There’s a classic Warner Brothers cartoon from
1951 1948 in which Bugs Bunny takes on a huge, evil bruiser of a fighter called the Crusher. One of the funniest bits is a scene where Bugs is grunting and straining in an attempt to shift one of the Crusher’s legs. The viewpoint pans back and we se the Crusher completely ignoring this feeble effort, playing solitaire on the wrestling mat.
I was in Mixed Martial Arts class tonight, doing the five-minute wrestle for submission (joint lock or choke hold) with an intermediate-level student, and found myself unexpectedly thinking of the Crusher. It happened when the guy I was wrestling with (20-something, good technique, taller than me but a good twenty or thirty pounds lighter) tried to put an arm bar on me.
In MMA the classic way to work this is to isolate the arm by getting a leg on either side of it, pull the arm towards your head with both hands along your straightened torso, lock the elbow joint and then press down with one forearm while arching your body to put maximum pressure on the joint. My opponent saw the opening went for it, and got his arm bar all nicely set up in the approved manner…
…and I thought “Where’s my solitaire deck? :-)
There’s the guy gamely huffing and straining away, thinking he’s accomplishing something. I let him work on it for a bit, thinking tranquil thoughts. Eventually he got my arm twisted around just enough to actually lock the joint, so I took it away from him. No big deal, I just postured up a bit and pulled. There was no way his grip strength, even two-handed, was going to be able to fight my arm and shoulder strength any longer than I let it happen, even if I weren’t using my body weight.
Heh. Being spastically partially paralyzed in my legs sucks, but there are compensations. This is one of them. There are probably people who can make that move work on me when I’m not cooperating for training purposes, but I haven’t met any of them yet; it would take exceptional skill or strength or (probably) both. That’s a nice tactical advantage to take into the ring.
He tried it again about thirty seconds later; same result. I was fine with that; any time you can get your opponent to expend energy to no purpose it’s a win. I’ve found that, especially in fighting younger guys filled with testosterone and a need to prove something, it’s good strategy to deadweight on them — let them expend energy, let them pull moves that don’t actually get a submission, and use my torso mass as much as possible to drag on them and make them tired.
You don’t necessarily get physical submission that way, but you can get psychological collapse of the will to fight surprisingly often. The younger they are, the faster that tends to happen. Post-adolescents have good wind and physical stamina but, as a rule, their will is weak. Or perhaps “brittle” would be a better adjective; they lack mental toughness, what chessplayers call sitzfleisch.
I’ve observed this before when doing striking arts, but the effect seems to be amplified in close-contact styles. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe there’s an evolved mechanism that encourages submission to older males?
Anyway, it was all good clean fun. And this guy didn’t collapse, bless him; he eventually figured out he wasn’t going to out-power me until hell had been frozen over for at least three days and switched to trying to out-speed me. Good move — he managed to work a light choke hold just before the (figurative) bell rang.
Later update: One of my regular commenters observes that is sounds like I dominated this guy for 4:30 and then let him win. Nope, he won fair and square by getting inside my OODA loop. I’d say I learned a lesson from this, except I didn’t; I already know from experience in other styles that I can be defeated that way by someone with significantly better technique or speed. And I’ve only been fighting in this style for six weeks, so it’s more or less how I expect people to beat me. Six months from now I’ll have muscle memory for basic moves and counters, and I’ll be much harder to take that way.
I like this style. When I get enough clues about technique I believe I’m going to be very good at it.