By Guro Crafty
This past week I was sparring with a young MMA fighter. He was twenty three years old, 6’ 4”, weighed 170 pounds and was getting ready for his fourth amateur fight. I am sixty one, 6’ and 195 pounds and my last full-on fight was in the year 2000. In order for the young fighter to be pushed aerobically the coach had another man split the round with me. He would go for ninety seconds, and then I would jump in for the second ninety seconds.
During the course of the first of the three rounds that I went I took a hearty punch to my right eyebrow (I dropped my Dracula elbow a bit during a Zirconia if you must know) and as I was sitting there (well-winded I must confess) after the third round the coach noticed a cut over my right eye due to not enough vaseline. It wasn’t a big deal-indeed in the past I would have kept going, but now I am a bit more cooties conscious than I used to be and so I called it a day.
A gym friend who is a doctor saw it and invited me to swing by his office later in the day to have it stitched up. When I got home I washed up and my wife took a picture (“Ewww!”) and off I went to the doctor where he properly cleaned it out (this is important-there are nasty cooties out there these days!) and gave it the five stitches it required. Later that evening I posted it on DBMA FB and my personal FB page where it received a fair amount of commentary to which I responded—and now I look to flesh out here what I wrote there.
Amongst the many things that Guro I. has said to me that have stayed with me over the years is this one:
“It’s good to know where you are at.”
One of the dangers of my line of work is that people are going to be respectful when I am teaching. I get this– I do the same when I am on the other side of the equation!—indeed, one would be an anus to test a teacher while he is teaching! Of course the danger of this is that one can easily start becoming a legend in one’s own mind and miscalculate one’s capabilities upon the intrusion of reality. This would be a serious Darwinian error! It may have been John Wayne who said “Life is tough. It’s tougher when you are stupid.”
I do my best to avoid this in the course of my teaching/training in various ways e.g.:
a) I insist upon honest feeds. For example, as many of you may know in contrast to most FMA systems that lock out the strike responses to which are being taught, in DBMA, unless otherwise specified, the striker should carry through with his motion– just like he is most likely to do in a real fight. Of course the speed, power, intensity will be dialed back to greater or lesser degree depending at what point we are in the development of the response(s) being trained but in all cases the strike(s) should be towards the actual target(s) in a natural manner.
b) I use what in DBMA we call “the metronome method”: constant speed, and equal speed and equal power between the two practitioners.
Nonetheless there is no substitute for action for knowing where one is at– hence Guro I’s words of wisdom– given to us after he left us with jaws hanging after having gone forty five non-stop minutes HARD of Muay Thai on the long bag while in his sixties.
Thus for me sparring such as my session wherein I scored this boo boo is invaluable in “knowing where I am at” as I seek to walk as a warrior for all my days. I do my best to not be stupid about it. I feel no shame in speaking up about places where it is not wise for me to go. For example, before we started I asked my young MMA opponent not to torque my lower back– so when he took me down, he took the bite out of it.
Similarly as my half guard lock down was failing he drove my head into the fence. If I were a young fighter I would have asked of myself to work out my way of the problem. As the old man that I am, with a family to support depending upon the functioning of my body I was unwilling to risk a neck injury and so I simply asked him for us to adjust our position away from the fence.
A major piece of the Dog Brother experience is having a realistic sense of what you can and cannot pull off in real time. My time for full-on fighting for fun may be done, but still I am the Crafty Dog.
There is an additional strand present here in this little story.
In this particular case I was working Kali Tudo ™ the sub-system I have been developing for several years now as part of the DBMA concept of “consistency across categories”. KT is , , , different and needs continuous research. It fascinates me in a profound way to see just how deep The Art is and how true its’ promise of the empty hands being the having the same idiom of movement is. In that the vision here is mine I would be the one most suited for doing the work, but for my age. Of course I have would love to be thirty years younger and getting in the cage for real, but that will have to await another lifetime.
Still, by getting in as I do not only do I get honest feedback as to “where I am at”, but I also continue to develop KT not only out of my students’ experiences but also my own experience– for out of the freedom that comes from doing comes the knowing –and I become a better teacher and can stay relevant longer.
Remember too that in the logic of DMBA our motive is only secondarily to improve results in the cage. Our primary mission is to use the cage as a laboratory and training medium to adrenally prepare ourselves for the interface of gun, knife, and empty hand so that we “Die Less Often”; we seek the advantage that comes from having one operating system for weapons, empty hands, and the blend of the two. Fewer choices means faster reactions and when it comes to DLO having consistency across categories means fewer choices when time may mean the difference between living or not. I have the honor of working with people who put their lives on the line in circumstances of Die Less Often. They are The Protectors—something I suspect each of us aspires to be as we live our respective lives—and they deserve that I know what I am showing them.
Of course there is also the inner glee that comes from still being competitive. As the country music song says “I may not be as young as I once was, but I’m as young once as I ever was.”
The Adventure continues!