Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blow-Throw-Blow... Pro?

Anyone who has trained with me or reads my blog regularly know that I’ve always begrudged what MMA and UFC have done to the world of martial arts. Because of their popularity, they have brought on a macho attitude toward training that is deemphasizing more traditional martial art styles. That being said, I have been getting extra training on the side from an ex-pro fighter in MMA-style fighting. And now he wants to give me the opportunity to go pro, to train me with the purpose of entering women's MMA competitions and even getting sponsorship.

The reason why I started getting the extra training in MMA is because it’s so prevalent these days that I believe a martial arts instructor who focuses on self-defense ought to understand how to defend against it. There are other benefits too. The focus on live training gives me the chance to work important skills like distance and timing. Plus, the training with my instructor is just plain fun.

I’ve been pondering whether or not to go through with the idea of going pro. It’s such a great training opportunity. I’ll get in amazing shape. It’ll add to my overall understanding of the martial arts. It could help me get the public face I need to get publishers to back my martial arts book ideas. And in interviews, I could get the message across that there is a massive difference between fighting in the ring and self-defense on the street, that there are many important skills and approaches to personal protection that are not covered when training for competitions. But then on the flip side, I’ll be entering a world of ego trips and violence for the sake of sport. These are precisely the opposite of the goals I want to achieve in my martial arts training.

I then considered the path taken by founder of Aikido and martial arts legend Morihei Ueshiba. His mentality toward training was as traditional as it gets. But even he benefited from publicity stunts, having allowed a sharp shooter fire at him with a rifle to demonstrate his ability to evade bullets. Whatever about the reality of what happened that day, the reporter that bore witness to the event was completely convinced, thereby generating massive international publicity for Ueshiba and his art. Not that I believe that my entering MMA tournaments would be anywhere near as big as that (especially if I get my ass kicked!) but it has the possibility of getting far more publicity than I can by just quietly running my humble Jiu-jitsu dojo.

My plan is to incorporate much of my Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu background with the idea of besting my opponents as humanely as possible, in ways that are non-injurious. I understand this may be a hard feat to accomplish, especially since my opponents will probably not harbour any reluctance to break my nose or bloody me up. But somehow this resonates better with me than simply going into the ring and drawing on aggression with which to bludgeon a person into submission.


BC open source schools said...

I think that the opponents who will try to cut you with an elbow or break your nose are doing so because those are within the rules. To cut an opponent with an elbow is a quick way to finish a fight. However, I wonder if more common denominators are appearing in MMA, and are there gaps where you can use a Can Ryu technique to exploit an opening? What if you know they plan to clinch, or plan to knee you? What if you know they plan to throw leg kicks in the same fashion as many other MMA fighters do? I think incorporating Can Ryu makes some sense if it presents your opponent with an unexpected attack or defense.

Lori O'Connell said...

Thank you for your comments. As I train myself for MMA, I will definitely be taking a close look at what gaps I can exploit with my Can-Ryu background. That being said, I'll also be getting a solid foundation in some of the more traditional attacks and defenses currently prevalent in MMA. I want to make my training as well-rounded as possible.

Samanta said...

Thank you for your time today, I really enjoyed observing your class. I have also thought about the pro's and cons of MMA fighting and I have to say that I see this as a positive experience. Even though I also don't quite like the "ego and violence" that comes with it, I agree that it would add to your overall knowledge and fighting experience. It would be interesting to see your approach to the MMA, because for me its not about the blood, but about the technique and strategy. Anybody can give someone a bloody nose, but being able to beat someone on good technique...timing, control etc, for me that's a good fighter. I'm not familiar with all the rules of MMA fighting, but it seems to be as real as you can get. I guess I see it more as a personal challenge...all that training and hard work being put to the test.

Lori O'Connell said...

It was nice to meet you today. Thanks for your comments. You seem very interested in the martial arts. You're still welcome to come watch our ground defense class this Sunday. And if you want to come in and do a couple of free trial lessons of our class, you're more than welcome. :)

Samanta said...

Yes I am very interested in martial arts. I have taken Tae-Kwon-Do classes before, and I was in Capoeira for about a year. I would love to be able to commit myself, but it has been difficult with school and everything. This is my final year though so I'll have more time to myself once I graduate. I look forward to observing your class on sunday.

Jenny said...


Good for you to keep pushing yourself to learn. Happy to be in your corner for MMA. Just for myself though I would prefer to just focus on one martial art discipline at a time. While it is fun sometimes to learn things off curriculum, I’m not so interested in the sparring part, but would like to perfect the Can-Ryu technical art first.


Lori O'Connell said...

Hello Jenny,

Sparring is actually part of the Jiu-jitsu curriculum according to the Can-ryu 2000 system. The grappling aspect that is creeping in more is not, but just the basic sparring is.

I don't mind of some students want to push the envelope a bit and work some grappling into the sparring. After all, that could easily happen in a real situation. That being said, everyone should be comfortable with the stand-up portion of sparring first and foremost before adding anything else in. And since the grappling is not a requirement for testing, it need not be present when you spar. Everyone should work in the context with which they feel comfortable and that should be accomplished by communicating with your partner. I will make sure that everyone realizes this when they spar.