One more thing from Fighters Only

Jeez, are we in the future or what?

Personally I’m waiting until the magazine can be directly downloaded into my eyeballs but if you can’t wait that long, Fighters Only is now available online with all kinds of Web 2.0 integrated goodness.

Perhaps best of all you can download an entire issue of the magazine (Issue 34 to be exact) FOR NONE OF YOUR ENGLISH PENNIES… that means for free.

I think this link will take you there.

It’s a great issue, I got it sent to me from England. It’s got BJ Penn, Dana White, a training travel guide, and a whole bunch of other stuff in it. What are you waiting for? Quality online MMA journalism with pretty pictures and lots of things to click on! Go! Go!

The official blurb:

Fighters Only, The World’s Leading Mixed Martial Arts and Lifestyle Magazine, launches a digital version of it’s magazine, expanding it’s already massive coverage and giving it a larger international reach than any other publication in it’s sector.

Fighters Only, which is now in its forth year as a publication, has grown from being a UK publication to being on sale in 13 countries worldwide including the USA and Australia. The launch of a digital edition now means that wherever you can get online in the world, you can get Fighters Only.

Using leading technology the full magazine is reproduced with relevant video added to enhance the experience for readers. Other features include the ability to search text for key words, click through to links, both within the magazine and on the internet, and the access to an online library of the readers back issues which can be accessed at the click of a button.

Fighters Only Managing Director Rob Hewitt:

“Fighters Only has always embodied the pioneering spirit – we were the first monthly Mixed Martial Arts magazine in the world, we are the first to launch fan led awards with the World Mixed Martial Arts Awards and are now the first Mixed Martial Arts publisher to offer this digital version of the magazine to our readers sending Fighters Only truly World Wide.”

“The growth of Mixed Martial Arts has been an international phenomenon. To fulfil the global need for high quality features, interviews, coverage and insight as well as supplementing existing readers enjoyment of our magazine we felt that the digital edition was ideal. The digital format allows us to reach readers all over the world instantly, allowing them to enjoy the new issue as soon as it’s available in the stores in the UK.”

Fighters Only are also offering affiliate schemes to online retailers who wish to sell the publication to their customers. A sample edition of Fighters Only Issue 34 is online for people to try out the software at:

The 10 Greatest Post-Fight Meltdowns

The 10 Greatest Post-Fight Meltdowns

This is actually really, really funny, and I wholeheartedly agree with the number 1. I never laughed so hard watching MMA as I did when Coleman went crazy-apeshit bonkers after winning the inaugaral Pride GP. In fact, shit, I wish I had thought of this article first.

Got an article published.

I wrote an article on the demise of Pride, and what a darn shame it was. It was accepted for publication by Fighters Only Magazine, and appears in the December issue, out in the UK now.

Whoopedy doo!


Don’t Look Back in Anger

Pride Never Die. Except, of course, when the current American owners telephone the head office in Tokyo and fire everybody, as they did in October. That would pretty much do it. With that sombre thought in mind, I felt it was time to reminisce about some of my most enjoyable experiences with the greatest of all times.
First, my real introduction to Pride: Pride 10. I had heard only rumours about this far off promotion in Japan, having been raised on bootlegged copies of UFC 1 and 2 at college. I decided to seek out a DVD, and after much virtual-rummaging on the internet, ordered a second-hand copy of Pride 10. I’d psyched myself up to watch it, and when it finally arrived, I think I remember tearing the plastic wrapper off with my teeth while it was still in the postman’s hand. The event didn’t disappoint. I sat open-mouthed, heart beating, and after seeing Wanderlei Silva savage Guy Mezger, Gilbert Yvel K.O. Gary Goodridge with the first strike of the fight, and Enson Inoue get turned into human hamburger patty by the relentless Igor Vovchanchyn, I was hooked. Sakuraba bending Renzo Gracie’s arm completely the wrong direction was just the icing on the cake.

Great article at Graciemag


A must read for all BJJers.

Particularly like the advice to go and do a year of Judo. Love that about BJJ-very secure in itself.

Next on “When Hell Freezes Over”: A Wing Chun master recommends his students to do a year of boxing to sharpen up his handwork!

Why we Love the Drama

As much as the modern mixed martial arts world (in the west, at least) tries to distance itself from the fakery of professional wrestling, there is one aspect we just can’t get away from. The Drama. Love it or hate it, it’s a big part of the sport. And, I suspect, even those who hate it might secretly have a soft spot for it.

There are a few reasons to shun the mouthing off, the pre-fight hype, the feuds. They can bring an element of disrepute to what is still a fledgling sport in search of credibility. We–the fans, the promoters, the fighters–seek to elevate mixed martial arts above its oft-perceived status as boxing’s bloodthirsty and brutal distant cousin. It’s difficult to tell the layperson about the technical intricacies, the hard training regimes, or the amount of competitors who are well educated, when Tito Ortiz is blurting out that he might be the first person to actually kill someone (Ken Shamrock) in the ring. It’s hard to persuade your family that the sport you love is full of humble and respectful athletes when Wanderlei Silva is storming into the ring with his gang of cronies behind him to try to stomp his team-mates’ opponent. And credibility seems a long way round the corner when BJ Penn and Jens Pulver are identifying the exact body parts they would like to break off each other in the pre-fight banter.

The Drama can also draw attention away from the fight itself, and attract the wrong kind of fans. What’s more, when match-ups are picked for the drama value alone, the fights themselves might end up being less than spectacular (see the one-sided Ortiz-Shamrock feud that fans got to enjoy in not one, not two, but three snooze-inducing ‘contests’, and the snore-fest that was Sanchez-Koscheck, for proof of that.) The fans that turn up to events where the main event has been hyped up as some kind of centuries-in-the-making, battle-to-the-death grudge match (complete with Mike Goldberg splurging out “There is no love lost between these guys” fourteen thousand times a minute) usually end up being the kind of people that go to Monster Truck rallies, or headbutting competitions, or crowbar eating contests, or whatever it is that they like to do, and one thing is for sure: they aren’t there to see a sporting contest. They are there to see motherfuckers get their shit wrecked, y’hear! And when the promised shit-wrecking does not materialise, well… that’s when the boos start. Et voila. You are left with a horribly hyped-up death match that doesn’t deliver and a bunch of booing fans ready to tear up seats and possibly each other. Not a good image for a sport trying to gain credibility.

So why do we love The Drama, then, if it seems so negative? Simple. It’s exciting. It gets the pulse pounding, and it can really engage you in what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill fight. If we have no emotional investment in the fighters, then their winning or losing does not affect us, and the fight becomes unexciting. Sure, we can appreciate it from a detached, technical point of view, but there is none of the raw emotion that tugs at our guts when we see someone we are a big fan of squaring off against his nemesis. I went through a long period of only watching Pride FC. When I returned to the U.K., I started catching up on my UFC. At the beginning, I had no idea who the fighters were. I couldn’t tell my Phil Baroni from my Matt Lindland, or my Andrei Arlovski from my Large Insane Badger. As a result, I could only enjoy the matches from a technical perspective. The fights were good, but not great, not inspiring or emotional. Soon, though, I got to know who liked who, who hated who, who had a big brash personality, and so on. The fights became much more exciting. The fighters came alive, and I began to invest emotionally in them.

The fights became battles of wills, of personalities. It is an incredibly exciting thing to contemplate dream matches, purely because we want to see what happens when two egos clash, we want to see the drama unfold. I remember watching Wanderlei Silva fight Sakuraba all those times, and my mind was racing as I tried to imagine Silva’s huge, menacing persona clashing with Sakuraba’s calm, calculating cheek, and which would be the stronger. I remember wondering if Nogueira’s fiery and passionate personality could melt the icy determination of Fedor, and sitting in front of the television with my jaw open watching these contests unfold. Plonk any newborn MMA fan in front of the same matches, and chances are they wouldn’t find them so exciting because they don’t know who the fighters really are–where they have been, what they have done, what their dreams are.

Which brings me to the type of drama that I, personally, love. It’s the kind perfected by Pride FC and their pre-fight hype team, led by supremely talented video editor Sato Daisuke. They would create short videos that hyped matches to heart-attack inducing levels, without an over-reliance on ‘blood feuds’. Fighters were hyped up for who they are. Their history, their challenges, their trials and tribulations, and their own personal battles, were all brought to the forefront. You could really understand just how much a fight meant to them, and the fact that they were shown to be human meant that you could identify with them, and really begin to care whether they won or lost. That created an incredible sense of excitement and enjoyment when the battle itself finally came about. Fighters rarely expressed a personal dislike for their opponents (of course, there were some exceptions…) and the hype was all about whether or not the hard work each fighter had done, and their will to succeed, was strong enough to carry them through to victory.

You can’t talk about drama in MMA without referring to the Ultimate Fighter. This show, and its immense popularity, is proof that we, collectively, love the drama. I’ve seen people on internet forums complain about the drama in the show, lamenting the reality TV aspect, and wishing that the show would be nothing but fights. Well, if you don’t want to watch drama, don’t watch a reality TV show, simple as that. The Ultimate Fighter proved that millions of people around the world love watching a show where they can get to know fighters and really get behind them, and see what they go through before and after the fight. In short, they get to see the real drama behind fighting. I can remember being more excited than I had been for a long while watching Michael Bisping smash his way through series three, purely because I identified with him as an Englishman and a down-to-earth bloke doing it for Queen and Country. It wasn’t his technical prowess or his aggression that won me over (although it did help), it was what I knew about him as a person.

When all is said and done, when the bell rings and John McCarthy pulls your opponent off you kicking and screaming, we are all human beings, and all emotional creatures (except Fedor, of course.) Our lives are all about emotion, about feelings. Mixed martial arts wouldn’t be the same without the drama. Don’t take the drama out. Don’t lobotomise MMA. But do tone down the hate-mongering.

First Article Published! » Blog Archive » Total MMA Volume 2, Issue 2

Click the link to see my first published MMA article. Yay me!  Total-MMA is a free online MMA magazine with some great content. I hope to write more for them in the future.

The Problems with BJJ.

Or, the problems with how I train BJJ.

Just so you know I’ve not moved from one form of brainwashing to another.

BJJ’s obvious, glaring hole is its lack of standup.

This is true of most schools.

Not only does the martial art as a whole not contain a single strike, but to make matters worse, most of us suck at transitioning from standing to the ground.

We get lazy in our classes and we start from our knees. This is bad. Thank the universe that we still start standing in competitions, otherwise we would never practice our takedowns!

I’m fairly sure that there are old-school BJJ fighters in places like Brazil who consider BJJ a complete martial art and train it so. They have the takedowns, the tactics for evading a striker’s arsenal and getting them to the ground.

But it’s a factor sorely missing from most BJJ schools.

This was drummed home recently to me when I met a guy who trains some MMA with a group from his gym. As martial artists do, we decided that we will meet up for a roll / spar. Instantly, the gaping hole in my game where the words “wrestling skill” and “striking skill” should be, hit home.

He trains, he says, mostly with kickboxers and wrestlers.

Kickboxers and wrestlers.

Me: “Hi guys! Can we start on our knees please? And no striking! BJJ is the best art in the world!”

Them: “Now you will die… by my hand!” (badly dubbed.)


What’s more, years of wing chun training has actually atrophied my leg muscles. I have the most pathetic squat in the world and my takedowns suffer because for so many years I strived not to use muscle. Now, I don’t have any bloody muscle to use even if I wanted to. Thanks for nothing, _ing __un!

So, BJJ’s general lack of standup skill and no striking has been addressed.

Next up, grappling.

BJJ is not the be all and end all of grappling. (Vast generalisations ahoy!)

Samboists have better leglocks.

Judoists have better throws.

Wrestlers have, obviously, better wrestling.

Catch wrestlers have more nasty submissions involving tender body parts.

Submission wrestlers have the whole thing going on with the board shorts and the lycra tops.

And let’s not forget the long list of moves that are illegal in competitions that are definitely legal on “TEH STREEIT1234” (actually, no… they are also illegal on the street—wow! Next time a chunner says to you “Eye-gouging, biting and attacking the groin are illegal in Pride… not like on the STREET!” You can say that actually, those things are pretty much illegal activities anywhere.) and in other martial arts tournaments. Cervical locks, twisting leg locks, spine locks, small joint manipulations, etc.

Nyah, that’s enough for now.

See! No brainwashing here! BJJ is just another tool in the toolbox…