If you saw a person that you vaguely knew, fall over in the street, whack their head, and knock themselves unconscious, I’m sure you’d be pretty concerned…
Any normal person with an ounce of humanity would be concerned, perhaps upset?
However, put them next to yourself in a cage, to do combat…knocking that person out, suddenly becomes something to celebrate.
It’s something you’ll see during most UFC events, one guy face down, sparked out on the canvas, the other upon the cage, arms aloft, celebrating hysterically.
This can not look good to anyone who is cynical about the merits of MMA.
So what’s the difference between the cage and the street?
Firstly I think any event that enhances the ego, will almost always result in a celebration, regardless of the consequences to others.
Secondly, but probably more importantly, adrenaline has a huge influence on our behaviour. When “fight or flight” kicks in, we go all-out primal and, as our vision narrows to focus on what is attacking us, so does our mind. We will often celebrate; with no thought for the guy left twitching on the floor.
The spectator is equally removed from empathising with the guy that just lost; for thousands of years we’ve watched battles unfold and been enthralled by them. We just can’t help but be entertained! It’s a sport at the end of the day, and sports are great fun to compete in and watch.
Having said all that, if you look at the UFC champs, Cain, Weidman, GSP etc. they all seem like really humble and ‘nice’ guys. Really good role models.
I guess being the best fighter in the world, is a good way to lose many an insecurity.
Why is Fighting so Entertaining?
Firstly it’s the element of danger. Either fighter could get seriously hurt at any moment. Big consequences like this, make it difficult to turn away from the TV. Just like when someone is walking a tight-rope above a roaring fire, the danger element makes it more captivating than a thumb war or a game of tidally winks.
Danger is also an important element of flow state, or ‘optimal focus’ and ‘being in the zone’. Certainly as a participant, you best be 100% focused on what’s going on, as any distractions could result in a KO.
There is also the technical aspect of it. At its best MMA is one of the most technical sports in the world. World class fighters are masters of striking, wrestling and grappling on the floor. It has the primal appeal of boxing, but an almost artistic element when performed to a technically high level.
So, overall is MMA a good thing, does it affect our society in a good way?
I have no idea really, but let’s break down some pros and cons
1. Great role models
GSP, Anderson Silva, JDs; all great guys (it seems that way at least)
2. Taught well it’s a life changer
It can teach discipline, the benefits of hard work etc. and often friendships are built for life in the MMA gym or dojo. Click on the pic below, this is on the wall at the gym I go to:
3. There’s some moral lessons in there somewhere
99% of people new to MMA will have to get used to being beaten, tapped out and basically being dominated in training. Unless you start at a ridiculously young age, this is pretty much always the case. This (should) teach you to be humble, and quash the ego somewhat. If you’re the best guy at your gym though, it can make you very arrogant.
“The minute you stop being humble is the minute you’re going to stop moving forward as a fighter and a person.” -Yoshizo Machida, father of Lyoto Machida
1. Desensitised to violence
Especially true in the days of Pride FC. Volleying someone in the head and stamping on them…this surely can’t be a good thing for people to watch and get used to?
It’s been proven for a while that children will model the violent actions of adults
3. MMA taught badly
I fought in Stalybridge near Manchester a while back…one of the other coaches was a bit of a tool, screaming and swearing at young lads, whilst they were fighting! Shouting “you’re f***king useless…” does not help when you’re stuck in someone’s side control.
I hate to think what the lessons are like at that particular gym, I imagine they reinforce aggression though. Cobra Kai style. Resulting in this kind of horrendous behaviour:
4. A new demographic – the Tapout Bellend
Don’t think this really requires much explaining. I’ve got a few Tapout t-shirts mind you, mainly because they were £4.
I’m not a great fan of the MMA gangster either. The ones usually at ringside, with shaven heads, black suits and 20 year girlfriends. You’ll see them on a couple of the post-fight pics too
MMA certainly has the power to do good, but overall I’d guess it has a pretty neutral overall effect. May the great role models and great coaches continue their good work…