November 30, 2009
November 29, 2009
"Fighting Fit" is in it's fourth issue which can be found at your local bookstore. Originated in the UK, this mag is a step above what we have seen in a lot of the latest rags to jump on the MMA bandwagon. Encompassing martial arts, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and any other combat sport the variety of interviews, articles, and tips was refreshing. Most of the articles talked about various approaches to training and diet, which is a refreshing break from the typical "I am going to kick his ass until..." testosterone BS found in most of the MMA rags.
I always find it fascinating to see inside of fight camps and their approach to training, diet, focus, mental game etc. This magazine fits that niche for sure. The only down side is the price... 4+pounds UK, equals about $11 US!! I am not sure it is worth the price in that respect. Grab a latte and sit and read this one at the local bookstore.
Tim's latest article "Throwing Techniques in the Internal Martial Arts: An Elucidation of the Guiding Principle of "Sticking and Following" appears in the latest issue (vol. 18 #4) of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts. The issue is on newsstands now!
The article addresses some of the strategy and technique behind throwing methodology found within Xing Yi / Bagua / Taiji.
This article is required reading for all of my students regardless of what you train under me!!
The Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials US qualifier is coming to Santa Cruz, CA. Jan 24th, 2010. Winners receive full accommodations and airfare to World Pro Jiu Jitsu Cup where one can potentially win prizes upwards of $10's of thousands of dollars!!
For more info on the US qualifier click here!
Here is more info on the World Cup!
Train Hard, Train Smart!
Hakuho won his third title of the year by stealing the victory with a perfect 15-0 record in the Kyushu Basho! Hakuho ends the year with a never before seen record of 86-4! Best ever for a single year. The Mongolian Yokuzuna finished the tournament with a great throw vs. his rival, fellow Mongolian himself Asashouryu.
The actual bout begins at the 6 minute mark. Great fight!
Here are the highlights from the last day:
Here is the Japan Times breakdown.
To the right is a picture of Hakuho in his traditional Mongolian Wrestling uniform, and his current Sumo Mawashi. Don't forget about the Aaron Fields Mongolian Wrestling Seminar coming up in a couple of weeks!
November 27, 2009
But it occurred to me that perhaps many of you have not seen video of my teachers, and their teachers. Lineage is a fascinating subject matter in the martial arts, some take it more serious than others. But regardless of its importance to you, the knowledge passed on from one generation to another is crucial to the survival of the art, and really kind of amazing when you sit down and REALLY think about it!
So here are some videos I have been able to scrounge up on the web of my various teachers and some of their teachers as well!
Here is a clip from when Tim was a Purple Belt:
Here Tim is training with Xie Pei Qi (Yin Fu Bagua):
Great Bagua throw:
Here is the beautiful Sun Jian Yun, Sun Lu Tang's daughter, doing Sun Taiji. Tim studied Sun Taiji, and Bagua under Sun and her family while living in China:
Here is Mao Ming Chun one of Tim's teachers doing some Xing Yi. Tim studied Li Gui Changs Xing Yi under Mao:
Luo De Xiu, one of Tim's Bagua teachers from Taiwan:
Hu Xi Lin, my Mantis teacher in BC has been another guiding light in my martial journey. I met him and Tim around the same time and have trained with both nonstop since! Here are some clips from various seminars and training sessions we had throughout the years. Everyone always asks if I am "giving" him something, going with it, not resisting.... the simple answer is...no. He takes whatever he wants, and hopefully you tap quick enough!
Here is one of the only clips I am aware of showcasing Ma Han Qin, Hu Laoshi's teacher in Plum Blossom and Six Harmonies Mantis Boxing. This was part of a documentary project my uncle Ilya Profatilov was working on, but it never came to fruition to the best of my knowledge. Ilya is the one just off camera smoking. This is a shame since Ilya collected TONS of articles, photos, and video of Ma Laoshi before he passed. I hope it does not die with Ilya!
And I could never forget one of the biggest influences on me, as well as one of the most broken hearts I have ever had, Mike Martello. Here is a link to a playlist, as Mike put up too many videos to cut and paste here. Search Mike Martello on Youtube and you will find tons of shots.
Miss you Mike!
If you are more interested in my lineage, some of the teachers I have trained with that are not shown here, or any of the teachers above feel free to visit Three Harmonies and puruse the specific style pages for lineage charts, articles section for information on various teachers, and if you have any questions feel free to email me.
November 23, 2009
November 18, 2009
Diet is probably one of the most confusing, frustrating, inconsistent aspects of a combat athlete. Everyone has a personal opinion based on any number of factors, and it is very, VERY, difficult to sift through the bullshit out there to find the "truth" if such a thing actually exists. Any given day we are inundated with a plethora of information about what foods cause what diseases, and what foods are good for you. These lists seem to change and shift any given week (think of how many times the authorities have flip-flopped on the quality of eggs, or alcohol), and if you are like me, you really have to question ANYTHING the government has their grubby little fingers dipped into!
I recently viewed the film "Food Inc." which is one of the better documentaries I have seen in the past years. Regardless of your thoughts on diet, meat, and the effect our consumption on mother earth, this film is required viewing. Not only shedding some light on how mass production has created such a health epidemic in our country, but it also showcases the sad lack of respect we have for the marrow of our fine country, the local farmer. Here is a clip:
I recently competed at the 2009 No Gi World Championships, and decided to cut weight so I did not have to fight big mofo's on the mat. I wanted to fight in the 215# and under division (I believe it was 203-215#). I overshot my goal and fought at 205 the day of! I was not weak nor tired, but note to self...next time an extra 8#'s would be good!
So some people have been asking me how I lost the weight, and more importantly, how I lost the weight while not making myself weak.
First of all I stepped up my BJJ as well as my boxing and started training my ass off. But diet certainly was a factor. I have been more aware of my diet since I have been about 24-25. I started to get more in touch with my body and how it reacts to certain foods, and basically did not follow a certain diet per se, but listened to my body and did what I thought was common-sensical.
Tim, one of my teachers, has been researching diet and the human body since he was 11 years old. He is one of the more intelligent, well read, people that I have ever met and again Tim has a very common sense approach as well. Tim is a huge advocate of the Paleo Diet (two websites that offer overviews of such a diet are Paleodiet.com and thepaleodiet.com. I offer these sites simply as a general reference for those who are unfamiliar with such a diet), which very basically says to consume meat and veggies, and pretty much nothing else.
I am not strict about the Paleo diet, but as time has progressed (IE. I have grown older) I have been more and more diligent in this approach, and overall I feel better. And really that is my goal; feel better, live cleaner, and get better performance from my body. I do not concern myself with how I look, or how fat I am. I train daily, some days 2-3 times a day, so I get plenty of exercise and can "work off" anything I put on. I understand many of you do not have that luxury, so I hope some of this information can help you with maintaining the image you want, losing fat, and living a better life. I should note that I am NOT a doctor nor anyone you should take advice from on any level, so I present this simply for informational purposes only. Consult your doctor before trying anything, if you believe in doctors. I do not have the luxury of having health insurance, so I listen to my body and try my best without the knowledge of western medicine.
Though it is thick, and rather academic, "Good Calories - Bad Calories" by Gary Taube is one of the best resources out there, and lays to rest the low carb vs. low fat controversy. This book has over 100 pages of citations, where Taubes has read and referenced every medical report and paper published on the subject since the late 1700's! I have heard there is an "easier to read" version coming out soon. I have not read the whole thing, but read excerpts while staying with Tim in LA last week. Certainly something I need to add to my bookshelf.
Another great resource is Paleonu. Kurt Harris is highly educated and offers some great information for those curious about changing their diet, and his site has lots of invaluable information on it. I offer one of the basic lists to start off with when changing your diet below:
PaNu - A modified paleolithic diet that can improve your health by duplicating the evolutionary metabolic milieu.
How do you do it?
Here is a 12- step list of what to do. Go as far down the list as you can in whatever time frame you can manage. The further along the list you stop, the healthier you will be. There is no counting, measuring, or weighing. You are not required to purchase anything specific from me or anyone else. There are no special supplements, drugs or testing required.*
1 Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks) and all flour
2 Start eating proper fats - Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for carb calories. Drink whole cream or half and half instead of milk. 3 Eliminate grains 4 Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with butter, animal fats, or coconut oil. 5 Get daily midday sun or take 4-8000 iu vit D daily 6 Intermittent fasting and infrequent meals (2 meals a day is best) 7 Fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation. 8 Eliminate legumes 9 Adjust your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison avoids excess O-6 fatty acids and are better than supplementing with 0-3 supplements. 10 Proper exercise - emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions 11 Eliminate milk (if you are sensitive to it, move this up the list
2 Start eating proper fats - Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for carb calories. Drink whole cream or half and half instead of milk.
3 Eliminate grains
4 Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with butter, animal fats, or coconut oil.
5 Get daily midday sun or take 4-8000 iu vit D daily
6 Intermittent fasting and infrequent meals (2 meals a day is best)
7 Fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation.
8 Eliminate legumes
9 Adjust your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison avoids excess O-6 fatty acids and are better than supplementing with 0-3 supplements.
10 Proper exercise - emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions
11 Eliminate milk (if you are sensitive to it, move this up the list
12 Eliminate other dairy including cheese- (now you are "orthodox paleolithic")
If you can do step 1, that is about 50% of the benefit and alone a huge improvement on the standard American diet (SAD) By about step 6 you are at about 75% , by step 9 about 80% and at 10 you are at 99% for most people.
Here is the skeleton of the theory:
Insulin is a phylogenetically old hormone. It is a biological messenger that in excess, is metabolically saying the following to your tissue and organs: "Go ahead and store energy, and go ahead and mature, reproduce and die." Excess insulin in humans is linked to diabetes, Alzheimer dementia, metabolic syndrome, obesity, coronary disease and cancer.
We did not evolve under conditions of insulin excess. Food was intermittently available and not superabundant like today. Scarcity and famine were frequent everywhere until recently in evolutionary time. Preferred foods were available year round and dense in calories and nutrients. Animal products, including organs and bone marrow of mammals, fish, and invertebrates (insects) were the preferred foods, supplemented by edible plants (not grains) until the dawn of agriculture. Fruit was seasonal and not yet bred for maximum sweetness. Food was eaten less frequently, had lower carbs than the typical American diet which is about 60%, and was supplemented by often involuntary periods of intermittent fasting and lower calories overall.
We are not adapted to chronic hyperinsulinemia.
We are also not adapted to eating grass seeds, to which we have been significantly exposed for only about 10,000 years. They contain molecules that are specifically designed to discourage consumption, as well as other problematic chemicals.
The diet is not about eating exactly what "cavemen" ate, or killing your own food. It is solely about duplicating what I believe are the key elements of the internal hormonal metabolic milieu that we evolved under from especially less than 1 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. This is likely to be achieved not by eating specific things, but more by not eating specific things.
Calorie restriction is a severe, uncomfortable way to have low insulin levels and if calorie restricted (starving) your insulin levels can be reasonable even if your carb percentage is high. However, with calorie restriciton you can get muscle wasting, fatigue and weakened immune function. In animal models, calorie restriction increases longevity substantially. Remember the metaphorical message of insulin? It says, "Mature, Reproduce and then Die". This message is attenuated by having low insulin levels.
Is there another way to live in a world of abundant food without being hungry all the time, yet avoiding the risk of immune dysfunction associated with eating grass seeds that cannot even be eaten without mechanical processing and cooking ?
Yes, you can work your way down this list.
Check the website occasionally for more details - I will elaborate as time allows - or you can post questions in the comment section of the blog.
* This is not medical advice. I am confident this is the healthiest way to eat based on currently available science. However, if you have any serious medical condition that requires treatment and in particular if you take medication for diabetes, thyroid disorders or autoimmune diseases, make dietary changes only in consultation with your physician. Your medications may need to be adjusted, as you may well need less of them!
Again I do not buy into all he has to say. I like fruits, but have been trying to limit them since they are full of sugar. I have switched over to Coconut Oil for cooking, but have done so recently so I cannot offer any insight into its effects yet. For instance though I am not an advocate of fasting. I train too much, too often to fast.
Keep in mind that moderation of moderation is key. Do not cut out everything, and allow yourself to "cheat" once a week. Eat whatever you like, do not fret about it on that day or two. Ease into changes such as these. You will be surprised how addicted to sugar or grains you are, and eventually after cutting such things out your body will no longer crave them, and if you do eat them your body will let you know what it thinks about the fuel you are giving it.
I have met, befriended, and pissed off many vegans and vegetarians over the years. I live in veggie heaven (Seattle), and came from New Mexico where it is quite popular too. Back home in Ohio we slaughter and eat vegetarians as we are mostly "meat & potato" folk;)
Again, many things factor into such personal choices and I am not "anti" anything though I do not prescribe to such a diet.
I have linked a great read on the myths of being a veggie here by Stephen Byrnes who is a ND and RNCP. Though lengthy, I like Byrnes because he is common-sensical and does not "dis" being a veggie. He simply lays out the facts.
The one argument for veggie type diets that I can see is the treatment of animals. It does disgust me how we slaughter and process meat on all levels! If it were up to me these aspects would be changed immediately. But not all things are that simple. As a society we have moved away from the hunter - gatherer lifestyle, and are now dependent on buying processed, easy to get/cook meat at supermarket's. How many of you have ever slaughtered an animal from start to finish? I feel for such deplorable conditions, but in the end I am at the top of the food chain and I am hungry! Hopefully the cow/chicken/pig will have better kharma in its next life.
We have strayed away from this approach to our diet, and are now dependent on others doing such things for us. We have grown, population wise, to the point of saturation! Too many people on too small of a planet, consuming more than we are producing. We are no longer in touch with our local farmers / community, and are now dependant on getting food shipped in from long distances which requires certain preservatives and chemicals that are just not part of our natural diet.
I think these resources are valuable starting points and I encourage you to check them out and see if you cannot try even the first 2-3 levels above. I think you will be surprised at the outcome.
Also build a healthy environment around you. If your friends / associates are lazy, overweight, and in general enjoy a shitty diet...guess what... you will not progress out of this lifestyle. It is hard, requires discipline and work! Do not stock munchie foods that are unhealthy for you. If you smoke weed try to have healthy snacks around the house to munch on. Eating an apple is MUCH healthier than a Snickers bar! When I get the munchies I will not seek out shit food, but if it is in the house I will eat it (damn Reese's PB cups!).
In the end you must enjoy life, so do not take any diet too seriously. Allow yourself to cheat and have fun while maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit. I like beer. Sure I cut out the frequency I drink when training hard, or trying to cut weight. But I still have it. I love food of all kinds so I am constantly trying new things and enjoy eating and cooking. I use healthy alternatives if I have the choice, and do not fret about meals to the point of stress. Also remember just because it is on your plate, does not mean you have to eat it all! Moderation in moderation.
November 16, 2009
Antonio "Nino" Schembri was ranked as the 2nd best grappler of the 90's, created the go go plata as well as the rubber guard! Here is an amazing highlight reel where David Meyer even makes the cut at 1:47 2:25 4:08 4:38!
Here is David had to say about Nino: "The fight lasted about 5 minutes before he tapped me. It was pretty much bad for me the whole time!"
Here is a great article on Nino and some of his techniques. I use (or try to use) the Police Bar all the time!
Gogo Plata Lesson:
Nice short interview here.
Nino's academy in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Brian "Mr. BJJ" Johnson of NW Jiu Jitsu Academy was a special guest at the Shen Wu Academy of Mixed Martial Arts in Garden Grove, CA. on November 9, 2009 for a 3 hour seminar on the Entangled Arm (overhook) from closed guard. This will most likely be the last seminar at the Wu, since head instructor Tim Cartmell is merging his school with Ace Jiu Jitsu.
Here is Brian's lightweight final:
Here is Brian's open weight fight with Stephen Hall:
David's final match in the open weight division:
David's semi- final match in the open weight division:
Here is the Blue Belt master final (I did not tape my earlier fights because we thought we were not allowed to). This is my first tournament win, and first submission. Respect the wristlock bitches!!!!
My first fight in the Blue Belt open weight division:
Second fight in the open division. Hands down the strongest and toughest opponent I had all day. This is my best match IMO, as I played my game to the "T" and nailed the kimura!
Here is my finals match in the open weight division. It was my turn to be the nail! All in all a good day!
November 15, 2009
I am happy to announce that both Tim Cartmell, and myself have articles in the latest edition of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts. Tim has an excellent piece on "Throwing Techniques in the Internal Martial Arts: An elucidation of the guiding principle of 'Sticking and Following,' and I was asked to write a review of the latest edition of Liang Shou Yu and Yang Jwing Ming's "Bagua: Theory and Application."
It is an honor to be featured in the same magazine with my teacher Tim, as well as being demo dummy for the photo's! I hope you readers will enjoy it.
For my students I think I will make this mandatory reading!
It is due to hit bookstores this month, or you can order it directly from the website above.
November 13, 2009
The 2009 No Gi World Championships were held November 8th, 2009 in Irvine, CA. Hundreds of grapplers filed into the Pyramid to fight on one of 12 mats the IBJJF had running for an intense day of competition from the best in the world. The following is my experience at the Worlds.
November 12, 2009
The 2009 No GI World Championships will be replayed tomorrow starting at 11am. Go to No Gi dot com to log in and download the feed.
You can check out Brian's matches, as well as the likes of Tussa Alancare, Rafeal Lovato Jr., Nate Diaz, Josh Barnett, the list goes on.
Unfortunately they did not have time to include the Master class Blue Belt division, but fret not I will be posting fight footage over the next week or so.
November 10, 2009
November 8, 2009
November 6, 2009
November 5, 2009
Here is a Mongolian Cultural blog that offers some old photo's and basic info on wrestling.
Another blog on Mongolia in general offers this page on the various aspects of wrestling.
This is hands down one of my favorite videos off of Youtube. Not only does it showcase some great takedowns and throws from awesome wrestlers, but it also gives a sneak preview of some of the cultural aspects such as the Eagle Dance, and the great respect and sportsmanship these grapplers of the steppe have for each other.
The music is nothing short of amazing! Mongolia is known for its throat singing which is very rare, unique, and from what I understand, difficult to do. The song is "Erge-Sholee Biste Turda" which can be found on the album "If I'd Been Born an Eagle" by the band Huun-Huur-Tu. (Yes I did buy the CD for that song, and yes it was a pain in the ass to find!) A great documentary to check out is called "Genghis Blues" which follows a blind blues musician to Tuva in an attempt to learn throat singing. A great story regardless of your interest in the topic!
Mongolian Wolf on Youtube has a bunch of videos of wrestling.
Here is a great video showcasing various competitions from 1948-1958. Also it gives the viewer an idea of what the language sounds like in Mongolia. I have not knowingly ever heard Mongolian which is based on the Turkish language if I am not mistaken, not Chinese like many believe. Their script is beautiful!
The current Sumo champions (yokozuna) Asashoryu, and Hakuho both are from Mongolia and have come from traditional Mongolian wrestling backgrounds. Their domination of the competition has been nothing short of amazing!
This is an article written by Aaron Fields that serves as an excellent introduction to the art of Mongolian Wrestling (bayrildax). The article is under copyright and is used with the authors permission. The images are borrowed from all over the net.
On the Mongolian steppe horseracing, archery and wrestling are the three traditional sports. The Naadam festival held during the second week of every July is the pinnacle of the year in the three traditional sports. In this article I will explain the rules and traditions of Mongolian folk wrestling (bayrildax). In addition, I will explain the rule and custom variations between the Inner Mongolian (Chinese occupied) and Mongolian versions of this indigenous wrestling style.
I would be negligent as a Central Asian historian (and to my friends and coaches in Mongolia) if I didn't give a cultural backdrop for the most misunderstood region in the world: Central Asia.
Understanding that Mongolia is a Central Asian country and quite different culturally and linguistically from its East Asia neighbors is crucial. The Mongolian language is not of Chinese descent. In fact, it is in the Turkish language family. The culture is built around a pastoral nomadic tradition, rather than an agricultural one. Despite Chinese political/cultural propaganda, Mongolia is not culturally tied to the Chinese by anything other than animosity. Many things popularly identified as "Chinese" are in fact imports from the nomadic conquerors from the north (most recently Yuan and Ching dynasties).
Mongolian wrestling most often takes place outdoors, though sometimes, during the winter, tournaments are held indoors. The ring is decided by natural boundaries. There are no weight classes or time limits in a match. The objective of the match is to get your opponent to touch his back, knee or elbow to the ground. In the Inner Mongolian version, any body part other than the feet touching the ground signals defeat. Each wrestler must wrestle once per round, the winners moving on to the next round.
The technical rules between the Mongolian version and what is found in Inner Mongolia have some divergence. In both versions a variety of throws, trips and lifts are employed to topple the opponent. The Inner Mongolians may not touch their opponent's legs with their hands, whereas, in Mongolia, grabbing your opponent's legs is completely legal. In addition, striking, strangling or locking is illegal in both varieties.
In the case of a sacrifice throw, the first wrestler to touch the ground, regardless of who threw whom, is the loser.
The area of most divergence between the two varieties is that of the dress. In the wrestlers' wear, the traditional Mongolian boots, a cap, a brief, and a top. The briefs and top are made out of silk, cloth, or most recently rip-stop nylon. The top is long sleeved with the chest cut away. It extends more than halfway down the back. Ropes or cords are attached to the back of the top and tied around the stomach. The referees during the wrestling match hold the caps of the wrestlers.
According to legend, the briefs and the exposed chest are to ensure that each participant is male. Supposedly, hundreds of years ago, a woman entered the competition under the guise of being male and became the dominant wrestler.
The garb of the Inner Mongolians is quite different from that of their northern neighbors. Inner Mongolians wear a metal studded short-sleeved leather top, which exposes substantially less of the wrestler's chest than the Mongolian version. They wear a less ornate boot and long baggy whit pants. For wrestlers of rank the Inner Mongolians have a necklace called a jangga. The Inner Mongolians do not wear a cap.
Two arbitrarily appointed referees/cornermen supervise each match. Their job is to encourage the wrestler they were appointed to, to declare the winner, and to steer the wrestlers away from the natural boundaries and other pairs of wrestlers. If there is a dispute over a fall, a panel of judges who do not participate in the matches serves as the final word in the dispute.
The pairing of wrestlers is determined by the senior-ranked wrestlers, who choose their opponents each round. Rank can only be attained during the Nadaam festival. The number of rounds won by each wrestler determines rank. The rounds for ranks do not accumulate and must be achieved in on Naadam. In ascending order, the ranks are: unranked, bird, elephant, lion and titan. After winning the Nadaam festival ten times a wrestler becomes a state recognized national hero.
Inner Mongolian tournaments often employ a time limit to matches. If the time limit is exceeded they will use a ring in overtime periods. In this case, stepping outside the ring for any reason signifies a loss.
The cultural significance of wrestling is demonstrated most vividly before and after a match. Each Mongolian wrestler at the beginning of a match will exhibit a dance that is an imitation of a great bird in flight. There are two schools of thought on exactly which bird is being imitated. Some say it is a great falcon, while others say it is the Garuda bird found in Buddhist mythology. The dance is slow and exaggerated, which serves to show the wrestler's prowess and to loosen up the required muscles for the upcoming match. The sequence of the parts of the dance is specific with a series of thigh slaps, semi-squats and clockwise pivots. If the wrestler wins the match he again partakes in the dance. He circles clockwise around a platform decorated with horsetail banners. While dancing the wrestler is supposed to focus on Tengri or sky and heavens for skill and blessings, and gazar or earth for stability and strength.
After the conclusion of a match and prior to beginning the ending dance, win or lose, the lower ranked wrestler passes underneath the right arm of the senior wrestler in a show of respect. While passing underneath the senior's arm both wrestlers pat each other's back in a sign of mutual respect.
The Inner Mongolian version has less cultural symbolism involved in the matches and tournaments. This is explained by the fact that the Han Chinese, who have tended to view minority culture within China as undesirable, occupies the territory.
Nevertheless, the Inner Mongolians have a pre and post match dance that is an imitation of a preflight running eagle. Similar means are served by this dance as to that of the Mongolians, yet, the religious elements are notably downplayed.
In either case, exhibiting a dance of quality is the ideal. I have heard many times , "Your dance must be good so that you will worry your opponent. If you lose, people will remember and admire your dance, if it is good."
Another shared feature is the emphasis put on participation. This is not to say that winning is not important. As I noted earlier, winning the Nadaam festival in Mongolia ten times makes the wrestler a national hero. But, participation is considered an act of bravery. This feature of emphasis on participation can be found in both archery and horse racing as well.
In Mongolia the top finishers are given a variety of gifts, which usually come in the form of livestock. The five animals of importance in Mongolia are horses, camels, sheep, oxen and goats. In Inner Mongolia every wrestler gets a prize. The wrestlers who were thrown in the early rounds often receive bars of soap and towels (to wash off the dirt from being thrown). Whereas, similar to Mongolia, the top finishers will receive livestock.
Historically, native Central Asian armies were entirely composed of cavalry units. From this historical feature there is an absence of groundwork in Mongolian folk wrestling. An unhorsed man was dead quickly, as he was soon to be trampled by horses or killed by an opponent's weapon. In Mongolia, as in all societies, wrestling (hand-to-hand combat) served as a secondary means of military engagement. In fact, the other two "heavenly sports" of archery and horse racing are more closely rooted to the battlefields of Central Asia than is wrestling.
The historical, technical and cultural connection between Mongolian wrestling and other types of grappling found in the surrounding regions can sometimes be traced. There are obvious connections between many of the Central Asian varieties due to cultural, linguistic and stylistic features. In the case of Russian sambo, we can find actual written records which, when coupled with the political connection between Mongolia and the Soviet Union, are unquestionably accurate. As a side note, sambo, judo, freestyle wrestling and sumo are also popular in Mongolia.
In the case of Korean Sseirum and to a greater extent Japanese sumo, there is an inclination to connect the two to Bayirldax for historical, linguistic and practical reasons. Yet, we must resist the urge as the forms are too distant culturally and historically to support anything more academic than a hunch.
The connection between China's Shuai-chiao and Mongolian Bayrildax is one that is often drawn. Other than casual connections based off Mongolia's geographic proximity to China, this connection tends to be one of political and cultural propaganda on the part of the Chinese. Keeping in mind that many Chinese claim that Mongolian wrestling comes from Shuai-chiao, we must remember that many "Chinese" traits were imported at different times from the conquering tribes of China's northern periphery. In addition, historically, we must note once again, that when speaking of the relationship between Mongolia and China, animosity underlies their cultural interactions. So one must be careful in accepting the rhetoric.
In addition, any wrestler who has studied more than one variety of wrestling will tell you that just because two versions share similar techniques does not prove a connection. As any physiologist will point out, the human body is not infinite and there are only so many ways to make a movement efficiently. Therefore, despite semantic differences, technical properties found in grappling systems around the world are more similar than different. This is of course taking into account the slight variations that arise based off ethnic or individual physiology and differences in clothing or rules. Due to this feature of finite movement, it becomes questionable to base connections between styles of wrestling solely off technical similarities. Without additional evidence (such as geographical, political, linguistic, ethics, etc.) such claims are weak at best.
In closing, Mongolian Bayirldax is a sport, which even in today's world has not lost the cultural significance of its origins. The tournaments themselves are majestic events showing skill, grace, power and patience. The wrestlers themselves are the athletic heroes of the country. I cannot find the words for watching a battle of balance and grips proceed ever so slowly for hours upon hours, only to finish in a split second and another successful throw by Baterdene, as he wins yet another Naadam.
November 4, 2009
SAMBO Roots clinic on Mongolian Folk Wrestling
Sea-Town Sambo and the Seattle Jujutsu Club
An American Sambo Association Seminar Series clinic
Saturday December 12th , 11 am – 3 pm (or so)
20 dollars for the day
Aaron Fields will be showing Mongolian folk wrestling technique as well as talking about the cultural background of the sport
This is as close as you are going to get without living in Mongolia!
All experience levels welcome
Sea-Town Sambo/Seattle Jujutsu Club
1314 NE 56th St
Please reserve space ahead of time and feel free to contact Aaron directly with questions.
Please bring a ju jitsu/judo dogi top, kurtka, belt, shorts
The club has a limited number of loaners