Dear Ronda Rousey

I am not into celebrities. If you want to know what Snooki named her baby, or who in Tinseltown got married and divorced this weekend, don't ask me. I do not consider the people prancing around on my television role models for my daughter, representatives for women-kind, or at all relevant to real life in any way. So twerk away Miley, I do not care.

But I am a martial artist. I learn arm bars and rear naked chokes. I throw punches and knee kicks. I work on traditional katas and do pushups and try to pass the guard and sweet Jesus, I even occasionally throw low kicks which other people check with their shins. ( http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-ufc-20131229,0,7356884.story#axzz2os6WWXVl)

I am not a professional fighter. But I am a woman who loves to fight. And as such, I was thrilled when Dana White finally allowed female fighters into the Octagon. Seeing you armbar Liz Carmouche was incredible. And I could watch you Judo toss people onto the mat all day long. You are a truly awesome athlete. 

Couldn't you have just shaken Miesha's hand?

I get it, you don't like the girl. She said some pretty insulting things about your training staff, people whom you consider family. I am not asking you to buy her a beer after the fight. But couldn't you have at least shown some professionalism during that one moment? You just won, after all. And no matter how justified you are to hate her, not shaking Miesha Tate's hand just looks, well...bitchy.

You see, while Miley's ass shaking has no effect on my life whatsoever, your actions do. You are the public representative of me. You are who people think of when they think of female fighters. (Well, the 1% of the population that actually think about these things.) You got out there and showed that women can fight with technique, with skill, that we are strong, powerful, controlling. That we all need to work more on armbars. 

You fought against the stereotypes. You showed the world that lady fighters were just as worthy of respect as their male counterparts. And then you contradicted all of that by basically acting like a bratty six year old who just lost at Scrabble. 

You may be perfectly justified in not shaking her hand. It doesn't matter. Once you get out of there you can spit in her face for all I care. But when you are in that Octagon you are playing the part of a professional athlete. And respectable athletes shake hands after a game. Win, lose, or draw. 

It is what I teach my six year old daughter to do. 

Don't get me wrong. Fighting in the UFC is nothing like what I do every day. But there are no 38 year old women who run karate schools and train in BJJ for fun on my television. You are all I got. Please do better next time.

That's all I have to say.
Congrats on the win. 
Perhaps I will take Judo next.

Comments

  1. I am not an active competitor, but I have trained in MMA for recreational and fitness reasons. I have three things that I want to mention as a rebuttal...

    1. Miesha Tate, to my knowledge, did not apologize for her earlier actions. If Ronda had shook her hand, it would have implied acceptance of Miesha's insults. Forgiveness in many religions comes after proper atonement.

    2. Ronda Rousey did verbally praise Miesha Tate after the fight. If Ronda was totally without class, she could have disrespected her during the winner's speech after the fight.

    3. Ronda's actions are mild compared to other fighters. Please remember what Brock Lesnar did at UFC 100. After a similar situation with Frank Mir, Lesnar flipped off the crowd and disrespected the sponsor, Bud Light.

    A lack of a handshake is not a lack of class. Not adhering to your personal principles is a lack of class.

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    1. It is true that Ronda's post fight comments were respectful of Miesha as a fighter. But I think the problem for me is what a handshake in sport represents. I would have no problem with her refusing to shake Miesha's hand in the street. But within the confines of the fight arena I feel a certain behavior is expected, regardless of personal feelings. Teams always shake hands after a game, tennis players after a match, etc.

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  2. Women in MMA what did you expect.. Have you ever worked with a bunch of women.. Drama Drama and More Drama.
    Your right she should have been more proffessional however there in lies the problem with martial arts students., They buy into all the Sensei/master BS and they idolize these instructors. THEY ARE PEOPLE just like everyone else. Im a hardcore bjj guy and I see it time and time again. They elevate these blackbelts then feel crushed when they realize this guys has prob\lems and bad habits like everyone else.

    Im glad you are a fan and train martial arts however you lost all credibility when you mention you do Katas. Sounds very mcdojo. Boards dont hit back :)

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  3. Reynaldo, I agree the hero worship of instructors can cause all kinds of problems. Thankfully this is not the case in every school, but I have seen some pretty silly stuff. I have been a karate student for over 26 years (under the late Shihan William Oliver) and now my husband and I run a similar dojo to his. It is a traditional Japanese style that has its roots in Kyokushin. So no mcdojo here. :- But yes, if all you care about is winning a fight there is no reason to practice kata. However, I have found that there are many more reasons to study martial arts. You are probably younger than me (I am 38) and may realize the same as you get older.

    I have only been doing BJJ for 3 years but I really enjoy it and hope to be doing it for many many more.

    As for the female drama, any mature woman knows how to behave professionally. Perhaps Ronda just has some growing up to do.

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!

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  4. I read something recently that changed my mind about this - it was a well thought out article here: http://8limbs.us/female-fighters/rousey-handshake-sportsmanship

    The meaning of a handshake is a signal of trust, bonding and respect, so that’s what you’re signaling by accepting or offering your hand. Would you fault someone saying “I cannot shake this man’s hand because I cannot forgive his behaviors as a person, but he played a good game today and as an athlete he put forth the best of his abilities.” Would you then say, “yeah, but you didn’t shake his hand!” Which has more meaning?

    Ultimately what she ended up saying is that there was a lot of very rude things said about Ronda's training family, and she acknowledged verbally that the fight was good and give her a huge amount of verbal respect. But she said she couldn't shake the hand of someone who had insulted her so much. I hadn't really known what happened other than "omg Ronda won and then she wouldn't shake her hand" but that article on 8limbs.us really changed my point of view. Totally worth a read!!

    I'm curious about your reaction to her article - if it expands or changes any of your stances on this.

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    1. Julia, thank you for sending me this. I have a six year old, and I also used to be a preschool teacher. One of the things that has always bugged me is the forced apology. We teach kids that when they do something wrong they are supposed to say "sorry". That is because that word means that you feel bad that you hurt someone. But what if you don't feel bad? What if they took your toy or broke your picture or whatever. And you were really really mad when you pushed them?

      I always tell my daughter that saying sorry means that you feel bad that you hurt someone AND that you promise to not do it again. So when she says "I'm sorry I yelled, Mama" but five minutes later she yells again, I tell her that she wasn't really sorry. And that she needs some more time to calm down.

      I guess when you put it in the same context, a handshake that is not heartfelt is the same as the kid who walks around punching everyone and then goes "oops sorry". It is meaningless.

      I understand why Ronda did what she did. I guess if the lesson in it all is the idea of respecting your opponents and being genuine, she did that. It was just a hard thing to watch without feeling that gut reaction of "ooohhh".

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