MMA Opinion: Can You Protect Yourself at All Times?
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In the time it takes you to finish this sentence, you will have traveled roughly 220 miles (354 km) around the sun through space moving at about 66,627 miles an hour (107,225 kmh). A little more if you read out loud, but that would be weird to do. Pondering that will not only make one like the philosophers of old, but it will quickly give way to the undeniable thought that safety just might be an illusion.

Because we are not in what may be perceived as mortal danger at a given moment, does not mean we are not in actual fact in danger. This is in general, but it becomes very specific when particular endeavors are considered. Base jumping, underwater welding (a real thing), high tension wire work, etc. all have a ramped up danger quotient. Then there are the quiet dangers in various vocations such as stress, mental health factors, high-level exertion or repetitive motions that all can become life-threatening.


Everyone tacitly agrees to some level of danger in their everyday life. Travel, work, diet, hobbies, etc. can all affect what we think of as safety. There was a time in Mixed Martial Arts when uninformed people thought every athlete was in a near-death position every moment in the cage. Then the movement progressed and moved out of the shadows into what is getting close to – though not quite there – mainstream. With regulation, commissions, rules, more advanced knowledge of the effects of training and competition, etc. things have become what some deem "safe." Not everyone died. In fact, there have been almost zero fatalities that can be directly traced solely (and that word solely is operative here) to in-cage competition.

This is the point where we are all lulled into that sense of comfort. Well, since not everyone - and maybe even no one - has died doing it, it must be safe. Then that annoying uncle at Thanksgiving pipes in and says, "You have a way higher chance of dying in a car accident than (fill in the blank)," and we all say, "Whew, that was a close one." Then things happen like the recent death of Justin Thornton dying of injuries that seem to have been a direct result of his Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) fight in Biloxi, Miss. in August 2021. Things like this make us all feel either like the pondering philosopher questioning everything, like the uninformed viewer of early combat sports and think we are affirmed in believing everyone is close to death, or we are like Uncle So-and-So at Thanksgiving who finally has an audience to say without much accreditation to his name that there is less to this than meets the eye.

The truth is simple. Things are dangerous. Specifically, jobs are or can be dangerous. And even more specifically, fighting – in or out of sport – is dangerous. Spoiler alert: Professional Wrestling is not a real competitive sport or fighting, but it takes an immense toll on its "athletes." Even choreographed Martial Arts competitions have their share of injuries – some catastrophic. No matter what is done in the same of safety, there are inherent dangers to combat sports. No amount of argumentation can change what you see your boxing heroes become in later years. No amount of precaution is going mitigate in any absolute way the genuine possibility of major injury or death in fighting.

If we cannot protect ourselves at all times (like the MMA referee says just prior to action) in our daily lives from cataclysms or cataracts, we need to come to grips with the facts – and they are facts – that every time we partake as an observer or participant in fighting we are agreeing to be alright to some degree with what might happen. An average punch from a pro boxer moves at about 25 miles an hour (40 kmh), which is only about .038% of the speed of Earth and we have seen what a bunch of those slower smaller things can do. It is often strange to hear the tone of credibility and outright sanctimonious criticism of combat sports when someone – you know, in combat – gets hurt. What do we think will happen when two people spend a good number of minutes trying to punch each other in the head? Is it realistic to ask fighters to protect themselves at all times? Is it realistic to ask anyone for that matter – at any time?

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Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon
d2e111jq13me73.cloudfront.net / Enter the Dragon/ Warner Bros.
Bruce Lee really did have the Midas touch when it came to training. Most people think Bruce was advanced and complicated, but he was the master of simplicity. He was not worried about doing the jump-up flip spin-around back kick. Not sure if there is one. But by the time you land, Bruce would just throw a simple kick or punch to knock you down as you landed to the ground. However, that is the point. Simplicity is often overlooked because of the coolness and the latest and greatest workout when simplicity produces the most significant effect. Super complicated does not mean superior. This is actually reverse in fact. We see super complex exercises that don’t need to be. Truthfully, if an exercise or method is not straightforward in its approach, then it probably is not good.
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Photo Courtesy: CBS Sports

Tommy Fury, half-brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, has withdrawn from his upcoming bout with undefeated YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul due to injury, per ESPN. The match was supposed to be contested at 192 pounds for eight, three-minute rounds on December 18. Thanks to former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, the show must go on.

Woodley, who was defeated by Paul via controversial split decision in August, will seek redemption on short notice. The announcement of the rematch comes less than two weeks before the event takes place. According to Paul, Woodley will receive a $500,000 bonus if he is able to land a knockout. However, Paul doesn't expect this to happen, claiming that he is going to "punish" the 39-year-old mixed martial artist.

The Woodley-Paul grudge match is not the only exciting fight on the Showtime pay-per-view card, as ESPN's #3 ranked female boxer Amanda Serrano will take on Miriam Gutierrez in the co-main event. There will also be another celebrity matchup between 3x NBA All-Star point guard Deron Williams and 5x NFL Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, who will duke it out in a heavyweight bout.

A social media sensation versus a former MMA world champion. Two world class lady warriors. A former professional basketball player versus a member of the NFL 2010's All-Decade Team. Who will have their hand raised that night? Stay tuned for more news and updates about the event from Black Belt Magazine, both here on our website and on social media.

Instagram post from Tyron Woodley:



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Shutterstock / Kzenon

I have a confession to make: I’m a romantic for cheesy martial art movies.

One of my favorite things to watch in kung fu cinema is a teacher tortu–er, training a novice student. Of course, it is easy to see how we fit in the script. Regardless of our level, it is important to have a mentor who can help guide us properly in our training.

A big part of our growth as people and martial artists is finding the correct ways to be challenged and to promote our depth of understanding. While that duty often is seen as only befalling on the person you study under, there are various things we can consciously do to mix up our training to glean better benefits.

Check out these methods and you’ll soon be able to add new levels of realism to your training and find any hidden holes in your techniques!

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