy that will probably be incarcerated for most of his life, and the end of both of their athletic careers.
2. The kick -- what we in Taekwon-Do call a reverse turning kick -- is one of our strongest kicks because of the spinning momentum. My instructor has often called it a deadly kick, and it was clearly not hyperbole.
3. The myth that high kicks are not effective in a 'street' fight is simply that; a myth.
4. Size does (not) matter. There is no question that size matters. But a trained fighter (in this case the MMA guy) can still do serious and even lethal harm to an untrained big guy (the bodybuilder).
5. Just because it is a combat sport, doesn't mean it is not effective "on the street". MMA, like other combat sports, can be used effectively against untrained people.
6. But combat sport, and also other forms of combat training, doesn't necessarily make for good, civilian appropriate self-defence. A civilian defense system can sometimes provides alternative and more civil responses than simply breaking someone's skull.
7. Sadly, I suspect with the increased popularity of MMA and UFC, we are likely to see more and more of these "accidents". As more people start to train in fighting techniques with the main goal of gaining a knock out (or "tap out"), and without a moral emphasis and an encouragement of "control", we are likely to see more young, ego-driven, testosterone hyped thugs (a title they probably embrace as part of their tough guy image), beating up (and sometimes killing) other people, for no sensible reason apart from their pride. Even Rickson Gracie, one of the pioneer MMA athletes who retired undefeated from the sport suggested that MMA gives a bad example, an "extreme sport without a code", often lacking humility and respect. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a combat sport, it is ultimately only about winning using violence.
8. The MMA guy's follow up to go beat up his opponent on the floor was clearly inappropriate; however, it was also simply part of his sports training. That is what one does in MMA. If someone falls you follow them to the ground and you continue to beat them up until the referee stops the fight. The lesson here is that one tends to perform how you train. A valuable lesson, albeit a sinister way to for us to see it.
9. One difference between how traditional martial arts (focussing on civilian self-defence) and a combat sport is practiced: in the traditional martial art the practitioner is usually taught to defend and then retreat. Once the assailant has fallen, the "defender" would retreat, away from harm, rather than follow them to the floor to break their skull. This was not an "assailant-defender" situation, but because we usually perform how we train, I hypothesize that a traditional martial artist would have reacted differently once his opponent had fallen. I'm not saying that in traditional martial arts we do not teach to follow up, but there is usually a different emphasis -- one of offensive-defence, rather than only offense.
10. Finally, in traditional martial arts, practitioners are required to practise a level of "control" which puts the moral responsibility on them -- but in full contact combat sport the onus is on the referee so that the practitioner does not have to think about the hassle of "control" and "ethics" and such bothersome moral considerations. There are many ways to differentiate between a traditional martial art and a combat sport or general combat system. One definite difference is that traditional martial arts contemplate ethical considerations beyond simply sports rules and fair play. Good traditional martial arts usually actively teach some form of ethical code based on a particular philosophical worldview. And this incident between professional MMA fighter Anar Ziranovshows and the now deceased power lifter Andrey Drachev shows us why.


Joshua Lay said...

This is definitely another unfortunate death.

Your points 9 & 10 are things I've been reflecting on recently. I've started to read about Ti (http://www.okinawakaratedo.com/Ti.aspx). What I enjoy about it, is that it puts forward the concept of never losing, which I think is an interesting thing to meditate upon.

In all my self defence training, my goal is to not lose. I do enough to preserve my life, but no more. I remove the threat, take them down and restrain. I do not want to win at self defence.

I can also not lose by not engaging. Then I increase my chances significantly for preserving my life. It's taking action, but not in a way people usually consider action to be.

SooShimKwan said...

Thanks for dropping by, Joshua. Yes, sport and self-defence require completely different mindsets.

I've often used the term "self-preservation", which is similar to the "not to lose" idea you mention.

Best wishes,