Demian Maia: Fighting is spiritual

by Jack Burton | source:

There is an old saying, punch a black belt in the face and he is a brown belt. Punch him again and he is a purple belt. Punch him once more in the face, and you are fighting a blue belt. That makes Demian Maia laugh.

“Do you know somebody who likes to be punched in the face? I think nobody likes being punched in the face -- not even boxers or kickboxers. But just as people say that about jiu-jitsu fighters, we can also say that about boxers and kickboxers who just train striking; after the first takedown they become nothing on the ground."

“Nobody is comfortable being punched in the face. But getting used to that in a fight, it took me like a year and a half of training standup to get to that point, to not blink when you get punched.”

Maia has spent weeks in Holland studying Thai boxing, journeyed to Chicago to study wrestling with Midwesterners, trained with Wanderlei Silva in Las Vegas and lived for four months in San Diego to take advantage of one of the MMA’s most talent-rich metropolis’.

Howeer, the thrill of fighting is not rooted in the ego gratification of administering a butt-kicking. For Maia, it is more about self-discovery and self-revelation..

“I really believe that martial arts and competing at a higher level is something spiritual,” Maia said. “You learn about yourself every day. It’s hard to explain in English. It’s not just fighting, it’s something much deeper. Every time I go to fight it’s a big challenge and this helps me to control myself and overcome my fears. It’s very special and brings you nearer to something spiritual. You become a better person.”

Maia’s ideal of the perfect fight is “To submit my opponent without him hurting me or me hurting him."

“Fighting for me is a chess game. I’m not angry with my opponent. I just want to go in there and win without him hurting me or me hurting him.”

Maia fights fellow BJJ black belt Jorge Santiago on Saturday in Houston at UFC 136, and believes that Santiago will prefer a standup duel.

“He’s very complete,” Maia said of Santiago. “Ever since my loss to Nate Marquardt I focused a lot on my standup. MMA is a complicated game because it’s hard to keep the balance (between martial arts). So at one point I trained a lot more standing and less jiu-jitsu and I lost a little rhythm on the ground. I’ve been trying to get my focus onto jiu-jitsu again.”

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Recent Comments »

KC007 site profile image  

10/5/11 3:31 PM by KC007

Maia is one of my favorite fighters. He comes across very honest and objective with his skill set. Specifically, when he knows he hasn't been able to sub people lately because be hasn't been working on his BJJ.

NorthFromHere site profile image  

10/5/11 1:52 PM by NorthFromHere

TTT for one of the classiest guys in the sport

raf_269 site profile image  

10/5/11 2:53 AM by raf_269

 Great perspective from Maia. I've always been amazed by his BJJ skills. It would be awesome to see him get back to to what he does best.

ClinchedUp site profile image  

10/5/11 2:24 AM by ClinchedUp

Theres plenty of fighters that thrive on getting beat up,bloodied,thrive on brawls.

NorthFromHere site profile image  

10/5/11 2:22 AM by NorthFromHere


chauda site profile image  

10/5/11 1:02 AM by chauda

Always been a big fan of Mr. Maia and will def head to his seminars the next time they're on the east coast. That being said, he looks ├╝ber gay in that pic above of him in a Spider-man crawl along the beach.

nogblublt site profile image  

10/5/11 12:23 AM by nogblublt

Glad to hear Maia is focusing more time to jiu jitsu, if he trained only wrestling and jiu jitsu he would be soooo much more dangerous than focusing on increasing his striking skill. Go with what your best at.


10/4/11 11:19 PM by K-Dub-"T"

 Beautifully put. Maia by Spiritual  Bungalows on Santiago.