For me, when I’m trying to find a good book on something I love it can be hard. Especially if it’s a sports related book, because when a sport is huge everyone and their mother is writing a book about it, just to make a quick dime. Very few people actually take the time to think outside the box, and really write something that can not only be related to those in the sport but also those who are outside the loop.

In the sports section of any book store you will see a growing number of Mixed Martial Arts books finding their way on the shelves. Instructional books, biographies, auto biographies and the list go on and on.

One of the Authors of “Fighting for Acceptance Mixed Martial Artists and Violence in American Society” emailed me about his book. I was in the process of writing a story on children in MMA. And to my surprise he and his partner had written a book that not only touched base with youth taking the path of training MMA, or even just Martial Arts but also touch base with who some of these fighters are, and how some of them didn’t grow up with a rugged childhood, it talks about safety issues of the sport, while comparing it to other contact sports.

Of course I was intrigued right away, a book that actually is talking about issues that are brought up in general conversation between people who talk about martial arts or, even some things that I’ve been asked by my family and friends who aren’t really into the sport about the level of violence, and how sometimes it just looks like two guys hugging, and the list can go on and on.

The authors must have spent some time researching before writing their book; they contacted and spoke with some really known fighters, and some who have been in the game since the beginning. Fighters like Frank Trigg, Quinton Jackson, Randy Couture, Jason Miller, Dan Henderson, Travis Lutter and Guy Mezger.

In the first chapter the authors take their readers into the phenomenon which is The Mixed Martial Arts. Not only that, in the first sentence they managed to peg what people thought when they hear “MMA” when they stated

“When people hear the words next martial arts, ultimate fighting, cage fighting the first thing that often enters their mind is an image of two heavily muscled, enraged men trying to beat each other into oblivion within the confines of a steel cage (pg 3).”

Its true, I’ve been reporting on MMA events for almost three years now, and every time I’m at a show there is always people screaming “rip his head off” or at a bar where you hear it even more and it gets worse like “kick him in the nuts, poke his eyes out.” and believe me that’s not all.

...I’ve come to watch a lot of Hockey in my day, especially when I waitress part time. Every time I look up at the screen there is a fight going on in the game, and I never understood why the refs didn’t jump in sooner....

BUT in chapter one the book also discusses how the UFC defines MMA “ as an intense and evolving combat sport in which competitors use interdisciplinary forms of fighting that include jiu jitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and others to their strategic and tactical advantage in a supervised match (page 9).”

It explains what the people outside the sport don’t know and builds on that. It really opened my eyes to new things, and I’ve been training for eight years now.

Chapter two discusses American acceptance of sports injuries and violence. It talks about injuries in sports like Football, Boxing, University/College and high school sports etc... It talks about the different injuries they can acquire some more severe long term then MMA, and compares them. It doesn’t protect MMA and make it out to be better then any other sport, the authors simply throw the facts on out there on other things to tell the average fan or average person watching the sport that MMA isn’t the only sport that looks violent. And being Canadian, I’ve come to watch a lot of Hockey in my day, especially when I waitress part time. Every time I look up at the screen there is a fight going on in the game, and I never understood why the refs didn’t jump in sooner, they allow the fight to continue and then at some point they jump in? Its stuff like that, that these authors talk about in Chapter two, how other sports are filled with just as much violence that is shown yet sports like boxing, and MMA are the ones scolded as “cock fighting.”

They touch base with the fighters they interview and dedicated a portion of the book to getting to know these fighters. In chapter four they explore the lives of these martial arts fighters, where they came from, how they grew up. A lot of the time people think that some of these fighters do what they do because they grew up hard. Rough neighborhoods, they weren’t the most popular at school and got bullied, or whatever the case may be. And although some fell into that category others just were intrigued by the sport and its competition.

The most intriguing interview I read in relation to some of the topics in chapter four was the one with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. He talked about how his kid’s school pulled him into the office because they knew he was a professional fighter and tried to give him advice on how to raise his kids. They pre-judged him because he was a fighter.

Another one which was in chapter four was how Guy Mezger explained how he kept his fighting a secret from his mother. Imagine that?

In chapter five they attempt to really get in the heads of these athletes, why do they do what they do? This is a question most people ask. Even I sometimes can’t understand how these men and women fighters can put their bodies through that kind of training, and make the sacrifices they need to... BUT after reading “Fight for Acceptance” my eyes were opened to so much more.

Chapter six is also quite interesting it talks about MMA’s role in American society. I’m sure some people have said that since now people see this fighting on TV they will go out and start fights and get into trouble. And this book touches base with subjects like that. This chapter talks about the respect and humility in MMA and “traditional” martial arts. As well as the educational responsibility in the mixed martial arts community.

...Not only do the authors touch base about the rules evolving in martial arts but they also compare martial arts rules with other contact sports. They also talk about substance use something that has been recently popping up....

When people see these fights or catch them free on Spike TV I’m sure they often wonder about the safety issues. I know my family has, and it’s always an endless list of questions. The Authors included this in their book. They put out there America’s obsession with violence.

Dan Henderson, who has also fought in Pride FC in Japan, compares Japan to the United States and how they differ on this subject. He states “I think in Japan, they understand the sport. It’s been a part of their culture for a long time, and they’re much more respectful in Japan than they are in the U.S. You hardly ever hear any booing in Japan. You know, they respect the fighters win or lose. They know that they’re prepared… and you know, that’s the big thing, rather than if there’s a little bit of a lull in the action in the U.S., and the fans start booing. You know, I think that that’s pretty disrespectful to the athletes out there (page 144).”

I thought that was very true and powerful what Henderson said. And the chapter talks about that. It talks about how the rules have changed, and what the fighters think about the rules then compared to now. I had no idea how strongly they felt about this issue. Not only do the authors touch base about the rules evolving in martial arts but they also compare martial arts rules with other contact sports. They also talk about substance use, something that has been recently popping up a lot in MMA.

I thought it was really interesting they dedicated an entire chapter about boxing (Chapter Nine). There is always a rivalry between the sports; some people say MMA killed boxing, other say different. This chapter talks about how it’s a shame these sports are continually fighting each other, when really they are one in the same. It talks about the great people in boxing who helped evolve the sport into the main stream, what critics and people thought about boxing when it first came out, and how it took a long time for boxing to get to where it was. I’ve never really paid attention to boxing, but after reading this chapter I have the up most respect for this sport as I do for MMA.

This book, talks about the common things I’m sure many of these fighters have talked about with family and friends, what people talk about, what parents who’s kids are in the sport talks about. Its not one of those books you will pick up and read for a bit, get bored and put down. It’s a book that you’re going to read and be more intrigued by every chapter. It’s opened my eyes to another level in the MMA world. And I must say its evolved perspective when talking with Martial Artists when I’m covering an event or talking with a fighter.

For me I feel that David T. Mayeda and David E. Ching did an amazing job with their research, making a book that is not only enjoyable for those in the sport but educational. Educational for even the common folk who have flipped through the stations and have seen a few seconds of a UFC fight or those who have friends and family participating professionally in the sport, or even as a hobby.

If you would like to order a copy of “Fighting for Acceptance” for yourself or someone you know you can do so at: http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Acceptance-Martial-Violence-American/dp/0595478913

And for a little bit more on the book you can check out: http://mmacademics.angelfire.com


Christina Sears - MMA Reporter
ChristinaSears@xtremelifestylemag.com

**Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect
the views of Xtreme LifestyleMag.com

 
   
 
 
 
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