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MMA Fouls

As I've mentioned, my sons and I like to watch mixed martial arts (MMA) on cable television. Last night, my eldest son even rented a recent UFC DVD for us to watch. I have a lot of respect for the strength, conditioning and skill of these great athletes.

In a couple of recent matches there were two fouls that caught my attention. In the first, one of the competitors, while punching, either poked the other in the eye with his finger or thumb. It was accidental, but it did stop the match for a while. In the second, a kick to the inside of the leg glanced up and struck the groin. Again, it was accidental, but the match had to be stopped briefly.

So here is my point. Even with these great athletes -- truly awesome fighters -- pokes to the eyes and kicks to the groin seem to work or at least have some effect. Isn't that what we teach in Karate?

In fact, most MMA matches do have at least some rules. The rules may vary from group to group, but there are some rules. If you looked at the fouls, they would probably be pretty effective techniques.

For those of us who are ordinary humans (not ripped fighting machines), these are probably the types of techniques that will work best for us -- perhaps the only ones that will.

A 100 pound woman is not going to be able to lift up a 250 pound man, throw him to his back, and ground and pound him. It simply won't happen (or at least it will almost never happen). A 100 pound woman is unlikely to be able to disable a larger male attacker with a "bare naked choke." It is possible, but unlikely.

But a poke to the eye is another matter. With the finger or maybe a pen or umbrella, such a technique is possible. And even if it doesn't permanently disable the attacker, it might give the defender a few seconds to escape or attract attention to get help. Who knows?

I watch MMA for entertainment. I respect the competitors. But I observe the fouls to see what ordinary people might be able to do.

I am almost 5 feet 8 inches tall. There are many women out there who are taller, heavier, and stronger than me. There are also men and women who are shorter and lighter than me, particularly in Hawaii. As a teacher, I always have to ask myself whether a particular technique is likely to work for a specific student. If it will only work for a 250 pound man in great shape, then I should only teach it to him. Or at least, I should explain that when I teach the technique.


Charles C. Goodin