Outcome: My outcome is to reflect back on my experience after 3 years of MMA training in order to come out with powerful insights for men who want to become stronger and more dangerous.
I’m not a fan of “self-defense”. I’m a fan of reminding people that fucking with you is a bad idea. – Master Chim
Rough kids in Queens
When I was a kid, I used to wrestle and rough-play with the boys in recess. I had a natural affinity for fighting and would often throw the other kids around with relative ease. I had this technique where I would grab a kid by his arm, swing him in a circle and then trip him throwing him a few yards away. I’m very grateful for the fact that our teachers let us wrestle in the field and didn’t try to stop us under the pretext of “toxic masculinity” and so on. This definitely made me more grounded in my body from an early age had I avoided any type of physical confrontation like some kids did.
Later in life, I lost touch with that side as other less empowering pursuits took hold of my focus such as hanging out with the wrong crowd, cutting school, and drinking. I guess you can call it a rebellious streak but it was definitely aimed towards the wrong direction.
In my late teenage years, I was jumped, mugged, and humiliated several times. I was a confused kid and didn’t really have any role-models, mentors, or anyone who truly had my back in the streets. This put me in a very vulnerable position mentally and physically and I was thus an easy target for bullies and petty criminals.
This vulnerability/insecurity was partly the reason why I started searching for answers to questions like: “Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong? How can I become a man?”
All that loneliness, fear, humiliation and sadness had resulted in an insatiable drive to become better and stronger in every way. Therefore I thank those experiences because those scars prove that whatever tried to kill me didn’t succeed and instead I overcame those challenges and continue to do so every day.
The decision to train
Throughout the ages of 8-15, I had done some martial arts training but it wasn’t serious. It was very sporadic and inconsistent. It also wasn’t connected to a higher purpose of any sort so I just treated it as a sport.
Around 16-19 years old, I spent a lot of time reading, watching videos and learning everything I can about spirituality and ancient wisdom. I spent a lot of time learning how to meditate and I started going to the gym.
The more I developed myself, the more I intuited that I didn’t want to just be a man of knowledge but I also wanted to be a man of action. I knew that I wanted to be intellectually bold but also physically bold and capable of neutralizing threats to myself and/or my tribe. I had gone through some tough times growing up and it was time to develop my inner-psychopath..my inner warrior. I wanted predators to fear me so I needed to become the predator.
My resolve culminated at 19 years old and I decided to start training martial arts with discipline and consistency. My purpose was set in stone. I wanted to become dangerous to those who wished me harm and a protector to those whom I loved.
This resolve was strong and continues to grow stronger. I truly see my martial arts training as part of my core identity as a man. I fundamentally believe that you CAN’T call yourself a man unless you are actively training and are capable of holding your own and protecting your tribe. I just can’t see it any other way. It’s what makes us men.
Therefore my intention is for my training to be life-long. As I age, I’m sure I will have challenges but I will keep my body flexible and strong through various regiments including yoga and proper nutrition. A warrior trains and trains till the day he dies. There simply isn’t a moment where he says “enough is enough”. The moment you stop learning is the moment you start dying.
Me sparring/boxing (I’m wearing black shirt)
Choosing which arts to master
Traditional stuff like Kung-Fu and Aikido weren’t what I was looking for because I felt like those arts weren’t reliable enough in actual combat scenarios. I needed something real and raw.
I started doing my research and inquiring with various mentors and decided that MMA (mixed martial arts) was the way to go. Within MMA, you have several key arts such as Judo, boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay-Thai and Greco-Roman Wrestling.
Check out this video by Navy SEAL Jocko Willink on what he considers to be “real martial arts”. This guy is the real deal and is the definition of a “modern spartan”.
My MMA Journal
This is my MMA journal that I’ve jotted notes down in for the past few years. I have used my phone and the app Evernote to jot down notes as well.
As of now I’ve been doing MMA with good consistency for about 3 years. I have trained to varying degrees in all of the following: Boxing, kick-boxing, muay-thai, BJJ, wrestling, and Philippino Kali.
The ones I did with the most consistency have to be kick-boxing, boxing, and BJJ.
I’ve made it a habit to write down at least one insight after every class. I’ve been pretty disciplined with this practice. Journaling after every class is a great way to reflect on and embody your training at a deeper level. It also shows your teacher that you take his lessons seriously.
Some questions you can ask yourself for journal entries
What is the ONE thing that truly stood out to me in today’s class?
What are 1-3 drills that we have done today? What is their purpose?(Break down the drills so you can practice them on your own).
Where did I struggle with the most in today’s training? What will I do to improve?
Developing the warrior’s heart
Before I started writing this article, I took some time to review my journal and look at some old insights, stories and techniques that I’ve jotted down over the years.
One story stuck out and it was this boxing sparring session I did with a guy named Glen. He was a big 240 Ib 6’3 guy that had been doing boxing pretty consistently for about 10 years and had even done some pro fights.
The sparring session started out normal. We were throwing some jabs and crosses, bobbing and weaving, etc. But as anyone who’s ever sparred knows, occasionally someone throws a punch a bit too hard and then the other guy starts to question whether or not that was done intentionally or if it was a mistake. In that situation, there are a few choices on how to respond, notably one being that you can tell the guy to “tone it down” or you can ramp it up yourself matching his intensity.
In this story, I chose the latter and decided to ramp up the force. Next thing you know Glen and I were swinging full force and really going in for the home run AKA the knock out. He got a few punches in that felt hard and disorienting. I threw some back and connected which I’m sure felt sharp and painful. The whole crowd at the dojo stopped doing what they were doing because they heard the intensity of impact coming from the blows.
We quickly got separated before things got out of hand and shook hands both holding in our aggression. Then the coach came up to me and told me something that I’ll never forget:
He said, “You went were the 99.9% won’t go. You’ve got heart kid. That right there was how a REAL fight feels. Now go home, you’re done for the day.”
I’ve had a few more bouts like that during sparring sessions which engrained a new level of mental toughness and self-confidence in me. It’s a type of confidence that can only be felt after being punched in the face by a grown man and hitting him hard back.
Regardless, one of the biggest things that martial arts taught me is how to have heart. How to develop a more powerful will. And that right there is a priceless lesson.
“In all activities of life, the secret of efficiency lies in an ability to combine two seemingly incompatible states: a state of maximum activity and a state of maximum relaxation.” — Aldous Huxley
Another crucial lesson I learned was the importance of staying relaxed under pressure. Beginners often make the mistake of tensing up when fighting which causes their movements to be slow and rigid.
The more relaxed opponent typically owns the other guy. I realize that this is nuanced for if you are too relaxed then you’ll just flop like a jellyfish.
I like to compare relaxation during combat to a string on a bow. You want to be relaxed but tense enough to meet your opponent with energy and intensity. You apply just the right amount of tension to each and every movement keeping everything else relaxed thus optimizing for economy of movement and expansion of energy.
The point is that you don’t need to use so much energy. An efficient warrior knows how to conserve his energy and only use as much as needed letting himself relax and thus be nimble, quick and graceful as he moves towards the outcome he desires.
This principle has shown to be effective in every single aspect of life from business to sex. There are many parallels between martial arts and life.
Reasons why I train
The above is a video of me rolling and then submitting my opponent with a guillotine choke. (I’m wearing the green shirt)
One reason I train is for honor AKA my reputation in the eyes of other men who’s opinions I value and men in my tribe. I want my fellow men to know that I’m a reliable and capable guy. This causes them to hold me in higher esteem and it also qualifies me as a valuable member of the unit.
The other reason why I train is to be dangerous and capable of neutralizing threats to myself or tribe.
The third main reason I train is to develop my character, masculinity and aggressive nature. Too many these days are pussified soy-boys with no backbone and for me that’s a big no-no.
The future of my training
My intention is to continue training for life to the best of my ability. I’m going to continue training MMA since it’s the most useful art in the real world.
One of my next biggest questions is how do I become a better and more efficient learner? How do I truly draw the most out of every lesson?
Something I struggle with is fighting big heavy guys. I hate the idea of being outmatched by someone just because he has more weight than me. I want to be able to win regardless of weight class.
So the question is how to quickly and efficiently neutralize big and heavy opponents when they’re in an advantageous position (such as mounted on top of you)?
Another thing I am very interested in learning is weapons and close-quarter-combat skills. In other words the ability to clear rooms and move from place to place with my team while covering each other and neutralizing any threats.
Close Quarter Combat Training
My intention is to also learn how to effectively conceal carry and use my weapon when the time comes.
Another thing I want to learn is better situational awareness, improvised weapons and verbal de-escalation which falls into the category of psychological warfare. How do I win the battle without throwing a single blow?
Another important thing to learn is how to deal with the “chemical cocktail”. The chemical cocktail is a term used to describe the chemical rush that you feel when faced with violence. It’s when your adrenaline is pumping, you start getting tunnel vision and your motor movements don’t function properly.
An effective fighter must be able to deal with that because violence doesn’t wait till you’re primed and ready, it often happens when you least expect it.
My intention is to be highly dangerous yet disciplined. I want to be the kind of man that runs towards the fire and meets the enemies at the gate. I want to be a warrior and one who is willing to step into the unknown. I want to be the type of man that my friends and family can rely on when the shit hits the fan.
There is a price to pay in order to live my life this way and the price includes relentless training for the rest of my life. Are you willing to pay the price? I am.