The Fight Nerd

October 24, 2014

A guide to some unusual martial arts

Filed under: Features — The Fight Nerd @ 12:27 PM

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BY MATT FERIM

So you think you know your martial arts? Although you may be aware of plenty of different forms of martial arts there are always some new types that you might not ever have heard of.

Of course, we are all familiar with names like kung fu, judo, karate and kick boxing. And mixed martial arts are now so accepted as mainstream sports that you can even bet on some of the matches – check out the range of mixed martial arts that you can place bets on at BetFair, the online betting exchange.

However, we’ve put together some info on the more unusual and off-beat martial arts for your perusal below. Though martial arts have been around for a long period of time, there are some newer martial arts included here, and some of the ones that may seem new have a surprisingly long history attached to them.

If you’re interested in finding out about a new way that one opponent can take on another in a demonstration not only of physical, but also of mental, strength; then check out the list. A lot of those listed, however, are likely to remain on the fringes of sport for a good long time, though. Why would that be? Read on and you’ll soon find out.

Lerdrit

If you enjoy Thai fighting, then Lerdrit is likely to be of interest to you. It’s a variation of traditional Thai fighting moves that has been put together as a new martial art.

Lerdrit is what the commandos of the Royal Army in Thailand practice. They are highly trained in the skilled fighting technique of Lerdrit. Amongst other Thai fighting sports Lerdrit’s ancestors include Muay Thai and Muay Boran. However modern-day Ledrit has been developed to be even more brutal than the older sports – perfect for today’s society’s mentality!

Examples of how Lerdrit differs from previous but similar martial arts include the fact that fighters are supposed to move to attack with no warning. The aim is to get the target (opponent) on the ground as quickly as possible and finish the fight with a kill strike. This could be, for example, a boot against the throat. Equally good would be elbowing the competitor’s temple.

Lerdrit fighters keep their hands open when fighting – no fists – and often-used moves include kicks, knees, grappling, forward pressure, elbows and locking.

Bakom

In Peru, the fighting sport of Bakom (otherwise called Vacón) has sprung up from the back streets of Lima. This is a sport designed to disable or kill an opponent as soon as a fight begins. Hidden weapons often feature in Bakom and it’s a fighting sport that has developed from the extreme poverty of the streets of a district in Lima called Villa El Salvador.

Although many martial arts have ancient roots, this isn’t the case with Bakom. It was developed in the 1980s but a former prisoner and ex-Marine called Roberto Puch Bezada. You can see echoes of jujutsu and Vale Tudo-style street fighting in Bakom.

This isn’t a sport for the weak-stomached spectator. Moves include things such as arm locks which can result in snapped bones, and combatants specialize in aiming kicks and punches at vital organs such as the kidneys. The pace is very quick, with the aim of the attacker finishing off their opponent before they even really know the fight has begun.

Bokator

This is one of the oldest martial arts around and has its historical roots in the battle fields of Indochina more than 17 centuries ago. Legend has it that Bokator was the secret weapon of the Khymer Empire. Movements in Bokator are reminiscent of the movements made by creatures such as eagles, snakes, horses, lions and cranes.

A lot of strength and brute force is required; which makes sense as this would indeed be the case when warriors fought without guns on the battle field. There are over 10,000 different moves which include hits with the knee or elbow, locking joins and a range of various throws. This is a sport that you won’t believe until you see it in the flesh.

JHR – AKA Jailhouse Rock

Jailhouse Rock isn’t anything to do with Elvis Presley’s song. It’s actually the name for an extremely violent kind of fighting that has developed – as you might guess from the name – in prisons in the United States of America. Put a load of frustrated guys full of pent-up aggression in a confined area, equip them with weights and gym machines and give them nothing else to do, and what else do you expect them to spend their time doing?

Although Jailhouse Rock is a recognized martial art, it has few rules attached to it. It’s one of only two martial arts that are recognized as such in the USA. Some of the more weird training techniques include being tasked with picking up a whole pack of playing cards one at a time while a group of other men beat you up.

Another name for JHR is 52 Blocks, although some practitioners would dispute how close the two sports are. Both are a combination of dirty boxing with martial arts thrown in. There’s a lot of use of the upper body (arms and elbows) to block incoming strikes and punches. 52 Blocks is also taught as a self-defense skill as well as for use in the mixed martial arts arena.

Dambe

A martial art that is popular in West Africa is Dambe. Its origins are the hand to hand fighting techniques that were used in ancient Egypt.

Although it is a popular martial art for different groups, Dambe is the preferred martial art for the Hausa people. The main way to injure your opponent is to use your ‘strong side fist’. Each fighter’s hand and lower arm is wrapped in a cloth and then held in place with tight cord. Years ago the cloth could be dipped in a mix of resin and shards of glass to make the fist more deadly, but this is no longer allowed.

A thick chain is wrapped around one leg. With the two weapon limbs, the idea is then to get the best of your opponent before they have the chance to do worse to you.

Kino Mutai

A Filipino martial art that is not for the squeamish is Kino Mutai. The translation of the name is ‘the art of biting and pinching’ and as well as using biting techniques, eye gouging is also employed, along with a wide range of grappling moves. However, the rules state that fighters should not aim to ‘bite’ their opponents, but only use the biting technique when the situation is suitable.

For when these moments occur there are nine Artery Points that fighters should aim for. The ultimate goal of the biting technique is to be in a position where they can achieve ‘uninterrupted biting’. This is where a fighter holds their opponent in a grip hold and basically bites until the opponent submits.

The style of Kino Mutai is vicious and without mercy, and the principle goal is survival. However, as it’s such a brutal sport, the Filipino martial arts community in general doesn’t consider it as one of the martial arts, more a method of street fighting.

Kalari Payat

One of the oldest types of organized fighting techniques comes from Kerala, a southern Indian state. While most people might think of the swaying palm trees, golden sands and gentle people who live in Kerala, this sport shows a whole other side to the garden paradise of India.

Different versions of Kalari Payat can involve armed and unarmed combat. In a Kalari Payat match, there are more than 100 places on the body that are considered as vital, and therefore also considered as primary targets. The aim of the fight is to attack your opponent’s vital points – basically using all of your strength to hit the vital points as hard as possible. Like many of the mixed martial arts discussed here, Kalari Payat can be hard to watch.

Okichitaw

As we continue our perusal of different martial arts around the world, we take a look at Okichitaw, a fighting sport favored by the American Indians in North America. This is a real traditional sport in the American Indian culture and history and it’s based on combat methods devised by the Plains Cree American Indians.

The contemporary version, which was developed by a man called George J Lepine, involves a combination of different Asian martial arts techniques along with the traditional ferocity and spirit of American Indian culture.

Lepine was a student of different martial arts including hapkido, judo and tae kwon do. To these skills he added the use of a gunstock war club and several tomahawk throwing disciplines. The overall combination is violent and gutsy fighting.

Behind every move in Okichitaw is the principle that your hands and legs are weapons with which you can fight. For example, the hands are representative of tomahawks, and the legs, when poised and used at a slight distance, are representative of spears.

Okitchitaw is now one of the last-known examples of how American Indians have fought through the centuries.

Silat

Traditionally, Silat was created and developed by head hunting tribes in the countries of the Phillipines, Singapore and Malaysia. Silat is not just one martial art; it’s a collective term for a set of martial arts. The different methods used include throws, joint manipulation, hitting with the hands, grappling and the use of sharp weapons.

According to urban legend, the armies of the countries mentioned above still use Silat techniques, though it’s not officially recognized. The range of martial arts that is held under the umbrella of Silat has a long, long history in the region.

Coreeda

Australia only has one native-born martial art and that’s Coreeda. The martial art today is a combination of moves that are seen in a traditional kangaroo dance with a range of traditional grapple methods.

According to Aboriginal legend, the origins of Coreeda are held in the spiritual belief system of the Aboriginals, known as the Dreaming. The legend has it that when an Aboriginal elder had witnessed many young warriors dying in battle, he sat down by the river to think about what had happened. His thoughts led him to consider how the warrior techniques and skills of his tribe could be improved. As he sat there in contemplation, the elder was approached by a Rainbow Serpent which told him to study the kangaroos. The elder did as the serpent suggested and realized that kangaroos used similar fighting techniques to the tribe’s warriors. The elder was inspired by watching the kangaroos to put together the art of Coreeda.

Although it has yet to reach such well-known status as some other martial arts, today Coreeda is gaining popularity and has become a member of the World Martial Arts Union, acknowledged by UNESCO.

Bartitsu

An almost forgotten martial art, Bartitsu had a short lifespan. It was first created in 1898, by Edward William Barton-Wright, an Englishman who defined his new fighting art as ‘self-defense in all its forms’. The name is a mix of Barton’s surname and Jujitsu, the Japanese martial art.

Bartitsu combines elements of a number of martial arts, including jujitsu, savate, boxing, fencing and La Canne, a stick fighting style that has its origins in Switzerland.

Actually, Bartitsu was only practiced for three years but it may sound familiar as it was often referred to in the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle miss-spelt the name, referring to it as Baritsu, but it’s clearly the same sport as described when Sherlock Holmes uses Bartitsu to fight and beat the villain Moriarty in “The Adventure of the Empty House”.

Chess Boxing

Chess Boxing is a bizarre combination of boxing matches and playing chess. Players can win with a knockout during a boxing round or by putting their opponent into checkmate during a chess round.

The matches include six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. The chess rounds are about four minutes and the boxing rounds three minutes. Origins of the sport are from the graphic novel Froid équateur, written by comic book artist Enki Bilal. However the man who brought the game into the real world in 2001 was Dutch comic artist Lepe Rubingh.

Two years later, the first World Championship of Chess Boxing was held and Lepe Rubingh is the current Chess Boxing world champ. He claims that chess boxing is the ultimate challenge for mind and body and the motto for the World Chess Boxing Organisation echo this sentiment: ‘Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board’.

October 22, 2014

Boxing Champion Pawel Wolak to make Pro-MMA debut at Matrix Fights 9

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:53 PM

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In response to published reports, Matrix Fights officially announced today that former WBC light middleweight champion Pawel “The Raging Bull” Wolak will make his professional Mixed Martial Arts debut at Matrix Fights 9 on Friday, December 5 at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Philadelphia.

“During his time as an active boxer, Pawel was a top ten ranked fighter and held world titles in two separate weight classes,” Matrix Fights promoter Sam Caplan began to state, before continuing. “Pawel wrestled in high school and for the past couple of years he has received world class training from Renzo Gracie’s top MMA and BJJ instructors while also sparring the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Frank Edgar. Simply put, Pawel Wolak has all the tools to be a wrecking machine in MMA. I played a small role in helping launch the championship MMA careers of Cole Konrad and Michael Chandler and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to promote Pawel in his first pro MMA bout.

“A lot of promotions pursued Pawel and his camp in order to try and get him to make his debut on their show. We are very excited that Pawel and his management team chose Matrix Fights as the promotion where he will launch his professional MMA career.”

While the pursuit for Wolak’s pro MMA debut was hot and heavy, Wolak felt that signing with Matrix made all the sense in the world.

“Matrix made a lot of sense to me to debut with because of the similarities it has with me,” he said. “Location is close to where I live and they are upcoming in the sport just like I am about to be. They treat me well and appreciate where I am trying to go and that counts for a lot. I can fight close to home too so this was a no brainer for me.”

Wolak’s professional MMA debut on Dec. 5 will represent the first step in a journey towards high-level success in MMA. But Wolak respects the challenge ahead.

“I plan on being champion,” stated Wolak. “I am not doing this for fun I am doing this because I want to be world champion and the most successful crossover boxer ever into MMA and I believe I will be. It won’t be tomorrow. It’s a process. But I come in respecting every fighter out there regardless of their records and rank. I’m not dumb enough to think that nobody is unbeatable. That’s why we fight.”

An opponent for Wolak on Dec. 5 has yet to be named but Matrix officials are in the process of finalizing his opposition for the event.

Wolak’s fight joins previously announced bouts for Dec. 5 that include active Bellator MMA roster member Will Martinez squaring off with former Bellator MMA and Strikeforce fighter Ian Rammel in a lightweight contest; Bellator MMA veterans Jesus “Chavo” Martinez and LeVon Maynard set to do battle in a 180 lbs. catchweight dream match; and Philly MMA stalwarts Brylan Van Artsdalen and Steve McCabe going head-to-head for the first time in featherweight action.

Mark Hunt replaces injured Cain Velasquez in title fight at UFC 180, AKA PRIDE NEVER DIE!

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:35 PM

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The UFC announced today that UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez suffered a right knee injury during training and was forced to withdraw from his championship fight against No.1 contender Fabricio Werdum in Mexico City on November 15.

As a result, No.4 heavyweight Mark Hunt (10-8-1 in professional MMA, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand), who is coming off a walk-off knockout against the iron-chinned Roy Nelson in Tokyo in September, will face Werdum (18-5-1, fighting out of Los Angeles via Porto Alegre, Brazil) in the five-round main event for the interim UFC heavyweight title.

“I’m so unbelievably disappointed that this happened,” Velasquez said. “To say I was looking forward to fighting in Mexico for the first time is an understatement. I wanted to fight on that card so bad. Looks like it wasn’t meant to be and it’s not going to happen. I’m going to get my [right] knee fixed and get back to training as soon as I can. I’m sorry to the fans in Mexico who were expecting this fight, and I hope to be able to come down and still be a part of this historic event.”

For Werdum, it was never about Cain, it was always about the title. “I’m ready for whatever comes. I have been training in Mexico for nearly two months and accept the challenge that is presented to me. I’ll continue to prepare and will arrive ready to fight on behalf of all my Latin American fans,” said Werdum.

Mark Hunt, never one to shy away from a big opportunity, wasted no time accepting a dream opportunity to fight for UFC gold.

“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title. This is something that doesn’t happen often to people. First K1 and now UFC – how can I say no, even though it’s on short notice? I’m dropping everything and flying to Mexico tomorrow so I can best prepare myself for this fight. I have to get into shape and acclimatize to that environment, which is really important.

“There’s nothing to lose when you’re competing against the best at the top level,” Hunt added.

UFC 180: WERDUM vs. HUNT scheduled for November 15 at the Arena Mexico City, sold-out in only eight hours, and will welcome more than 20,000 fans. Along with the explosive main event, fans will also be treated to six other bouts featuring Latin American contenders.

October 15, 2014

Announcement for OSMMA Review Awards, Vol. 1

Filed under: Nerd Stuff,News — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:51 PM

The Fight Nerd and Zane Simon have joined forces once more for the sake of promoting Old School MMA, but this time for something a little bit different.

Starting in the coming weeks, YOU, the fans, will be able to vote for your favorite (and sometimes least favorite) people and moments from our Old School MMA Reviews. There will be a dozen categories in which to vote, as well as a special lifetime achievement award, that will encompass all of the SEG UFC events that we have reviewed so far, starting at the first UFC and ending at the Ultimate Ultimate 1996.

For those OSMMA Review fans wondering what is next, we will be doing our first old school documentary review in the coming weeks when we take a look at “Choke”, and will follow that up with our award show before returning back to the SEG UFC era with UFC 12.

Voting information will be added soon, so make sure to follow myself and Zane Simon on twitter to get the appropriate links to vote. In the meantime, I suggest you go and rewatch all of our old episodes and refresh your memory on the best and worst moments in Old School MMA history!

October 14, 2014

Bellator adds Royce Gracie as brand ambassador

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:43 PM

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Known simply as the pioneer of mixed martial arts, Royce Gracie is widely considered the most influential and important figure the sport has seen. Engaging in some of the most memorable fights in MMA history during his time with the UFC and PRIDE Fighting Championships, Gracie has now joined Bellator as an official brand ambassador for the Viacom-owned promotion.

“I have known Scott for a long time and have always respected him as not only a promoter but as a martial artist who has always treated fighters with respect and truly understands their value,” Gracie said. “Bellator and Viacom want to give fans exciting fights and enable fighters to continue to grow and most importantly provide for their family, and it’s something I want to be a part of. UFC has done a great job over the past twenty years in building this sport and taking it globally and I’m glad to have been part of that, but Bellator is a growing organization I am honored to be a part of, and with the dedicated and talented people already associated with the company, we can further the growth of mixed marital arts as a sport worldwide.”

Gracie will immediately be involved with Bellator including promotion for Bellator 131, which is headlined by a light heavyweight showdown between Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar, along with a Lightweight Title fight between Michael Chandler and Will Brooks on November 15. Moving forward Gracie will host seminars, be involved in autograph and promotional appearances, as well as aiding in the International expansion of Bellator around the world. Bellator and Gracie will also be involved in a co-branded merchandise line that will debut in 2015.

“To call Royce a legend would be an absolute understatement,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “Royce and the Gracie family are directly responsible for making this sport what it is today and we are incredibly fortunate to have him be a part of the Bellator family. Royce will serve in many different capacities for Bellator and I look forward to our fighters, staff and most importantly, our fans, in having the chance to interact with one of the most iconic figures in sports.”

October 5, 2014

UFC 178 Quick Results: When the MGM Grand Met MMA

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Fight Nerd @ 2:38 PM

BY JOHN SMITH

The MGM Grand is one of the most renowned and lavish entertainment venues in the world,and one that is home to a diverse range of events. Located at the heart of the Las Vegas strip, it is the second largest hotel in the world and embodies the unique spirit of its surrounding area.

It is therefore fitting that the MGM recently hosted a spectacular night of fighting and pugilism, as MMA fans from all over the U.S. gathered to watch a series of compelling championship fights. In the space of a few glorious hours on September 27, 2014, some of the sports toughest competitors met in a no-holds barred bid for glory.

While the MGM Grand is synonymous with high profile MMA events, the most recent bill certainly captured the imagination of the fans. Leading the way was the highly anticipated battle between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, which saw the confident Irishman continue his inexorable rise to the top of the MMA charts. Against his capable and durable opponent, McGregor started strongly and succeeded in ending the contest during the very first round.

After landing a short, chopping left hand behind his opponents’ ear and staggering him, McGregor moved in for the kill and forced the referee to call of the fight following a barrage of shot. This left McGregor was in typically ebullient mood. “I don’t just knock them out, I pick the round,” he said of his performance, suggesting that he could have delayed the outcome and toyed with his opponent if he had wished too. “What the other featherweights don’t understand is that it’s a whole other game when they get hit by me.” This is certainly true, as the power and aggression showcased by the Irishman sets him apart in the division.

In the main event, Demetrious Johnson retained his flyweight title against Chris Cariaso in the second round, while lightweight Donald Cerrone engineered a potential title shot thanks to a unanimous decision over Eddie Alvarez. Cerrone’s powerful leg kicks won the day, impressing the judges and taking their toll on his opponent.

Yoel Romero defeated Tim Kennedy by TKO in a controversial bout. Kennedy almost beat Romero in the closing seconds of the second round, but managed to be saved by the bell. In between rounds, Romero’s corner was given an excessive amount of time to clean up their fighters, giving him more time to recover, and possibly enough to rebound and beat Kennedy in a fight that he nearly won.

In the women’s bantamweight division, Cat Zingano returned to the octagon for the first time in over a year, beating Amanda Nunes in three rounds by TKO, and earning a shot at Ronda Rousey at UFC 182. Zingano was supposed to fight Rousey last year as well as coach during season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter, but after she injured her right knee in training, the bout was cancelled and Zingano has been recovering since then.

On a night such as this, the appeal of the MGM Grand is obvious. Whether you attend the event itself or watch at home while playing at Royal Vegas the Australian online casino, you are able to experience the magnificence of the occasion and feel as though you are a part of the night. With more events to come in the future, the relationship between the grandiose MGM Grand and the MMA looks set to become even stronger.

September 16, 2014

Ztylus Camera Kit Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , — The Fight Nerd @ 6:16 PM

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During CE Week 2014, we met the creators of the Ztylus, which I heralded as one of my favorite products of the event. The Ztylus is a fancy-looking and inexpensive “lens revolver” kit that attaches to your smartphone via a sturdy case. It did not take long for me to grab my own Ztylus so I could give it a try and see if it was as good in my hands as it was when I hyped it in my head.

Currently available for iPhone 5/5s and 6, as well as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3, the Ztylus is two parts which you can buy separately. There is the camera case itself, which is made from polycarbonate plastic and aluminum, and features a two-position kickstand, which is removable for the lens revolver. Speaking of, the lens revolver is the second piece, which houses your four interchangeable lenses – macro, wide angle, fish eye, and a CPL filter, a lens that essentially reduces glare from the sun.

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You might notice from the product image on the top of this article that there are only three lenses visible on the revolver. That is because the wide angle lens is housed in the same spot as the macro lens, which is accessible by gently unscrewing the wide angle lens on top to reveal the macro lens underneath it. The macro lens offers a 10x multiplier on whatever your subject is, and requires you to get extremely close to the subject to make it work best (if you were not close, what would the point of macro be?).

The fish eye lens gives you a 160 degree field of view, which adds a very wide distortion intended to create that distinctive panoramic or hemispherical image (so you can finally take photos like you were in a Busta Rhymes music video). The wide angle lens offers a slightly wider view with your lens, although I recommend not using the zoom on your phones and keeping it a fixed distance, or physically moving closer towards your subject. Lastly, the CPL attachment improves saturation while reducing glare, giving your photos a brighter and more colorful appearance, while making the lighting more natural and subdued. This is very good for bright landscapes or waterfront, but is good for general use to give you nice colors without adding digital filters.

Here are a few examples to show you the differences:

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Fish eye lens

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Wide angle lens

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Macro (this was a shot of some Tamarind candy)

I did not include any shots with the CPL attachment since none of them were as interesting as the other lens, and most people who purchase this kit would be more interested in the more dynamic lenses anyway.

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The fish eye lens is a ton of fun and definitely gives you some of the most stylish photos. The downside is that you do have a cropped look to the pics and can see the edges of the lens in your photos, but that is the price you pay for that look.

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The macro lens is my favorite of all the lenses in the revolver. With insane amounts of detail, the macro lens is a powerful little guy that provides gorgeous textures that would be otherwise impossible to achieve with any other iPhone lens, and especially with your phone’s digital zoom. Despite the digital zoom improving on smart phones, nothing can beat a physical lens that is built for a specific purpose, and this lens revolver kit offers you some very distinct photo looks that beat the pants off your average instagram photo.

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Fish eye lens with lunch? Why not.

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How about a side of fries with that? Here they are a la fish eye…

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And here they are at wide angle…

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And here they are, macro style.

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Cherry italian ice shot with fish eye?

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How about cherry italian ice macro? Now that looks delicious!

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The lens revolver kit is just as great as I hoped it would be. As for the case, which we have barely discussed, I really love the look of it. I was reviewing the iPhone 5S version of the kit, which makes it look like an old SLR camera like my grandfather used to use, and I love the vintage look. The Galaxy versions look more futuristic, but both serve the same function. They are very solid cases that are scratch resistant and very hard, while not being brittle. Putting the case on the phone was incredibly simple, but you should be warned that the single screw you have to turn to loosen the case enough to slip your phone onto it will be extremely tight. Some hot water should loosen it up if that is a problem for you, but otherwise it was unbelievably easy to use. Same goes for putting the revolver onto the case – just remove the kickstand and gently screw the revolver kit into the empty spot.

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This lens kit can stand up there with the competitors and not only go toe-to-toe with them, but might be the next big innovation in camera attachments for smartphones (until they can start putting real camera lens onto your phone). The Ztylus did not disappoint in any way and is a lot of fun to use and play with, both for pros and casual smart phone users who want to take some cool pics.

You can order the Ztylus ZGS-4K Camera Case & Revolver Lens Kit for Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Ztylus case & Revolver 4-IN-1 lens kit for Apple iPhone 5S from Amazon at these links here. Separately, the case is around $30-40, while the lens revolver kit is about $60-70, so it makes sense to buy them as a pair, and is a very good price when you factor in getting a case that will last the lifespan of your phone and a lens kit that keeps on giving.

“Fight Church” Documentary Review

Filed under: Features,Movie Reviews — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 2:13 PM

“Fight Church” is the documentary about the unlikely pairing of the Christian church & combat sports, so it makes perfect sense that the person reviewing it has the last name of “Kaplowitz” and has not been to synagogue since his Bar Mitzvah. I am not a religious person, but that is not to say that I am against it either. With that disclosure out of the way, I was unsure of what to expect when I watched this doc, and I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly invested by the time it was over.

Daniel Junge, the 2012 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary (Short Subject) with the film “Saving Face”, and Bryan Storkel, who directed another Christian-related documentary in 2011, titled “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians”, teamed up with Eben Kostbar and Joseph McKelheer, the producers of the Matt Hamill movie, “The Hammer”, to make this riveting documentary whose title tells you everything you need to know about it.

“Fight Church” is the story of several (yes, there are many more than just one fight church in the US) preachers and pastors who utilize mixed-martial arts as a tool in their sermons, and as a way to engage more people in their ministries. Paul Burress of Rochester, NY, is a retired pro fighter and minister that wants to get back into the fight game, despite having 10 concussions during his time in the cage. We have Preston Hocker and his wife Lindsey, who describes her husband as a “theater geek” turned minister/fighter, nicknamed “The Pastor of Disaster”. There is John Renken, a former kickboxing and shootboxing champion with an 18-28 record in MMA that dates as far back as 1997, who is a minister that seeks to herd “lost people”, and he believes many of them are watching MMA. Finally, Nahshon Nicks, a Jacksonville, Flordia minister who found his freedom from an imprisoned father through God, and said fighting is “what I do, it’s not who I am”.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Scott Sullivan, former pro fighter and then-owner of “Bam Bam Martial Arts”, a conflicted Christian that does not understand how he could stay involved in the fight game while heeding the word of God, as well as Father Duffell, a New York City based preacher who is vehemently opposed to the barbarism of cage-fighting who says that other churches that permit it are merely “pick-and-choose” bible readers. The doc also features appearances from TUF season 10 competitor Justin Wren, UFC veteran and soon to be WSOF middleweight Jared Hamman, former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson and UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, who discusses the stigma of publicly linking Christianity to himself and being warned that it would make him “harder to market”.

The doc is an exploration of the conflicts in ideologies between fighting and believing in God. As Father Duffell states, how can someone say they love God while they are spreading violence by voluntarily stepping into a cage to hit someone? On the other hand, for Paul or Preston, it’s a way to give their religion to people that may otherwise would not be interested in the church. Pastors like Nahshon, who compare training to worshipping god, and believe that the “meekness” referred to in the bible means having the ability to destroy but choosing not to, much like King David, the undefeated warrior of the bible who was ready to deal with war when there was no other choice.

A surprising direction in the movie occurred when the story shifted to the legalization of MMA in NY, as both Paul and Father Duffell made their way over to the NY Assembly to explain their causes, two men of the same religion offering extremely different viewpoints on the sport. We even get to see Paul speak with Bob Reilly, the infamous Assemblyman who claims that “people do not want MMA legalized” and, a few sentences later, managed to connect the sport towards domestic violence. Reilly was not keen on doing too many interviews towards the end of his political career, so it was a huge thing to get him on camera and hear his thoughts, even if most of the people reading this review will disagree with everything he says (myself included).

The human element of this philosophical battle between Christianity and MMA is played out within the many stories told in the doc, including when two of the preachers in this very doc, Nahshon and Preston, agree to fight each other. Meanwhile, John Renken is getting ready to wage a war against a man that trash-talked his wife on Facebook, even though this other guy has not even agreed to fight him. This impromptu challenge match happens a few segments after the most uncomfortable scene in the film, where we see John with his two single-digit aged children shooting handguns on a target range as he explains that today’s culture has turned wimpy and needs more controlled aggression to make it stronger.

Nahshon never prays to win a fight, since the outcome is already pre-determined by his Lord, but prays instead for the strength to do his best. The concept of turning the other cheek, and many other familiar biblical sayings are put to the test in real situations, and let the viewer make their own decision as to who is doing the right thing, if there is one. Fighting is an inherently selfish task, and even that idea is challenged when guys like Nahshon, Paul, and Preston, are using it as their methods to spread the gospel to children, crowds in an arena, and to anyone that will listen.

“Fight Church” is never a preachy movie, even though it has preachers using their words just as much as they use their fists. It’s a provocative and no-holds-barred look at the contradictory nature of fighting and religion that does not try to sell one side as better than the other, but opens your eyes to a conflict that will most likely never have a definitive answer. It’s a great documentary for fight fans and viewers outside of our community and I highly recommend giving it a watch.

I also want to add that I became aware of an alleged sex scandal involving Paul Burress after I had watched the movie and was looking up info on the stars. I do not condone any of the actions that Paul did, if it is proved that he did anything, and I hope the truth comes out sometime soon about all of this. So, I want to make sure that my readers are informed of this as well in case that affects your interest in the film.

You can order “Fight Church” on DVD at this link here, and the movie is also available through iTunes and most other On Demand and Digital HD platforms For more info on the film, head to this link here for their official website.

Randy Couture makes victorious debut on “Dancing with the Stars”

Filed under: News — Tags: , — The Fight Nerd @ 11:32 AM

Former UFC champion and star of “The Expendables” movie series, Randy Couture, made his first steps into the world of dancing Monday night, as he joined the cast of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” with a surprising performance.

Paired up with Karina Smirnoff, Couture impressed not only the judges, but the majority of the shows home viewers who were set up to not expect much from the cage fighter. A pre-taped video package of the rehearsals showed Couture and Smirnoff looking pretty grim on the dance floor, with Couture having a difficult time smoothing out the bumps of his routine. However, once the show began, Couture and Smirnoff shocked the audience enough to earn a standing ovation from the studio audience, and was awarded three 8s and a 7, (for a total score of 31 out of a possible 40) from the judges.

The judges were incredibly impressed, and a few were a bit turned on by Randy and his dancing as you will see in the video above. It definitely worked in his favor as it put him and Karina in fifth place out of the 13 pairs currently on the show. The leaders after the first show were Alfonso Ribeiro and pro Witney Carson with 36 points.

Karina has been paired with pro fighters before, as season five saw her dance with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Randy is also not the first MMA fighter to shake his groove thing, as Chuck Liddell danced on season nine of the show with Anna Trebunskaya. So, MMA fans, start watching the show and vote for Randy each week to make sure he stays on and wins it all!

September 5, 2014

Jim Ross & Chael Sonnen are commentators for upcoming “Battlegrounds MMA” PPV

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 11:12 AM

Two consummate performers in WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross and recently retired UFC superstar Chael Sonnen have teamed up to form what is bound to be one of the most memorable commentary teams in sports entertainment history, and will call the world-class Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) action on the LIVE pay-per-view telecast of BattleGrounds MMA: ‘O.N.E.’ from BOK Center in Tulsa, Oka. on Friday, October 3.

Headlined by the first one-night, eight-man tournament in Tulsa since UFC 4 in 1994, BattleGrounds MMA: ‘O.N.E.’ will award its welterweight (170 pounds) winner a grand prize of $50,000.

BattleGrounds MMA ‘O.N.E.’ will be distributed at a price point of $19.95 in the United States and Canada by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing, beginning at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST on October 3 on both cable and satellite pay-per-view carriers iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH and Avail-TVN in the United States and Bell TV in Canada. A pre-show will begin at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST.

“As a longtime fan of MMA, to be asked to call the fights for the BattleGrounds MMA event is amazingly exciting for me,” said Ross, a 2007 WWE Hall of Fame inductee. From commentator to referee to executive and even occasional wrestler, Ross has played a multitude of roles for the world’s leading professional wrestling league.

“I’ve broadcast NFL and XFL games,” continued Ross, “FOX Sports boxing and WWE action, but MMA is a new adventure and one that I’m enormously excited about contributing to. To launch this phase of my broadcasting career in my home state, and with Chael Sonnen at cageside makes it an ideal opportunity and a bucket list experience.

“This is going to be a TV event that any MMA fan won’t want to miss,” said Sonnen, who recently retired from the sport that he competed in as a professional since 1997. A three-time UFC championship challenger, Sonnen fought his last 11 career bouts inside The Octagon and enjoyed a stint as an analyst for FOX Sports Network. “I am thrilled to be working with a legend like Jim Ross and, together, we are going to make the BattleGrounds MMA event one of the most exciting extravaganzas in combat sports history.”

Slated for action in the single-elimination tournament is submission ace Cody “AK Kid” McKenzie (15-4) of Spokane, Wash.; two-time, one-night tournament winner Brock Larson (37-8) of Brainerd, Minn.; hard-hitting brawler Luigi “The Italian Tank” Fioravanti (24-11) of St. Louis, Mo.; Urijah Faber protégé David “Bulletproof” Mitchell (14-4) of Lower Lake, Calif.; Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Roan “Jucao” Carneiro (16-9) of Atlanta, Ga.; and Trey “That Just Happened?” Houston (11-2) of Bixby, Okla.

Dennis “Superman” Hallman and Chris Honeycutt, originally slated for action in the tournament, will be replaced by two competitors to be announced soon. Additional bouts for the telecast as well as a preliminary bout card will also be announced soon.

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