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Planet Meathead
Rubbing Shoulders with MMA Dojo Rats
© 2012 James LaFond
“Nothing has such a deep redemptive bullshit value as MMA, except perhaps the female belief that a kick in the balls is a magic bullet that gets it done every time.”
-Charles Meisling
The identities of the meatheads below have been obscured, in order to protect their image, in case they have, or someday do, grow up.
Sympathy for The Meathead
I have spent some time training side-by-side with some pretty thoughtless fighters. To be fair, combat sports require a potent ego. To enter a ring or cage in front of hundreds or thousands or millions of people, who care only that you or your opponent meet a terrible end, is generally not a pursuit combatable with the highest ideals. One might argue that such sports select for selfish athletes. At the very least combat athletes are going to be prone to dominant behavior; and, until they are humbled in defeat or training, fighters will tend to lack sensitivity; concern or empathy for others and the impact their activity has on others.
The Jerk
I was watching the captain of a small ‘MMA team’ lead his group in sparring. He announced that they would ‘just be boxing’ I think to impress me, the visitor. They were boxing on two loose wrestling mats. This man [a heavyweight] and the other heavyweight on the team began to box. The other guy, the new guy, with no fights, began jabbing his face in. The jerk tried getting in but had no skills, and no jab of his own. Toward the end of the first round, as the man with the jab stepped back, the wrestling mats slid apart, and he, with one foot on each, fell into a straddle. His ‘team captain’ pounced on him and administered some ground and pound until the fellow verbally tapped, by way of complaining that they were supposed to be boxing. The Jerk, a true MMA hero, got to his feet, strutted a bit, and announced “This is MMA, not boxing.”
The Goon
I was training at a karate school, using the mirror for shadow boxing. Next to me an elderly flyweight was advising an MMA heavyweight he had taken under his wing as to how to counter a vertical jab. When he countered the Goon’s vertical jab the Goon scooped him up and dropped him to the concrete floor. The old instructor has never been really fit since.
I have nothing more to add.
I agreed to hold the mitts for a pro MMA fighter, another big guy. He had asked me to spar. I told him that I wanted to puke every time I got punched in the head and that my coach and my doctor, and what was left of my brain, had, all four of them, advised me not to box anymore. I did caution him that my shoulders were shot, and to take it easy, pointing out that us ancient boxing guys used to call them ‘focus’ mitts, and that they were just for timing.
He could not jab, and his straight sucked. He fell into a pattern of killing the mitts with heavy arm hooks, with a late pivot. This made for a poor punch but tore my shoulders up. He began mixing in some pity-pat back-fists and then unleashed a spinning hammer fist that smashed into my cheek. He then began punching me in my unprotected body. When I dropped the mitts to guard my already bruised ribs he did a superman punch which nearly took my head off. I declined to hold the mitts for him anymore. Later I relented when he said he had an upcoming fight. He punched me in the face with a looping overhand right.
He ended up kayoing his opponent. I don’t know who that guy was, but I didn’t hit the floor and I’m a 49-year-old welterweight who was not even protecting himself.
Kid Delusion
A 25-year-old MMA coach at one particular dojo brought in his black belt, which had 8 red stripes on it. When the head instructor put him in the lineup he could not remember a single form and had a hard time with many of the techniques. The kid came back to me and stated that he was embarrassed that he had forgotten so much and would not be wearing the belt around the dojo. I was thinking to myself, ‘Now that kid is learning something. He’ll be okay.’
A few months later he asked me to work with him on his boxing and I pointed to the speed-bag, “Put eight hours in on that. Get good at it. Then I’ll work with you.”
The kid never put in a single round on that bag, and accused me of showing off when I worked it. A month later he had a new student who he was teaching to ‘box’. He asked me to instruct the boy on the speed bag. I did, and then stepped away. I did not follow up. Kid Delusion was standing there with this student trying to explain the bag working process, without pointing out any salient technical points, like keeping your elbows up. The student stepped back and said, “Could you show me?”
Kid Delusion said, “This is a new bag. I could work the old one. I’m not good on this one yet.”
This guy has never hit a speed bag for three consecutive beats
A week later the guy made fun of one of my stick fighters for sitting out a round. She said, “Why don’t you try getting out there with those guys—they beat you up.”, pointing at Charles and I.
Kid Delusion took the bait and then said that I was too smart to fight him with weapons, because he was too dangerous. He did not say it that articulately. I dressed it up for him.
Charles said, “Bring it!”
I said, “Hey man, I take all challenges with stick and steel: anybody, any weapon, anytime.”
Silence, except for the chuckling of his resting fighters, who had just seen Charles and I beat the piss out of each other for an hour.
One thing that I’ve noticed about MMA guys in the gym and the dojo is that they stop and watch the stick-fighting; stop their own training to see real combat. And what they are watching is just our practice. If you never thought a meathead could provide a meaningful commentary on something; there it is.
Mister Ten Percent
I was working with three boxers, two being novices. The seasoned guy, getting ready for his first fight, asked the MMA heavyweight in the dojo to throw some punches at him. Now, this kid was tired, was a middleweight, and trusted this meathead. The meathead had seen us do this drill dozens of times, in which I just tap the boxer and he works on his defense.
I looked on out of the corner of my eye. The kid blocked two crappy jabs. The meathead feinted, and then uncorked a hook against the headgear that sounded like about 80 PSI to me, about as hard as I hit the reflex bag. The middleweight complained and stopped the drill.
Then the meathead got indignant, “I thought we were sparrin’. Besides, that was just ten percent.”
That punk continued to make fun of the boxer at the school for a week, until I finally told him, “You hit him with 30%, I heard it. You just can’t control your power because you are an arm puncher.” I hit the reflex bag and said, “That, that’s what I heard. He was expecting to get tapped.”
Mister Ten Percent then began talking about how much tougher MMA sparring is than boxing sparring as I left.
I have done nothing to admonish these men, as I have not been in a position of authority over them, and reject such positions when offered. I just hope that the young men above have either matured, and now look out for their training partners, or will someday. If this has not, or is not destined to happen, I hope they are sidelined by their own actions and rendered incapable of injuring those who put their trust in them.
Welcome to Planet Meathead. When it stops spinning, please step onto the platform ahead of the handicapped and the elderly. If they fall beneath the train continue at your own pace. Do not look back.
Professor Mike Donovan
modern combat
Death of a Hundred Dollar Shield
your trojan whorse
menthol rampage
orphan nation
behind the sunset veil
book of nightmares
alex konstantaras     Aug 8, 2014

Such behavior is beyond my understanding,but i know that it is not so uncommon.Instead of feeling blessed that they have people to train with and sharing the same passion,these people look mostly for ego gratification.I would treasure my training partners(if i had any) and for sure i would help them heal in any way i could if they were hurt. It's such a pity.
    Aug 8, 2014

Okay Alex, you seem like a real nice, reasonable, empathetic kind of guy. So, it is my regretful duty to inform you that you have been banished from Planet Meathead—forever!
alex konstantaras     Aug 9, 2014

alright, glad to be banned
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