Professor Carlo Rotella, a noted historian of Boxing, recently delivered a guest lecture at Cornell titled “My Punches Have Meaning – Making sense of boxing.” I think that some of his insights might be worth considering in the current context. He noted that individuals who are engaged in the professional combat sports very much want to believe that there is a meaningful logic behind the most important events in their athletic careers. And yet the more closely they are matched in skill and ability (things that yield a competitive and entertaining fight from the audiences point of view) the less likely this seems to be true. Any fight will have a winner or a loser. But the more closely matched the two fighters are, the more influence random occurrences seem to have on the outcome of a given match. For that reason, when evaluating the career of a given athlete, members of the Boxing Hall of Fame are careful to look at an entire series of fights over a long stretch of time, and not just a single victory or loss, when trying to decide between two possible athletes for induction.
From Kung Fu Tea aka Chinese Martial Studies article “By Popular Demand: “Tradition” vs. “Modernity” in the Chinese Martial Arts.”
The hot topic in China these days is another in a long series of MMA vs Traditional challenges.
Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong beat Taiji master Wei Lei in a few seconds.
Its kind of sad to me because I understand both sides.
There is an allure to Chinese Traditional martial arts. They can be beautiful in a way that dancing is beautiful. The ideas in some of the systems are sound. But they are systems that are handed down and not every practitioner has the same level of discipline, talent, and physical capabilities. Some are better teachers than fighters. There is a certain mystery involved, part true mystery, part chicanery. This is in fact part of the allure.
Then you have guys who are athletes and become professional fighters. They spend all day nearly everyday eating, drinking, and sleeping the fight game. They train incredibly hard. And then they have to listen to Traditional martial artists basically taking shit. Purely speculative impossible to prove shit.
Shoulda woulda coulda talk.
And professional fighters, being aggressive for a living, are by their nature sensitive to this sort of talk. So they just want to smash in the heads of the people who are daring to claim that their practices (training in some cases as little as a few hours a week with no sparring and no serious contests) are equivalent or even superior.
Traditional martial artists need to get real!
If they want to have a contest with a professional fighter, they need to prepare by having test fights with professional fighters, so they can see the holes in their game (the whole game may turn out to be one big hole). They need to learn what works and what doesn’t work, in the context of the rules and the venue.
If they did this, my prediction was they will find that to have a chance, they would need to get their best youngest (under 35) fighters and start training them like professional fighters (6 hours a day) and testing their style against the styles they will be fighting in the main event.
To just step up without any such testing is, in my opinion, a sin of pride! Foolish pride! Test your hypotheses, people!
What is that saying? He can talk the talk but he can’t walk the walk, or something like that.
It’s still the same argument I made a few years ago in Why Isn’t Wing Chun in the UFC?