Craig Pumphrey Asks Local MMA Community, “Do you show respect?”

Craig Pumphrey

Craig “The Professor” Pumphrey

During all my travels I have met a lot of powerful people and people of influence who receive respect because of the position they are in. Often times in the MMA world, and in many martial arts circles, we forget about such influence & respect. We forget the instructors we learn from have paid a price to get where they are within the art they hold rank in. No, I’m not talking about money, and I know there are dollar bill black belts out there who literally “bought” their black belts. I’m speaking about the ones who through trail & error, blood & sweat, over many years, learned the techniques required. I see students come to class and forget all about the showing of respect such as bowing before they step foot on the mats, or before entering the dojo. Showing respect to the instructors is almost a forgotten traditional sign which has been replaced with today’s modern evolution in the fighting arts. I must admit when I teach class this is not something that I demand, yet as a student moves forward in their instruction it is something an observant student should notice. So, if you are reading this and you are a student in the fighting world remember a few things: Bow before entering the dojo area, Bow to your instructors before starting your workout or class, Bow before you leave the dojo area, and Bow to your instructors at the end of your workout or class. These are universal signs of respect in Martial Arts which is simply showing respect.

The instructors we have among us are often faced with many obstacles when teaching others. They have to find out the learning curve of each person because everyone learns differently, some fast, some slow, and some really slow. You have people who are not able to physically perform some of the techniques due to certain limitations. Then you have some people who simply can’t afford to take classes and as an instructor and business owner this too is an obstacle to tackle. I have several students myself who fit many of these issues and it makes things difficult when you have a variety of students with a mixture of unique problems. There are some simple things a student can do to help when it comes to some of these issues, for example cleaning. If a student can’t afford to pay for all the classes there are things you can do to offset some of the financial dues. Show up a little early, clean the mats or dojo area before and after class, take out the trash, straighten things up, clean the kick pads, mitts etc. These are things someone does everyday and rarely do these things ever cross our minds. We show up to class, do our thing and then we leave not giving it any thought as to who had everything ready before we even got there. If you can’t afford to pay for every class simple things like that means a lot to an instructor or owner. Being thoughtful is not a natural trait you’re born with it’s a thought process that you make yourself do, and it means a lot.

Coaches work extremely hard to make fighters better and a lot of time is put into every workout/class mentally & physically. Many times the fighters get all the respect, honor & praise while the coaches, instructors & physical trainers are overlooked. For most coaches, this is okay with them and they are comfortable with being behind the scenes. They get their reward when their fighter wins a match. When the fight is over, and the workout is finished, and everyone is tired and wore out, this is when simple signs of respect go a long way. I have trained many fighters and I know when the workout is over and everyone is packing up to head home, my day is still not over. When everyone leaves I still have at least an hour or so cleaning mats, heavy bags, gloves, and equipment. Then when all this is finished I have to plan out the next class with another set of students with a whole new set of goals, strengths & weakness’. So I can tell you this, a simple sign of respect means a lot!!

The next time you go to your gym or dojo show a little respect to your coaches & instructors. If you can help clean up before or after class that would show the instructors something money can’t buy…………….Respect.

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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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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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