The dark side to MMA's growing acceptance in American culture: the threat of the cretin-as-martial-artist. I would prefer that the cheesehead who cuts in line at Price Chopper not know how to ankle-pick complainers and then apply strangulation until they pass out in a pile of Kit-Kats, TV Guides and "dry toothbrush" devices.
Normally, the discipline and drudgework of martial arts weed out the people who would behave so inconsiderately. Unfortunately, it's becoming easier than ever to apply the right knowledge for the wrong reasons. In a course that began in January, Royce Gracie black belt Jim Hughes is offering instruction at the University of Connecticut in basic jiu-jitsu for one college credit.
"No, you do not need to be athletic to do this class," writes Hughes. "No, you do not need a Gi, uniform, or any special clothing or equipment. I believe that peaceful resolution to problems is always the best policy. But, if someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night and you have no option but to fight, I want you to know how to position yourself and move and keep yourself safe for as long as it takes for the bad guy to get tired and make a mistake." (This last part is a special consideration for those living in areas where authorities are slow to respond, though keeping a burglar in your guard for 15-30 minutes can get awkward. You simply run out of things to talk about.)
One side of the scale says this is a pretty progressive way of earning college credit, learning some elementary grappling, and dropping the freshman 15; the other side says that such a casual approach is less likely to discourage those who want to learn just enough to settle an argument over football. It's domesticated, convenience store martial arts, and a pacifist's weapon that could be misappropriated.
Naturally, Hughes sees things differently: "I believe Gandhi would love Royce Gracie jiu-jitsu if he were here now." What better endorsement than the hypothetical one?