Vitality Check: 5/31/16

Putting the ‘mix’ in mixed martial arts

By Rocco Castellano

This issue is always a very strange one for me. Being a hyper masculine, Christian, old school tough guy that loves every inch of a women, writing for the gay community is really a strange phenomenon … it just doesn’t come natural to me.

If my column doesn’t already surprise you enough, this is going to shock many of my gay readers. When you think of gay men exercising, you might think of men doing yoga poses with skintight “yoga” pants on. It’s always very concerning to me that the pants are so tight that it’s hard not to notice the distinct outline of a scrotum and penis … some large and some minute … but still noticeable to say the least. Although yoga is great for all aspects of health, I am noticing a new trend in the gay community that I happen to like very much.

Right now what’s spiking in popularity is the introduction of many gay men and women into the martial arts. I can’t tell you how excited I am to know that more and more people, especially members of the LGBTQ community, are getting involved in some of the more brutal/violent martial arts like Kung Fu, Taekwondo and Krav Maga. The funny thing about these three martial arts is that they all come from a different part of the world and are all deadly when practiced masterfully in their own right. Any brown belt or black belt in any one of them have gone through insane amounts of training to earn their belt. I box, wrestle and train in Taekwondo and Krav Maga, so it’s nice to see people who, in my opinion, have had certain amount of persecution deciding to take matters into their own hands, literally, and protecting themselves.

I lived through the ’80s and ’90’s where on the New York subway on any given day there were a gang of thugs “gay” bashing, wreaking havoc. I’m not stating that I want gay individuals going around beating the shit out of people. I just live in the real world and know gay bashing happens and is wrong. Now, please don’t come back with oh, two wrongs don’t make a right, or Jesus said “turn the other cheek” and all that happy horse shit. Matthew 5:39 talks about not resisting evil and taking whatever evil has to dish out but you are not to be a doormat and take a violent beating just because you want to live your life in humility. I also believe that it is your right as a human being to never take a beating if you don’t have to.

Although I respect Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on being non-violent, sometimes I believe you “can’t reason with unreasonable people.” Most of the time the people are just plain stupid or just plain evil and allowing them to give you a beating doesn’t change that f–ked up dynamic. So if you don’t like guns and haven’t joined the Pink Pistols for your self-defense than I absolutely recommend taking up one of the more brutal martial arts like Krav Maga. Krav Maga was created by Imi Litchfield for the new Israeli Defense Forces back in 1948. The founder wanted a perfect “combat” fighting style that brought his background in boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and military training all together. From 1948 to 1963, Imi refined his training methods for hand-to-hand combat for the Israeli soldiers to make them the most brutal fighting force in the world.

Some of the schools out there teach a somewhat watered down version of what the founder of Krav Maga created, so be a little skeptical when signing up. Find out what organization they are affiliated with. Worldwide Krav Maga has a pretty solid reputation. It would also help to see if you can be taught by a “real” Israeli Defense Forces instructor or someone who has been belted by one. People always ask me why I recommend Krav Maga over all the other martial arts. My response is always because Krav is the great equalizer. You don’t have to be strong, tall, smart or, for that matter, very quick. These traits may help but aren’t a requirement. Anyone can learn the techniques fairly quickly and be able to protect themselves. I’m not saying you’ll be a black belt in a week but in a few short weeks you will be able to defend yourself against an attacker. If you are ever in a situation where you need to defend yourself, you’ll walk away knowing that it could have been a whole lot worse. I’m a big fan of keeping my blood in my body and not shedding any for anyone. It’s just a little quirk I have.

Krav Maga is the deadliest form of martial arts and it seems to be the easiest (if you apply yourself) to learn. So, if you feel your safety may be at risk, don’t go to yoga today. Do yourself a favor and sign up at the nearest Krav Maga facility, practice hard and don’t be another statistic on the evening news.

The world, especially the country we are living in turning into a hate mongering, anti-everything place and almost everyone is at risk in some capacity. To my gay friends out there, make sure you defend your right to fight back.

Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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