Of all cuisine across the globe, no one food item embodies the spirit of Mixed Martial Arts as fully as Ramen.
Now I know what you may be thinking. “Andrew what the fuck are you smoking and where can I get some?” Well, typical it’s super potent sativa, and finding a dealer usually involves asking about three people where you can get some pot before someone gives you a solid recommendation. At least that’s how it’s always worked for me. But I digress…
No food item screams Mixed Martial Arts to me quite like Ramen noodles. At one time regulated to seedy street corners, now both Ramen and MMA are celebrated in some of the most hallowed halls on the planet Earth.
— Anton Tabuena (@antontabuena) March 2, 2018
Both MMA and Ramen have suffered from their surge in popularity. Sure, the quality of the product has increased, and it’s become easier and easier to get. And the variety is incredible, with a myriad of options highlighting unique expressions of the respective arts. But ultimately, they both lost their special something. By going mainstream and becoming prolific, their beauty of waned.
No longer do you have to scurry to some shady district of town to be thrown a dirty bowl of delicious noodles. Now, you can go to a sanitized, health-inspected establishment, and eat a clean bowl of broth, pork, and noodles. We realized too late that the best part of eating Ramen was the thrill of seeking it out. Scarfing down hand pulled noodles and slurping broth among the company of other ardent enthusiasts created a kinship. We were all apart of a special fraternity. And the rarity of our delight only made it all the more sought after.
But no more.
Just like Mixed Martial Arts, Ramen is a melting pot of culture. Ramen joins together Chinese noodles made with Mongolian ingredients, and pairs them in a decidedly Japanese way. Ramen only became prolific in Japan after WWII when American flour flooded into the island. In the 1950s, instant Ramen was developed, an accomplishment so significant, Japanese people voted it the greatest single invention of the 20th Century. Hard to argue. In the 1980s, Ramen finally began it’s assent to global sensation. Now the dish is ubiquitous,with local variations existing beyond just Japan, but across the globe, with each region adding their own unique ingredients and spin on the classic foundation.
The parallels to Martial Arts cannot be overstated.
Ramen itself is the marriage of many distinct parts that when combined together with proper care, create a massively satisfying meal. Similarly, a martial artist takes techniques from a variety of traditions to create their unique style into the cage. Just as no two bowls of Ramen contain the exact same ingredients, no two fighters utilize the exact same techniques. And yet, prominent characteristics can signify to an educated palate the region and historical roots, at once infinitely unique and easily definable.
Just like one single form of fighting is above all others, no one form of Ramen is superior to all. Only superior in the moment.
— Brandon Dodge (@DodgetheBadfish) March 5, 2018
But all Ramen bowls and MMA fighters share a common core. As all MMA fighters need certain components in their skill set, all Ramen bowls need to consist of noodles, broth, and pork. The preparations and portions may vary, but it’s a rare bowl of Ramen that doesn’t have all these ingredients. Pork slices are the wrestling of the Ramen world. You can technically get away without it, but you will forever be inferior to any other bowl that has it. And if that other Ramen has tons of pork and yours has none, you are basically trash.
This all goes to say that both Ramen and MMA are fantastic, and they should be preserved and cherished. Just as MMA is hallowed and needs our constant protection from commercialized fuckery, so does Ramen.
So get your ass down to your local Japanese eatery, or open up some Nissan and enjoy.
Huge thanks to everyone who sent pictures of delicious Ramen to help me fantasize about Ramen… I mean write this article. You are all awesome people and eat delicious looking Ramen. Here are all the photos I couldn’t include in the article.
this is from a place in Austin. pic.twitter.com/mhr8wYIrR8
— Steve McAwesome (@SteveMcAwesome) March 2, 2018
Literally yesterday pic.twitter.com/IEVy4x0IMs
— Andrew Millington (@AndrewMilington) March 5, 2018
— 笹原圭一 (@sasaharakeiichi) March 2, 2018
— Zane Simon (@TheZaneSimon) March 2, 2018