Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Perception Rules

Coach Blauer shared this video on his Facebook feed earlier today. (Rodney King weighed in's worth check out, if you're on the Book of Faces).

It's an old video, and I think I've shared it on this blog before, but I wanted to look at it from a different perspective.

Let me summarize the part that I think should be obvious. This behavior depicted in this video is abuse. Period, full stop. It is also poor teaching. These students are learning nothing valuable, and if anything, are being conditioned to be victims. If I saw this kind of nonsense going on in a school that I walked into, I would walk out. I would consider contacting the authorities.

That's really not the part I want to talk about though. What I want to talk about is the defenses that have been offered on behalf of this man.

The instructor in the video is Satoru Sayama, a Japanese professional wrestler and MMA fighter. Apparently, he's very well known, and well regarded as one of the founding influences of Shooto, among other things. Naturally, this means that people have made some weird attempts to defend the man depicted in this video.

Defense #1 -- The Better Fighter Defense ("He's a legend, and you couldn't take him").

I find it deeply disturbing how many people in the martial arts industry buy into the paradigm that says, "well, he can kick your ass, so he's right." It's a ridiculous premise on any number of levels, particularly when it comes to morality.

I have no particular illusions about being some great badass. I really don't. The world is full of people who can beat me in a fight. Not all of them are moral exemplars (in fact, I would wager that many of them are not). There is correlation between fighting skill and moral character. NONE.

Defense #2 -- The Misunderstood Man (
"He's really a great instructor/great guy")

Not in this clip.

This is the thing that really struck me about this. I've seen a number of people (including at least one big name instructor) putting forth this idea that this clip doesn't accurately represent Sayama as a teacher.

That's nice to say, but unfortunately for Sayama, the clip is out there. Which means if someone goes looking for clips of Sayama teaching, this is what they'll find. (I actually did a quick Google search for "Sayama teaching", "Sayama shooto teaching", and "Tiger Mask teaching". This video came up in all of them, almost at the top. Which means if I was looking for info about this guy as a coach, this is the first thing I'd find.

So if nothing else, this should serve as a warning to instructors. That "goofy" clip that you threw up on youtube because you were having fun? It might come back to haunt you.

Everyone and their mother may say that Sayama is a nice teacher and a humanitarian to rival Mother Theresa, but that's not what we see in this clip. 

Defense #3 -- The Whole Story

Seriously, every time I see this, there's someone saying "you don't know the whole story". Fine, what's the whole story? Is this something from his pro wrestling career, where he's playing the heel? Is it from a movie where he's the Cobra Kai instructor? Was it a news segment on bad martial arts instructors, where Sayama was showing people what a shitty teacher looks like?

If there's more to the story, let's get the story. Because in this clip, Sayama comes off as an abusive jerk, and nothing more.

(Side note: this seems to be a thing the martial arts. Everyone's always got "more the story", but the story never comes out. There's this weird need to pretend to have special secrets and inside info, instead of just talking openly about things. It's childish as a hell, and I wish it would die.)

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I joked that my Facebook theme this week was "debunking stuff". Really though, I wasn't joking very much. This post is a compilation of things I've found over the week.

Archery Skillz

This video has made the rounds before.

It is impressive, on a certain level. Mr. Andersen  is clearly good at what he does...whatever exactly that is. However, a bunch of his historical claims are complete bunk. He may be good at what he does, but history isn't it.

[An aside: Someone answered my sharing of these critiques by saying that Mr. Andersen could "outshoot his critics". Which is a bullshit argument.

Whether or not his critics can "outshoot him" is 1) irrelevant to the question of whether the claims he makes are accurate. I have seen all kinds of bullshit propagated in the martial arts by people who might kick my ass in a fight. The fact that they might beat me up does not make them any less wrong about other things.

2)Subject to definition. As far as I can tell, there is no record of him competing in any kind of archery competition anywhere.

Is he good at what he does? Sure. If all he did was put up a video of him doing this stuff and saying "hey, look at this cool shit I learned how to do", that'd be awesome, and I have NO issue with him at all. But the fact that he's trying to boost himself up with a bunch of bullshit claims...that, I have an issue with.]

Self-Defense Doofery

I've written about this article before. It's a crappy piece of "self-defense" advice that is largely erroneous or useless.

It bugs me to no end that people who will spend hours picking apart a video of a martial arts technique or fight will unquestioningly share an article on self-defense without taking the 30 seconds or less required to Google the article and see if it has any validity at all.

If you're going to share self-defense information, it should be good information. It should be information that leads people to make clear, informed decisions, not change their hairstyle based on a myth.

I recognize that there are always areas of contention when it comes to training, but seriously...sharing bad information about self-defense isn't just annoying, it's irresponsible. Knock it off.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Saw this thanks to William Schultz of PTK-SMF RI.

The breakdown of the mechanics of the sweep is definitely interesting, but there's more the clip than that.

I've had the good fortune to train with some really high level athletes during my career. Not necessarily the best of the best, but pretty damn close (including one guy who made a run at a UFC title).

Honestly, it's pretty terrifying.

The elite of the elite? They are better than you. They are better than you at a level that is virtually impossible to describe. It's not a minor difference in is orders of magnitude difference.

And really, that's part of what's happening here.

The "Muay Thai legend" in the clip is Sakmongkol. This is man with well over 200 professional Muay Thai fights, who fought (and beat) some of the greatest fighters of his time. He started training when he was six years old. If there is someone out there who fits the definition of "elite" it is Sakmongkol. They don't make them any better.

The karate guy didn't stand a chance.

Seriously. This isn't a Muay Thai vs. Karate thing. This is an elite athlete thing. These guys really are just better than you. Look at the way Sakmongkol moves in this clip...the only doubt about the outcome is how he's going to finish it, because he isn't in any danger. He's controlling the fight from the beginning to the end, and his opponent, skilled though he may be, doesn't have a prayer.

Why does this matter?

If you believe in staying humble, this ought to help. Spend some time around an elite level athlete, and you will quickly realize how far you have to go. If you think you are elite, and you are not on this level, you're probably not there yet.

On the flip side--you should also recognize that comparing yourself to an athlete at this level is something of a futile endeavor. Yes, they can be inspiring, and yeah, maybe you can get to that level...but if you haven't been training since you were six, you have a lot of catching up to do. nothing wrong with that, but know where you are starting from.