Two Kinds of Fighter


Saturday, 7 June, 2014

Taipei, Taiwan

I have a friend that does mixed martial arts, I don’t actually like him, but you know, I’m a fragile 5’6″ tall and a bit mouthy when drunk, so he’s good to have around. I’m joking in both regards of course, Richard is a great guy and I’m flipping hard as nails.

He’s so good, in fact, that he got us ringside seats to an MMA event that was going down at a night club in Taipei – unless we were actually in the cage itself, the view couldn’t have been better.

I would, however, be attending this event pretty short of knowledge. I know that people will punch each other from time to time, but otherwise, I’m pretty naive to the sport of mixed martial arts.

Having now watched a few fights, I’ve concluded that an MMA match has many similarities to sharing a bed with another person.

From what I can make out, there appears to be two kinds of fighter (I’ve just offended so many UFC nerds that know all 345 intricate techniques a competitor could use in combat). There are the huggers that just hold each other tightly for an entire round until one of them falls asleep. Then there are the hitters, these guys don’t want to share space, so will punch and kick their partner out of the way.

Sure, it’s not entirely the same. The MMA is a bit more aggressive than a husband rolling his wife back over to her side of the bed – but, as a man that doesn’t know the sport very well, it’s the best I can offer in terms of an analysis at this point.

If only it was men in leotards hitting each other with fake chairs, then I would have a lot to say – but, I guess MMA is just not that level of cool.

I was actually really enjoying the action in certain bouts – usually while watching the hitters as opposed to the huggers. My friend noticed my enthusiasm and tried to convince me to go to MMA training with him at his gym – and for a split second, I genuinely considered taking him up on that offer.

I listened with interest as he gave me the details of the program I would join. I then looked to the ring, watched somebody get punched in the face, turned back to my friend and declined his kind offer.

I guess I’m just content with reading books in my free time, while incidentally maintaining a face that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in an interview.

My friend knew a competitor from the show and started chatting with him at our table after the event. This guy was in one of the roll over and give me my side of the bed matches, which he lost.

If you missed the fight, you would still know that he didn’t win. His nose was pointing in two different directions and his left eye looked like a piece of fruit that had escaped to the bottom of the bowl, been forgotten about for months, and is both very manky and bruised when you find it.

I didn’t mention to him that his face looked like fruit nobody wanted to eat though. To be honest, I would have told the guy he looked great and his wounds were barely noticeable had he asked. He may have got his ass kicked, but he is still an MMA fighter.

When Richard introduced him to the table, I didn’t really know where to look or what to say. Usually when you’re pushed to shake hands with somebody that has just done a performance of some kind, you’ll want to offer them the encouraging, ‘you were great out there.’ – even if they were mediocre. However, what do you say when they clearly got battered?

I just shook his hand and kept quiet. I didn’t really want to appear as though I was patronising a cage fighter.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience – hopefully I’ll get to watch my friend Richard take part in a match at some point, it’ll be good to see if he’s a hitter or a hugger.

Being friends with a hitter could be very useful. A hugger, on the other hand, would just make things awkward.

Imagine how weird it would be if an angry man with big muscles jumped into an argument on your behalf, walked over to the rowdy bloke at the bar, wrapped his arms around the arsehole and then just locked in a tightly squeezed three minute cuddle.

To conclude, I can be a pretty loyal friend if you’re hard and willing to fight my battles.

Talking of which, I’ve noticed that family loyalty is very highly valued in Taiwan.

In fact, various holidays and festivals take place throughout the year allowing all the relatives to gather together and partake in local traditions.

They even have a national holiday that allows families to tidy up the grave sites of their ancestry together – I can respect that. However, I’ve heard a lot about my great-great-great-great aunty Norma, and from what I understand, she’d much rather I sorted myself with some fish & chips and a beer in Whitby on my holidays than trim the weeds around her spot. I respect old Normy too much to neglect her probable wishes.

A Taiwanese household will often be made up of three generations. It is even fairly common for the children to stay at home well into their thirties, or even forties. It usually requires a marriage or an out-of-town job to force the move – otherwise, they’ll be living with mum forever.

Although, if a person is yet to walk the aisle and of the age mentioned, there is a good chance that they will receive heavy pressure from their parents to immediately message every male friend they have in their phone book begging for a proposal. How your family is perceived by others is also a big deal here.

I’m told that the older generation of Taiwanese people will often be pretty nosy and inquire about these kinds of situations, “Why is your daughter seventy-two and yet to marry? What is wrong with her? Does she have head lice and a ballsack?”

As the years tick by, the parents become more desperate and less picky in order to prove to the world that their child is not a freak. While, obviously, a marine biologist would still be the ideal choice – a bloke in the park with a wet patch over his crotch and whiskey dripping down his beard would also allow everybody to breathe a big, old sigh of relief.

So, if you do think you’re hopeless with women and destined to be alone forever – never fear, there is a forty-three year old Taiwanese woman somewhere, whose parents and grandparents are even willing to settle for you at this stage. Congratulations!

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