Craig Pumphrey Asks the Local MMA Community, “What Tree are you?”

Craig Pumphrey

Craig “The Professor” Pumphrey

I was here before the UFC explosion, I was here before everyone you know became an MMA fighter, I was here before everyone forgot what a black belt stood for and represented. These days everyone is a MMA fighter, they are cage fighters, and they know all the takedowns & submission techniques. I have found that a large majority of these trainers, instructors, & fighters really don’t know a whole lot about their discipline. Many do not understand what rank is about, especially when it comes to having the rank of a Black Belt. I have seen many people who say they are cage fighters walking around with attitude, doing nothing more than trying to intimidate other people. This is a big problem in our schools as well, kids bullying other kids, to the point where real bad things happen.

When you get into martial arts most of us join for one of several reasons, to learn something new, to learn how to defend ourselves, to get in shape, or to face our fears. Even though MMA has changed the world, it could really use some help when it comes to attaching discipline to its curriculum. I remember meeting several different fighters before the UFC became popular and these guys were all Black Belts. The unique thing was that even though all these guys had different fighting styles, different backgrounds, they were not punks with attitudes. The fact is they were very respectful, & polite to everyone. You would never know they were great fighters if you didn’t know who they were. I miss the respect and & honor that students used to have. Students who are just now getting into Martial Arts learning ground fighting, striking, and all the styles that go with it, are often missing the instruction of self respect and respect towards others.

I know many instructors are still teaching those values, but there are large majorities who have put values to the side. Now, we have a whole new breed of bullying going on. People are training in their garages, or back yards, learning moves from TV shows and trying them out on unsuspecting kids at school. They have learned how to fight, but have not learned “The art of fighting, without fighting”. Everyone knows who Bruce Lee is, and that quote is from the movie Enter the Dragon. If you have seen the movie you will remember the guy on the boat bullying people. He pushed people, intimidated people, until he came to Bruce where he challenged him to a fight. Bruce knew that he could destroy this guy in mere seconds, but rather than proving that, he tricked the guy into getting on another smaller boat. Bruce told him to row out to an island so Bruce could show him his fighting style. When the man got into the boat, and lowered it into the water, Bruce simply let the boat go and had the man towed all the way to their destination. Bruce had a way of teaching people things without having to get physical, and even though Bruce could have hurt the man, he chose not to.

What I love about martial arts is when you begin to climb the ranks, and you get closer and closer to the Black Belt level, things should change inside you. You become more and more confident in your abilities, and in yourself. You no longer have anything to prove, and you don’t have to bully people with intimidation, or by flaunting your rank and knowledge. In fact, you begin to dislike people that do. You will begin to defend those who can’t defend themselves, and you stand up for what’s right. You will begin to look at others who say they are martial artists and ask yourself where is their respect, their honor, when you don’t see it. Jesus Christ even said concerning his followers saying “You will know them by their fruits”. Basically, if a tree bears apples then you call it an “Apple Tree”, if the tree bears peaches you call it a “Peach Tree”. Jesus was saying you will know who His followers are by the way they live their lives, how they talk to each other, how they treat others. The same is true in martial arts, if you call yourself a Martial Artist or a MMA fighter, but you simply walk around with attitude bullying others, then you are nothing but a punk with an attitude! You have no fruit bearing witness of your art, style, knowledge, or worse….your instructor or sensei! You are no different than the people who lie, cheat and steal from the innocent, poor, and weak. So I would ask you this: What kind of tree are you? What fruit does your tree bear?

I hope that you would become what the fathers of the martial arts had become. Someone with great knowledge, fighting ability, respect, and honor, but those who are around would never know it. Walk quietly among your peers, don’t cause the water to ripple until you need to, and then when trouble comes your way bite its head off!!

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