Arts Entertainments

Mixed Martial Arts: An Introduction to Mixed Martial Arts

The popularity of mixed martial arts contests like the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has exploded over the last decade. However, some may still wonder what exactly mixed martial arts is. Well, to some extent that is what the name implies. It is the combination of different martial arts and the incorporation of those techniques into one’s repertoire of fighting skills.

If mixed martial arts (MMA) is so popular, why hasn’t it been done before? In fact, it has been done before. The Ancient Greek Olympics had a sport known as pankration that involved grabbing and hitting and had no rules. Pankration means “almighty”. Pankration was the Fight Without Limits (NHB) of its time. Vale tudo contests were popular in Brazil during the 20th century. Vale tudo also had a limited number of rules. Vale tudo means “anything goes” in Portuguese. Vale tudo contests are probably the closest descendants of the UFC.

As you can see, MMA is not exactly new. But it has been greatly refined and polished over the past few decades. When the UFC started, it was simply a contest to see which martial arts discipline was superior. The Gracie family from Brazil believed that their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was the best. And, up to a point, they showed that it was. Royce Gracie won UFC 1, 2, and 4 often fighting bigger opponents. I still enjoy watching Royce videos. Royce Gracie put Brazilian Jiu Jitsu “on the map.” However, the UFC evolved from its humble beginnings. Weight classes and other rules were born. Competitors realized that they could combine fighting, grappling and punching skills. Thus was born the sport of MMA.

For more UFC history, check out the books:

  • Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the UFC’s Raging Rise
  • The heart of a fighter: a man’s journey through the world of wrestling

Boxing and other martial arts

As a child, boxers were well known in America. He was familiar with the names Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Hector “Macho” Camacho, Oscar de la Hoya, Mike Tyson, James ” Buster “Douglas and Evander Holyfield. But, boxing’s popularity has waned over the years, perhaps in part due to increased interest in MMA. The only boxers I’m very familiar with right now are Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward, Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao. Boxing movies like Rocky may have contributed to its popularity. Even now, you can still watch boxing movies like The fighter.

The Karate Kid introduced some of us to the discipline of karate. And the movieKickboxer introduced me to muay thai. Steven Seagal did some interesting martial arts in his movies. Many of us have also seen kung fu movies. I grew up in the Midwest, so I was always interested in wrestling. I took a Taekwondo class during college. I watched kickboxing competitions on television from time to time. There seemed to be a time when practitioners of a certain martial art were not interested in learning another martial art and many people thought that the martial art of their choice was the best. MMA seems to have shown that a combination of fighting styles works best for fighting mastery. Even military and police forces use MMA techniques.

Primitive mixed martial arts

The legendary Bruce Lee recognized that traditional martial arts had their limits and were not always practical in real world situations. Bruce Lee studied and criticized many traditional forms. Lee’s approach to martial arts and his emphasis on practicality makes him a forerunner of mixed martial arts. “Judo” Gene LeBell defeated boxer Milo Savage in 1963 with a lapel choke in one of the first MMA-type contests. Additionally, Muhammad Ali fought Antonio Inoki to a draw in 1976 in what would be considered a primitive MMA contest.

Ground and Pound, Sprawl and Brawl, Submissions

As I mentioned earlier, mixed martial arts, the UFC, and other MMA competitions emerged and proved that the combination of martial arts could create a dominant fighter. Strategies were soon developed. Some competitors were better at fighting, so they liked to use the “land and hit” strategy. Some were better at kicking and punching, so they employed a “spread out and fight” strategy. And others were presentation experts (blocking and choking) sticking to that strategy.

Fighting backgrounds

Mixed martial artists come from many different backgrounds:

Royce Gracie – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Pat Miletich – wrestling, karate, kickboxing

Matt Hughes – wrestling

Tito Ortiz – wrestling

Randy Couture – wrestling

Chuck Liddell: wrestling, kempo, Koei-Kan Karate-do and kickboxing

Keith Jardine – karate

Lyoto Machida – karate

BJ Penn – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Kazushi Sakuraba – catch wrestling

Fedor Elemianenko – sambo

Karo Parisyan – judo

These fighters, of course, combined other abilities with their main fighting style to be complete fighters.

Mixed martial artists combine many skills from many disciplines including, but not limited to, wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, wrestling, judo, sambo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, kickboxing, and karate.

Basil the greek

I read a book while I was in elementary school called The big brain. In a story in this book, Big Brain (Tom) helps teach a Greek immigrant boy how to fight in America so that he is not bullied or bullied. Tom realizes that Basil is not very good at boxing, but he is excellent at wrestling, especially at stakes. Tom develops a fighting strategy for Basil around this.

Here is a small excerpt from the book:

Tom and Basil were waiting inside the barn. “This is going to be a tough, upset fight,” Tom announced. “Anything goes, lumberjack style.”

“It looks good on me,” Sammy said, smiling.

Well, Basil was able to catch Sammy with a headlock and straddle him to the ground (to “land and hit”). Basil was able to neutralize Sammy’s blows and win the fight. This is how MMA works. A fighter can use his abilities to neutralize the abilities of another fighter. Combining skills works better than using a fighting skill exclusively.

There you go. Hope you enjoyed this introduction to mixed martial arts. And I hope you will continue to watch and maybe participate in this sport as it evolves and gains popularity.

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