Wednesday, February 01, 2006

UFC: why I'm a fan

this is my take on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), or - to put it another way - this is my explanation of why a reasonable person can be a fan of what has been a controversial sport.

when the UFC began, one of the central ideas was to pit masters of different martial arts against one another. there were karate specialists, boxers, and even sumo wrestlers. after a few years of competition, it became clear that the dominant 'style' is actually a hybrid or various martial arts. fighters have to be able to strike when they are on their feet, and when they hit the ground, they have to possess world-class grappling skills. today this combination of skills is known as mixed martial arts (MMA).

so why is the UFC controversial? there are two main reasons: some people argue that a true martial arts expert would not complete and many people feel that the sport is too violent to be mainstream.

while I believe it's true that the world's best karate fighter might not be interested in competing in an MMA league, I'm not really concerned by this argument. I'm a UFC fan because I'm a fan of grappling (a.k.a. submission wrestling) and the UFC is the best grappling competition that I can watch.

as for the violence argument, I also accept that the UFC is not for everyone. however, there are plenty of other televised events that are violent. the modern UFC is not the same as the old 'make it a spactacle' UFC -- it's now a sport. I'm an adult and if I'm willing to put up with some bruisers so that I can see some expert grappling, then that should be my choice.

if you're curious about grappling, take a look at this video of a grappling competition that was held at the club where I train. don't bother trying to spot me; I'm not in it :)

BTW - the guy at the end was unconscious but fine. all of the matches are watched so that no one gets into trouble.

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