8 Life Lessons from the World of Mixed Martial Arts

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A while back I spent several years traveling the world and observing the best martial artists up close and even training and competing myself. As a writer I was always most interested in these fighters, not so much for their exploits in the cage but as models of excellence and fortitude. Counterpoints in a time of widespread cultural distraction and fractiousness. I looked for things that I could take away from what I was learning to help me in my everyday life. The following are the core principals I took from my experiences in the world of fighting that have helped me in my quest to live an authentic and empowered life.

  1. Don’t give up: This doesn’t mean charge blindly into destruction or court hardship just to prove how tough you are, but always recognize your authentic will instead of your animal appetites and develop the first unfailingly as a means to master the second.
  2. Use everything you have: Commit, and don’t hold back. Choose wisely what you do then expend yourself fully in whatever you put your hand to. In this way you will marshal all of your resources and develop new ones as well.
  3.  Always attack: Eliminate every vestige of passivity from your mind. Never hold back because of a fear of failure or disappointment. 
  4. Be courageous: Courage devours aggression because courage increases and reinforces itself while blind aggression burns out. Fortitude beats cunning in the end.
  5. Be first: Seize the initiative. Wake up. Be alert to as much as you can. Live with energy.
  6. The Killer Instinct: Always think in terms of winning. Don’t just survive. Be constantly aware of the circumstances for victory and watch for them. Close the show when the chance comes.
  7. Prepare: Focus on technique. Details matter. A mastery of practicalities will produce confidence and eliminate indecision.
  8. Visualize success: If your limbs are tied up, move forward with your mind until you free yourself. When you do, the power of Providence will be at your back. 

Donovan Craig

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A Remarkable Battle

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By: Donovan Craig


The day was going badly for my body until glorious King Alexander shattered the enemy formation with a lightening cavalry charge from between my temples to the base of my neck. Astride wild Bucephalus he cut a figure of terrible beauty. 

The emperor Napoleon has ordered a barrage of cannon to dislodge the forces entrenched in my lungs. A part of his humble beginnings his time as a lowly artilleryman. I cough violently to aid him in his work. 

Hannibal, for my benefit, has buried the hatchet with the Romans. He and grim Scipio have surrounded the enemy with great slaughter behind my left knee. How long can such an alliance hold?

The aching in my right shoulder is where Stonewall Jackson himself has his opponents trapped in a withering crossfire of musket shot and grate.  Earlier an explosion knocked the General from his horse.  The concentration of this odd otherworldly man was unbroken as he dusted himself off. 

Julius Caesar is directing the entire operation from a base just under my heart. No detail of battle escapes his great mind, infinitely perceptive and utterly ruthless.  The most gifted killer of them all.

Although I’m in distress I’m heartened that my defense has fallen into such capable hands. A more crucial battle was never fought as the fallen are discharged with eerie precision in shivering tides of clammy sweat. 

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Miletich Fighting Systems

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Inside the World of the MFS Elite

By: Donovan Craig

Angles. The quick, rhythmic pop, pop, pop of punches hitting mitts echoes through Pat Miletich’s training center in Bettendorf, Iowa. UFC fighting legend and master trainer Pat Miletich is working the pads with one of his students. Pat begins to mix it up, circling, trying to get the guy used to movement. The old fighter’s physical grace emerges as the ex welterweight champ smoothly feints and circles, jukes and jives his student. It becomes a sort of dance, with Miletich giving the guy angles and the tall blonde fighter trying to cut off his coach. The object of the exercise is not power, but speed, fluidity, and footwork. Pat is teaching the guy how to move his feet so that he can throw his punches and kicks from deceptive angles.

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On Subtlety and Violence

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Sometimes it’s something a fighter doesn’t do as much as what the other guy does do that gets him beat. These omissions can be tiny, almost invisible to an untrained eye. A right hand held an inch too low, a posture a bit too forward in an opponent’s guard, a slip or parry mistimed by a fraction of a second, a momentary lack of concentration.

Was it Rashad Evan’s Hail Mary right hand, or the fact that a frustrated Chuck Liddell was chasing him around the ring with his hands a fraction too low that put The Iceman to sleep in their 2008 match? When Rampage Jackson KO’d Wanderlei Silva in their third match it was with a haymaker over a right hand that Wandy left out a second too long. Would Gabriel Gonzaga’s slow-arching head kick have ruined the career of Mirko Cro Cop if the Croatian had the proper respect and kept his distance from the Brazilian? Randy Couture’s head movement is just a fraction too stiff, causing him to be bedeviled by an opportune punch throughout his hall–of-fame career.

Victory or defeat is often secured in such tiny spaces and brief flashes of time. Fighters are constantly trying to create such mistakes on the part of their opponents or lull them into a false sense of security before going in for the kill. When fighters get knocked out, especially when it is suddenly by one punch, they will often shrug and say, “I got caught,” as if they got careless and fell into a hunter’s trap.

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