Saturday, December 15, 2007

Super-stardom vs. quiet obscurity

"The West is driven more by entertainment in its culture. People like rockstars! And fighters are becoming the quintessential rockstars of our time. They are not on the level of Football or Basketball players but they soon will be. Remember, ego plays a large roll in our culture. We like the tough guy. And there is no greater aspect of entertainment that is creating the Ultimate Tough Guy than MMA or UFC competition." (Dave Camarillo)

This weekend Ryan Gracie died in a Sao Paulo prison. I haven't heard anything definite but there was the mention of antipsychotics, antidepressants, cocaine, and marijuana. In an athlete that young sudden cardiogenic death is often attributable to either cocaine or something congenital - and you haven't heard anything about the other Gracies dying young of congenital bad hearts. And then there is Royce and his supposed steroid use. Steroids can cause heart problems but I think it takes longer than Ryan or Royce could have been using them.
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God bless the Gracies. They are on top of the world and their jiu-jitsu prowess hasn't made them immune to the problems that seem attendant with fame and power and wealth. They have got one of the greatest things in the world going for them and they can't keep from showing their asses and screwing it up. Do these guys realize that they are our kids' role models?
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If that is super-stardom, give me quiet obscurity. If that curse is becoming associated with MMA then give me classical grassroots judo and traditional aikido anytime.

5 comments:

  1. How very sad. I never liked the idea of direct competition as a spectacle from which to draw role models, because failure in direct competition is seen as a stigma. But in real life, people fail every day. When we don't learn to live with failure, and try to purge it from our lives, it's the same as neglecting to acknowlege our weaknesses during martial arts practice. When the real trials come, we're unprepared.

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  2. That's too bad. It's also the problem with all professional sports. The almighty dollar. Heck, in the recent baseball steroid flap it came out that tons of minor league players or "B" pros where taking steroids. They were likely doing this to make ends meet or stay in the big league where the pay is better.

    As for MMA, while I respect the prowess of some of the fighters, I can't stand the spectacle that is on TV. It gives martial arts a bad name.

    ~BCP

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  3. Hi, Although it is very sad when professional fighters take drugs to enhance there ability in the ring (or cage) we must not lose sight that it is a simple few from the thousands throughout the world. A lot pof people do rugs to enhace their abilities, true, but thousands more train hard and vigerous, and these are the poeple that represent true martial arts. They respect one another and know very well that they are role models and i do feel they are living up to there role. MMA is still young and will make mistakes, but it is learning a lot in the process. This is a good post. Shall be interesting to here views on it .

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  4. I don't disagree with any of your points. I just want to point out that the Gracie family is huge. Every family has problems, and even good people make mistakes.

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  5. You're absolutely right, Steve. We're all screwed up in some ways and the Gracies _are_ a large family. I was reading one of the new instructional Gracie books this past weekend (I can't remember which Gracie wrote it) but he was saying that when he was a kid some days there would be as many as 40 Gracie children on the mats.

    You've sorta broached the subject of whether or not famous people or leaders (or jiu-jitsu ambassadors), etc... should be held to a higher standard of conduct than folks that are not in the limelight.

    The Senate is currently making a huge deal out of steroid use in MLB. A lot of folks consider a pro ball player betting on dogfights a eally big deal.

    I haven't come down on either side of that debate definitively, but a case could be made for the Gracies et al needing to be held to a higher standard.

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