Monday, March 31, 2008

Fighting Belongs in the Ring

Fighting Belongs in the Ring

By tom callos

I have been grappling (no pun intended) with the brutality of fighting in the UFC and the other MMA fighting venues. I mean, on one hand, I love it. I love the technical aspects of the fighting, the diversity and no-nonsense realism. On the other hand, I am often repelled by the violence, by the crowd’s behavior, and the spectacle of it all. I attended a UFC event in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and before and in-between the bouts they broadcast –on giant screen TV’s in the stadium –these images of a Roman gladiator preparing for and then walking into the Coliseum. I had to look around me at the other spectators and wonder if anyone else saw the irony in it.

As I understand it, the gladiator games were used by the Roman government to appease the masses –they entertained the general population and kept them distracted from the harsh realities of their own lives – while allowing the Government to do, for the most part, as it pleased. With the “war” in Iraq and all the other shenanigans of our and other governments, I couldn’t help but think about the statement that “history repeats itself.”

Until recently this love-hate relationship with the spectacle of professional MMA fighting had been going on in my head –and then BOOM, one day I just got it. I realized that the ring is exactly where fighting belongs –and that it is a million-times more civil, more dignified, more acceptable, and more just than fighting that takes place outside of the ring.

Fighting belongs in the ring, not in the streets. Fighting between two consenting adults, trained and ready, is the way fighting should go; it should never involve innocent men, women, and children. Children should not become homeless or lose members of their family because one government has a beef with another. We shouldn’t force children to run, burned and naked, from their homes –or risk being blown up by land-mines or unexploded munitions because two political bodies are fighting over the control of resources. Fighting in the ring between MMA fighters is at the top of the fighting food chain –while fat politicians sending poor kids from Michigan to fight useless battles for nothing (but in the name of “freedom”), is at the bottom.

In professional fighting you don’t have to see the mutilated bodies of innocent children, you don’t have to tend to villages blown to bits; you don’t have to worry about car bombs blowing out the eyeballs of your loved ones. No, from now on, when someone asks me if I think MMA is too brutal, too violent, I’m going to tell them that fighting in the ring is the most civilized and non-violent form of fighting and that, in fact, fighting ONLY belongs in the ring.

I’ll teach my students, from here on out, that fighting in classes, on the mat, and in the ring is noble and that it serves a purpose. It is the only way fighting should manifest itself; that is, as a game or contest. When you fight in the ring, you face yourself, your fears, your strengths and weaknesses. There are spectators who enjoy the game you have prepared yourself to play –and there is a referee to keep the game on track and to keep the contestants from being permanently injured. Both participants willingly step into the ring; they’re not conscripted or coerced to be there. They go into the fight of their own free will. When it’s over, they’ll give each other a handshake or a hug, and there won’t be anybody’s life or lifestyle ruined because these two fighters got in the ring and fought each other.

So all of you professional martial arts teachers out there –encourage your students to fight, in the ring –and never, unless for self-defense, anywhere else. The next time you watch an MMA bout or any professional fight, enjoy the fact that the two athletes in the ring are playing a game –and while they may often be young, brash, and theatrical, their contest isn’t going to kill innocent people. Their fight isn’t going to make any mothers and fathers wail in sorrow –the victims of insane politics.

1 comment:

Korbett said...


What a great post! I am forwarding this to all my friends.