Redbelt (no real spoilers)

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Last night I watched David Mamet's Redbelt. One of the difficult things about filming martial arts movies is that you have to compromise between realism and excitement, because fights between good people aren't that dramatic unless you really know what you're looking for. As one of my former instructors pointed out, the sort of good clean mechanics that you want if you're going to win a fight just don't film that well. On the other hand, the main character of Redbelt is a Jiu-Jitsu instructor (I get the impression Brazilian), but it's not entirely clear, and that's not an unrealistic starting point, especially for MMA in the early years, which was dominated by BJJ practitioners. It turns out that Mamet is a BJJ purple belt (this is hard to get, BJJ doesn't award belts as easily as your average karate dojo).

The cinemetography is really choppy, so the action is hard to follow, but the training scenes aren't too far off, with the exception of there not being some Brazilian guy yelling at you in Portuguese. However, one of the central plot points is that the main character has a training technique where you get randomly assigned a handicap (e.g., one arm tied) and has to fight someone without a handicap ("you never know when you might get injured"). This actually seems like a quasi-interesting technique as a practice mechanism, but in the movie it gets used in competition and that strikes me as totally unrealistic. Having one hand tied is a huge handicap. For example, if you're right handed, when you throw a jab with your left hand you want to seal off your face with your right hand. If you can't do this, then you leave yourself open to the other person's jab or hook. It seems to me that having your right arm tied would more or less preclude punching at all. Similar considerations apply to grappling: it's very hard to choke someone out with only one hand. If the fighters are even remotely evenly matched, the handicapped fighter is almost certainly going to lose, which kind of misses the point of the competition, since the random handicap basically decides the match.

So, this is a little odd as part of the premise for a movie...

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