Some MMA fighters are flexing brick houses of muscle and rage like Brock Lesnar or Frank Mir. Meanwhile, fighters like Carlos Condit and UFC newcomer Doo Ho Choi emulate Bruce Lee in that they flow rather than flex. “Be like water”, said Lee ” … you put water into a cup it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash.”
Watching Condit absorb blows from fighters like Georges St. Pierre and adapt his counter-striking to match his opponent’s position is reminiscent of Lee’s ability to react to his surroundings and improvise a solution out of seeming nothingness. In UFC 120 against Dan Hardy, Condit turned a bob and weave feint into a left jab that was somehow morphed into a spinning reverse right elbow at the last second.
The transition was conducted with effortless flow and Hardy never saw it coming. Later in the first round, Condit knocked Hardy out amid a flurry of lightning-fast strikes that ended with a left hook to his chin. Condit turns punches into elbows, kicks into blocks and assaults into opportunities.
Choi is rumored to be set to debut his relaxed, flowing style in the UFC sometime soon. Choi confounds opponents with his unassuming physique and his uncanny ability to defend and recover from takedowns. With seeming effortlessness, he slips out of an opponent’s top guard and deftly sprawls out when fighters lunge.
Like a page out of Lee’s book The Dao of Jeet Kune Do, Choi remains loose in the clench, draws a rival’s guard down with believable feints and meets takedown attempts mid-lunge with lethal knee strikes to the head.
Condit has had an impressive career that will no doubt continue after he recovers from Tyron Woodley‘s knee kick at UFC 171, while Choi is barely getting started and may have what it takes to fight for a title. Both will be swift, flowing and crashing, like water.