Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight...

As Choke clearly shows, Ju Jitsu master Rickson Gracie hasn't always been the biggest man in the fights he's participated in.

Yet somehow he's come out on top more often than not.

It's interesting to hear that Gracie -- considered by many people to at one time have been the best fighter in the world, who is a member of a family that has produced numerous men to share the same distinction -- doesn't think of himself as a fighter. Rather, the Ju Jitsu he teaches is meant simply for self defense, and he fights competitively to show his students its effectiveness as a self-defense technique.

In Choke Gracie is shown preparing to participate in a Japanese fighting tournament. Gracie will be the oldest fighter in the tournament, but has more than simply his own championship and legacy to defend -- he has to defend the legacy of his entire family.

Former CFL player turned kickboxing champion, Todd Hays' trainer, Apollo Cook, makes the argument that Hays will be fighting Gracie using Cook's brain and experience, and only using his own body. By contrast, Gracie is his own trainer, and fights with his own brain and his own obsessive training.

Mixed martial arts fighting is looked at by many as a brutal bloodsport of questionable ethical and legal merit. But one has to keep in mind that unlike the dogs and dogmen of Off the Chain, Gracie has entered into his training and entered into fighting on his own volition.

Ju Jitsu, as described by the Gracies, differs from other martial arts. Boxing, karate or taekwando are each described as a "tough game", but not fighting, which is "serious business". This falls perfectly into Gracie's portrayal of ju jitsu as merely a self-defense art put on practical display for the world to see.

Anyone who's ever had to defend themselves knows that self defense is serious business.

The tournament at Budokan arena reveals the very tenuous line that many MMA fighters walk. In such a tournament, almost every fighter will lose. Only one man will endure the evening without being defeated.

But every fighter, in every sport, will face defeat eventually. The fighters who know how to listen to their head telling them it's time to retire are fewer and further between. Most fighters will only listen to another man's fists, and will only retire when they endure a beating so severe that they know it's over, and that they can no longer compete.

In Choke, Gracie isn't subjected to the indignity of having to listen to another fighter's fists. Gracie has since entered semi-retirement undefeated.

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