Text

Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MMA and paleo

"From cave to cage: Mixed martial arts in ancestral health" by Tucker Max from Ancestry on Vimeo.


Via Seth Roberts. Beyond the technical coolness of MMA, I just like the idea that if you and I mix it up, you'll end up unconscious or with a broken limb.

17 comments:

Sam H said...

It seems to me that Brazilian Jujitsu may be the most effective way to fight in a one-on-one mixed martial arts style fight. Most of the fighting that occurred over evolutionary time has likely been groups against groups or groups against a single individual, however. In these instances taking a man to the ground for "ground and pound" could get you killed pretty easily by friends of the dude you're fighting. So it seems some fighting form consisting mostly of strikes would've been the most beneficial. 

Wengchung said...

Haha, he speaks like a highschool pothead giving a biology powerpoint.

steve hsu said...

Yes, BJJ is really for unarmed dueling. Judo (and to some degree, wrestling) is a bit more realistic for other situations since it can be used to stay on your feet or to quickly drop an opponent. When I trained at a BJJ club in Tokyo (the teacher was a Japanese Brazilian who learned from the Gracies), we used to occasionally train for many on many group fights. This is apparently a Brazilian thing and I've never seen it at any other school.

Sam H said...

Yes good points. 

I would like to see the athletic commissions sanction fights featuring groups engaged in hand-to-hand combat in an arena about the size of a football field. Further it would be interesting to see 1 really good fighter compete against two lackluster ones. 

steve hsu said...

BTW, just as BJJ optimizes for the best algorithm for one person to take out another (takedown, position, submission), in our "dojo rumbles" we learned what the optimal technique would be for two guys to take out one. It turns out it's still BJJ: one guy tackles or clinches, the other guy follows through from above. There are some nasty submissions you can apply to an opponent who is already locked up grappling with your partner. Striking is very overrated. Easy to break your hand, and people can take a lot of punishment before they quit. Just watch the early UFCs.

Guy_Brodude said...

I agree. The whole speech was a mess.

Violence may be encoded in our DNA and a part of our history, but that really has nothing to do with modern MMA. The best "style" in terms of historical combat was no doubt the use of rocks and spears as well as biting, gouging, rabbit punching, below-the-belt shots and other techniques that are not allowed in any dojo but are definitely way more effective. What happens in the UFC is just ritualized play-fighting.

MtMoru said...

"Beyond the technical coolness of MMA, I just like the idea that if you and I mix it up, you'll end up unconscious or with a broken limb."

WTF???

Guy_Brodude said...

Another thing: these "biologically hard-wired," "in our DNA" type arguments have always struck me as a cheap crutch for weak minds. Violence may be a part of our nature, but that alone doesn't excuse or justify it. I also don't view MMA as a real sublimation of that instinct, as opposed to team sports which are ideally training young men for future military service. Besides, Max's conclusion is a very dubious one, as there is a large body of research which suggests most humans have a very strong innate aversion towards killing one-another. I think the majority of people will do anything to avoid a fight.

Anonymous_IV said...

What part do you WTF?  I imagine that, even in his current wimpy state ;-), Steve does know enough judo/jujitsu to beat most people by choke or joint-lock in a fight, in the unlikely case that it ever comes to that - Steve, when was the last time you actually "mixed it up" outside the dojo?  Then again much same is true of other martial arts, even taekwondo (even if there unconsciousness is caused by KTFO™ rather than something-jime).

steve hsu said...

Haven't had a real fight since I was a kid. Haven't trained seriously since having kids, but gave my nephew some coaching recently during a family vacation and really enjoyed it :-) I'm pretty sure I could stil clean up on anyone who didn't have a significant background in one of the more practical styles.

steve hsu said...

> ...biting, gouging, rabbit punching, below-the-belt shots and other techniques that are not allowed in any dojo but are definitely way more effective. <

I hear this all the time but it's a myth (not the part about rocks or spears). If you modify the rules to allow the techniques listed above it won't change things very much. Takedowns and positional control still work, and the superior grappler will be the one who takes advantage of biting, gouging, etc. There's an old video (I have it somewhere on VHS) that shows one of the Gracies biting off the ear of someone who tried to bite or gouge him during a street fight in Brazil. If I get superior position on you you'll be very sorry that the rules allow these things.

Guy_Brodude said...

There was also the case of Yuki Nakai, who actually lost his sight due to an eye gouge from the treacherous Frenchman and Savate practitioner Gerard Gordeau, but still managed to hang on for the submission. On the other hand, Joe Son has not been right since his encounter with Keith Hackney ;)

I still think such techniques can be effective when deployed against opponents of roughly equal skill and athleticism. Most martial arts of relatively recent vintage remember. Obviously adrenaline is a factor. Of course, in the modern era, you are probably just as likely to encounter a knife, gun, screwdriver, or have one of your opponent's friends crack you over the head with a bottle or baseball bat. In those cases the most effective defense is the ancient art of Track & Field.

LaurentMelchiorTellier said...

Interesting talk, regardless of the unacademic language. The stuff about how the self-insight from the ring "centers" people in later confrontation-situations is something I also notice.

Are you following any kind of Paleo as well, Steve?

steve hsu said...

I kind of eat paleo (low carb, high protein, not as much fat as some paleo types seem comfortable with, lots of vegetables and fruit). I do crossfit-like training. I don't really believe the evolutionary justification for the whole thing ("just so" stories for people with low levels of rigor). For example, I view the diet as a simple optimization: what should I eat on a fixed calorie budget to minimize hunger?

Re: MMA, the guy is a typical paleo thinker, but like you I agree with a couple of his points.

MtMoru said...

"just so" stories for people with low levels of rigor"

How much rigor do you need?

The health of primitve peoples. The health of pre-agricultural human fossils. The spontaneous and effortless reduction in calorie consumption upon adopting the paleo diet. The endless number of beneficial phytochemicals. Etc.

The problem is the paleo diet is unaffordable even for most Americans.

ben_g said...

Steven Pinker seems to disagree with you: "most human violence is not mano-a-mano physical conflict, but "cowardly violence." It's pre-dawn raids, it's ambushes, it's drive-by shootings. The inhibition we have works as follows: If you meet an adversary, then since on average he will be as big and strong and mean as you are, you should not give him reason to kill you by attacking him when there’s nothing in it for you (as in a conscript army in battle against a national enemy). But when you can get away with violence without fear of reprisal, inhibitions are gone. In tribal conflict, that's where the big numbers pile up—sneaky ambushes and raids."  See here for his lecture summarizing his new book on violence: http://edge.org/conversation/mc2011-history-violence-pinker

My guess is that evolutionarily, the winners in violent feuds within a tribe were the guys who could plan the best time to hit you with a rock while you were sleeping. And the winners in violent feuds between groups were the ones who were able to form strong coalitions.  Being a giant guy with great fighting skills obviously made a significant difference, but I'm guessing its evolutionary importance is dwarfed when compared to traits like political gamesmanship, vengefulness, etc.

paleo said...

Whenever I tell someone that I'm a paleo dieter, nine times out of ten, I'm met with a blank stare. Those two words tend to mean next to nothing for most people. In all honesty, the diet idea has been around for literally thousands of years, but it's only in the last couple that it's really been examined and implemented, and that paleo cookbooks and paleo reference books have begun to appear on bookstore shelves.

Blog Archive

Labels