Archive for mma

The Fall of the Last Emperor

Posted in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Critical Thinking, martial arts, skepticism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by theskepticalsamurai

Anyone familiar with MMA should be familiar with the name Fedor Emelianenko. 

For the uninformed Emelianenko is a mixed martial arts fighter who for a period of time was essentially an unstoppable force in MMA the likes of which have not previously been seen.  Coming from virtual obscurity, Fedor quickly rose to the top the mixed martial arts world, dispatching all challengers in his way, earning the name “The Last Emperor”.  Put simply, Emelianenko was thought to be unstoppable. 

But sadly, all good things must come to an end. 

Fedor has lost his last 2 fights.  His 1st lost came via triangle choke by Fabricio Werdum, in the 1st round of their fight.  Although a devastating loss to Fedor, his camp, and his fans, it could be argued that Fedor had simply got sloppy/lazy in this grappling technique and “got caught” by a skilled practitioner.   

Many, including those within Fedor’s camp, felt that they was no need for alarm.  Fedor made a simple mistake against a skilled practitioner and “got caught”.  Surely this would not, in fact it could not happened again. 

Fast forward a few months later and Fedor suffers his second loss (in a row no less!) at the hands of Antonio “Big Foot” Silva.  Fedor not only lost, he got beaten down.  Granted there were moments when we saw glimpses of his former dominance, but reviewing the fight in its entirety, Fedor looked like a shell of his former self.    

After the fight, there were many different explanations for Fedor’s loss.  Some felt that Fedor was simply in a slump.  Others theorized that Fedor was simply no longer able to hang with top competitors and was approaching the end of his career.  The most interesting explanation came from Fedor’s camp, specifically from his head coach, Vladimir Voronov.  Voronov, had a perfectly logical explanation for why Fedor had lost the fight.      


Yeah, you read that correctly…


Pulled from Russian Sports Website,

“We believe that forbidden psychological technology was used… It seems to us that not everything was right, and that certain technologies were used. Not ones that could be seen by the naked eye but psychological technologies that worked on both fighters at a distance.”

“That is why during the fight Fedor was just not like himself. It seemed very strange behaviour from Fedor. He stepped into the ring and did everything exactly the opposite of what we practiced before the fight. We were all shocked! Fedor had never previously done such a thing.

“Now nearly a week passes, everything settles, and we understand why all this happened.”

Whether or not you are a fan of mixed martial arts, I am sure that we can all agree that the assertion that Fedor lost as a result of physic attacks/manipulations is just…


it is just sad…

Instead of searching for a logical answer for Fedor’s most recent loss, his team has instead decided to pursue para-normal explanations.  Instead of looking at logical reason for his loss (such his striking game, his grappling/ground game, his diet, or even his mental preparation for an upcoming fight), they have focused their attention of para-normal/supernatural explanations.  It should be noted, that as a result of this type of reasoning, one could argue that Fedor is no longer held accountable for this loss.  I mean, how can Fedor be held responsible for his loss, when he was up against an evil, mysterious, unseen, and unknown individual with psychic powers!  I mean come on!  The man is only human.  I would argue that the path taken by Fedor and his team will have 1 of 2 possible outcomes. 

1)      Fedor and his camp will concede that his loss was not Fedor’s fault, but instead the fault of psychic manipulation by the hand of some evil unknown enemy.

2)      Fedor and his camp will invest time, effort and resources to find/develop a means of combating and overcoming these mysterious psychic attacks that plaqued him in his last fight.

It should be noted that the end result of either outcome will be the same.  Fedor will be doomed to repeat his past mistakes. 


What can we learn from all of this?

People often ask me, “what is the harm in belief in the para-normal/supernatural?”  The harm is that instead of identifying real world/logical/rational answers to a problem, and individual is instead reduced to chasing their proverbial tail, looking for an answer that does not exist or will have no impact on the situation before them.  One of life’s greatest frustrations is how little control we have over so much.  Why would you want to increase that lack of control you already have (or is that don’t have) by trying to have an impact on something that is, at best, outside your scope of influence or, at worst, does not even exist?  One the things I despise most about para-normal/supernatural explanations is that they take the accountability away from the individual in question.  In the above case: Fedor’s team is trying to make the case that Fedor was the victim of a psychic attack, consequently they are implying that Fedor cannot be held accountable for his loss. 

So dear reader…

Again, I ask you, what can we learn from all of this? 

Don’t take the easy way out.  When faced with defeat, do not look for para-normal/supernatural explanations.  Instead, take the proverbial “hard look at yourself in the mirror” and find a logical/rational/reality based answer for your defeat.  Take that answer and learn from it.  Take that answer and become a better person than you where the day before.

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…


Skepticism vs. Mixed Martial Arts

Posted in Critical Thinking, martial arts, skepticism with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by theskepticalsamurai

Who would have thought!?  A skeptical blog post about mixed martial arts! 

Stephen is a martial artist who hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  He is most well known for his informative and detailed Brazilian jiu jitsu/grappling instructional.  If you are a martial artist (specifically a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) you owe it to yourself to check out his website:

I am on Stephen’s email list.  Recently he sent out an email discussing what makes a great instructor.  Many in the sports/martial arts community are under the false assumption that in order to be a great instructor an individual also has to be a world champion competitor.  Additionally, many also assume that an instructor with little (or even no) competition experience cannot be a good instructor.  The truth of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth.    

 Stephen discusses this in his email, Check it out:

 “Hi there,

 Some people think that they can only learn from World Champions. And then, when they finally study with a competition legend, they’re often disappointed that he won’t (or can’t) teach them very much.

 It’s easy to confuse teaching ability and competition success, but these are in fact very, very different things. There are lots of good fighters, fewer good teachers, and very few people who are both good fighters and good teachers. And you DON’T need a 400-0 record to be a great coach.

 Consider one of the very best MMA coaches in the business: Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • He’s never held the title belt in the UFC.
  • He’s never been the champion of any MMA organization.
  • And he’s never – as far as I know – fought in MMA himself.

So he’s a chump, right?

 Not so much! Despite his lack of competition pedigree he’s highly regarded by TONS of great fighters, including GSP, Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt, Andrei Arlovski, etc.

 These guys travel across the country to train with him, or fly him out to orchestrate their training camps. I am told that he has an amazing ability to put together a gameplan for his fighters.

 Maybe there’s more to teaching than simply being the toughest guy in the room…

 An Australian reader recently wrote me about teaching skills vs. fighting skills. Here’s a little bit of what he said:

 “John B. Will teaches teaches seminars at our school 3 times a year and he has discussed the idea that there are black belts in technique and rolling but not as many in teaching.”

 I think that this idea of a “black belt in teaching” is 100% correct. One of my teachers and role models – Dan Inosanto – has said that he’d rather train with a good teacher than a good fighter.

 That’s because some great fighters can’t articulate the details of even their bread and butter moves, nor teach you about the timing of the moves.

 Being a good teacher isn’t only about performance. It’s about being aware of the technical details and knowing how to share them with others. It’s about being able to find the best way to teach someone, even if they have a different learning style than yourself. It’s about finding variations and modifications of techniques that work for different body types and temperaments.

 I think you’re getting my point by now, but in case you’re still unsure, let me ask you a question.

Who would you rather have as a boxing instructor:

  1. ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson (40 KO’s in 58 fights), or
  2. Cuss D’Amato (who only had one amateur fight – which he lost – but then became Tyson’s coach and mentor)

Hmmm, I thought so…

 Stephan Kesting

 Stephen raises some really great points, specifically, the fact that people often confuse competition success with teaching ability.  Being a great competitor does not mean that an individual can teach.  In fact, many great martial arts/sports instructors have little (or no) formal competition experience.  The ability to compete and the ability to instruct are 2 very different skill sets (it should however be noted that the 2 skill sets are not mutually exclusive.  It is quite possible for one individual to process both skill sets).   

So what should you take from all of this…

Just because someone is capable of tearing it up on the mats/playing field, does not automatically mean that that same person can teach you to do the same thing!

Just because someone

This has been the skeptical samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…