Craig Pumphrey Asks the Local MMA Community, “BJJ?”

Craig Pumphrey

Craig “The Professor” Pumphrey

Have you seen the UFC? Have you noticed how some of the best fighters in the world are taken out by these Jiu-Jitsu techniques? Well, if you haven’t you might want to study the fights a little closer, rather than just watching the action. A lot of people are now wanting to study MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the demand for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors are high because of the UFC. I would like to shine a light on the whole truth, and not just one aspect of these techniques that everyone is chalking up as “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” (BJJ). What I’m going to do is give a few examples of the UFC’s greatest fighters and take a look at what style(s) they trained under, and what they used to win some of there fights. Let’s start with a very popular fighter by the name of Matt Hughes. Matt was a NCAA Collegiate Wrestler and did not enter his first fight until 1998 where used his wrestling background to dominate his opponent. Matt would soon enter the UFC Octagon in UFC 34 where he would fight for the Welterweight title against the more experienced Carlos Newton. Once again Matt used his wrestling techniques to knockout Carlos with a body slam and take the Welterweight UFC Title. Matt continued his winning streak by taking out some of the worlds greatest fighters, including the famous Royce Gracie. After Matt pounded on Royce to the point the ref stopped the fight Matt’s statement about how he defeated Royce was simple, “I out wrestled him”. Matt is not a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt practitioner.

How about Randy Couture? Randy had 25 years in Free Style & Greco Roman Wrestling and entered the UFC Octagon in 1997 where he was 33 years old (That’s when most retire from this sport) and dominated the Heavyweight division. Randy developed a style that most now know as “Ground & Pound” which had never involved Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Of course as years went by, and his fighting career grew, he faced several BJJ fighters. Randy learned and trained in BJJ to become more familiar with the system only to defeat it with his wrestling ability. Randy would defeat BJJ expert Vitor Belfort, Pedro Rizzo (BJJ), Gabriel Gonzaga (BJJ) & Brandon Vera (BJJ & Boxing). If you look at some of the most successful fighters today you will notice something, For example George St-Pierre holds Black Belts in Kyokushin Karate & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also trains in the arts of Wrestling & Muay Thai. Let’s go way back to the old days of the UFC, there were many fighters who would become well know without a BJJ background. Do these names sound familiar? Ken Shamrock (Shoot Fighting & Pancrase), Dan Severn (Wrestling), Don Frye (Wrestling & Boxing), Mark Shultz (Wrestling), Mark Colman (Wrestling), Josh Barnett (Wrestling), Kimo (Pankration), Maurice Smith (Kickboxing), Oleg Taktarov (Sambo & Judo), Mark Kerr (Wrestling), and the list can go on and on.

So if you are wondering what my point is, it’s that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a great fighting style to learn, but it’s not the only source to where a great fighting style can be achieved. Jiu-Jitsu is known as the “Gentle Art” and it’s beginnings can be traced back many centuries, but all arts can. Just because someone does not have a Black Belt in BJJ, does not make them unqualified, look at what they do have a Black Belt in? I have never heard of a Black Belt in Wrestling. Wrestling does not even have a belt rank system, but the results of knowing wrestling can not be denied. There are many instructors who hold Black Belts in other styles and who’s knowledge is worth learning from. The fight between Vitor Belfort (BJJ) & Anderson Silva (BJJ) is a great example. Anderson knocked out Vitor with a simple front kick which is a technique derived from Karate, Tae Kwon Do and many other tradional Martial Arts. Anderson did not use any BJJ in that fight at all. By the way, Anderson was training with Steven Seagal in the art of Aikido which will continue to help him in the future. There is a lot to be learned and in my opinion learn a grappling art, a striking art, an evading art, then put it all together to become a well rounded fighter.

You see, a Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu, and a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and a Black Belt in Karate or Tae Kwon Do, all have a lot to offer if you will only open your eye to see it. I train in an art called Pankration, and not many have heard of it but it’s been here since the 17th century. Many recall hearing about it from the anchient Olympic games in 648 B.C. What is Pankration? It’s a style that involves Strikes (Punches & Kicks), Takedowns, Joint Locks, Choke Holds etc. Does this sound familiar? It’s what others would now call MMA but it was known to the Spartans as “All Powers”, or “The one who wins with total strength & knowledge”. This was the dominating force that changed history and conquered nations. Learn from the knowledge that is around you. As Bruce Lee said “Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory”. Basically, don’t look at what’s popular so much that you over look what is right in front of you. I give respect to all martial arts styles and I get my feet wet in all of them. When you train in everything you will become what is known as an unorthodox fighter, or what I am known as…an Eclectic Fighter!!

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