Look at the websites for most martial arts schools, like this one and this one, and you will see words like “safe” and “respect.” Good instructors, like the instructors at the two schools those links go to, focus as much on the personal development of their students as they do on the fighting skills of their students. Some martial arts students, however, never learn that message. They just become more dangerous to society. A great example is professional MMA fighter “War Machine” (formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver), who was arrested on August 15 after beating up his on-again, off-again girlfriend, porn star Christy Mack.
War Machine first became known as a contestant on “TUF” (the UFC reality show), even winning his first fight in the promotion. He lost his next fight in the UFC and was released by the promotion. His life since then has been up and down, including jail stints for assault and MMA wins over names like Roger Huerta. He also starred in a porn film.
War Machine is not the only MMA fighter with a history of violence outside the cage. There are many others, including Josh Grispi, who was recently arrested for abusing his wife. To be sure, MMA fighters are not the only professional athletes who have abused their significant others. However, it is all the more disturbing when MMA fighters do it because of the damage they can do. War Machine and Grispi may be fighters, but they are certainly not martial artists.
I am lucky to be able to train under an instructor in Leo Dalla who sets a fantastic example of what a martial artist should be. He trains his students to be the best they can on the mat and he makes it clear that he expects us to be the best we can off the mat as well. I personally have not always behaved the way I should in the gym and Dalla quickly pulled me aside to let me know it. Those were minor incidents in which no one was hurt, but the point remains. It was embarrassing, but I learned my lesson and feel more complete as a martial artist, and more importantly, as an adult because of it. I have seen Dalla respond similarly with other students as well.
I certainly do not think that the instructors are to blame for what happened with War Machine and Grispi. I do, however, strongly believe that instructors have the responsibility to either try to help people like these grow as individuals or get rid of them. For now, I am just happy that a man who once posted this tweet is no longer on the street and able to hurt anyone else.