Saturday, October 9, 2010

the MMA Conscription....

Anyone who has watched even a scrap of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) coverage in the past year-or-so will have noticed the active recruitment drive and ad campaign being funded by the United States Marine Corps. It must be a lucrative sponsorship deal for the MMA outfit, as well as a good return on investment for the Corps, who like to keep the forces topped up at about 203 thousand active marines (40 thousand reserve -as of Oct. 2009).
There is no hiding the fact the ads are propaganda. But then, so are Bud Light commercials.
I choose to suspend moral judgment on this partnership, however, suffice it to say that I turn the channel when the UFC airs its special segments where it sends fighters from its stables to go and train with the soldiers. Personally, I find the UFC spreading its substance thin as it is, watering down fight cards while increasing its number of Pay-Per-View events. That’s my feeling, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I likely have more in common with the marine training than the UFC, given how the style of jiu-jitsu I study overlaps greatly with special forces technique.
Anyway, here’s a snippet from an article written by Amy McCullough at Marine Corps
“The goal, Marine officials say, is to engage the UFC’s rapidly growing fan base of 17- to 24-year-olds by highlighting the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and the parallel ‘sense of shared brotherhood’ exhibited by Marines and pro fighters alike.”
This coincides with the fact the U.S.A. is experiencing immense unemployment within its borders while fighting military campaigns overseas.
“Neither small nor large organizations seem immune to the economic downturn,” says Jacquelyn S. Porth of “…With one exception: the federal government. And within the government, the U.S. armed forces, in particular, are enjoying a hiring surge.”
I guess what strikes me is how the ads link and compare the rush of organized sport to the reality of armed combat. There is, in fact, a huge difference between fighting an opponent with rules and safeguards versus killing. This concept is summed up in one of the UFC/Marine promo videos (see Our Marines Channel on when one of the military guys puts things into perspective by suggesting the UFC fighters train to fight for five rounds while the marines train to finish an enemy within five seconds.
And while the marketing campaign is aimed at that same adrenaline junkie as the UFC fan, my impression is that the professional fighters, when they trained with the soldiers, realized and respected the big difference between the two organizations.
“People always tell me how cool it is, what we do and everything else, but there’s nothing cooler than being a U.S. Marine,” says UFC prez Dana White.
Again, I won’t judge the campaign, the Marine Corps, or the UFC. The ads are just blatantly obvious, that’s all.

1 comment:

  1. Great job pointing out the subtlety of the psychological war on our disconnected youth. Training to fight is not the same as training to kill; All the eastern masters were very clear on this point.

    As the "Viking" Norse society grew more civilized, dueling acquired safety rules and evolved into a more ritualized sport. On the spiritual level, we grow from learning to grapple with one's self through the discipline of martial arts, and we will suffer from learning to murder one's self and others.

    Ultimately, men feel powerless; as such, images and advertisements of weapons, badges, and military might fills a deep hole for many. There is still a beauty to MMA that may be in danger of being lost through its inevitable commercialization. "Everything is for sale, including men's souls" -Musashi