Ronda Rousey and the Gracie Brothers: Skilled Fighting and Skilled Teaching

Rousey arm bar

Ronda Rousey is an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter of exceptional skill. She is an Olympic Medal winner in judo and the current UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Women’s Bantamweight Champion. At the time of this writing, Rousey is undefeated in  11 professional fights. Nine of those fights ended in the first round and 8 of the 9 were over in less than a minute. Her most recent fight was against Cat Zingano who was also undefeated. Rousey won that fight in 14 seconds, the fastest win ever recorded in a UFC champion match. She is in a class by herself.

Rousey 1

Ronda Rousey

Zingano 1 crop rotated

Cat Zingano

The Rousey – Zingano match was heavily hyped because it was thought that Zingano was the only fighter in her weight class who had a chance to beat her. At the time I knew nothing about MMA fighting, the hype attracted my attention, and I decided to learn something about Ronda Rousey. I quickly discovered that the technique she has used to defeat almost all of her opponents is called an arm bar. Rousey is using an arm bar on an opponent in the picture at the top of this article.

I had no idea what an arm bar is so I looked into it. I found the last thing I expected – a video explaining the arm bar that is an outstanding example of high-quality teaching.

At its best, teaching takes a topic and makes it easily comprehensible to an audience that did not know about or did not understand the topic beforehand. Sounds simple, right? It’s not. Think of all of the bad teachers you’ve had. The more complex the topic, the more difficult it is to present in a manner that makes it easy to understand. It turns out that what’s going on when Rousey grapples with her opponents is complex indeed.

Gracie brothers

Ryron (left) and Rener Gracie

The video is presented by two brothers, Rener and Ryron Gracie and is part of a series called Gracie Breakdown. The Gracie brothers, who are members of a very prominent Brazilian family of martial arts practitioners, established an online school of martial arts instruction that they call Gracie University.

If you thought MMA fighting was nothing more than brutal thugs pounding each other into submission, prepare to have your eyes opened. The sport is brutal but these are highly skilled and highly trained athletes who have to think as quickly as they fight in order to succeed. Take a look and appreciate both Ronda Rousey’s skill in the cage and the Gracie brothers skill in explaining what’s going on in the cage.

About Kevin Murnane

I am a cognitive scientist, a freelance writer and author (Nutrition for Cyclists: Eating and Drinking Before, During and After the Ride), a musician (Parametric Monkey - stream on Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube), a bookstore owner (Monkey Books - first edition mystery, science fiction, fantasy and more, listed on ABE books, Amazon and Biblio), and a retired house painter, children's theater actor & owner, and university professor. I'm also a regular contributor to the technology section at Forbes and I write a cycling blog called Tuned In To Cycling. You can follow me on twitter @TheInfoMonkey and contact me at
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