Lest we forget, mixed martial arts and challenge matches are hardly a new development.

by Mark Hatmaker

You probably know about Greek pankration and its long lineage, and you may know about the more recent but no less fearsome hybrid known as American Frontier Rough and Tumble. Both remind us that fights which encompassed more than just boxing and fights which included more than just grappling have always been of great interest to the public.
Most of us know that we should never make the mistake of thinking that a kicker knocking out a grappler means kicking holds superiority or that a grappler choking out a striker means grappling is the be-all and end-all. It merely means that in a particular instance, a specific athlete prevailed — or luck had its way.
With that preamble out of the way, we must admit that no matter what may or not be “proved" by art-versus-art matches, they hold a broad appeal. Let's look at one such historical contest.


Heavyweight boxing champion Jim “The Boilermaker" Jeffries was coming off a victory over the canny, and smaller, Bob Fitzsimmons. Jeffries has become known to us more for his comeback-fight defeat of Jack Johnson and the racial nastiness surrounding the lead-up than for the athlete and force he was before that.
Pre-downfall, Jeffries was considered somewhat invincible. This opinion was not so much because of his boxing prowess, which many derided or found rudimentary at best, but because of his phenomenal strength and stamina. Add to that his ability to ride through a good deal of punishment and you have a formidable fighter.
Jeffries was an astonishing stamina machine for such a big, powerful man. You can get an idea of his training regimen by examining a typical day for him:

• Rise at 6 a.m.
• Work with pulley weights for 10 minutes.
• Do wind sprints for 20 minutes.
• Eat breakfast: a lamb chop and two soft-boiled eggs. No coffee, tea, milk or water. (Jeffries believed excess fluids cut down on speed.)
• Rest until 9 a.m.
• Run 14 miles.
• Get a rubdown and rest.
• Play several games of handball for speed and endurance.
• Skip rope and punch the bag for 20 minutes.
• Enter the ring to spar for 16 three-minute rounds. (His partners were instructed to slug as hard as they could while he would hold back.)
• Skip more rope, throw the medicine ball and do high-speed shadowboxing sprints.
• Eat supper: lamb chops, spinach or asparagus‚ and still no fluids.
• Take a long walk to loosen up.
• At 9 p.m., slowly drink a glass of water.
• Go to bed.
Clearly, that's a serious workload. It's obvious why Jeffries made it as far as he did. Not many, then or now, would be willing to endure such a Spartan lifestyle.

Let's move the story along to the match. Jeffries picked up the title on June 9, 1899. He then did what most champions of the era did: took to the stage to travel the world and offer audiences horrible thespian skills. Jeffries traveled with a show called The Man From the West. He also did boxing exhibitions at most of the engagements, as well as some baseball umpiring.
In these exhibitions, local champs would step into the ring, and The Boilermaker would treat them nicely while they did what they could. If you recall, Jeffries was used to holding back — it was a mainstay of his sparring style.
Jeffries traveled to England with his show and boxed in many exhibitions, knocking out more than a few folks who wanted to see if they could “get some licks in on the champeen."

Onward to continental Europe.
In France, Jeffries was slated to face a champion — although the person's name is not easily found in historical documents. That's OK; it's the circumstances and outcome that are important.
The intrepid Frenchman negotiated to retain the right to kick as well as use his fists, making it unclear whether he was a boxing champ looking for an extra advantage or a savate champ looking to capitalize on his expanded skill set. Either way, Jeffries was informed of the challenger's wish to be allowed to use kicks, to which he simply replied, “Go ahead."
Accounts state that Jeffries went to work with “jabs to the nose, hooks to the body and light raps to the chin." He used a balance-upsetting strategy, and the challenger “never got a kick away."
When his foe began to stagger around the ring, Jeffries started holding back. His corner had advised him that it was bad form to “knock out such an eminent athlete." Unwilling to carry his opponent any longer, Jeffries ended the bout by casually pushing him through the ropes.
This style-versus-style bout certainly doesn't answer the question of which art is better. However, we can conclude that a very powerful man held sway by dint of his boxing and his athletic attributes, and that should serve as evidence to all of
us that fitness is crucial in any kind of fight.

Mark Hatmaker's website is extremeselfprotection.com.

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
Keep Reading Show less

Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

Keep Reading Show less

Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter