Remember last month when the Winnipeg Police Association wanted paid workout time for police, citing apocryphal stories of super-fit criminals busting out mixed-martial arts moves and wiping the floor with the city's out-of-shape police force? Remember the laughs we had about that? Ahh, those were good times.
But I think that we here in deeply troubled, perpetually violent Winnipeg need to revisit the idea for a moment. No, not the idea of giving police officers paid workout time, that one was stupid. (Like, helicopter stupid. And that's pretty stupid!) Rather, it has become clear to me in the last day or two that we're missing a golden opportunity to help these criminals and turn their lives around, so I'd like to fill you in on these new developments.
Our law enforcement agents and officials shouldn't be complaining about criminals taking up mixed martial arts; if anything, they should be encouraging it! Because it turns out -- according to a recent news story by the New York Times -- that MMA training and competition is, apparently, the newest and hottest way for troubled young men to open their hearts and find the lawd'n'savior Jesus Christ.
I'll give you a moment to read that article in its entirety and then let it sink in a little, because whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat--
Yes, this is a real thing now, with an estimated seven hundred (!) different American evangelical churches already employing the combination of Jesus and Jiu-Jutsu -- the Gospel of Gracie? -- to attract the kind of young men who wouldn't normally set foot in a church otherwise. The article alludes to an assumedly ongoing concern that males are abandoning church service because of its increasing femininity (Women! Am I right, fellas?), so a goofy subculture movement has popped up to make Christianity more capital-M Manly and emphasize strength rather than compassion.
(One of the pastors quoted in the article as an authority of this men-first movement is also connected to Focus on the Family, the same group funding and running that Super Bowl anti-abortion ad you may have heard about in the news recently. Maybe "shoehorn religion into sports" is their new mission statement, or something.)
Now, young males as an archetype are not predominantly complicated; they like drinking and fucking and fighting and sports, the same things they've always liked for thousands of years now. Some churches have already tried to accommodate the drinking (a movement originating, of course, in the UK), and the warring camps of procreation and recreation have been arguing over sex and religion for a very long time now. But fighting and sports, together as one, in the name of greater market saturation for the Judeo-Christian God? This is the first I've heard of it in North America, although in the professional wrestling canon it's legendary in Mexico.
So fret not, Winnipeg police -- those oh-so-intimidatingly-fit crooks practicing their single-leg takedowns might just fight their way up to respectability in public society yet! ("Respectibility" in the whitest old-guard understanding of the concept, of course. WELL HEY HE LIKES JESUS HE'S AN OKAY JOE BY ME) But what good is being a walking weapon of redemption, a one-man swath of destruction in the name of your Creator, if you can't made it the central component of your identity? That, my friend, is where image comes in.
You're familiar with TapouT, right? Even if you were unaware of its roots as a mixed-martial-arts-branded clothing line, you've no doubt seen enough young men wearing its logo on t-shirts and breathing through their mouths that you've gleamed some idea of its popularity and its target audience. Why, one look at Facebook photos of these guys drinking their Budweisers at the O.C. in their TapouT shirts and you can just tell how tough they are!
Yes, when it comes to broadcasting the simultaneous unspoken messages of "I like violence very much" and "I have no future", nothing comes close to an authentic TapouT t-shirt. (Except perhaps a big ol' neck tattoo, but you can't take off the tattoo on Monday when there are no ladies around to impress.) Everyone knows the clothes make the man, and in this case they make the man a SUPER TOUGH GUY RRRRR -- or a fan of the video game Tekken, one of the two -- but what about when you also want a third unspoken message of "I worship a particularly burly incarnation of Jesus Christ"?
Ladies and gentlemen, may I call to your attention your new #1 favourite clothing line:
Jesus Didn't Tap. No, really.
(Of course, if his hands were nailed to a cross, he couldn't tap, but I guess that's more a technicality than anything else.)
What is Jesus Didn't Tap? The name sounds pretty straightforward as is, but let's get the full explanation direct (and unedited) from the company MySpace:
"In Mixed Martial Arts to tap is to quit. Jesus didn't tap means Jesus didn't quit after going though the worse beating and pain that anyone could go through when he was crucified on the cross. His face was unrecognizable and almost every bone in his body was broken, but he still didn't tap so that we could live a joyful life. WHAT IF JESUS TAPPED? Jesus went through so much for us and didn't tap. He was beaten so bad that you could not even recognize him from head to toe, yet he still didn't tap. Not only did he not tap but he came back and defeated Satan by crushing his head to win after the beating he went through. If he would have tapped we would be in hell. We would be in pain mentally and physically 24/7, but Jesus didn't tap for us, so we don't have to live a life of hell."
Oh. Well, then. Crushing his head, you say! I might have missed that part.
So let's say you're an MMA fighter, or a douchebag, and this line is right up your alley. So you gear up for the big fight! You've got your Jesus rashguard shirt, your Jesus gloves (actual, 100% true, not-made-up advertising tagline: "Punch with the power of God"), your Jesus gi patch, your camouflage pattern Jesus trunks -- maybe some black and pink trunks for the l'il lady in your life, too. (And if you have kids, make sure to get them the highly coveted "My Daddy is a Warrior of God" shirt. Only the best for them!) You're all set to intimidate your opponent across the octagon! But what do you wear for your everyday struggles, in the octagon... of life?
(I'm not laying it on too thick, am I? Okay, good. Just making sure.)
There was that t-shirt above, for one thing; you'll be styling and profiling in that one for sure. But that one's just basic! If you're worried that people might doubt your allegiances, you can also get a similar design with questionable scripture on the back. (I'm pretty sure the phrase "ground and pounded" does not actually appear in the Bible. Maybe they added that in a newer edition, I don't know.)
Of course, there are other options as well: the inevitable TapouT knockoff shirt, the inevitable camouflage-patterned shirt, and the extra-inevitable shirt proclaiming that "JESUS DIDN'T TAP [and] NEITHER DO OUR TROOPS".
There's also this gem, which is really starting to drift into People of Wal-Mart territory:
But if you want real street cred -- if you want to make absolutely sure people know that you're as devout as you are dangerous -- you need, need, to outfit yourself in a design of an ultra-muscular, triple-manly Jesus Christ beating the literal and figurative Hell out of Satan with his totally sick MMA skills.
In fact, while you're at it, you should just buy all five:
SO STRONG UNNNGH YEAHHHHHHH
YOU GOT NOTHING SATAN HERE COMES THE GROUND AND POUND SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
I swear to Jesus (Didn't Tap), the only way that these shirts could be any more magnificent is if the company had its own simultaneously intimidating and inspirational rap theme song--OH WAIT IT DOES
JESUS DIDN'T TAP
JESUS DIDN'T TAP
JESUS DIDN'T TAP
JEE--JESUS DIDN'T TAP
It's really hard to convey through text the experience of breaking down into laughter at something, so just imagine that noise in your head and we'll move on from there.
So, yeah, no wonder our city police are terrified of these guys! I know, right? Imagine you're stuck sitting at your desk for half a day, and then the first thing you get when you're finally allowed to go outside is a wall of bulk with no neck coming at you chanting JESUS DIDN'T TAP -- it's enough to make you want to buy a helicopter just to get off the streets and away from these guys!
What good is a gun against these men? You could never bring yourself to shoot them, because that would risk putting a hole in their totally sweet Jesus shirt! Especially this one, because I've been saving this the whole time for the very end of the post and it really does cap off everything you've read to date: