The UFC's Rich Vaculik and how to retain a little dignity in the most undignified game of all…
I am not a fighter by nature. Most modern men aren’t. Evolution has canceled our need to fight for the most desirable woman, thereby dulling our desire. Desirable women will just as soon go with bandy armed artists as beach-muscled Hercules.
But. There comes a time in every bandy armed artist’s life when he must step up and be counted. Your best friend in the world is about to be pounced upon. Your girl is being called a slut.
Here comes a time to fight.
Men who have not fought fear what they don’t know. Fear the degrees of potential and actual pain. To help enlighten I step onto two different mats with UFC champion, Bra Boy, fearless surfer, and soon, author, Richie Vas.
First, Brazilian jiu-jitsu then kickboxing. I assume Richie does not go full but I try to incite. I lead with my head. I slap. He causes me pain.
How it feels to be hit in the head with a 16-ounce boxing glove: It is a dull thud that rattles thoroughly. The pain, and force, travels down the back of the neck and into the middles. My head felt full of cotton the next day. My face was puffy. It deadens the reflexes. I fell to the ground after a series of punches simply because I could not move my legs properly.
How it feels to be hit in the body with a 16-ounce boxing glove: Sharp and more painful, initially, though less debilitating than a head shot. Body blows take a toll, over time, and it becomes difficult to breathe fully. Or stand upright.
How it feels to be kicked in the kidneys: Of all the blows, this one angered me the most. Or caused anger to rise in me. I was not mad at Richie, of course. It wasn’t a cheap shot, of course. But the kidney kick made me want to bite at him. I wanted to head butt.
How it feels to be hit with an MMA fingerless glove: The pain is not dull but sharp. It stings. Stars and tears in the eye, instant. It causes a headache and a bruise. It hurts like a bare fist.
How it feels to be in a guillotine: (The guillotine is jiu-jitsu move where the head is locked, while standing. Wind and blood are cut off). I came in, head first. Richie grabbed around my neck and raised his body straight. It felt like imminent death. Instantly I was caught ‘tween earth and sky with not one good outcome. I could not think of what to do to get out of it. Every move felt wrong. If I tried to raise myself choking would get worse. I would have to carry Richie. If I fell down I would dangle on the noose around my neck. And room for lucid thoughts quickly gets crowded. I gagged. I laughed. I almost passed out.
How it feels to be arm barred: (When joints are bent the wrong way). Richie had me on the mat and my left elbow ready to break. It felt very not good. It hurt, badly. A torturous sort of hurt followed by a panic that rushes in at the thought of a useless, dangling wing. I didn’t like. All fight was chased out of me. I simply wanted to leave.
How it feels to Brazilian Jiu Juistu: Each move is tedious and meant to render the opponent totally useless. Initially it is not so scary, as, say, fist fighting. But once on my back with Richie’s hands searching to break my will, it felt worse than scary. I felt not manly and not competent. I had always assumed that the taller man is at serious disadvantage on the ground. But Brazilian master Bruno told me it is not true. A thin man with length can put opponents in positions where height leverage can be employed. I tested, with Richie’s permission and compliance. It worked! I could pop his head off by stretching him to my own height. A revelation!
How it feels to kick box: Richie stood an arm’s length away with a full arsenal of potential. Any move could render me paralysed. I neither fear nor run from pain. But it was difficult to stand, toe-to-toe, and watch a fist come flying at eyes. My reflexes were not nearly up to the challenge. To fight, at all properly, eyes must be kept on the opponent. Which means all the punishment is seen before it is felt. A double helping. It is said, in war, that the bullet you don’t hear is the one that enters you. Kickboxing is not the same. Everything is seen, and then enters. Until all goes dark.
How it feels to pass out: A rush of well-being. It is finished.
Now, let me tell you how to fight…
How to throw a punch: Keep your jaw tucked behind your off shoulder. Like, pretend you are holding something between chin and shoulder. Awkward but important. Fists up in front of chin. Feel out distance with off arm. Punch straight with strong. Elbows tucked in. If the elbows are out they telegraph punch. Swing from the hips. Twist and throw. It all starts with the footwork. Don’t windmill. Keep your eyes on the chest of your opponent.
How to take a punch: Best not to take one but if you have to? Brace for it. Keep jaw shut. Keep your jaw shut.
Best first move: First and best dressed. It is best to throw the first punch or attack first. Aim true and throw straight. Again, don’t windmill. A punch thrown wide and wild will not do any damage. But a gentleman’s way to stop a fight is with a choke hold. Less can go wrong. Getting someone in a submission hold is more polite.
Worst place to get hit: Temple, jaw. It rolls your brain and then you knock out.