A Sport's Culture
Most sports cultures have existed for so long that people never get to see or think about how they started. Texas football is Texas football. Rivalries. The way fans behave. The way players are treated around town. Itís an interesting anthropological study, but one thatís already happened.
As I tour training locations, events, and legislative arguments in New York working as an MMA writer, I have the privilege of seeing a culture form from scratch.
In past articles, both here and for The Examiner, Iíve mentioned our own ďSamboĒ Steve Koepferís Tough Times Program, where the recently laid off can get free training for six months or until they find work. On its own, it was a classy gesture. But itís also part of a trend Iíve gotten to see develop.
I also recently did a piece on my old club, Evolution Combat, which moved to Sayville in my absence. The gym was new, recently converted from what appeared to be a body shop. The head coach, Doug Cota, was previously renting space from another gym that went under, giving Doug five days notice to find a new spot or put the club on hiatus.
When Doug found the spot that would become the new Evolution Combat, he put out a forum post asking everyone in the area who knew how to build something if they could. Some former students and people from other gyms answered the call and what resulted Cota could only describe as ďlike an Amish barn raising.Ē
This leads me to the first tenant of New York MMA, and perhaps martial arts as a whole, but I can only attest to what Iíve seen. And it's a tenant I hope sticks as the culture evolves. We help each other.
Even amongst developing cross-town rivalries*, like the competitiveness between Serra and Kioto Jiu Jitsu, thereís a strong sense of comradery. Everyoneís still part of the cause.
*Another important part of developing a sportís culture.
The concept isn't terribly alien to the choir I'm preaching to at Bullshido. This is an entire commune, possibly 45 thousand strong, dedicated to preserving just one aspect of MMA and related sports.
It all seems like simple, common sense humanity among people with some common ground. Itís also something borrowed from previous martial arts cultures, but thatís what makes up MMA, anyway. One of the most important things is that there is a culture, and itís so contrary to how people view both MMA fans and New Yorkers that itís worth stating.
As a side note, I wrote some similar pie in the sky musings to the writers of Penny Arcade in response to a comment they made that MMA fans follow the sport to watch people get hurt. I received no response, but Iím sure they got a lot of that in their inbox. After all, we do help each other.