mma

The Triumph of Human Intelligence Over Brute Strength

Jiu Jitsu represents the triumph of human intelligence over brute strength.”
— Helio Gracie

Helio Gracie is the founder of the famous martial art, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His son, Rorion Gracie, was my father's first teacher in Jiu Jitsu and the creator of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Helio's quote above is one of my all-time favorites, and this past Winter Break I even had it put on the wall in our academy. The thing is though, when people see this quote and the word "triumph" or are told that martial arts teach smaller people how to overcome someone bigger and stronger than them, they tend to think that "triumph" or "overcome" means "to dominate".

If you watch any footage of Helio Gracie fighting, you will see something much different.

In the following fight, notice how Helio is thrown like a rag doll a couple of times before finally securing a move that will render his opponent unconscious and win him the match. This match is narrated by Helio's son, Rorion.

You see, the primary goal of Jiu Jitsu is just to survive against your attacker. Ideally, that would end with you choking them unconscious so you can get up and get home safely, but it may be just protecting yourself until help arrives, or until such time that you can run away.

Recently, I heard of a scenario in which an untrained male (internet troll) is claiming that he could defeat female mixed martial arts fighters because of how much stronger and faster the average man is. A female MMA fighter decided to take him up on the challenge, and it was held at an academy (as such a match would probably never be sanctioned by any organization).

Take a look:

 

As a martial arts instructor, I have seen this exact scenario play out multiple times. We get the opportunity to see our female students, smaller male students, older students, or any of our students for that matter, train with brand new students who are just getting started.

When I was a kid, I witnessed my Mom choke out a local wrestling coach with the same choke Helio used in the above video. 

I remember at age 18 watching my wife (girlfriend at the time), control a man that outweighed her by at least 80 pounds (of muscle). He started the match telling her that he was not going to use his strength. About midway through the match, he said, "I take it back, I'm going to use my strength." It didn't help.

You see it isn't that size, strength, and speed don't matter. They certainly do, as we've touched on many times on this blog before. It's just that they CAN be overcome with training.

One of the key takeaways from the video above is how quickly the in-shape male runs out of gas. An untrained opponent is not conditioned to fighting the same way as someone trained will be. In fact, not even close.

I will always remember a student coming to train at our school here in Knoxville when I was a teenager. He was an Olympic marathon runner, sponsored by Adidas. Arguably, one of the most "in-shape" athletes on the planet. He can run 26 miles faster than almost anyone else alive. BUT, within 30 seconds to a minute of grappling, he was utterly exhausted - just like every other person that begins training in Jiu Jitsu. This alone is one of the most important reasons to train.

Solely by training martial arts on a regular basis, you are preparing yourself physically and mentally for an altercation that your opponent will be grossly underprepared for if they do not train. We will teach you to weather the storm, and when their gas runs out, your opportunity to come out on top or to get away will present itself.

The funny thing is, in the interview after the match, the man states that it went about the way he expected and that he dominated until he gassed. What he should have said is that he dominated until she dominated! While his strength and speed allowed him to win the early exchanges, it quickly deteriorated, to the point that he actually tapped out to the exhaustion. That means he gave up (defeated both physically and mentally) due to just exhaustion - not from being hit or submitted by something like a choke.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned Rorion Gracie creating the UFC. Well that was now 25 years ago. At this past weekend's UFC event (the two hundred and twentieth event), we got to witness this exact scenario play out.

In the main event for the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the world, Stipe Miocic weathered the storm of the fearsome striker, Francis Ngannou, to keep the belt and remain the UFC Heavyweight Champion. In the process, he set a new record for Heavyweight title defenses (3). The strikers are so powerful in this division, the fighters have an extremely difficult time keeping the belt for very long before someone else comes along and knocks them out.

Francis Ngannou was promoted as the most fearsome Heavyweight to ever step into the octagon with the most powerful punch ever recorded at the UFC Performance Institute. In his last fight, Ngannou knocked his opponent out with one punch - an uppercut so hard that his opponent was lifted off of his feet by the punch.

Ngannou came out swinging this fight too but had run into an opponent with a gameplan to avoid Ngannou's punches, use his wrestling and Jiu Jitsu to get the fight to the ground, and control him. Despite Ngannou's 20-pound weight advantage, he was unable to escape from underneath Miocic. He had zapped all of his energy trying to knock Miocic out and defending against the grappling positions with a lack of technique (he is still relatively new to the sport). 

The fatigue allowed Miocic to cruise to his 3rd title defense, but gave the rest of us another clean example of overcoming strength. 

2017 PMA Year in Review

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorites of the entire year. After getting extra time with family for Christmas, we have a week to look back on the past year and plan for the year ahead.

This year was full of many good memories, but I’ll take just a minute to highlight some of my standouts and then the video can do a pretty good job with the rest!

February 2017 - Gary Hall and Linda Davis were promoted to Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU Kenpo!

April 2017 - We took our Youth Competition Team to NAGA Atlanta, and they earned 6th place at their first significant tournament!

May 2017 - Brittany Corrigan and Kristie Fox finished their instructor training program/test, and became official PMA instructors!

May 2017 - Brittany, Charlie, and I had the opportunity to spend 11 days in Brazil, with our close friends Felipe and Ana, and their son Bento. This trip will forever be one of our greatest adventures and favorite memories. We can’t thank Felipe enough for bringing us to his home and showing us his city.

July 2017 - PMA students took a field trip over to my Dad's dojo in Knoxville to surprise him during his class for his birthday!

September 2017 - My brother, Nick, and his wife, Kylie, welcomed their first child, RJ Corrigan, into the world!

October 2017 - PMA’s Youth Competition Team brought home 2nd place at the NAGA Tennessee Grappling Championship out of 38 teams!

November 2017 - Sempai Madelyn Fowler competed in her first tournament and brought home the silver medal at the NAGA North Carolina Grappling Championships in her No-Gi division, and the gold medal in her gi division!

I liked competing when I was a child and young adult, but it never became a love of mine. However, coaching Jiu Jitsu has genuinely become one of my favorite aspects of my life. This year, we have had some incredible performances from our students (in both wins and losses), and I couldn’t be more proud!

December 2017 - Progressive Martial Arts Academy turned 15 years old! And December couldn't have been a better month. Brittany Corrigan and Kristie Fox were promoted to Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU Kenpo! And Austin and Eli Fox were promoted to Junior Black Belt, along with many other students earning their next rank this month. We closed out the year with a wonderful holliday party, and some fun last classes of the year. For the kids class, we had 60 kids out on the mat together! 

Here are our Top 10 songs played from 2017 at PMA (dominated by Imagine Dragons this year!):

1. Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man
2. Believer by Imagine Dragons    
3. Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons
4. Thunder by Imagine Dragons    
5. Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
6. Rise Up by Imagine Dragons
7. Stay by Zedd & Alessia Cara
8. Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
9. Hard Times by Paramore
10. Shine on Me by Dan Auerbach

You can listen to the playlist while working out this week and getting ready for the new year here: 

 https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/pmas-top-10-songs-of-2017/pl.u-LRyv4IBkmEE

We had a crew of senior students and instructors in over the holiday break helping us update the dojo a little bit, so get excited about a new look when you come in next week! Thank you so, so much to the people that helped us out with that - you know who you are! :-)

We expect incredible things out of 2018, and can’t wait to share it on the mat with all of you.

Now, enjoy this video to wrap up 2017.

Happy New Year!

David Corrigan
Owner/Chief Instructor
Progressive Martial Arts Academy

5 Paradigms Adults Believe About Martial Arts

Every adult, no matter their age, gender, or physical limitations, should be training martial arts! Unfortunately, many adults have a mental block that keeps them from even exploring it as a possibility. Let’s break down the different misconceptions:

1. Martial Arts Training is for Kids

Yes and No. Martial Arts is incredible for children! BUT, it is designed for adults. We modify our curriculum quite a bit for children by removing some of the more violent self-defense techniques, highly detailed techniques, and complicated techniques.

Many of us grew up watching the Karate Kid, and that has planted the idea in our brains that Karate is for Kids. Through the years, we have somehow come to believe that martial arts are just another after school activity that we throw our kids into.

But, have you ever wondered what you would do in a fight? Every adult, both men and women, should learn self-defense. This is one of the primary reasons to train. It’s an important reason for kids too, but the character development is most parents’ main concern. For adults - it’s self-defense.

Check out this video from Jocko Willink talking about what arts you should train in (I’ll give you a hint, we teach them all!) to learn self-defense:

2. Martial Arts Training is Like a Kung Fu Movie

At our academy, we teach martial arts such as Kenpo, Jiu Jitsu, and Jeet Kune Do. One of the first responses we get from adults when they hear these names is a funny sound that you might hear Bruce Lee make in a Kung Fu movie.

They can’t imagine themselves making those silly noises and doing a “karate chop.”

Then there’s this guy:

In reality, martial arts training is really normal. Adults from all walks of life come together to learn fighting techniques that could save their lives, get a great workout, and have a lot of fun in the process. The benefits are innumerable and include things like stress-relief, discipline, and focus. Each class you leave as just a little bit better version of the person you walked in as. 

3. Martial Arts Training is Cagefighting

In 1993, the Gracie family from Brazil created the Ultimate Fighting Championship as a way to showcase their family’s art, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, against other martial arts. Royce Gracie dominated the first few UFC events, and two things blew up in the United States - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Many adults have now come to believe that martial arts training is the cage fighting (Mixed Martial Arts) that you see when you are flipping through the channels. While we will teach you the same techniques being used in the cage or boxing ring, it does not mean you take the abuse that a professional fighter does.

There are safe and fun ways of training that will challenge you and develop your skills as a martial artist without getting into a cage. 

We study these events as a way to learn about which techniques are being used most effectively in these rule sets, but we anticipate that 99.99% of our students will never enter the cage to be in a fight!

4. You Need to Be In Shape to Start Training Martial Arts

WRONG! But we understand why you feel that way. Instead of waiting until you are in shape, use martial arts training to help you get in shape! Don’t wait any longer. Just start!

Once you step on the mat, you’ll never look back. You’ll be surrounded by encouraging partners that have been or may currently be in the same stage of their fitness journey as you are. The people you train with will be one of your greatest tools to getting in and staying in shape.

5. You Can’t Train with a Bad _________________ (Fill in the blank - knee, shoulder, back, etc.)

As you get older, you will have injuries, illnesses, and all kinds of things “wrong” with you. We are human, and unfortunately, that means our bodies will slowly break down just like a car. These things shouldn’t hold you back unless you let them.

Modifications can always be made to adapt the training to what you need. If you allow your “bad knee” or whatever it is to keep you from starting something like this, before you know it you will have other bad things due to inactivity and unhappiness.

So, what does martial arts training look like? 

Well, at our Academy it typically starts with a warm up of jogging and various exercises to prepare your body for the lesson planned that day. Then you will spend some time learning the technique that has been scheduled in our curriculum for that day. 

The content might be a self-defense technique versus some of the most common assaults, a traditional martial arts form to develop traits that enhance your skills as a martial artist, or dynamic skills from Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, or the Filipino Martial Arts. 

After training the material for a while, the class usually finishes with some drills to make the technique functional so that you can use it effectively in a fight if necessary. At the advanced stages, this includes sparring drills with partners that will challenge you and protect you at the same time.

Here’s a demonstration I did of some of the techniques taught in the adult curriculum at Progressive Martial Arts Academy. No, they’re not all for kids. No, you don’t have to be in a Kung Fu movie, and no, you don’t have to fight in a cage!

So, if you’re still here reading this and you’ve been on the fence about starting martial arts, take action right now. I mean, RIGHT NOW! If you wait five more seconds, you will come up with a reason not to start now. 

I’m telling you, you won’t regret it. Just start. Take action right now. I’ll even make it easy for you - put your contact info below and I’ll reach out to you about setting up a free private introductory lesson.

Name *
Name

See you on the mat! 

The Perfect Fighter

UPDATE: It has been almost one year since Ronda Rousey was knocked out with a vicious head kick that the whole world heard connect. This week it was announced that Ronda would make her return to the octagon at UFC 197 on December 30 versus the current champion, Amanda Nunes. The following article was my initial thoughts following her brutal loss last November (written immediately following the match) take a look:

Tonight I feel for Ronda Rousey. Not because she lost, as I knew that would happen if she fought long enough. I feel for her that she rose to a position in her career that people viewed her as invincible. She rose to a position in her life that people saw her as superhuman. But she is not. Nor is anyone. 

I am thinking about an article I shared earlier this week from Precision Nutrition that discusses “that person.” “That person” that has “got it all together.” It hits home the point that we are all human and “that person” doesn’t exist. If you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes (it’s worth it) - http://www.precisionnutrition.com/that-fit-person-whos-got-it-all-together-doesnt.

Coming into the fight tonight Ronda was the favorite and all week I answered the question, “Does Holly have a chance?” Despite only having fought three fewer fights than the champion, I have to admit I was skeptical that maybe they had thrown Holly to their money making machine a little early as her other UFC fights thus far, while wins, were not super impressive. However, my response was that if Holly can circle and use her reach and movement to avoid Ronda’s rush, then she has a chance. As far as the stand-up aspect of fighting goes, Holly was coming into this fight with lightyears more experience. Just as Ronda was coming into the bout with lightyears more grappling experience. Congratulations to Holly Holm and her team of coaches and training partners as she had a perfect gameplan and executed it. Flawlessly.

I wish as a society we didn’t feel the need to raise someone up so high when they are doing well because it makes the fall so much harder when they inevitably fall. Fighting is far too complex with far too many aspects for one person to possibly be the best at them all. No one is perfect. Everyone will lose if given enough opportunities. It just takes finding the person that is better than you at one aspect and with the game plan to exploit it.

I don’t know if it was just for promotion or if she actually felt this way but leading up to this fight Ronda stated in an interview that she wants to also win the boxing world championship and jiu jitsu world championship when she retires from the UFC. If she did believe that she was the best at all aspects of fighting, tonight would be a reminder that she is human. And that’s okay! As a martial artist, I appreciate the sacrifice that she and other fighters make to enter the octagon so that I can take these valuable lessons from their performances. I am not disappointed in her or any other great champions that have ever lost.

I will save some of the more technical aspects of the fight for another post or classes I teach on the mat, but I hope that Ronda’s team handles this loss well and that she gets back to the training camp and gets right to work on filling these holes. Ronda was picked apart tonight but not by a “better” fighter. Holly Holm had a better strategy and executed it flawlessly. I believe Ronda could dominate the fight just as well if she comes up with the game plan to take the fight to the areas where she knows she has the advantage. It will require fighting smarter and of course - she'd have to be prepared to counter the counter game plan that Holly will develop for the rematch.

So tonight we did not see “the perfect fighter” and we never will. Tonight we saw the perfect fight. I hope you can take this lesson with you on the mat as well as into other aspects of your life. Remember that while we may strive for perfection, it is not attainable. What’s important is that we grow every day. Let’s try to avoid comparing ourselves to others and never forget that we are all human. Despite some people having great success, they are not perfect and still face struggles and hardships as the rest of us. Tonight Ronda fell, let’s all hope she gets back up and gives Holly one hell of a rematch.

“To Fall Seven Times. To Rise Eight Times. Life Begins Now.” -Daruma

The Art of Fighting without Fighting

This is one of my favorite martial arts movie scenes of all time. If you haven’t seen the movie “Enter the Dragon” starring Bruce Lee, please stop reading this post and come back when you have. In this scene Lee demonstrates the art of fighting without fighting.

This idea of avoiding conflict even when provoked and prepared to defend yourself is demonstrated by Bruce Lee in this scene. If Bruce Lee, the man considered by many to be the greatest martial artist of all time, is avoiding conflict, shouldn’t we also strive to do so?

“To win the fight without fighting, that is the true goal of a martial artist.” – Professor Nick Cerio

This concept seems to be lost in the martial arts world, and the rise in popularity of the UFC and MMA is only spreading the problem. Martial arts should teach real self defense that can be used in real confrontations. Martial arts should also teach a student to avoid conflict whenever possible, and definitely not to encourage it! My father posted a video earlier today, and discussed this exact topic on his Facebook page.

WARNING: the content of this video is mature as it contains strong violence. Click here to watch. Be sure to read his commentary to understand the scenario because the video is not in English.