Down, but far from out: Fred Ettish

With it being Easter, I figured you’d all be far too busy shovelling chocolate shaped eggs into your mouths to read. Having had some extra time to ponder what topic Iā€™d like to tackle next, I settled not so much on a topic, but rather an MMA Fighter. “Of whom” I hear you ask “Silva, Wand, Fedor???” Well none of the above actually… I settled on a man named Fred Ettish. Now you’ll be forgiven for asking who the hell he is, but bear with me. Whilst I had witnessed Fred Ettish fight in the very beginning of the UFC I too was unaware of his story post UFC, up until recently.

After watching & reading about him, I managed to find the one emotion I still had in my body that hadn’t been deadened or hardened by life, and I was actually moved by his story. Also, with my last blog being about Traditional Martial Arts, I thought it followed on nicely from that topic and it shows that even if the Martial Art isn’t great, it doesn’t mean the person practising it can’t be.

(A quick note on my last blog. I forgot to mention some of the positive aspects of Traditional Martial Arts.. I.e. discipline and fitness for kids. Please forgive me, this sometimes happens when you get hit in the head for a living)…

So to the story of Fred Ettish

I had a few of the UFC’S on video tape back in the day- DVD’S weren’t all the rage then and we used to make phone calls on giant phones that looked like portable landline phones just so you can relate to how far we’ve all come. I think the dinosaurs were just dying off and becoming extinct around that time too but I digress and need to get back on topic.. Back to the Video Tapes..

The UFC shows on my old tapes weren’t in any particular order, UFC 2 I think, had the least rules. Refs were only there to enforce what little rules there were, rather than to stop the fights, which of course they did do; less there would have been a death! It seems at that time, the finer details of the UFC hadn’t really been thought out all that well, which is also the accusation you would’ve thrown at Mr Fred Ettish if you knew he was going to take part in such a contest. When I first saw him step into the cage I wondered why a good friend hadn’t taken a minute to say to him “Fred, have you really thought this through”. Fred looked like someone who had been pulled from behind the desk at the local accountancy firm, asked to swap his suit for a Kenpo Karate GI, then thrown in the cage. But we all know appearances can be deceiving.
As Fred uttered these fateful words, in an interview before his fight ” I have full confidence in my art of Kenpo Karate”, he was beaten like the accountant he looked like by a much larger Johnny Rhodes, he knocked Fred to the floor, delivered a couple of hard knees to his face before a landing a few more punches and choking poor Fred out.

That was my understanding of Fred Ettish, just another misguided Traditional Martial Artist who believed his misguided Traditional Martial Arts would see him through an MMA competition…. but it didn’t.
His story doesn’t end here which is a good job really as it wouldn’t make much of a blog….Luckily Fred story is just getting started.

After losing in such crushing fashion, Fred was belittled by fighters, laughed at by emerging MMA fans and shunned by his fellow Kenpo and traditional martial arts fans who wanted to disassociate from him as he was hardly a glowing advertisement for the art of Kenpo.

There was a website put up with Fred as the ‘poster boy’ which, although funny, was also cruel as it went under the name of “the art of fetal fighting” making fun of the fact that Fred spent most his time in that fight in the fetal position. All this happened to poor old Fred when his marriage was falling apart and on top of all this, his new born son had died.

At a time when things couldn’t get any worse for him, Fred did what must have been one of the hardest things to do given all the shit he’d been through.. He turned to the sport, that some would say had kick started his fall from grace, MMA. He learned the sport from one of the greats Pat Miletich; he talked to Pat about the possibility of opening a Satellite School in his home town of Kansas and then did exactly that. He now runs a successful MMA gym.

But the demons that haunted him from that embarrassing UFC appearance still resided in Fred’s psyche so much so that, at the age of 56, he went back into the cage and beat a man half his age in the first round!! What struck a chord with me in Fred’s story was that I’ve had experiences in my own career when I’ve been viewed as ‘a joke’ and it was the hardest battle to keep fighting on, and my experiences are nowhere near as bad as Fred’s! So Mr Ettish I don my cap to you. You took the very thing that some would say made you a laughing stock (MMA) and used it not only to get your life back on track but also to vanquish the demons that haunted you. That is what I call a true Martial Artist.

I encourage you all to watch the video MMA history Fred Ettish on you tube