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Watch OLD MAN STRENGTH in live action

You might recognize this old man demonstrating impressive skills vs. a young sparring partner.

This story is part of a far larger effort to understand what works effectively in martial arts not by looking at what happens during contests in the arena, but rather by analyzing what happens when martial arts are used outside the arena on the street. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories on:
Martial Arts on The Street
Boxing
Dojo Storms


In combat sports and martial arts, just as in life, you should never judge a book by its cover. Nor should you ever underestimate an opponent. We see a very good example of that in the video below.

In this sparring session, we first see an older man who looks to be in his 60s. He's short, and a middleweight (all his weight in his middle), wearing a grandfatherly striped sweater. The sparring partner is far younger, sporting a man bun, and very oddly for a boxing gym, is barefoot.

It looks almost as if someone's granduncle wandered into the boxing ring by mistake. Going by looks alone, you would assume that this old guy is probably going to get rattled.

This Old Man waddles over and reaches out to touch gloves. It still looks like calamity awaits. However, This Old Man thumbs his nose, an ancient gesture in combat sports that can serve as a reminder to keep up hands. He then turns around and heads back to his corner. The bell rings.

This Old Man vs. Man Bun

This Old Man walks forward again touching gloves, again looking like nothing so much as an old man. Then he lightly punches his face a couple of times, and changes his demeanor, wholly. Speed goes, reflexes go, but old man strength is real, as Man Bun will discover in seconds.

This Old Man slips his head adroitly left and right, while using his footwork to cut off the ring, left and right. What may appear to an uninitiated eye to be casual moving around the ring was actually beautiful defense and distance management. At this point, Man Bun should have immediately exited the ring.

Then This Old Man slips a jab almost before Man Bun thinks about throwing it. Then he throws two hard looping punches to the head, a right and a left, in the European Casting style. Man Bun tries to punch back, comically almost firing from his hips. Remember that old touch the nose habit? Man Bun could touch his hip bone from the last punch he threw. Unfortunately, due to the high looping right and left, Man Bun is now thinking about his head, leaving his body open to a looping right. And that in turn brings all his attention low, leaving his face open.

This Old Man throws a left to Man Bun's head that drops him. He scrambles up, but his mind is on Queer Street and his emotions have utterly taken control; he makes a hopeless mistake - turning the back. Turning the back is exiting, it is the equivalent of sitting down in a running race. Three more punches land. 

This Old Man then throws his hands up in an "I'm not doing anything" gesture, and it's over. Man Bun steadies himself on the ring ropes. On tape he can be heard muttering, "A facc ro cazz," which translates literally as "the face of the d***," but is an exclamation that means something like "Holy s***" or "What the f***."

 Whoops he did it again!

And again, all while smiling!

Who Was This Old Man?

This Old Man's name is Ernesto Bergamasco. Born February 17, 1950, he competed in boxing at the light welterweight at the 1972 Summer Olympics for Italy. Bergamasco immediately turned pro and put together an 18-fight win streak, leading to a failed shot at Italy's vacant super lightweight belt.  He would fight on, eventually amassing a 31-10 record, and retiring after a second failed title shot.

He then worked as a trainer and gym owner, retained tremendous skills, and never lost his old man strength.

This episode reminds of a great quote, that is unfortunately written by pocketa-queep Bohdi Sanders.

“Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.

"Old warriors did not get old by accident; they got old by being wise, having the right knowledge, and being tough. Never underestimate an old man who has grown up in a rough profession or a rough environment.

"These men have been around. They have done things, and experienced things, that you probably have never even thought about. They are tough, their minds are tough, and they have the knowledge, the skill, and the will to finish you off, if you force them to do so. A boy will fight you, but an older man will hurt you.”

Even goofs can create cool quotes.

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