MMA at the Municipal. Photo by Dennis Stamp.

11822268_10155911615165088_4866095340862243987_nWe here at Heliopolis are dedicated to the local arts in all their forms, and today we’d like to talk to you about one you may not have considered: Mixed Martial Arts. Now, before you stop right there, gentle reader, consider that the word “art” has been right there behind “martial” for at least hundreds of years, and spare us a few paragraphs to make our case (if you already enjoy MMA, then feel free to skip this next paragraph).

Art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” But few rely on the dictionary; as for most of us, art can be defined as the judge once famously defined pornography — you know it when you see it. And that’s why I would encourage you to take a look at the MMA fights taking place here in town this Saturday, February 20th. Look beyond the visceral thrills and “emotional power” of the violence of two people locked in a cage in combat. If you enjoy dancing, watch the beauty of the footwork of the fighters. If music is your thing, watch for the rhythm that they establish, and then watch as one of them tries to break that rhythm to disrupt their opponent’s flow. And if you enjoy strategy games, watch to see who can impose their plan on the other — or who can adapt when their initial plan doesn’t work. Both von Clausewitz and Mike Tyson have relevant comments about the difficulty of holding on to a strategy in the face of difficulty.

If you’re wondering why you should watch local MMA instead of a UFC fight on Saturday night, we’re here for you. First of all, you can record the UFC, but you can’t record the fight going on live here in Shreveport. Secondly, nothing matches the intensity of a live fight. You’re not watching your Twitter feed for predictions or pithy comments; you’re in the room with the action, and feeling the emotions of the crowd, the corners, and the fighters themselves. After watching the very first UFC in 1993 I was hooked on the sport, and since then I’ve traveled from Tokyo to the UK to see fights. I’ve been to big-name fights in giant stadiums and watched no-name guys in smokers in backwoods bars — and for my money, the Ascend team puts on a show that outperforms any expectations of a “local promotion”.

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As former fighters themselves, local husband and wife team Kim and Brian Addison build the matchups to make sure there are none of the mismatches that can mar smaller shows (and, to be honest, even the UFC when they’re trying to build up a fighter). They honestly care about both the fighters and putting on a good show for their community. And if you talk to any of the fighters — don’t be scared, most of them are really nice folks outside of the cage — you’ll find that they all genuinely care for and respect “Miss Kim”. The Addisons also run a local anti-bullying initiative, so you can feel good knowing some of the money you spend on tickets goes back to a good cause in our community. Add to that the fact they recently re-purposed the old Reeves Marine building, making a commitment to the community to stay and build in the SBC, and you’ve got even more reasons to support this local event.

If you’re looking for a different kind of art experience this weekend, check out Ascend Combat’s “Relentless” at 2000 Reeves Marine Drive, Feb. 20th, or “Mayhem 6” May 14th. The show starts at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7, and tickets are available at ascendcombat.tv or by calling 318-402-6644.