I must be behind the times to be examining this topic. Today one can turn on any TV and see UFC, WEC, IFL and even Exite XC MMA fights! Modern MMA is way beyond the no-holds-barred matches of the 90’s where Jui-Jitsu came into its own. Today’s MMA can incorporate whatever mix of the fighting arts (yes I avoided calling it martial arts) that a fighter likes. This can include, boxing, jui-jitsu, karate, wrestling, judo, street-fighting and anything else that one can think of but generally a fighter has striking and ground work at a minimum.
The reason I am thinking about this now is the association I belong to has adopted grappling as part of its overall goals for future students. As I announced last week, the American Kenpo Karate Association that was derived from Tracy’s Karate, as taught by Richard “Dick” Willett, is having a seminar for beginning Jui-jitsu moves here. In this post I will explore karate vs ground fighting, area’s of compatibility, as well the future direction of fighting arts. Here is a beginning video I found of some MMA grappling moves.
Wow, Joanne and Lauren – the “MMA Girls” seem to have these moves down. The thing I am noticing so far is Jui-jitsu takes advantage of chokes and arm-bars and such easily where as the wrestling of my youth, I had to ad-lib to choke someone out later in life (yes I got to put someone in a then sleeper hold (now a rear-naked-choke) in a real fight). The MMA Girls can be found on their MySpace page here for anyone interested in seeing some of their other instructional videos. They also have a site at MMAGirls.net.
Who am I to validate ground fighting in MMA? No one that counts as I am coming into this late in life. I am a lifetime sport karate and self-defense instructor/practitioner that has been around the block a time or two. For a time when I was younger I got in allot of fights because I was a bouncer at a bar. I estimate that I have been in about 100 real fights over the two year period I was bouncing (21 to 23 years old).
The hardest fight I have ever been in was against a wrestler that kept trying to get me to the ground. I was able to avoid the ground game because I wrestled in junior-high and knew how to keep my legs away!. I am so glad the fight did not go to the ground as I could tell I would have lost my first real fight! Now that I am 51 years old – I have a lifetime of experence to draw on and I will apply this to my evaluation.
Karate, boxing, mui-tai, and full-contact is commonly called striking in MMA. As I observe, a practitioner of MMA (can be any combination of styles) need to have some striking. If a jui-jitsu fighter tries to win at MMA nowadays, he or she will usually not get the title unless he or she has some striking ability. This is because of the ground and pound (from my observations). Jui-jitsu, judo or wrestling does not really have an answer for ground strikes.
A MMA fighter should also have a ground game becuase it is legal in MMA. Some leagues like WEC allow for more liberal elbow strikes and it is really exciting to watch! Now you can fight in MMA without a ground game but if you get taken down – what will you do? So it is smart for a MMA fighter to have ground skills too (or at the very least learn out to escape the ground game).
When does it make sense to be the striker? Just like any other fight – observe your opponent and see where he or she is weak! If your opponent cannot strike as well as you – be the striker! If your opponent is an excellent striker (better than you), become the grappler.
When would you avoid the striking game? whenever you have a better advantage doing something else. Fighting is fighting, meaning just because you might not have a skill – if you are a great fighter, you can think your way to a victory providing you have the requisite fighting ability!
When would you avoid the ground game like the plague? When there is more than one attacker! When I was a kid, I challenged a couple of twins to a wrestling match. I was a good enough wrestler to take both of these guys who admittedly did not have much wrestling experience but did have height and weight advantage on me. That is not the normal situation; what will happen normally is one guy will tie you up and the other one will strike! You get the drift.
Now how are karate and jui-jitsu compatible? As I already stated, if you size up your opponent, you can use whatever the other guy/gal is open for and pound away at it! One example here (not really karate and jui-jitsu, but applicable) is when I was learning boxing, I fought a good inside fighter. By the end of first round I was almost asleep at the wheel! The second and third rounds I came back with a fury and used my reach to strike from the outside! My opponent did not have an answer for that (luckily) and I was able to recover. The point is you have to use your advantage in a fight so you should train with hands, feet, sweeps, arm-bars, (extrapolating jui-jitsu here), chokes and such to overcome your opponent.
So as you can see that even though until this seminar I will have no jui-jitsu experience, I think fighting is fighting and if I learn some new skills; I should be able to incorporate them into any future fights. I think (yes I am way behind the times and any MMA practitioner will tell you) MMA type of fighting is where fighting is going. Will fighting stop here? No I don’t think so – future practitioners will continue to refine fighting skills and strategies such as Joe Lewis has done for full contact karate.
Now if you are in San Diego on Saturday, November 1st, and want to attend a beginner class in grappling, please stop by and take the class. I will be taking my first grappling class so don’t worry about looking dumb. It seems funny to start learning new skills but you never know when they might come in handy!