Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

I was hoping things would have timed out differently and I could make a small minor announcement here and discuss a certain something, but it's a surprise for a few people, and now I have to wait until they get it before I can really start talking about things.

I'm gonna try to hit the ground running in the New Year, as soon as I can organize my desk. I got a great deal on a hutch yesterday, but it's not working out quite as planned. Don't fret, as Martin Lawrence might say, I got this.

Anyway.

Hopefully by the end of next week I'll be able to lay out my plans and start discussing things that are gonna happen this year. The website tweak is still in progress, and all of that will hopefully be finished by next week as well. Nothing too major, just cleaning up a few things, finishing a few more things, and changing the focus back to writing n' stuff. This is where it all begins!

I'll try to make a point of actually discussing things at least once a week, be it current events or the book I'm reading, or even furniture I've purchased that's not quite working out as planned.

This week, however, you luck out, because I wanna talk about Teddy Roosevelt. Most of you know I'm a pretty big fan of MMA, but I've only recently discovered that Teddy was as well. I was looking for quotes to inspire this new year, and found a thread on Sherdog.com with this gem from Teddy:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Roosevelt was, it turns out, a boxer, a wrestler, and a practitioner of Judo and Jiu Jitsu. America's first famous Mixed Martial Artist. Who knew?

In a letter to his kids:
"I still box with Grant, who has now become the champion middleweight wrestler of the United States. Yesterday afternoon we had Professor Yamashita up here to wrestle with Grant. It was very interesting, but of course jiu jitsu and our wrestling are so far apart that it is difficult to make any comparison between them. Wrestling is simply a sport with rules almost as conventional as those of tennis, while jiu jitsu is really meant for practice in killing or disabling our adversary. In consequence, Grant did not know what to do except to put Yamashita on his back, and Yamashita was perfectly content to be on his back. Inside of a minute Yamashita had choked Grant, and inside of two minutes more he got an elbow hold on him that would have enabled him to break his arm; so that there is no question but that he could have put Grant out. So far this made it evident that the jiu jitsu man could handle the ordinary wrestler. But Grant, in the actual wrestling and throwing was about as good as the Japanese, and he was so much stronger that he evidently hurt and wore out the Japanese. With a little practice in the art I am sure that one of our big wrestlers or boxers, simply because of his greatly superior strength, would be able to kill any of those Japanese, who though very good men for their inches and pounds are altogether too small to hold their own against big, powerful, quick men who are as well trained."


All of this is to say, there's something in Roosevelt that's been missing from most of our past presidents, and that's the fighting spirit. Don't misunderstand, I'm not referring to bloodlust and war here. I'm talking about the drive and ability to get into things and really solve problems. Our modern leaders are too content to sit back in their offices, discuss strategy, plot and plan. He was tough without being a bully. How tough you ask? Someone tried to assassinate Roosevelt during a speech, shooting him in the chest. He took a minute to figure out if the shot was fatal, then decided to finish the 90 minute speech with a bullet in his chest. His opening comments to the gathered crowd were, "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."

Roosevelt was a man of action. He believed in the importance of nature and ecology, he was a hunter, an idea man, and most importantly a man of peace. A frail and asthmatic child, he was in a constant quest to discover and surpass his limits, to discover himself as a whole person, to find his inner balance. Its what Martial Arts are all about. The violence is just a bonus.

One of my plans in the new year, after getting my financial dust settled, is to get back into martial arts. I took kickboxing when I first arrived in Los Angeles, and I loved every minute of it until I got a cracked rib. Recovering from that, along with a dwindling class size and a less than enthusiastic instructor, meant I had to find other ways to spend my time. I'm researching gyms now, hoping to find one that offers a mix of styles. Have to be careful now since the UFC has broken big in the mainstream. There are a plethora of "MMA" gyms, some of which are legit, some of which are just guys who know a few escapes and submissions and happen to own a heavy bag.

Every ass I kick this year is for you, Teddy.


Teddy could give Wanderlei a run for his money in the staredown...


"Death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake there would have been a fight."

2 comments:

Joe Conway said...

I remember reading that jiu-jitsu quote somewhere. I've been wondering lately what traditional jiu-jitsu has, if anything, to offer for mixed martial arts. I know one problem with it is that it's laden with small joint locks and other things that are illegal in MMA, which is a problem not only because those techniques can't be used, but because these kinds of dangerous techniques have often kept traditional jiu-jistuists from practicing their art at full speed.

I also wonder if it bothers traditional Jiu-jitsuists that jiu-jitsu has become synonymous with Brazilian jiu-jitsu...

Here's to both of us getting back into the martial arts game this year!

Michael said...

I think the problem is identified in Roosevelt's letter: "while jiu jitsu is really meant for practice in killing or disabling our adversary."

As for JJ vs. BJJ, there's a lot of cool debates going around about different styles of the same form. Wrestling (catch, folk, Greco-Roman), Karate (Machida's aggressive style vs. point-based), etc etc. It's a fine time to be a fan. Had I realized there were so many free meet and greet things in Vegas today, I'd have been there...