Monthly Archives: May 2016

Promoter in Hot Water

It is a serious process to become a professional fight promoter. There is a license required and it is a process to get it. A checklist of requirements must be completed. It is crazy that so many promoters act unscrupulously once they have their license considering how hard it is to get one in the first place. There are several upstanding promoters out there but there are some very shady ones as well. Maybe they go through that process with ill intentions. Promoters are, after all, people too. A promoter in Texas, as reported on Sherdog, has found himself in some legal trouble recently. The MMA promoter is among a group facing drug charges in Texas. Dimas De Leon, one of the owners and promoters of South Texas Fighting Championships, was arrested in March setting off a series of events that exposed a vast scheme to steal drugs from smugglers near the Mexican border, sounds safe, right? MMA injuries will have nothing on the injuries these guys will incur when the drug lords find out the plan.

It isn’t a solo plan, the group that is in trouble is pretty large. Fifteen in all, several of them are actually law enforcement officials and have been accused of face charges related to eleven counts of drug possession and conspiracy. According to the report, Homeland Security Investigations since 2013 had been looking into a drug trafficking organization that would prompt law enforcement officials to seize drugs in order to steal them from traffickers. This is a big deal. The people that are supposed to be keeping us safe from drug trafficking are the ones perpetrating it the most! That is insane, but maybe these conspiracy theorists are on to something. We put our trust into these people and they succumb to the greed caused by drugs and money.

It was talked about in the article, hate to quote but here is some info. The report offered further details: “The group was contacted by drug traffickers looking to get loads of cocaine and methamphetamine into northern cities. According to authorities, the group would then dilute the drugs to a minimum in order to have law enforcement seize the diluted load while the group kept the actual drugs. The group would then tell the drug traffickers that their loads had been seized by law enforcement.” Now this is wrong, but clever. That is how they got away with stealing from criminals and not being discovered by the other law enforcement personnel. According to a story published in The Monitor, a daily newspaper headquartered in McAllen, Texas, court documents show that “federal agents arrested De Leon for allegedly recruiting and bribing police officers who helped coordinate fake drug seizers.” The level of sophistication involved is crazy.

Now, we who have done so, know that it takes a lot of time and money to throw shows.

MMA is an honest business for the most part. Martial Arts prides itself in integrity and discipline.

With so many Martial Arts Styles represented, there has to be a lot of surprised people who have ties to this show whether they are fighters, coaches, or staff. South Texas Fighting Championships has held 38 events to date, but their future is surely in question. They held a recent show on February 5th in McAllen, and I’m sure the people who were in it didn’t know that they were fighting for a serious criminal involved in the Mexican drug trade. I say this was pretty interesting but very unethical. I guess if anyone had done a background check on the promoter, they wouldn’t have found any reason to believe he wasn’t on the up-and-up, but it goes to show, you can never judge a book by its cover.

Let’s Get Down to Brass Tactics

I am asked, more often than I would like to be, what is the single most effective Martial Art a person can study to be effective in a real fight. There of course is no simple answer to this. Are we talking one-on-one, a robbery, a bar-fight with multiple attackers? There are a lot of scenarios so I am going to just assume they mean a fair one-on-one fight that doesn’t involve a “sucker punch”. If you train a lot of realistic fighting such as MMA, you have some experience with the stress, pain, speed, and trauma of a real fight. But this isn’t the question being asked, they are asking what single art, not combination of arts is best for a real fight. My well thought out answer is: Any Martial Art.

If you train in a martial art on a regular basis, you have advantages over people that do not train in anything.

So to take it a step further, let’s just say what art is best if all other factors are fair.

I would have to say that, like I always do, I go back to the original UFC but I also have to take into consideration that the sport has evolved. So it was proven by Royce Gracie that Brazilian Jiujitsu was the Martial Arts Style that cancelled out all of the rest. Wrestling was effective for the big takedown, but on the ground Jits was far more effective in breaking opponents or rendering them unconscious. A striker was like a kid that can barely swim against a shark once the fight hit the ground. Jiujitsu taught its practicioners to close the space needed to strike effectively by guarding and timing the strikes. This caused the stiker to not have a good chance at finishing the fight standing up. What I can say is that Jiujitsu is very effective in one-on-one situations. You can spar 100% when you train Jiujitsu so it gives you a real look at the strength and speed that occurs during a real fight. I would say that the ability to render an opponent unconscious is the best tool in Jiujitsu.

To make things clear, I am saying that someone who trains in Jiujitsu probably has the best chance to win a one-on-one fight against both a street fighter and an opponent who trains in another martial art. The drawback to Jiujitsu is that it is trained with respect, restraint, and rules.

In an actual street fight, there are none of those virtues.

Against someone who is street savvy, biting, pulling hair, head-butting, poking eyes, fish hooking, and other forms of unpracticed damaging attacks are not trained in Jiujitsu. These tactics are employed and defended against in other martial arts, but once again, it wouldn’t mean much if a well-trained Jiujitsu practicioner were to be aware that these things could and would happen if given the opportunity. If you are looking for an art with self-defense, skill, tradition, and real world effectiveness, Brazilian Jiujitsu is probably your best bet. I would love to hear arguments to the contrary. I’m open-minded.

The UFC Auction

Is the UFC up for Sale? ESPN is saying that the Fertitta brothers are in advanced talks to sell the UFC.  According to the report, at least four parties have put in bids: two Chinese groups – conglomerate Dalian Wanda and private equity and venture capital firm China Media Capital – private equity house The Blackstone Group and U.S. talent agency WME/IMG.  The UFC, one of the world’s most popular mixed martial arts promotions, is owned by Zuffa, whose largest shareholders are brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.  Dana White, the president of UFC, who’s well known as its public face, also owns a big stake in Zuffa.  If a deal were to go through, the winning bid is likely to be for a valuation between $3.5 billion and $4 billion, people familiar with the negotiations told this to ESPN.

The UFC has stated that “As a private company, we don’t discuss speculation or rumors related to our business,” to NBC.  However, UFC President Dana White has “vehemently denied” the organization is up for sale, while the Dalian Wanda, run by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, is the front-runner to win the auction that “isn’t happening”.  Dalian Wanda already owns a 20 percent stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid as well as the Iron man triathlon franchise.  The company also acquired movie studio Legendary Entertainment earlier this year.  So they are obviously well-equipped to purchase the UFC as well as run it.  Maybe they will take better care of the fighters monetarily.  I wonder if the Reebok deal is still on if the company is sold.  It makes you wonder why Dana White is in such denial despite the almost public knowledge that the UFC is going to sell.

The UFC changed the face of Martial Arts between what was fact and fiction.  We grew up believing that Martial Arts Training was the best way to win a fight, if that was your goal, but which Martial Arts Style would be the best? The Gracie family already had a reputation for going around and winning fights against other styles but most of the world hadn’t even heard of them until the first UFC.

It became very apparent that old traditional styles were not complete in their application for true competition.

A lot of hearts were broken and a lot of egos were shattered, but Ultimately (no pun intended) it took a blending of several styles to create a complete fighter.  This is a notion that Bruce Lee played with for a very long time and actually turned it into the sacred art of Jeet Kune Do.

With any major change comes turmoil.  I think that they should elect a new president if the UFC sells.  Dana White will be well taken care of into generations of his family and he won’t have any issues finding another capital machine.  It does show, after all, that Martial Arts can be big business.  It is always a big idea that spawns big business.  In this case, a tradition that was started hundreds of years ago to simply learn how to defend one’s self, became a multi billion dollar corporation.  That is amazing!

Ways to Know if You Are at a Bad Martial Arts Gym

I recently saw a checklist on Facebook that was explaining how to tell if you’re at a bad martial arts gym.  It actually had a picture of the Kobra Kai from the original Karate Kid in it.  I think we all know how bad that gym was.  I feel myself to be qualified to give you some ways to tell if you have just stumbled into or possible joined a bad gym.  I will obviously not use any names but I am going to give you actual examples of stories told to me by members of my gym who used to belong to other gyms.  These are people who came from toxic gyms and joined ours, and I can’t believe that some of this stuff really goes on.  The article I read focused on how to tell right away, but I’m going to aim mine more at someone who probably already belongs to another gym.

One way to tell is that almost immediately, it doesn’t offer what you were told it does.  Here is a real life example, I had a family go to a gym because they were told that there was a great MMA program for kids there.  They were given a tour, told they had a great kid’s MMA program and signed up.  After a couple of weeks waiting for the MMA class to “get going again”, the family discovered that not only was there no MMA class, but there had never been one.  Now, you might ask how this could even happen, but it did.  The family had a young son that was already proficient in Martial Arts but came specifically to that gym for MMA.  The person who gave them the initial tour told them that they had an established MMA class and that he could join it since he already had training.  After joining and asking about the class, he was told by someone different that they didn’t have a formal MMA class and that the combination of the other classes were equal to MMA.  What!? He was deliberately duped into signing up for a membership with a promise that wan’t kept.  Subsequently the family was “allowed” to get out of the contract, but not before they wasted an enrollment fee.  The way to avoid this would be to ask to take the exact class you are interested in before you sign up.

Any gym worthwhile with nothing to hide would be glad to have to try a free class because they believe in their product.

A great way to tell if you’re at a bad gym, and I hate to say it, is to listen to the rumors from other gyms.  Don’t be scared to mention names when you walk into another gym.  If you check out four gyms, we will say Gyms “A” through “D”, mention that you have visted the others.  By the time you get to gym “D”, you’re going to know a lot about the other gyms.  Tell “A” you plan on visiting “B, C, and D”.  You’re going to hear the negatives about the other gyms right away.  You can’t believe it all, but if you notice a common theme, like dishonesty or poor leadership, you can probably surmise that it is true.  We had a gym locally that was notorious for bringing in new students who were interested in MMA, having their experienced fighters go hard on them and beat them up pretty good, then explain that they really needed to join in order to avoid that from happening.  Not only did they do that, they explained that all other gyms would do the same thing except worse, then charge more money than them.  This gym would also recruit potential fighters, charge them for personal training, then book them into professional fights before they were ready.  The gym cashed in on ticket sales, so the whole thing was a legal scam fueled by the egos and naïve nature of young wannabe fighters.  The way you avoid this one is to ask a lot of questions and make sure you ask around.  With yelp and other media sites, it is easy to see reviews about gyms nowadays from actual members or people who have tried it out.

The best thing to do when you join a gym and attempt martial arts training is to ask a lot of questions.  There are way more ways to tell if you walk into a bad gym.  You’re going to have to decide what kind of training you want and what your goals are, then find the gym that is best to help you accomplish those goals.