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"Myths in Martial Arts" -- Ian Harris at Dragon Con 2018

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“Myths in Martial Arts” — Ian Harris at Dragon Con 2018

UFC as a laboratory???

“I also have been training in martial arts for 41 years,” said “Skeptic Comedian” Ian Harris, who’s better known for his jokes but has been boxing since age 6, wrestled in high school and has a black belt in jiu jitsu. He’s seen it all, since before UFC even existed, and owns his own gym in Los Angeles, Calif., called “Fighting Science.”

“If I sh*t on your style,” I apologize, Harris said.

Harris was in Atlanta, Ga., on Sunday, September 2, as part of Dragon Con’s “Skeptrack,” an 11-year strong fan favorite grouping of talks organized by veteran podcaster Derek Colanduno. With his presentation “Myths in Martial Arts,” Harris hoped to set the record straight about what works in a fight and what doesn’t.

"Myths in Martial Arts" -- Ian Harris at Dragon Con 2018

Prior to the advent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the early 1990s, people could argue endlessly about which style would trump all others in a free-for-all.  When boxers, wrestlers and every striking style imaginable were all thrown together in a young sport with few rules, though, the Brazilian jiu jitsu pioneered by the legendary Gracie family was the clear victor. Of course now, everyone knows everything and it’s more likely the best overall athlete will win.

But in those lawless beginning days of mixed martial arts, where were all the “chi fighters”? The fabled 97-pound Chinese guy who could knock you out from across the room with just his life energy? The rise of UFC was effectively an empirical test of the more “magical” fighting techniques, and the fact that none of them ever made it into the octagon speaks volumes.

Even today, Harris argues, with rules and regulations against certain things like biting and eye pokes, a chi master should still handle the best with ease, but apparently neither the prestige nor the compensation is tempting enough.

“Colin McGregor made $70 million for one fight,” Harris said. “If you could knock him out from across the cage, you probably would, too.” Maybe it only works if the opponent believes in it? That makes for a pretty easy defense!

“Pressure point knockouts” don’t work either, as seen in a series of hilarious clips Harris played, culminating in the famous National Geographic Channel exposé of “no-touch knockout” practitioner George Dillman. And would that biting and eyepoking work in a street fight? Who knows?


“How do I practice that?” Harris asked. You can’t test that in the gym, so it’s difficult to tell how effective those kinds of “dirty” tactics really are. Teaching people legitimate fight techniques as a means of self-defense probably isn’t the best idea, either, as it can lead to overconfidence.

“If you know nothing, you’re going to run away,” Harris said, “because that’s what you should do.”

Trained fighters even freak out and forget things when the bell rings, and they’re especially bad about doing their pre-fight weight cuts sensibly, according to Harris, whose gym is known for implementing more real world-tested practices for that goal. You don’t have to wrap yourself in tinfoil or continually lose and re-gain water a week before (a practice that can lead to kidney problems). If someone drinks a gallon and a half a day, it’s easy to drain 15 pounds out the day before a fight and not be dehydrated.

“If you do it scientifically, it’s really easy,” Harris said.

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