Tuesday, June 12, 2007


THE EVER-AWESOME, EVER-BLOGGING Lindsay Robertson notes the divided response to last night's discussion of MIXED MARTIAL ARTS on television.

INDEED, Lindsay cites Ryan "Rambling" Rhodes's comment that "...if you've ever grappled, you'd know it's about as 'homoerotic' as getting hit in the face with a rake and is, in fact, exhausting, fierce and competitive combat."

SETTING ASIDE FOR THE MOMENT the thriving, erotic "rake-face-hitting" subculture, I concede that Ryan raises A FAIR POINT.*

THE GRAPPLING SPORTS have a long history, and "THE GROUND GAME," as it's called, is indeed a kind of mental and phsyical chess.

(Or at least, I know this from my research. Ryan is correct in presuming my own fisticuff history is limited: I was ONCE ELBOWED IN THE CHEST on the subway, and then I GRABBED THAT GUY'S NECK once in college.)

HOWEVER, I want to clarify that the footage was not shown in slo-mo for comedic effect. Nor did I or the staff of television have to search hard for these examples.

Indeed, if you watch MMA (and I have done, and I enjoyed it, and I will do so again), this is where pretty much every bout ends up: GUYS ROLLING AROUND ON THE FLOOR.

I CERTAINLY DO NOT MEAN THESE FIGHTERS OR THEIR CRAFT ANY DISRESPECT, and not just because I do not want them to break my forehead in half.

Some of the fighters I watched were incredibly skilled, and Karo "The Heat" Parisyan in particular KICKS ASS.

Some of them, though, seemed to be merely artless brawlers ROLLING AROUND ON THE FLOOR HALF NAKED.

EITHER WAY, IT WOULD BE A VIOLATION OF COMEDY if I were to avoid pointing out just how prevalent this aspect of the sport is, and how it would look to a space alien, or a non-fighter, or even, I daresay, to a portion of the MMA audience who do not know about the long history of the grappling arts: THE FIGHTERS SOMETIMES LOOK LIKE THEY ARE LOVING EACH OTHER.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Nothing, I suspect, that Ryan does not already know.

FIGHTING IS INTIMATE. I know that just from grabbing a guy's neck.** You're up close, often closer than you are when actually having sex with someone. In real life, it's scary and exhilirating and awful all at once. In a sporting situation, I can see how that potent mix of violence and bonding can also be joyful and awesome.

At the end of one of the bouts I watched CHRIS "THE CRIPPLER" LEBEN, still electric-eyed with excitement even though he lost, kiss his opponent in congratulations on the cheek. He didn't do it because some comedy writer told him to do it so he could write a joke about it later.

He did it spontaneously, genuinely, BECAUSE THERE IS A NATURAL, AUTHENTIC, AWESOME INTIMACY TO KICKING ASS--and competition in general--and that's part of its appeal.

THAT SAID, RYAN AND I CAN AGREE ON ONE FACT: I am a pasty, doughy gonad.


*Albeit, I realize now, one that relies on the ludicrous fallacy that "homo-erotic" is a synonym for "sissified."

**He deserved it.


k8 said...

dude, that guy totally deserved it. he had a neck-grabbing coming.

jeffk said...

I hope you realize that fans will now be asking you to grab their necks. This will be funny the first two times.

Unknown said...

I'm sure Coulton deserved it, but just what he do? And is that what gave him his wonderful singing voice?

And what, no mention of Vulcan martial arts? (Maybe later, since this Internet video is slower than the march of human intellectual progress.) OK, now it's given up. Oh well, there's always TiVo.

Annje said...

May I say I take offense at Ryan for calling you and Jon Stewart two pasty, doughy, gonads. That guy seems to have the IQ of a rock to compare two highly intelligent comedian/writers to genitalia. I think I shall write a letter of protest.

As for the guy you grabbed..May I say, nicely done sir!

semanticdrifter said...

I'm a long time grappler, and the physical innuendo is an inescapable aspect of the sport. The unfortunate motto of one of my old gyms tried to address the problem, but "It's not Gay if it hurts" proved to be untrue in more ways than one.

Antiquity said...


bec_87rb said...

I am now wearing a series of neck-obscuring scarves.

maonk said...

mr. hodgman,
i, too take offense to your segment on the daily show. i have been training in the art of danish cheese making for many years now. how dare you mock the skill and tradition that goes into the making of havarti. you, sir, are not worthy of even a spoonful of my whey!

you are nothing more than a big, stinky, velveeta-butt!

most sincerely,

Perry Gerakines said...

I was delighted to see the inclusion of "The Weirding Way" on your The Daily Show segment. Is your name a killing word?

Anna said...

Sir, I think we may be able to agree that a rake is, in fact, a rather large (thin) phallic object. SO, being hit in the face with a rake is akin to being hit in the face with a penis and AS SUCH... homoerotic.

I liked your martial arts moves. They made me fall off my chair. (This is true.)

edith said...

A lot of times at MMA fights the guys get really tired so they stop moving and are just lying on the floor, wrapped up in each other, and they're not doing anything at all except breathing really hard, but the audience is watching them really, really closely, and there always reaches a point where everyone starts to feel voyeuristic, but then the moment is over because one dude suddenly chokes the other

iN2TheROSES said...

It's sad that guy isn't confident enough in his masculinity to admit his gayness...

bec_87rb said...

It's sad that guy isn't confident enough in his masculinity to admit his gayness...

Are you admitting yours, then, my friend?

Personally, and on the advice of my physician, I try to be gay for 15 minutes each day before breakfast.

Lhyzz said...

Martial Crafts... oh man, John, you crack me up every time. Don't listen to the haters.

Unknown said...

That is just a might bit strange.

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