Mad Skillz: How to, in an appropriate context, choke somebody unconscious in 8 seconds

Let me open with an arbitrary disclaimer. Only try this at home if your home is being invaded and you can take the criminal by surprise. Even then, you might be better off kicking them in the groin.

Not the hold suggested below.

I don’t know when you’ll need to use this, and I hope you never will, but Craig Schwarze is a seriously tough guy. He doesn’t just watch UFC like the rest of us. He does martial arts stuff. He knows how to do stuff you’ve only seen Chuck Norris do. He blogs about Genesis 1. You don’t get much tougher. You should, by the way, check out his blog. I’ve been reading it pretty much since I started blogging, and his post rate a few years back inspired me to up the ante here.

Here is his guide to taking down said opponent.

1. Position yourself behind the subject

2. Take your right arm, hook it around the subjects neck, and then place your right hand on your left shoulder. At this stage, the subjects neck should be sitting comfortably in the crook of your elbow

3. Take your left hand and slide it behind the subjects head, with the palm facing toward you. Use it to grip your right shoulder. There should still be no pressure on the subjects neck

4. Gently begin to squeeze your elbows toward each other. Don’t press too hard or quickly, or you will “gas” your arms. Just steady pressure together

5. Your forearms would put great pressure on the arteries on either side of the subjects neck. There should be no pressure across the throat. If applied correctly, subject will lose consciousness within a few seconds

6. Check out a quick demonstration (sadly embedding is disabled on this video)

Thanks Craig.

Feel free to submit your own mad skillz via my email address, found in various locations around this page (try the header).

A further contribution to the UFC debate

I’m on of those bandwagon jumping fanboys who thinks that my Bible College principal knows everything. I’ve also been wondering what the early church’s position on ancient wrestling was – a sport that was essentially the same as UFC – it barred eye gouges and groin shots. Paul seems to allude to fighting in his analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:26… but while googling for an answer to an unrelated question I found this statement from B.W. Winter

The early Christians faced this question just as we do. Entertainment in their day involved the Roman spectacles, chariot races, gladiatorial fights and those sorts of things. Some of these activities encouraged a perverse interest in violence and sex, so in that sense, they were unhelpful to a Christian’s growth. Should a Christian be aware of what is going on in the wider culture in terms of entertainment? I don’t think we can be ignorant of it. However, what most people are unaware of is that many of these forms of entertainment have a subliminal effect on our thinking. This means that we need to be very selective about what we choose to entertain us. It’s easy to stumble if you simply want to be amused and suspend your critical faculties. I may sound like a bit of a killjoy, but I think it’s important to be evaluating films as we watch them. Too many Christians fail to do this, and stumble. If you suspend your critical faculties, it’s possible to assimilate all sorts of ungodly ideas and behaviour.

Seems relevant – though I think the “perverse interest” is the key. I think it’s possible to watch UFC without being perversely interested in violence. But I think there’s a real danger that this isn’t the case.

Asking the wrong questions about UFC

Al posted a quote from Leunig yesterday that suggested a causal link between a recent UFC fight and increased knife crime in Melbourne – I’ll leave you to find your own problems or agreements with that argument.

The meta of that post has been pretty interesting, and I can’t help but think that we’re approaching this question in the wrong way.

Some pacifist brothers (Seumas has some good thoughts on the issue that are worth digesting) are convinced that violence is inexcusable in any circumstances and thus they are, as it were, conscientious objectors to UFC. Some of these opponents would suggest that the issue is so settled by scripture that this can’t be a question of conscience or liberty. I think the fact that so many people are divided by this issue suggests that it’s not so cut and dried in terms of “right” and “wrong”.

I can’t help but think we’re not being particularly Pauline in our approach to the issue – perhaps instead of asking if we should prohibit (through exhortation and whatever else) Christians from partaking either in the sport itself or in the appreciation thereof – we should be asking “how can we come to grips with UFC in a way that preaches the gospel of Christ”… that was Paul’s priority, and it was Jesus’ mission – more than coming and rejecting war and calling us to peaceful lives, he came and called on us to preach the coming of the kingdom of God.

Anybody who can’t see a nice easy straight line from Jesus the guy who submits to death so that we don’t have to, or Jesus the guy who enters the cage and takes our beating, is missing out on opportunities to connect the gospel message with fans of the world’s fastest growing sport. I’m not suggesting we take the Driscoll line that Jesus is a cage fighter… but some of the arguments against UFC are sillier than the arguments for it. I’ll leave you with some words from Romans 14 which I think are the most compelling scriptural words on the matter.

1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

On entertaining violence

Craig’s UFC post has opened up a philosophical can of worms. The discussion continued in real life at our Queensland Theological College weekend away with quite a few people seeing the debate in black and white terms based on their personal gut feel. The naysayers don’t see the debate as a matter of conscience, the blood sport apologists don’t see a Biblical problem with the sport, the debate is at an impasse.

For me the debate begs a broader question about violence in entertainment. How many of the anti-UFC types are anti-UFC because it is real and not fictional? That seems to me to be an odd and somewhat arbitrary distinction to make. If the problem is bloodlust then surely the problem arises for those who enjoy violent movies and video games. If I can watch UFC to appreciate the technical side of things (and I watched my first intriguing bout last week – I believe this is possible, like it is possible to enjoy League despite the violent collisions not because of them) and don’t glory in the violence does that appease the anti-bloodlust lobby? Some in the debate say that it is a question of ends and means. If the end is testing to see which martial art is superior, and which fighter is superior – I don’t see how this by necessity equates to the end being violence.

But the begged question remains – can you position yourself against ultimate fighting while also enjoying Fight Club? Can you be for all intents and purposes a pacifist while watching war movies for enjoyment? Can you tell people that their love for mixed martial arts is Biblically unjustifiable while shooting people in a computer game?

I don’t think so. I don’t feel any pangs of remorse about enjoying the Hitman game series – the object is to be a sneaky assassin killing victims with a wide range of weapons. I don’t feel like there’s a distinction between enjoying the violence of Judges (like the story of Ehud) and the violence of whatever David Baldacci novel I’m ploughing through… In this case it would be hypocritical of me to take a stance against those who enjoy a sport that I have not, in the past, enjoyed, simply on the basis of violence. And much of this debate smacks of hypocrisy. I did speak to one Godly brother on the weekend whose aversion to violence (as a conscious conscience based decision) now extends to the war movies he enjoyed in his youth. At that point the issue is surely a conscience thing rather than a Biblically mandated aversion. If you can not, in good conscience, enjoy the spectacle of any of these elements of culture then do no. It’s a pretty easy decision.

All line drawing in these issues – other than being dictated by conscience – seems to be pretty arbitrary (unless it’s clearly spelled out in the Bible). When it comes to computer games where do we draw the line. Is it ok to kill Nazis (Wolfenstein) but not to kill police (when you’re an assassin)? Why is it almost universally ok to chomp on a ghost in Pacman or stomp on a walking mushroom (a goomba) in Mario?

I always feel bad when I kill a civilian in a game (and hope that I always do), and it seems that there’s an ethical line when you kill someone not expecting it as part of their job (in a game that is) – which is why I think the fact that highly trained UFC competitors are involved in the sport of their own volition (as opposed to gladiators in Rome and anyone featured in “bumfights” an online sensation where people make homeless people fight for money).

Here’s a post I just read about how video game developers seek to dehumanise bad guys so that we don’t feel bad about popping them in the head with whatever weapon we have at our disposal. Their tactics include featuring zombies, vampires and nazis as universally recognised bad guys – and if in doubt – masking the antagonist so that you don’t confront their emotions. The writer’s conclusion is this:

I believe that developers have come to realize that, while violence is often a necessary part of the action in many games, most people feel put out at the prospect of ending other peoples’ lives, even digital ones. While there are plenty of games that don’t adhere to the general categories I mentioned, most do. It’s the action and excitement of a scenario that draws us in, death is usually just an unintentional byproduct, but even so some effort is made to separate the gamer from what would be the terrible consequences of their actions. Developers do this because we are, despite what so many political blowhards and half-wit news anchors would have us believe, sensitive to violence in the real world.

I don’t get why as Christians we’re so keen to point the finger at our brothers and sisters to suggest that their enjoyment of a sport is due to some sort of sinful appreciation of unabashed violence. We should give one another the benefit of the doubt on matters like this shouldn’t we? It doesn’t surprise me that the vast majority of people commenting in support of watching UFC have some technical training or appreciation of the sport that they enjoy. These people aren’t the type to get excited about the misapplication of violence outside the context of sport or the pursuit of justice. They just happen to like a sport that is open and honest about the fact that violence is part of the game.

Some holds barred

Did you know that the term “no holds barred” comes from wrestling? Not the fake stuff. The real ancient art.

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles and discussions online recently surrounding a Christian response to cagefighting. Craig started it in his column at SydneyAnglicans. He suggested we should be coming up with an articulate position on what appears to be a pretty divisive matter of conscience populated by two unbiblical extremes…

For many, their first gut reaction to the sport will define their position. But it may be worth spending some time to work through the issue properly. I predict this sport will become enormously popular in Australia over the next few years, especially amongst young men. If this happens, it will be good if we have done some proper thinking on the subject beforehand.

Now everywhere I turn on the interwebs I’m reading the debate.

Ben commented on it yesterday, the NY Times ran a story about cage fighting churches, Justin Taylor quoted this rebuttal to the kind of Christianity modeled in the times piece and Mark Driscoll has been banging on about UFC for years. Cage fighting is well and truly established there and I haven’t read a middle ground response from the Christian community – you’re either in the Jesus was a cage fighter camp or the sissy pacifist camp… which led to this quote.

It discourages and mocks godly men who aren’t macho. There is an undercurrent of disdain in all of this. Proponents of this testosterone Christianity can’t help but take shots at guys who wear pastels and drink cappuccino. You might not like guys with manicures, but there’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with it. A reserved, quiet, well-groomed man can be a good Christian. Believe it or not.

I think the debate is pretty silly and out of all the Christian interactions I’ve read or experienced they descend in to ad hominem non-arguments the quickest (though arguments about Genesis 1 and alcohol consumption are up there).

From the NY Times:

The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”

Some of the arguments for cage fighting are just stupid. Jesus was not a cage fighter. No matter how hard some of the Americans want to believe that to be the case. Being a cage fighter does not make one a man, it does not even make one more manly. If this is just a correction to the feminisation of the church then it’s an odd and ill directed attempt to get more men along – but Craig was right. This is a discussion we need to have. Cage fighting is huge.

While I think some of the extreme positions on the pro fighting side are silly I wonder how much of the bellicose criticism coming from the anti-violence side of the debate is just ill-conceived grandstanding.

Gentleness is a good thing. Sure. And Christians are called on to turn the other cheek. But to suggest that a sporting endeavour where two combatants engage in a competition with agreed upon rules and parameters is somehow definitively ruled out in the Bible just seems odd to me. It’s a conscience issue – surely.

I’m not out to change anybody’s opinion on this matter – if you think violent sports are wrong then don’t watch or take part in them. I watch boxing. I enjoy WWE (which isn’t real). I haven’t watched much UFC – but I don’t have a problem with it – really. It’s just not my preference. I’d rather watch a bunch of other sports. I love the violence and physicality of league. Anybody who says they don’t watch league for the collisions is just a touch football fan in disguise. Does this make me a bad person? Anybody who thinks that league players don’t go out of their way to “hurt” others has never seen a forward make a tackle or a hit up (and they certainly haven’t spoken to any successful league players).

Why are we pain averse? I don’t understand why causing other people pain it’s clearly expected and mitigated by rules is possibly wrong? Is it less good than not causing them pain? I don’t know… but lines drawn in this debate seem completely arbitrary. League is ok (or perhaps Union), UFC is not – where does the line fall? How do you decide? As an aside – in the comments on Craig’s post Kutz suggested we need a doctrine of sport. I like that idea.

The clincher (for me) came up in the Sydney Anglicans discussion. I love the stories of violence in the Old Testament – I don’t glory in them (too much) – but I see them as pictures of justice and of the struggle between good and evil. The Bible contains more violence from righteous men than UFC will ever produce.

If it comes down to a question of “purpose” and violence not being suitable for entertainment then I wonder how many of the brothers coming out against UFC enjoy violent movies or TV shows? How can one affirm the quality of the Godfather while decrying a sport?

If it’s a problem with the unholiness of the entertainment then what about every TV show that contains sexual immorality… if it’s that the sin is real and not imagined then what about game shows where contestants are motivated by greed?

I don’t see why the objections to this passion or interest are so heated and so different to the reactions to anything else – except perhaps for a declaration that one considers the earth to be billions, not thousands, of years old or the suggestion that beer is one of God’s best ideas.

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