I have long maintained that you can't teach mixed martial arts. Mixed martial arts is a sport--you can teach the rules, but it's not something that is codified in a manner that makes it conducive to structure and structure is necessary for instruction.
Ergo, you can't teach mixed martial arts.
What you can teach are transitions, and transitions between arts make the difference between someone who excels at MMA and someone who does okay. Transitions are what put the art in MMA, as far as I am concerned; everything else is a result of base training and whatever supplements it.
So when I see a meme like this:
I get disappointed with the state of mixed martial arts and the perspective this perpetuates. I think we're better than this. Actually, I know we are.
The people who are experts know that winning and losing isn't as binary or linear as "BJJ wins everything" or "leg kicks don't win fights" and other blanket statements that miss the "mixed" in mixed martial arts.
The people who are beginners don't understand any better, so they simply follow those in the know; I don't even blame them for going along with whatever makes the most sense to them at that particular point in their respective development.
So whose responsibility is it to make sure that we teach MMA smarter? Coaches, I suppose. Maybe even fighters who believe in the craft of MMA above any single martial art.
I started thinking about it more deeply when I saw that meme. I made my position known with this social media post, ostensibly a reply to that meme:
And guess what? One of the least popular posts I've ever made. Coincidence? Probably not. Which I'm okay with because I'm not seeking agreement; I'm seeking understanding.
Look at it from a root cause analysis approach. Did Nate beat Conor because of BJJ? Or was it the panic wrestling Conor tried to use for a takedown after getting his bell rung? Or the punches that made Conor think a wrestling shot was a prudent tactic? Or was it the size difference? Or was it changing opponents at the last minute? Or...? Or...? Or...?
See what I mean? BJJ finished that fight, but it was hardly a "beats everything" outcome. Pretty sure Nate's boxing coach has a different opinion on what set that choke up. Pretty sure that Conor regrets shooting in on Nate. Pretty sure all involved learned more about MMA that night than they did about Brazilian jujitsu.
At least I did. Which was that you might not be able to teach mixed martial arts, but the transitions are begging to be explored. Singling out one art when so much more was happening reminds of Bruce Lee's line in Enter the Dragon.
"It's like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory."
Transitions are the "heavenly glory" that an agenda based meme leaves out, to the detriment of all of us trying to legitimize mixed martial arts as more than the sum of its parts.
Maybe once that's been accomplished, it will be possible to codify mixed martial arts and the next meme will read "MMA beats everything" and you know what? It will be right.