Thursday, December 20, 2007

An excellent and thoughtful look at the art of Harry

I've stolen this from Daily Kos — As someone who's been very unhappy with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's political 'failures', I found this to be an very interesting alternative look at this fighter's art.

Politics & the Art of Blood Sports
by crystalboy from Daily Kos
Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 01:40:53 PM PST

Much has been said about Harry Reid. He doesn't seem to be a fan favorite around here which is fair enough. His political style is mystifying to most and whether or not it will prove successful is an open question. People occasionally reference his time as a boxer. Usually it has to do with his toughness but I believe that there is much more to it than that. Few people know little more about the world of fighting arts than what they see on TV. I'd like to pull the curtain back a tiny bit to allow people some understanding of this world.

Boxing is a little more sophisticated than people realize. True it's a blood sport but more than anything it is a strategic sport. Unlike most sports, a boxer truly pays for his mistakes. Perhaps the easiest ways to get knocked out is to come out flailing.

I've been involved with ring and cage sports on and off for nearly 40 years as a fighter, trainer, coach, cut man, second and judge. The majority of my work has been at the professional level. I've seen a lot.

Boxing isn't personal. Good fighters don't get mad...big mistake. Fighters usually have a great deal of respect for each other. I've often seen fighters work out between them what they're going to say at press conferences. The harsh words and posturing are for the fans benefit. Outside the ring they tend to be low key, respectful and overall decent people. They know what it's like to be hurt and humiliated.

A fight can be broken down into parts - early rounds, middle rounds and closing rounds. Early rounds are used to feel out the opponent. Find out how he responds to various circumstances, look for weaknesses.

The middle rounds are about establishing ring dominance, breaking the other fighter down and setting him up. A common set up is to allow the opponent to have success with a strategy or technique for which you have an effective counter, without showing the counter. This often leads to the opponent relying on the move. The opponent often becomes less cautious with it's success. Seeing a move repeatedly allows the fighter to time his counter.

In the closing rounds a fighter will attempt to cut off the ring, limit his opponents options and exploit various weaknesses and set ups. This stage of the fight is when most knockout occur.

Here's a few pointers. Protect your head, don't get beat up early, be patient, breath, relax and think.

One of the best fights I've seen was a Muay Thai fight that I judged. I'd seen both fighters many times. Both where excellent. Both had knocked out many opponents. The fight was very strategic. The crowd became restless because there where few shins to the blood. I doubt many in the crowd even knew who was winning. By the third round I was hearing boos behind me. The winner fought the best fight of his life. He understood that his opponent had knockout power in his hands so he played defense up high while he destroyed the others legs with shins to the thigh and groin muscle. The crowd had no clue of the damage he had done. After the fight I talked to the looser and saw his legs. They where purple and swollen. My guess is that his femurs where bruised. Bone bruises are hell.

For most it isn't about money. Most earn between $200 and $400 per round. Out of this they must pay for their gear, gym access, trainer and corner men. Most dream of a big payday but realize that even this modest dream is unlikely.

Stepping into the ring is one of the most difficult things a person can do. Every locker room has a fire exit nearby and fighters always know where it is. There is a time after the gloves are put on and signed off by the official, after the fighter has warmed up and is waiting for the call from the ring, where he is alone within himself. Professional fighters bodies are lethal weapons. But in that moment in time, the fighter knows that he may be beaten, humiliated, possible disfigured for life or worse. In that moment he is nearly naked and alone, he thinks of his mortality. I watch them out of the corner of my eye. They almost always look over at the exit. Some get up and leave. That is the reason all fight cards say, "All fights subject to change without notice". Most turn away, stand up and steel themselves for what's ahead. I like that moment because I know that the fighter just became a better man.

Good fighters only fight fights that they stand a reasonable chance of winning. There is a class of fighters that fight fights in which they stand no chance. These are fighters that are used to build the records of solid prospects. They are called Meat. Within this class is the crowd favorite. They are tough and can take a lot of punishment. But, they aren't able to cause much damage to their opponent. But best of all they bleed. There is a name for them...Tomato Cans.

I've spoken to a number of Tomato Cans. They seldom have trainers or even a gym to work out of. Their corner men come from a pool of people who go from fight to fight working various fighters corners. I often see the Tomato Cans alone at weigh-in because their corner man has already spent his pay on a bottle or at the table and is to hung over to make it. The one thing Tomato Cans all have in common is that they think they stand a chance.

When considering a man who has within him the training and mindset of a fighter, it is important to understand something. Asking this man to fight a fight that he cannot win, for the sake of higher moral principle, isn't to him a call for the noble aspirations of Don Quixote. It is instead a request for him to play the role of the Tomato Can.

I believe Harry Reid sees his term as Majority leader as one fight, not as series of fights. Each bill that comes forward is only a part of the fight. The strength of the bill is measured and stored away for future use. Those that have little support are put aside. Those that we may not like but have majority support are passed with little fan fare. We take our knocks. Those that are popular, but obstructed by the Republicans will be back when the time is right. Democrats now control the timing and I believe they are using this power well.

We are in the middle rounds right now. The Republicans have shown their hand. We've avoided getting beat up on bills that couldn't override a veto. We've avoided allowing the Republicans to appear stronger than they are. Polls indicate that we continue to expand our lead against Republicans.

I don't know if this is the point where Democrats will stiffen. It may be a little early but this is an important vote. Waiting until the holidays and Iowa to attempt to ram through the FISA bill was a tactical error for the Republicans as they are unable to use the MSM to control the spin. It gives our base a big opening to counter with grass roots pressure. Pulling it back just as Republicans thought they had it made is an interesting move psychologically. They weren't expecting it. They've had little to say. They can spend Christmas worrying whether or not they'll be held accountable


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