A Rebuttal To Frank Dux From Kelly Worden
What can I say? Time is truly precious and very limited. Many situations in life deserve to be left alone and ignored. But some circumstances, born in exaggeration and conjecture, beg a response. For this reason, I feel compelled to write a rebuttal to Mr. Frank Dux’s article entitled, “The Difference Between Traditional Martial Arts and Mixed Martial Arts.”
First and foremost, I am not professionally associated or affiliated to Frank Dux in any manner whatsoever. My only direct contact with Mr. Dux was a single interview I conducted with him several years ago on my radio show On the Edge. Other than that, we do have a few mutual acquaintances within the martial arts community.
That being said, Frank’s take on a situation I shared with him years ago about a particular training session I instructed with the First Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, and the ensuing unauthorized article he wrote about this circumstance (combined with the inaccuracies and embellishments he espoused over this event), demand my clarification. In short, in regards to Frank’s article; I am not honored, I’m not impressed, but I am very disappointed. We all like to tell “tall tales” at times, but such stories are best left for one’s latest excursions when out trout fishing. They are not justified when trying to relate events that took place directly while engaged in tactical military instruction with the US Army; events with which Frank was not involved nor even present.
There is always a risk in sharing stories with others. Like the game “telephone” played by children (where a sentence is whispered into one ear and then passed around the room), by the time it reaches the last player, it’s no longer the same sentence. By then it’s been distorted, changed, misrepresented. Likewise, so it goes with the story I told Frank. I passed it along, and by the time it went through the mental filter of his “creativity,” what he ended up putting in print bore little resemblance to the facts of the actual event.
To begin, the overly simplistic and dichotomous framework Frank presents in his article of “traditional martial arts versus MMA” does not nearly nor accurately represent where or how I fit into this subject. Yes; in the many decades of martial arts training and teaching I have accrued, I have been involved at one time or another in both traditional and sport-oriented martial arts. This history is well known and extensively documented, and does not require rehashing here. However, as my professional accomplishments attest, the preponderance of my martial arts career over the past several years has been focused on developing and refining tactically-oriented, military grade hand-to-hand combatives suitable for the Special Ops community. Once again, this history is likewise well known and extensively documented and requires no annotations in the context of this article. Thus, to place what I have taught to the First Special Forces Group within Frank’s framework of “traditional versus sport” is at best a failure of proper categorization on Frank’s part, and at worst, a gross misunderstanding of my mission and efforts as a military instructor.
Secondly, in the (subject) article, I will begin with this: I take my instructional responsibilities with the military as the highest honor I have ever been bestowed and as the most serious duty to which I am karmic ally obligated.
Frank’s description of the teaching interaction I had with a Green Beret soldier (that he asserts as being some kind of “challenge match”), and his criticism of me acting in an “unsportsmanlike” manner in this alleged “match” is utterly absurd for many reasons. To begin with, Frank wasn’t there and his only knowledge of this event is what I told him DURING OR AT MY RADIO SHOW. He unfortunately gets the event so ridiculously wrong in his article it makes one wonder if he purposely distorted the facts for his own ulterior motives, or if he’s just that cognitively deficient that he screwed it up on accident. In either case, he gets it sorely erred from nearly every conceivable angle, thus necessitating the rebuke you are now reading.
I never entered into a “challenge match” with the Green Beret in question. He was, in fact, my pupil, a soldier attending my training program; and like all Special Forces operators, was imbued with the tenacity and strength indicative of such elite soldiers, as well as the youthful inquisitiveness of one his age. As often happens in any type of tactical instruction, my methods (like any instructor’s) can be questioned as a part of the student-teacher relationship in the throes of training. This is not a bad thing per se, save for the naturally precocious flavor of such doubts raised by the less experienced to those who know better. Lesser methods of correction to such doubts raised by students in the context of traditional or sport training can be dealt with in ways reflective of proper etiquette (in the former), and rule structure (in the latter). In stark contrast, in my military-oriented training, correction must be made with the understanding that the students I instruct are not going to a tournament or into the octagon, but are going to places like Iraq or Afghanistan where loss or victory is not measured in obi color or ring stats, but in ABSOLUTE survival.
What I teach, and to whom I teach, is not administered in an environment overseen by a referee or mitigated by a tap-out. It is overseen by the Grim Reaper where failure can equate to death. To those who participate in traditional martial arts or MMA, my APPROACH TO teaching may seem exacting and harsh. But to those students for whom warfare is the environment for which they train (and not a dojo or the ring), I assure you that my methods are sound, necessary, and justified.
If making my point to a student means getting a little tougher than the sensei at your local YMCA, or your coach at the BJJ gym, then so be it. If my students make a mistake in an engagement on the battlefield, they won’t lose “street cred” or ranking on the stats board. Tragically, they could pay a real tangible price like crippling injury, or God forbid, permanent demise. I am thus entrusted with the solemn responsibility to make sure that their possible illusions about close-quarters hand-to-hand combat is not flavored in ignorance or guided by the comic-book fighting fantasies perpetuated in unrealistic training paradigms. Rules don’t apply to what I teach, nor do outdated approaches from antiquated sources. What I teach has to work for today’s battlefield environment or soldiers could perish. It’s that simple. If the instructional process in such a dynamic includes a pupil eating some dirt (or me eating crow), such is a small price to pay in comparison to the job for which I am preparing them. Short of being a parent, I take my instructional responsibilities with the military as the highest honor I have even been bestowed and as the most serious duty to which I am karmically obligated.
Regardless of my teaching style, let no mistake ever be made about my commitment or my respect to the soldiers I train. I have taken on the lifelong pursuit of martial discipline in the hopes that my experience and insight will be of value to their survival. Let those I train decide If I have achieved this goal or not. BUT one thing remains certain, : I take my instructional responsibilities with the military as the highest honor I have ever been bestowed and as the most serious duty to which I am karmic ally obligated.
In closing, I was going to also address Frank’s self-appointed laurel of being the “father of mixed martial arts.” This erroneous, preposterous claim reflects such hubris and inaccuracy, it truly borders on being delusional. I think his claim speaks for itself and unravels under its own spuriousness, so I will not waste time or space expanding any further on Mr. Dux questionable and downright spurious article. I know Frank may object to my perspective, and he can do so all he wants. As far as his opinion goes, let’s suffice it to say, I don’t give a flying Van Damme!
-Kelly S. Worden, Worden Defense System / Natural Spirit International