Over the past couple of weeks, the martial arts corner of the internet has been sharing a “Gracie Challenge” video all over the place. In the clip, an Aikido practitioner takes on Jason Aldridge of Chilcutt’s Memphis MMA in hand-to-hand combat in an effort to “test” himself and his skills. The video of what happens next is short:
The reaction to the situation has been mixed, with some people believing that Aldridge taught his challenger a valuable lesson, while others saying that he went too hard on his opponent. In an interview with McDojoLife, though, Aldridge explains what happened in more detail:
According to Aldridge, the Aikido practitioner specifically requested the challenge (and that both opponents go gloveless for the interaction, which is why Aldridge elected to use open-handed slaps rather than closed-fist strikes). Aldridge says that his challenger claimed he’d been training Aikido for years and wanted to test his skills, but after their first round, Aldridge realized that the Aikido practitioner probably wasn’t up for the striking he was dishing out. For their second round, he stuck with stand-up grappling and quickly took his opponent down before the “match” was stopped.
Aldridge emphasizes that the sparring session wasn’t a true “Gracie Challenge” and was significantly watered down to protect everyone involved (no headbutting, for example). He also reiterated his respect for his challenger for stepping up to the plate, mentioning that he knows Aikido practitioners that he has significant respect for. But in videos posted after the event to give his side of the story, the Aikido practitioner says that he’s still needed some time to “recover” from his sparring round.
What do you think? Was this a valuable, relatively safe lesson for the challenger to learn, or was he a victim in this situation?