Category Archives: Martial Arts

Why Do Most Superheroes Know Martial Arts?

Batman and Spider-Man love to beat up bad guys. How do they beat them up? They use martial arts (along with some exceptional gadgets and strength). When I was young, Martial Artists were thought to be superheros. They had “special” powers that a great majority of the people around them didn’t have. After being an instructor for over 14 years now, I use the superhero analogy to teach kids about the power they possess. What is the advantage to this? Well, the world is made up of several different kinds of people. Some of the people in this world are not nice. There are people out there who enjoy hurting others or animals. There are people who sit idly by while others hurt people.

There are then those people who try to protect others from people who mean to do harm.

Now, when you are in charge of teaching children, you never know which of these people your students will turn out to be. It is the wolf, sheep, and sheepdog example.

I have encountered a lot of bully situations over the course of teaching kids for years. I have been told about students of mine who are being bullied and that is one of the main reasons they are now involved in martial arts. I have also heard about the people who have witnessed bullying and are now enrolled in order to avoid ever being one of the victims. I have also been involved with kids who have decided to go down that path of bullying others. It is present in schools, public, and even in gyms where kids are learning martial arts. Now, is it my duty as a coach to intervene when I know these situations are going on? Am I over-stepping my bounds by getting involved? Is it even my business? My answer to these questions is yes, no, yes respectively.

It is my duty as a coach to teach those who would be bullied to defend themselves. It is not to teach them to go out looking for trouble, or to teach a bullied child combat tactics with the intention of that child going out to do harm to the bully. It is a responsibility that I take very serious when I am informed about any situation that involves bullying on any level. It is my duty to teach kids that are in a situation where they are a bully that it is wrong and there are people out there that they should protect, not hurt. Through the process of martial arts training, bullies learn that it is painful when someone bigger, stronger or more skilled than them does physical damage. Empathy is a great teacher. It is also great when kids who stand by, or are being bullied gain confidence that there are techniques that can help them overcome situations where they would otherwise be harmed.

Is it my business? Of course it is. Literally and metaphorically, it is my business. I am paid to teach martial arts and the mentality that goes along with it. When I am entrusted to teach martial arts, I am also entrusted to help with kids that may otherwise cause problems in society. Martial arts teaches virtue and discipline. Those kids that are the wolves described in the first paragraph, will actually probably become the sheepdogs. One thing is for certain, they won’t be the sheep…

War Machine Will Get To Test His Skills

So I guess it is official, without the allegedly, I can say that the former mixed martial arts fighter known as War Machine is a real P.O.S.. Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver let his emotions get the best of him and brutally assaulted some people. One of those people was his ex girlfriend Christy Mack. He beat her badly, very badly. He beat her so bad in fact that he was convicted of attempted murder and wracked up 29 felony and misdemeanor charges in the process.

Yes, this is the dark side of what a martial artist is capable of.

How would his ex girlfriend or her friend, Corey Thomas, would have been able to defend themselves? Well they could have been avid martial artists as well. There is no blame to the victims, it just makes it clear that the only way to defend yourself is to have the same set of skills.

So how does Koppenhaver feel about this? Well, he certainly has a flare for the dramatic as he stated “I should have killed myself by now. There’s no reason right now that I shouldn’t be in the dirt right now laying next to Aaron Hernandez. That’s 100 percent true.” Well, I don’t have any pity for him, not an ounce. He is literally saying that if you dig your grave, you should lie in it. He was sentenced to 36 years to life in Nevada state prison for kidnapping, beating and sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend and attacking her male friend at her Las Vegas home in 2014. That makes him eligible for parole in 36 years, when he will be 71 years old. I’m sure he has plenty of time to assault more people in prison, except that the guys in prison with him probably won’t fight fair and they aren’t defenseless women. He got what he deserves in my opinion.

Who knows what was going through his head. He blamed anxiety, depression and self-pity for his problems and said he would stand in front of a mirror and smash his face into his fists until his face was swollen. Koppenhaver claimed to be a changed person now, saying he found God after reading two books by author Lee Strobel that used history and science to prove “Jesus is real.” Well Jon, you should have turned to that before you almost ended two lives, not because you were caught. How does his ex feel about the changes Jon has gone through in prison? Mack, whose legal name is Christine Mackinday, told District Judge Elissa Cadish in the sentencing phase that she still fears for her life if Koppenhaver were to ever be released from prison. She said “I do know when he gets out, he will kill me.” Hopefully, he never does.

Mayweather vs McGregor is Set

Since the debate began a very long time ago, I have doubted that it would ever come to fruition, but it did. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. retired and has always said it would take another nine-figure payday to get him out of retirement. Now, that is exactly what he’s expected to get when he faces UFC lightweight champion Conor Mcgregor in a boxing match on August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the past Mayweather made some pretty extraordinary claims about the color of his skin and compared it to the color of Conor’s. With the issue of race aside, several people chimed in and laid it all out there. Mayweather’s assertion that it is racially motivated is childish and pouty. He isn’t thinking about the real issue and I doubt his ego will ever change his mind. Oh well, at least we can count on MMA for entertainment.

Mayweather has faded quickly and effectively as a man with a big mouth that nobody likes.

That type of person has no race, just an annoying habit of being someone people love to hate.

Let’s talk about why Mayweather singled out Conor first. He didn’t single him out because he is Irish, he chose Conor because Conor is notorious (which is also his fight nickname) for talking a lot of trash before he fights. Mayweather likens his own trash talking to Conor’s. That statement has problems in itself. There are two major hiccups in that comparison. One is that Mayweather is nowhere near the same level of clever that Conor is in his statements. Conor is quick-witted and talks trash like a great story teller about the weaknesses he sees in his opponents. Mayweather simply talks about how great he is and that he is a legend like we have never seen. The second is simple, Conor makes light of it and he does it in a funny way while he is being honest. Mayweather is not joking and trying to be funny whole he talks about how great he thinks he is.

The main point of argument is that Conor backs up his talk and makes predictions about his performance that are true. He takes chances and goes for the finish every time. He is a “hungry” fighter that truly believes he works hard to be the greatest. Mayweather does believe in himself as the greatest, however, he is not an enthusiastic fighter. He does not fight to finish, he fights to score points and not take damage.

That is all well and good, but it is not entertainment and it is not what people want to pay tons of money to see.

Although I don’t see him standing a chance against the slick defense and years of polished experience in a boxing ring against Mayweather, McGregor has already accomplished his goal: to have a life-changing payday. McGregor has made millions from endorsements and other revenue, but he’s never made this kind of money simply for fighting. His take could grow exponentially as well if the event is as big of a success as it’s pacing to be.

President of the UFC, Dana White has already said he fully expects McGregor to defend his 155-pound title in the Octagon before the end of the year. If that happens, it should be a fruitful year for Conor, win or lose. All of the purses are only estimated right now, but they are going to be huge. Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe says the two sides have a confidentiality agreement that restricts them from revealing all of the financial details publicly. There will be a preliminary release of the purses, per Nevada State Athletic Commission law the day before the fight, but that is only a baseline figure. The percentages of the gate, pay-per-view buys and other bonuses will not be included in those numbers. Personally, I can’t wait.

McGregor vs Mayweather

I know what my opinion is, but how do MMA stars and/or famous boxers feel about the potential bout between McGregor and Mayweather? Oscar De La Hoya said last week that he believes a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor could kill the sport of boxing. De La Hoya said he was unsure if the sport would ever recover from what he deemed a circus fight. Not everything in boxing has that sentiment, though. Roy Jones Jr. told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he has no issue with Mayweather vs. McGregor and will surely watch it himself. This is a man who knows boxing and he knows exactly why it’s going to happen. “Floyd is in the business of knowing what people want to see and he gives them what they want to see,” Jones Jr. said.

“And they pay for it, because it’s what they want to see. So why would they not do that? It would be crazy not to do that.” ~ Roy Jones Jr.

Mayweather was not the first boxer to be interested in stepping into the ring with an MMA fighter. It’s not a particularly original idea. In fact, Jones Jr. had it first. He’s been wanting to face Anderson Silva, and has said so publicly, for the better part of a decade. Silva had a desire to do this, too, but it never worked out between the two parties and the UFC. Like McGregor, Silva is under UFC contract and wouldn’t be able to go off and box on his own without approval. McGregor is getting that to face Mayweather, though the UFC will be in on the revenue from the mega bout. “Being a fighter, I can’t hate on neither side, because I understood why they want to do it and I wanted to do the same thing,” Jones Jr. said. “Me and Anderson wanted to do the same thing a couple years ago.

Jones Jr., 48, is also a boxing analyst for HBO and he breaks down Mayweather vs. McGregor like this: McGregor might have a puncher’s chance, like anyone who steps into a fight, but he’s vastly outgunned by the 49-0 Mayweather. There’s no replacement for the kind of seasoning and polish Mayweather has, Jones Jr. said. McGregor has only amateur boxing matches under his belt.

I have also shared this sentiment. I am a Conor fan but there is no way he can beat Mayweather outside of getting a lucky punch in. Mayweather is known for his slick defense so getting a lucky punch in on him is even less likely than other boxers.

I think that Conor is smart to do it though.

It is my opinion that in MMA you should make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. There are other careers that pay handsomely and you don’t sacrifice your body or your dignity (when suffering a nasty highlight reel type loss). Again, more power to Conor and I hope he at least lands some good shots. I feel that it will be a hugely one-sided fight considering the seasoning Mayweather has and the advantage any boxer has over an MMA fighter. After all, Conor isn’t fighting a good pro boxer, he is fighting one of the best pro boxers in the rich history of the sport of boxing. No doubt about that, even from the Floyd haters. I want to see it and I’m sure millions of other people do as well.

Girl Power

It is no secret that I am all for everyone practicing martial arts with no bias. Man, woman, child, elder, monkey, elephant, amoeba or anything else that might have the urge. I believe in martial arts as a fitness, a spirituality, and as a mentality. I actually have the belief that everyone should have to practice at some point in their lives. Off my tangent, I found an article about a recently translated book describing an interesting aspect of women’s martial arts from 1914. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

The article talks about a translation of a martial arts book published in 1914, which was written by a woman for women, describes a group of Japanese women who banded together to form the Women’s Self-Defense League in order to fight off attacks from men. Nobatake Yaeko, a Japanese female wrote the book whose title translates as “Self-Defense for Women”, under the pen name Nohata Showa, and she published it in May of 1914. In the book, she describes and illustrates a number of martial-arts techniques that women can use to fight off attackers.

These techniques include throws, ways to break an attacker’s arm and a technique that strangles the abdomen of an attacker who is trying to rape a woman.

The moves look familiar as they are derived from traditional martial arts with a practical approach. Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are the core of the moves.

Not only are there moves, it has a detailed chart showing the weak spots on a man (called Kyusho). “Kyusho are points on the body that can cause damage if struck hard, or they can be used to resuscitate a person. If you violently strike any of these Kyusho, it can render a person unconscious and even stop their breath. Good and proper people would do well to learn these points,” Showa wrote. The book, written in Japanese, was translated by Eric Shahan, who specializes in translating 19th- and early 20th-century Japanese martial-arts texts. Shahan also holds a San Dan (third-degree black belt) in Kobudo.

The techniques described in the book are derived from a martial art called Jujutsu, which is the combination that I mentioned above of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. “The fundamentals of Jujutsu is to use the opponent’s power. You can win by moving nimbly at the right time, without using much power. Should you ingrain these techniques into your body, even a cute weak girl can wrap up a large man and achieve a win!” wrote Showa, according to Shahan’s translation. Showa wrote in the book that she had used the techniques successfully. “While I was returning to my abode from running an errand just the other night I encountered a frightful situation. I was able to imitate the handful of Jujutsu moves I learned and, despite my slight form, was able to avoid falling prey to a dastardly scoundrel. It was an absolutely thrilling experience.”

The book was empowering to women in a male-dominated society. In the book, Showa decries what she described as a surge of violence against woman in Japan and talks of an organization called the Women’s Self-Defense League, which was formed to combat it. The Women’s Self-Defense League not only trained women to defend themselves against attackers, but the organization also handed out awards to women who successfully stopped an assault. So far, Shahan’s research has revealed little additional information on Showa or the Women’s Self-Defense League beyond what is given in the book, he said. In the book, Showa “claims to have been a women’s historian,” Shahan told Live Science in an email. Given the Jujutsu techniques that Showa describes in the book, it’s possible that she ran a dojo dedicated to teaching martial-arts techniques to women, Shahan said. Fascinating stuff to me.

How Martial Arts Really Saved My Life

I know a karate instructor, we will call him Arthur. This is a pleasant man, not imposing in the least. I had the pleasure of working with him at another place that was not a gym. I was able to see him in his daily life. One day, I mentioned to a co-worker of ours that he is probably good at slicing tomatoes because he is a black belt. It was a small joke, but it was my co-worker’s reaction that brought me to an enlightenment. My co-worker was in disbelief and said that there is no way because Arthur is such a nice guy and wouldn’t appear to hurt a fly. Besides the fact that Martial Artists are not scary people and they don’t fit into specific molds, I knew Arthur as a black belt first so it was easy to picture him throwing kicks in his Kimono. I got a little off track, but the reaction of my co-worker caused me to ask a little bit more about Arthur’s interest in Martial Arts.

Arthur was a very forthcoming guy when asked about Martial Arts, it is perceptible that he was probably asked about the subject quite often when he wasn’t at work. He started telling me a story about how Karate was something that he held dear because it saved his life. Not in the sense that some guy with a gun attacked him and a well-placed snap kick jarred the gun loose and he gave the perpetrator a beating; but in the sense that he was a lost soul until he found Karate. Arthur was an addict, a miscreant, a bad father, a bad husband, a “loser”, in his own words. He was a man without vision or purpose.

He found Karate and learned the discipline that he now teaches others.

After he became so involved in Karate, he started realizing the error of his ways. He started to see who was there to support him. He started to see how much his family meant to him and how proud of him they were for turning things around.

This story has a happy ending, Arthur still finds himself doing well. He is a respected Sensei, he is a loving father, and he is a devout family man, and he owns his own catering business. The same way my co-worker couldn’t picture him as a man who has earned the highest belt Karate has to offer, I couldn’t picture him as someone that was not a productive member of society. I don’t feel that this story is the only one like it though. I looked up the subject of “How Martial Arts Saved My Life” and there were so many stories similar. Humility, inner strength, confidence, and discipline were the main areas of salvation. If you find yourself lost in the world and somehow came across this blog, maybe you can just try a martial art and see if it brings you to a better place.

How to Prepare for a Real Prison Fight

So I was talking about real world examples and who we should talk to about surviving in real life situations. I correlated which martial art would be best in those situations. I guess I didn’t think about the scenario where someone might be incarcerated. I was trying to use the good guy scenario and ignored the fact that inmates are people too and they will most likely encounter a life-and-death situation, probably even more so and more often than a Navy Seal. In prison, you’re constantly on the lookout for people trying to do you harm. Prison is one of the few places left in today’s modern world where a man is measured by his ability to fight. So while you generally shouldn’t take life advice from a person who has ended up in prison, when it comes to learning how to fight and survive a violent encounter, there is something to be learned from inmates.

I read some testimony about the subject from former inmates as well as former prison guards to learn what it really takes to survive when your life is on the line and the only thing standing between you and a cold metal slab is your capacity for violence. The first gem of advice will be to hit them first. I always tell competitors that when you’re defending an attack, you’re usually losing the fight.

Don’t wait for the other guy to throw the first punch. Nobody really cares who threw the first punch.

The only difference is that the person who hits first has a big advantage. The majority of people who wait to be hit before defending themselves end up losing the fight. That’s because while you’re covering up or trying to block a person’s punch, another punch is already on the way. And by the time you block that punch, another is on the way. It’s a cycle that repeats itself until you get knocked out. Don’t be on the receiving end of that cycle. Hit first. Hit hard. And keep on hitting.

Have you ever heard of a shank? Prisoners will go to almost any lengths to make sure they can protect themselves out in the yard, and one of the best ways they do this is by being armed with a weapon. A good weapon acts as a force multiplier and can greatly increase a man’s ability to do serious damage in a fight. Because of this, inmates are constantly coming up with new and inventive ways to make sure they always have access to something dangerous when they need it. One of the more ingenious methods I heard of is a prisoner who hid a weapon in plain sight by sharpening a piece of metal, then taping a few leaves to the end of it and sticking it straight into the dirt out in the yard. To the rest of the world it just looked like a small weed popping out of the ground. But to the prisoner who put it there, that “weed” was a potential life-saver. Out in the real world you don’t need to get this creative. Depending on what country you live in, it’s perfectly acceptable to carry a knife or gun with you for self protection. Remember, having the right weapon can save your life. Conversely, you should also keep an eye out for weapons that your opponent may have. Always be aware of people’s hands.

I’m not telling you to join a gang, but in a gang fight, a man without backup is as good as dead. Unlike in the movies where a lone hero can take out ten men using nothing but his speed and fighting skills, in the real world, having reinforcements can mean the difference between getting a few cuts and bruises, and ending up in the hospital. In prison having backup usually means joining a gang, but on the streets it could be something as simple as hitting up the local bar with your buddies instead of by yourself, or being friendly with the doorman. At the very least, do your best not to get in a fight with someone who’s rolling with a bigger crew than you are.

You probably don’t count on going to prison, but in general, you should train for fighting and pick up a martial art. I know I say this all the time, but in prison, you will be happy you did so. Most of the guys in prison aren’t trained martial artists. A few of them have boxed or wrestled, but when it comes to fighting most of them don’t really know what they’re doing and just rely on strength and aggression.

The good news is that strength and aggression can be overcome with proper training.

Most martial arts are bullshit and won’t help you against a real attacker, but a few of them will. These are the five most legitimate martial arts for learning how to win a fight against a bigger and stronger opponent.

The best advice that was offered by the inmates and guards was to always be alert. Prisoners are constantly on the lookout for trouble. That’s because inmates don’t normally telegraph the fact that they’re about to attack someone. Firstly, the guards would try to shut them down before they had a chance to do their business. And secondly, they don’t want to give up the element of surprise and warn their victim that an attack is imminent. Lucky for you that’s usually not how it usually works in the rest of the world. Out in the real world, most people make a big show out of preparing to fight. This is more true in prison where surprise attacks are the main way to get the upper hand. Always be ready. May you never see a prison yard from the inside, but if you do, be ready to get your chuck ems on and be on the winning end.

Who Knows Best About Self Defense?

Who is more apt to use martial arts in real world situations? I would say those who are in active combat situations more often than other people. When a situation arises where hand-to-hand combat is used to survive, a Navy SEAL is probably the person you want advice from. When it comes to self-defense, what do SEALs recommend? Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL who served alongside Chris Kyle and Michael Monsoor in Task Unit Bruiser, earning the Silver Star and Bronze Star for heroism. He has some good avice on the subject.

When it comes to self-defense, Willink’s top recommendation isn’t a martial art in the strictest sense. It’s a gun and concealed carry.

“If you are in a situation where you need to protect yourself, that is how you protect yourself,” he said, noting that potential adversaries will have weapons, they will be on drugs or suffer from some psychotic condition. “If you want to protect yourself, that is how you do it.” I suppose he would know best and he was asked what the best form of self-defense was so his answer is perfect.

It isn’t legal everywhere, but that works in the states that have “constitutional carry” or “shall issue” carry laws. But suppose you are in California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, or Delaware which the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action notes are “Rights Restricted – Very Limited Issue” states where obtaining a concealed carry permit is very difficult? Willink then recommends Brazilian jujitsu, followed by Western boxing, Muay Thai, and wrestling. These are similar to the list that I myself put together a few months ago in a blog about which martial arts I found to be most effective in real world situations. Makes me feel pretty good about myself.

Willinck is a proponent of jujitsu in particular, recounting how he used it to beat a fellow SEAL in a sparring match who had 20 years of experience in a different martial art. He noted that people should not buy into the notion of a “magical instructor” who can help them defeat multiple attackers. He said martial arts like Krav Maga can augment jujitsu and other arts.He also noted that you have more time than you think. The attack isn’t likely to happen next week, it could be a lot longer, and one can learn a lot by training in a martial art two or three times a week for six months. Willick notes, though, that martial arts have a purpose beyond self-defense. They can teach discipline and humility. He notes that few who start jujitsu get a black belt – because it takes discipline to go out there on the mat constantly, especially when you are a beginner.

Famous Martial Artists

It dawned on me, that it is common sense to me that celebrities are people too and that they probably have an interest in martial arts. Specifically with the popularity of the sport of mixed martial arts, especially the UFC, it’s no surprise that there has been a direct correlation to the growth and popularity of people training martial arts, specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This doesn’t exclude A-list celebrities, however; on average it takes a person around a decade to achieve the rank of black belt and that is with consistent training. To achieve the rank of black belt in BJJ is an honor, a privilege, and one of life’s greatest accomplishments for practitioners of the art. Several famous actors, actresses, musicians, and athletes are trained in various martial arts. Some celebrities are black belts in Karate while others study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Several Hollywood actors began studying the martial arts in preparation for roles in popular action films.

Musicians who know how to rock but also know martial arts are a pretty famous group. Willie Nelson earned a black belt in Taekwondo. Megadeath musician Dave Mustaine has a black belt in Karate and Taekwondo, and Tool front man Maynard James Keenan trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Lou Reed practiced Tai Chi on a daily basis, reportedly for up to three hours at a time. I’m sure the discipline of music is similar to the discipline required for martial arts. Rikki Rockett and Guy Ritchie are also martial artists. Ritchie not only holds a brown belt in Karate but held that same rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu…for 8 years! That is until BJJ pioneer Renzo Gracie surprised Ritchie at the movie premiere of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and presented him with his black belt. Renzo had this to say in regards to Ritchie’s accomplishment,

No one has ever worked harder than Guy to get his black belt; he spent 8 years as a brown belt – training every day. He is my favorite.” ~ Rockett

Rockett, the drummer of the beloved band Poison not only has a background in wrestling, boxing, and Silat but is also a 2nd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renato Magno. Rockett began training in BJJ back in 1998 with Rigan and Jacques Machado and supplemented his classes with private lessons from Magno. Rockett is also a fierce competitor having competed in the 2010 Pan-American Championships

Some celebrities have obviously studied martial arts. It is apparent from their smooth moves on film. Wesley Snipes is an action star, so if we were to find out he had never trained martial arts it would be crazy news. That of course, isn’t the case. Snipes began training in martial arts when he was 12 years old. He has a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan karate and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido. Jason Statham is another guy who throws the good strikes on camera and even shows up at UFC events on a regular basis. Since he is so proficient at martial arts, Statham was offered more film roles, and in 2002 he was cast as the lead role of driver Frank Martin in the action movie The Transporter, in which he was responsible for his own stunts (Statham has made this choice for all of his films). He has studied Wing Chun kung fu, karate, and kickboxing. With the popularity of Jon Wick, you would think Keanu Reeves has had extensive training in martial arts. To even my surprise, Keanu Reeves doesn’t practice martial arts. Although he does play a kung fu master in movies. “I’ve done a lot of Movie Kung Fu. So I’ve had some training in that,” Reeves has been quoted as saying.

The famous comedian and announcer Joe Rogan speaks quite often about martial arts. He is a proponent for them. He is also holds black belts in eight different styles: Shotokan, Taekwondo, Kobudo, Goju Ryu (for which he studied under Master Eddie Morales where he learned to sharpen his Goju karate technique), Tang Soo Do, Wushu and Kyokushin, with a specific focus in Kyokushin. Most widely known as his role as the UFC’s primary color commentator, Joe Rogan is a very interesting and popular personality indeed. He is also widely known for his work as a standup comic and has one of the most interesting podcasts currently on the air, The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan, a Taekwondo national champion and lifelong martial artist, is also a black belt under 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo.

Some other unlikely celebs who are proficient in martial arts are pretty entertaining. Ed O’Neill, that’s right, Al Bundy is not only more of a man than you’ll ever be but could more than likely wrap you up like a pretzel and make you scream uncle with his hands literally tied behind his back.

Ed O’Neill, Al Bundy is more of a man than you’ll ever be

Ed O’Neill, famous for his role in the sitcom Married with Children, has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for more than 22 years and in 2007 received his black belt from one of the UFC and BJJ pioneers Rorion Gracie. Another one, but not as surprising is The Boondock Saints and Dexter star Sean Patrick Flanery began training martial arts at the tender age of nine and continued with various disciplines through his college years. Flanery began his BJJ training with the legendary Rickson Gracie in 2000 and then continued his training with Renzo Gracie in 2003. For the next five years Flanery continued his diligent advancement through the ranks and on May 4, 2008 he received his black belt from one of Renzo’s top instructors, Shawn Williams.

Martial Arts and Disabilities

One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of being a youth instructor is coaching disabled children. From kids with autism, to a double amputee, to children with traumatic brain disorders, I have been lucky enough to coach some amazing disabled children. Dealing with unruly children or disrespectful teenagers is definitely a challenge. It is more of a challenge than it is to coach children with disabilities. I have taught several children with what people consider to be a disability.

Some athletes with disabilities have accomplished some pretty amazing things.

If you don’t know who Anthony Robles is, you should. He was so good at wrestling that he became an NCAA champion, an amazing feat. This was with the fact that he is missing a leg. Yes, he has one leg. He became such a dominant force that coaches were even saying he had an unfair advantage because his strength was that of a wrestler in a higher weight class. Amazing young man. He isn’t on the scene anymore but Matt Hamill is a deaf American mixed martial artist and wrestler who has competed in the Light Heavyweight division of the UFC. He is a three-time NCAA Division III National Champion in wrestling while attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Hamill also has a silver medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling and a gold medal in Freestyle Wrestling from the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, which is impressive also, but tells the story of how many deaf wrestlers must be out there and are very good at what they do. I’m sure these two don’t consider themselves to be disabled at all.

Another great example is Baxter Humby. Baxter Humby is a Canadian kickboxer known as “The One Armed Bandit” due to his missing right hand, which was amputated at birth just below his elbow after becoming entangled with the umbilical cord. He is the only man in the world to win world titles with only one hand. He competes against not-disabled fighters and I have seen him fight on several occasions. Baxter is the current IMTC World Super Welterweight Champion. He holds a number of different title belts including WBC Super Welterweight National Champion , IKKC USA Kickboxing Champion, IMTC World Middleweight Champion, and IKBA International Kickboxing Champion. His interest in sports led him to take up running at age 11 and martial arts at 17. He ran for the Canadian National Track Team in Barcelona in 1992 and in Berlin in 1994. So the man has accomplished many feats that people with all of their limbs will never come close to.

What an amazing person to not let something like a missing limb be an excuse for not doing the things he wants to do in life.

Coaching these types of athletes has proven to be something that I love. I find that people with disabilities in one area of their person, always make up for it with excellent strengths in other areas. A person who is blind is known to have better hearing than others. The other senses seem to be amplified when one is absent. This has been true about everyone I have had the privilege to coach that has a disability. I hope this goes to show those of us with no disabilities that if we were to have half the drive and determination of those who were told they couldn’t do something because of a disability; that we are only limited by our own minds. More power to all of those out there trying to do what they dream.