Fear of a Dana White Planet

It started off nice enough. After the screening of the documentary “The Black Kung Fu Experience” had finished, audience members gathered around two of the film’s stars to ask them questions. And of course, with one of the stars fielding questions none other than martial arts grandmaster Ron Van Clief – a man who once stepped into the Octagon to face Royce Gracie at UFC 4 – the subject of MMA was brought up. Then it got ugly. Traditional martial artists, you see, fear us.

Maybe it has something to do with the effectiveness of American Goju Karate in a limited-rules combat setting. Maybe it has something to do with the time they spent studying Five Animals Kung Fu compared to the time Joe Ground-and-Pound spent training in his style, and who can really kick whose ass. Maybe they just fear the culture of TapouT tattoos and cauliflower ear – something the average aikidoka can’t understand. Regardless, when traditional martial artists gather, even for something as benign as a film shown at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY, and the topic of MMA is brought up, it gets ugly.

“I think what separates traditional versus non-traditional martial arts is that you were taught fighting in a cultural context,” the moderator said to the assembled kung fu men. “The movements could be whatever… But is there the presence of a cultural frame? An ethical, spiritual and cultural frame? The people who do MMA, they just have contempt it seems to me. They don’t even want to bow. It’s terrible.”

Yes, terrible. Never mind the fact that UFC champ Georges St. Pierre came from a Kyokushin Karate background, or that author Matt Polly studied at a Shaolin temple in China before taking up mixed martial arts. Never mind that there are traditional kung fu practitioners gathering in secret fight clubs and trying MMA competition out on their own terms. No, for those apprehensive of the inevitable evolution of combat sports, and the incarnation such evolution has taken today, the common links we share matter little.

The only thing that matters is fear.

  • Aaron_johnson425

    As for effectiveness, well that’s whatever. Obviously a sole focus on any single style of fighting isn’t very effective in the street or the cage. I think the last few decades of organized MMA have proven that. But the guy does hit on a good point. Most of the newer generation of MMA fighters, the ones who grew up purely in MMA instead of traditional martial arts, are disrespectful, immature, and bratty. Just look at Jonny bones or Rory Mac. Enough said.

    To answer the moderator’s rhetorical question, there is no ethical or spiritual frame for MMA. However, there is a cultural frame for MMA. It’s the culture of the douchebag. There has been a marked shift over the last few years, and we’re now seeing it come full circle as the first generation of mainstream superstars have been overtaken by the new guard. These are the guys who have trained minute one, day one in the full spectrum of MMA. They are whiny, entitled, disrespectful, full of excuses when they lose, and obnoxiously outspoken when they win. As somebody who’s been a fan of this sport for a long time, I can’t blame these guys for looking down on MMA.

    • robthom

      “It’s the culture of the douchebag.”

      You’re confusing the technical sport of MMA with the entertainment package.

      Which is easy to do,
      they are part of each other.

      But pop MMA culture isn’t any more douchy then the culture of the sweet science.

      Talk about spoiled disrespectful whiners.
      WTF is the deal with “money” mayweather?!

      “Just look at Jonny bones…”

      When has Jones ever been disrespectful?

      He’s one of the most honest and respectful fighters thats ever fought MMA.

      And far more so then all the elitist new york culture pimps.
      (Jones is very atypical for a new yorker.)

      Thats why you cant tell the difference.

      Because you’re not watching the sport,
      you’re watching the propaganda.

      • Aaron_johnson425

        What the fuck are you talking about? I’ve been a fan of the sport since ’95 when I got my hands on VHS tapes of the first UFCs and Shooto events. Trust me, I’ve watched the sport. I’ve watched it mature from an illegal street fight in a cage, to a legitimate sport, to a mainstream sensation, and finally to the hyper-commercialized MTV and FOX pop culture frenzy that it has become today. So don’t give me that retarded shit. I’m not confusing the sport of MMA with the “entertainment package”. Back when I first got into MMA, the technical sport WAS the entertainment package.
        MMA fighters have never been more athletic, well-rounded, and talented than they are today. And collectively, they’ve never been bigger douchebags than they are today either. I remember when Tank Abbot and Tito were the biggest douchebags in the game. But by today’s standards, they don’t even deserve an honorable mention.

  • robthom


    new yorks a weird place full of weird people.

    Next question.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerry-Davis/1422911643 Jerry Davis

    Hmmmm….Who says Ron Van Clief represents all “traditional” martial artists. This guy, Jim Genie, is no different than Van Clief is when it comes to categorizing martial arts. My particular style of “traditional” kung fu has always had the greatest respect for arts that can really fight (like muay Thai, for instance). We love Fedor (figuratively, of course). MMA is a way to take relatively manageable techniques to a high level in a somewhat safe environment in real-time. But let’s face it. MMA techniques come from traditional arts. There are dozens of rules now. Who hasn’t seen an MMA champion (Matt Hughes, for instance) rolling around on the floor after an “illegal” groin kick or “accidental” eye gouge. What about stomping on the head when the other person is down, fish-hooking, biting, head butts, and expanding the equation a bit, multiple opponents, weapons, etc. Why can’t you grab the fence? You won’t use the Thai leg block against a kick the same way if the other guy has a knife or stick, but you are trained and conditioned to fight like this. I love MMA, but it is only part of martial arts, which include entertainment, health, self-defense, wu shu, and sport fighting, rather than an end in itself. Personally, I wonder where it would be without big pay days, PPV, and the world-wide media, as opposed to the so-called traditional martial arts. I doubt guys like Tito, with his big cars and expensive women, would train and fight the same way for free. But I love the hell out of it. You guys should know that the only rule for “traditional martial arts” is, if it works, use it. The only constant is change.

    • jim genia

      you seem mad.

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