Monthly Archives: September 2009

Dress For Success – Or Whatever

Morning comes. Or perhaps afternoon. The searing New Mexico sun announces that it’s time to drag my ass out of bed/off the couch/up from the bathroom floor, walk/stumble over to my closet/suitcase/laundry pile, and find something to where to class that will in some way distinguish me from all the other bums out on Central Avenue.

If I was lucky enough to fall asleep in my jeans, half the problem is solved outright (yay! denim karmas.) I have a fairly nice collection of t-shirts, most of which are reasonably inoffensive without labeling me as a square; the trick now is to match the size and tightness of the shirt with the jeans in question. Anything with a deodorant stain is tossed back, until time or scrubbing remove the marring whiteness. If I have a particular shirt in mind, such as my favorite Turisas concert tee, I may spare the energy to distinguish it from the aggregate mass of black, inside-out fabric, but my perpetual chillness may preclude such toil. A ponytail, one of four bandannas for a splash of color (or auxiliary blackness, contingently,) and a smile-inducing bout of coffee and Finnish metal where time allows, and I’m off on the commute to UNM.

The caffeine should be hitting by the time I enter class, and I’m starting to groove out on Kant or Heidegger (much more likely the latter – I have little stomach for realist apologetics.) The prof is probably fairly decently dressed, buttons or a collar, nothing too elaborate. Jesse’s looking clean-cut – that bastard always gets the ladies’ attention. The department greets me with a wealth of aesthetics: short hair and earrings, dreads and bandannas, ink and ponytails, nice jeans and a button shirt.

Occasionally, it dawns on me that I should make some effort to be “more professional” – no, that’s not it, there are at least three other dudes in here dressed straight outta hippie quarterly. I’ve shit-canned the wearing of jeans with holes in them in a classroom context; that should help. I guess I find myself coming off as – aggro? Grungy? Neo-cynicist – yes.

I don’t, as a rule, believe in extraneous social controls qua fashion. Still, I’m here on a fucking mission: I’ve got my warhammer, I’m doing my drills, I’m honing my philosophy for battle in the harsh academic jungle. Do I want to be the guy that comes in and whispers “yo dude…embrace the chill,” or do I want to turn some heads and drop some jaws? Is it possible to salvage this aesthetic with a layer of grey/black button shirts? Will the addition of a necklace successfully fool people into thinking I put effort into this ragtag ensemble?

Damn…I usually don’t put this much thought into these things; I’m starting to feel out of character. Image is power, illusion is power; so is centeredness, authenticity. I have come to join the UNM Lobos in prowling the forests of the academe. To run with the wolves – must I dress like a sheep?

Redpillneo is a contributing author for Project Group Think. Follow us on Twitter – we’re PGTblog.

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MMA: A Forgotten Legacy

Five years ago, while enjoying my regularly-scheduled weight training, I came upon a poster that would change my life. “OU Mixed Martial Arts,” it read, probably with some low-key graphic and the psoted “Tues/Thurs 9-11 PM” that would become etched upon my undergraduate schedule for the next four years.

At this point in history, the UFC was still a fledgling corporation struggling for “cult” status with Pride Fighting and K-1. Nowadays, I can barely turn a corner without seeing “Tap-Out” splayed across a shirt or bumper sticker. The point is that in 2004, the letters “MMA” had little to nothing to do with the letters “UFC,” they were simply used by a group of people to express that they were more interested in following a diversified training curriculum than pursuing a single art. Where the term still held connotations of cage-fighting, the two were nowhere near so synonymous as they are in the modern day.

Years later, having left the fabled fields of far-off Athens, I found myself perusing flyers at the UNM rec center in search of training opportunities. “MMA Jujutsu,” one read, leaving me perplexed – the formula “Mixed Martial Arts (Insert Singular Art Here)” seems self-contradictory at best. Settling on Ninjutsu and Capoeira, I spoke with a fellow student about the offered “Turbo Kickboxing,” whose description caught my eye with a reference to Muay Thai. She objected that the course involved very little striking or combinations; at which point I grew appalled – I do not know that her allegations are factual; but I DO know that if you can go an hour without launching an elbow, knee, or round-kick, you have no business invoking the name of Muay Thai’s ancient, respected, and notoriously lethal art; no matter how vogue doing so may seem.

“Vogue” is the critical word here – it has become the “hot trend” to talk about MMA, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It has become “in” and “stylish” to walk around with BJ Penn on a t-shirt, whether or not you’ve seen the man fight or even know who he is. It has become “hip” for Brock Lesnar, who admittedly could break me in twain with but a modicum of effort, to run his mouth like a chump on national television, bringing WWE-grade antics into the more esteemed realm of martial arts combat.

It was, at one point, more esteemed. I see the letters MMA on the streets of ‘Burque, whoring out for anyone with twenty bucks and a hard-on for Dana White. I see school-yard level shit-talking from grown men in an effort to make venerable traditions marketable on cable television. In short, I see the martial arts becoming poisoned by the filth of Hollywood consumerism.

On a more practical level, the problem becomes one of steroidal meatheads learning how to fight without the requisite spiritual training, essentially turning machismo-ridden frat boys into walking weapons while the rich historical and cultural traditions of the arts find themselves beyond forgotten; overlooked by thugs and hipsters for a flashier, brand-specific way of combat.

Californication: one. Ancient spiritual traditions: zilch.

Redpillneo is a contributing writer for Project Group Think. Follow us on Twitter – we’re PGTblog.

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Filed under social commentary