Ok, i'm hoping this doesn't come off seeming like troll attempt, I watch MMA occasionally, and see a lot of positive effects from it's evolution on the the martial arts, etc. However, the social implications of the MMA phenomenon have really been on my mind latetly, so i'm going to put some stuff out there, knowing that there are both practitioners and fans of MMA here (maybe even in abundance), i'm going to ask some questions that I imagine won't be terribly popular, but I really do want to know people's opinion on them, and hope we can have a good conversation.
Ok, with that out of the way..Do you think that the MMA phenomenon is a good or bad cultural influence on young men who are already prone to fighting/violent encounters?
Basically, I am beginning to wonder if the popularity of MMA makes young men even more likely to participate in violence. Obviously I acknowledge if we are going to talk about media, there are many different areas of the media and violence debate, and MMA would only be one small part, but it's the part i'm interested in here, i'm not of course trying to paint MMA as some huge factor to the exclusion of other forms of media violence.
I understand of course that generally, martial arts training itself does not make people more violent, and with a few exceptions can actually do the opposite, so I am not asking here about the participants in MMA, but rather the "average Joe" of the ages statistically most likely to be involved in violence (something like 18-25 here in the US I thought). That being the case, what I am actually talking about is the marketing and image of MMA, rather than training content, which of course is indistinguishable from the "real thing" to someone in this demographic, provided they have no training or direct experience.
I have had so many talks now with younger people than me who 1) don't seem to understand how "fights" can go bad and 2) have no idea what actual non-consensual violence - say a mugging or honest to god beating for instance is like, and how it differs from the context of MMA.
Some of this could be chalked up to people just being people of course, and you could say something like "well boxing could do the same thing". However, boxing has not gone out of it's way to market itself as "the most real form of fighting" the way MMA has basically since it's public inception in the 90's.
Basically, it seems to me that if we take someone who is of this demographic, who has no training, but watches shows like The Ultimate Fighter, and really gets into the personalities and bravado in professional MMA, combined with the rhetoric of "this is the most real form of fighting", leads to a bad combination of ignorance about real violence, and increased willingness to engage in it.
Once again I am not talking here about the methods of MMA, nor the practice of it outside the public sphere...just like we Karateka are held to a ridiculous caricature concepts, so is MMA, but this caricature is exactly what the public gets, in fact it's what seems to make it popular and I am starting to really wonder about it.
Justy to give a couple examples of what i'm talking about:
-An family member MMA fan who thinks all training is full-bore sparring..literally I had to explain to him that no one trains by sparring full contact constantly..well, almost no one.
-A conversation with a young man who has fought a couple MMA fights who told me he thought he could choke out multiple assailants if he was mugged. - That is where his mind went first when talking about three people trying to hurt him - choking them out.
Things like this combined with an ignorance of violence seem like a recipe for distaster.
Anyway, I hope that all made sense, and I hope everyone knows i'm not trying to start some" MMA vs. TMA" debate, have a juvenile conversation about "what works on the street" or anything of that sort, i'm interested in knowing what people think about this. I put the thread in 'self development" for a reason, because this is precisely about the "self development" of young men - mostly at least, though before long i'm sure women's MMA will be big enough to change the equation. Frankly, in my own personal experience what i've seen is friends and family who are involved in MMA giving the ugly public face of it a pass, sometimes I also find that many martial artists who are extremely cirtical about other forms of media violence seem to give MMA a pass almost entirely, pointing out how healthy the training is, and how it engenders a healthy concept of competition etc.
I am not sure about this, I can see it when I look at other combat sports in abundance, however when I look at public face of MMA, what I see is a product that is marketed in such a way that it might just do the opposite.
What do you guys think?
Really interested to hear people's thoughts on this, especially those that train MMA.