Oh well if I can have a rainbow mowhawk and a fancy nickname like Dan the Outlaw Hardy, I’m sold!
Tapout. It’s not just a clothing and equipment line for Mixed Martial Arts practitioners and their ring girls,it’s also the password into the very serious, highly entertaining and slightly strange sub-culture of MMA. What, you thought MMA was just a sport? So did I until I started this Experiment. True, other Experiments I have done have had significant devoted and vocal fan bases (holla Crossfitters!) but nothing has ever come close to matching MMA. These people need their own National Geographic special is what I’m saying. (Except there would be no “native” boobs shots as all the topless chicks in MMA – and there are quite a few – are so enhanced that their bits will still be standing at attention well into their 90’s.)
The concept of UFC (ultimate fighting championship – the largest MMA organization) Fight Night was my first realization that not only do I not know what I’m doing this month but I really don’t know anything about what I’m doing this month. Usually I do a lot of research into my Experiments before I pick them but then usually my Experiments are just about the workout and not an entire lifestyle that I didn’t know existed. So Gym Buddy Megan – her husband Sensei Don is a huge UFC fan – has been giving me a crash course in all things MMA.
Lesson #1: Blood. MMA fighters wear those little gloves for a reason. During the very first workout of the month both Megan and I split our knuckles open during punching drills. I’ve done that before so you’d think I’d remember how much that hurts and how long they take to heal (try washing your hair when every time you bend your fingers you scream in pain). Of course real MMA fighters – which I never said I wanted to be one, I only said I wanted to workout like one – get bloody open wounds on way more than their hands. This sport is not for the squeamish.
Lesson #2: Sex. Any sport that always begins with one person “mounting” the other cannot possibly avoid the erotic connotations. Other moves, as you may remember from my Most Embarrassing Experiment Ever (Jiu-Jitsiu), include the “rear naked choke hold” and “rolling” the other person into “submission.” In addition, if the ads and magazines are to be believed this sport falls somewhere between Greco-Roman wrestling and the Lingerie Football League on the sexy scale. There are female MMA fighters but even they must pose with their tops off, emphasizing their sex appeal over their power (image from ESPN, slightly NSFW).
Lesson #3: C-Sections. Today’s workout, since our knuckles are still crippled, involved doing punching drills while holding dumbbells. (In the picture in the MMA magazine, the man is holding hammers – for what purpose I can’t imagine, unless they use them to bash people’s heads in or something.) It got very burn-y quickly. Then we tackled kicking drills using kettlebells hooked over our feet (awesome!!) and kicking an exercise ball. This was when the floor show really started:
(Note about videos: I switched to Vimeo to host my vids and for some reason it doesn’t show the lengths. All videos are under 20 seconds and are hilariously awful. You’ve been warned.)
Then we moved on to “escape drills” which were supposed to teach us different ways to escape holds, like this one where I’m pressed up against “the cage” (which you may also remember as our ballet barre):
But what we really learned, courtesy of Gym Buddy Allison, is what a c-section feels like. Apparently there’s a lot of pressure. And hip wiggling:
That was a “shrimp drill” done wrong. This is a shrimp drill done, well, slightly less wrong. I don’t get to have a baby shoot out of my stomach but then I do make it out from underneath the ball:
The other members at my Y definitely got their entertainment today with us. And despite all the laughing and ball throwing, we got a really good workout. Win-win! While the fitness definitely gets two thumbs up from me, I’m still not sold on the culture. It seems like the “manlier” men get, the more Barbie-esque the women have to be. But perhaps that problem is more widespread than just MMA?
What about you – does the MMA culture scare you a little bit too? I plan on going to a UFC fight night with the Gym Buddies to get a better feel for it – any advice for me? What would your MMA nickname be?? (Gym Buddy “the C-Section” Allison? Gym Buddy “Oof” Megan? Charlotte “The Clueless” Andersen??)