Archive for October, 2009

Are the martial arts good for children?

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Where I live there’s a great controversy as to whether or not to allow the UFC to hold an event. Politicians are comparing MMA to dogpits or to gladitorial arenas. Too much violence, no skill, too bloody etc. are terms we hear every day. For many parents, just the idea of teaching our child to fight is loathsome. Fortunately, others don’t think that way but I’d like to put my two cents in.
Martial arts demand discipline. In of itself, this is a positive thing to impart to children. In a time where children are getting fatter, softer and prefer their videoscreens to a gym, it’s ludicrous for parents to deny a sport. In the days of the Greeks, boxing, wrestling and the pankration were all taught to children. It was a culture that glorified the human body, the fit human body. It also believed strongly in the human mind and especially in educating it. These Greeks weren’t saints or all MENSA members but they realized that the integration of a fit body with a strong mind produced the best people. There is no evidence that there was any excessive crime or violence in Greece so I hardly believe teaching children “violent” sports debases society. And don’t even get me started on hockey and football!
If I could create a school it would be one that would have the day divided equally between physical activity and academics/skills. Martial arts, especially MMA would be compulsory and other sports would be introduced as they now are. Learning how the body functions, how to protect it and most importantly how to value it should be critical to parents. MMA, taught properly, can do this.

OXI

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Moving from the UFC to something a bit more important I want to extend my heartiest good wishes to Greeks around the world. On October 28 we celebrate the days the Greeks told the Italians (Hitler’s lackeys) that they would not surrender to their demands. Prime Minister Metaxas stated his resistance in one word, OXI or No. From that day on Greece fought WW II on several fronts against several enemies. They defeated everyone, including the Italians even though they were grossly outnumbered, outarmed and outflanked. The resistance was so strong that Hitler had to move German troops into Greece, delaying his invasion of Russia by six weeks, long enough for the winter to set in (and the rest is history). There is absolutely no question that if the Greeks had not fought so hard against their invaders, Germany’s war machine would have devastated Russia, probably leading to the downfall of western Europe. To put it in simpler terms, imagine this blog in German because that’s what we would be speaking today if Metaxas had said yes instead of OXI!
For our Jewish friends, know that Metaxas extended that OXI to the Germans when they came looking for Jews to ship off to the extermination camps. Greece told the Nazis to screw off and then went about issuing thousands of fake IDs to its Jewish citizens. Unfortunately, in Thessaloniki it was too late to save them but most survived in Athens. No GOVERNMENT in Europe even came close to making this effort.
So faithful readers, remember the Greeks on October 28. Saying OXI to injustice is something we should all be doing.

Are boxing scandals reeling their ugly heads in the UFC?

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Last post I warned that the UFC might have to scale back in order to maintain the interest. After all we don’t want to see the decline of Rome in the octagon.
However, after the card on Saturday night there are now new concerns. I watched the fights in the local pub with a knowlegdeable friend and we were shaking our heads, not so much at the decisions, but at the reaction of the crowds at the actual venue and the ones in the pub. In case you didn’t watch, Michida won a decision over Rua in a fight many believed the latter won. Even the president, Dana White, thought Rua won. Suddenly, we have a boxing controversy. Judging is a tenuous science at best and in defence of the ringside judges, to me it looked like it was more of a draw. Rua savaged Michida’s legs but didn’t really land anything to the head. Michida did score on the head but either Rua has a hard head or they weren’t that hard. Regardless, not a clear win for either but the champion gets it.
The crowd didn’t see it that way. From the boos at the arena to the shouts of bullshit in the pub, it was an unsatisfactory conclusion to a pretty good fight. To cap it off, people were loudly comparing it to boxing and even shouting “fix”. After the Silva/Griffin debacle, the impeccable integrity of the UFC is being questioned. Throw in the quick Rothwell/Velasquez stoppage; one that even prompted Dana White to insult the referee, Mazzagatti (who seems to be pretty good to me) and you have more controversy.
Scandals and fighting have gone hand in hand for thousands of years. The Greek pankration (the original MMA) was hardly pure with professionals and semi-professionals entering amateur contests. Bribes, throwing fights etc. were common then too. I guess things never change…I was hoping the UFC could avoid history. Looks like I may be wrong.

UFC on a dangerous path…

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Back in the 1970’s when I first started the martial arts I was, as most people were, mesmerized by Bruce Lee. I won’t go over all his achievements here, that’s what wikipedia is for. However, what made the biggest impression on me was that he incorporated different fighting styles into one. In effect, he was the godfather of mixed martial arts. After seeing him in Enter the Dragon then reading his books I started to reorient my training to a more all-encompassing style. I took up boxing, judo, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and taekwondo to make myself better. Eventually I even taught what I called “universal” fighting arts. And being of Greek heritage I called my school Pankration Martial Arts, almost 2 decades before this became popular. So you see my friends, I have strong ties and feelings to mixed martial arts.
When the UFC started I was ecstatic. Finally, a contest that really measured fighting skills. I have attended matches, watched at home and make it a habit to catch the pay per views at the local bars. I love the UFC and congrats to Dana White and company for making it popular.
However, I see impending problems. Back in the days of ancient Greece, the pankration (the original MMA) was practiced by many but seen relatively little (annual, bi-annual and Olympics for the most part). It created excitement and was easily the most popular sport of its time. When Greece fell to the Romans, it remained popular but quickly became a daily fixture in the arenas and coliseums. Soon it became boring and the Romans were forced to change the rules. It became more violent, armored gloves (cestus) were introduced and the pure martial art of the Greeks became a violent, over the top mockery of itself.
Today the UFC is riding high. SPIKE TV, pay per view and even sports channels have it on constantly. Throw in the lesser organizations and youtube and suddenly we have saturation. But unlike the Romans, the viewers of today don’t take decades to change their minds or attitudes. Now it happens overnight.
I can see the numbers for the lesser fights already dwindling at the bars that show pay per view matches. If the UFC isn’t careful, the product they have now may become as badly received as boxing: except for one or two matches a year no one cares.
I don’t know what the solution is. If I did I’d be flying in a private jet, not Dana White. But if the UFC is to survive decades instead of years, a more cautionary, more conservative approach needs to be taken now. People’s appetites need to be whetted, not satiated.
And that folks is my take on the UFC.

Greek and Armenian Genocide

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

As Turkey and Armenia get set to sign an historic agreement the controversy of the Greek Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 rears its ugly head again. Turkey still refuses to acknowledge the systematic slaughter of these and other peoples during this time. I don’t want to write a scholarly treatise on this subject, others have done so already (try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_genocide). What I believe is that a country cannot move on if its moral and ethical standards are compromised by denial and revisionism. Turkey wants to be part of Europe and to be seen as a stabilizing power in the Middle East. But refusing to acknowledge the sins of their fathers only reinforces the stereotype that Turks are poorer Arabs prone to savagery, hardly an accurate depiction but one that resonates throughout the west.
Turkish readers may resent this as they should. But they will never enter the 21st century until they acknowledge the Greek Armenian genocide.
And by the way my Greek compatriots. Like many others before and after, Greeks committed many atrocites too in retaliation so our hands are not spotless.

Getting started

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Welcome to all who enter this site and post or respond to this blog. I will be using this forum to comment on subjects that I believe that readers of my novel will find interesting. On any given day you will find comments on Alexander the Great, the pankration, the Olympics, the Elgin marbles, anything Greek I find interesting etc. I will also comment on modern fighting so don’t be surprised to see bits on MMA. boxing, wrestling or what have you. This will be an eclectic site. And of course, anyone commenting on my book is welcome to post here. I will also put updates on the progress of the sequel on this blog. If you think that an idea has been missed or should be pursued, let me know, I may make changes. Keep in mind that this is a public forum so if you want to discuss something with me and not my audience, them email me privately. Info is on this site. I’m excited and I hope you are patient with me.

Hi! Welcome to my blog page!

Monday, October 5th, 2009

I invite you to share your ideas and messages on this page. If you have some comments you want to share, questions you want to ask, or views you want to discuss, please feel free to post them here. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Please come and visit from time to time because I will also be sharing updates on my works and about me.