Earlier this year I wrote about my concerns with the depiction of martial arts in modern society in a post called “Dishonorable Behavior.” Those feelings continue to grow. I am not a fan of brutality. That may sound odd coming from a martial arts instructor, but martial art training is not inherently brutal.
Recently a few controversies popped up in the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization, that fuel these feelings. One controversy is who actually won UFC 167, the Georges St. Pierre versus Johny Hendricks contest. The victory went to St. Pierre, though many contend that it should have gone to Hendricks. UFC owner Dana White has laid the blame entirely on the Nevada Athletic / Boxing Commission, feeling that there is some shady work going on. That may well be. Questionable dealings with commissions concerning boxing and other big money sports are nothing new. Boxing was nearly brought down because of this sort of thing.
I do have to wonder what anyone expects once a competition rises into the multimillion or billion dollar level. Cheating appears to be a part of human nature. It is possible to legislate until the cows come home, but someone will find a way around the road blocks.
Another controversy that has risen is that after the fight, St. Pierre had originally announced he would take a hiatus, citing personal reasons, among them his health. In this day and age when the NFL is having to deal with head injuries to “protected” ball players, for a fighter to claim a health concern seems obvious. Mr. White was quickly reported as saying that it would not happen, that St. Pierre owed a rematch to the fans, and that fighters do not walk away from the organization like that. This was met with some social backlash. It appeared that Mr. White was placing his organization over the well-being of one of his associates. While that may unfortunately be normal business, it is not a good business image.
However, reports turned up later revealing that some of St. Pierre’s concerns may be an ailing father and a pregnant lady friend. These revelations cloud the issue. I would put the ailing father in the health concern column. Mr. White should respect that and be willing to work with St. Pierre on that concern and be supportive in the way we hope all bosses will. As for the pregnant lady friend, how wonderfully cliche’. It seems part of the big brute sports star resume’. I would expect Mr. White to be understanding, but I can understand that the business has to go on.
I have always thought of the martial arts as an honorable practice. I do not think of them as a sport or a competition. To me they are a skill learned for the sake of learning. They have a function in terms of self defense, but for the most part they are an end in themselves. They are a way to tone the body, communicate, and clear the mind. As soon as you inject huge dollars into them, things change. I suppose that is true of everything. With the martial arts, we are left with corrupt commissions, troubled athletes, and bullish promoters. I find it all dishonorable behavior too.