What is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full contact sport where fighters use a combination of martial arts and combat styles to achieve a submission, knock-out, or outscore an opponent.
Made popular in the 1990s by the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) in the United States and Pride Fighting Championships in Japan, MMA has grown in popularity and now garners audiences rivaling those of Professional Wrestling and Boxing.
History of MMA
MMAs history reaches back to ancient times with similar Greek Pankration and Roman Pancratium fighting competitions. Fast forward to the 1800s, where many Boxers, Wrestlers and Jujitsu artists welcomed any and all styles to compete in “no-holds barred” and “catch-wrestling” matches in Europe and North America and in Vale Tudo matches in Brazil. Similar matches were also popular in Japan and the Pacific Rim.
These early Mixed Martial Arts matches evolved into two streams as the last century progressed. One stream, Show Wrestling, evolved into the Professional Wrestling we see today which is theatrical in nature with pre-determined outcomes. The other stream kept the matches real with no pre-determined outcomes.
The real stream organized itself into Shooto fighting in Japan in the 1980s, sharing similar rules to today’s UFC. Also in Japan in the early 1990s, a stand-up striking MMA organization sprang up known as K-1.
In 1993 the UFC began organizing matches in the U.S. with Pride Fighting Championships following suit in 1997 in Japan.
Originally, MMA matches pitted different martial art styles in competition to see which one was superior. As fighters trained to defend against successful styles, they also began to use them in their own repertoires. As a result, today’s MMA fighters mix a variety of fighting and combative arts into their training regimes. Some of the more popular ones include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing, Kickboxing, Judo, Sambo, and Full-Contact Karate.
Philosophy of MMA
Mixing traditional and non-traditional combat styles and arts makes it difficult to ascribe any one philosophy in the practice of MMA.
That said, MMA can in some ways be seen as a testing ground for the effectiveness of any particular philosophy. For example, can a philosophy of supple, circular grappling overcome a philosophy of hard linear striking? The answers are often surprising and always unpredictable. Thus, its philosophy can be summarized as: “The most effective is the most well-rounded and best prepared.”
MMA as Self-Defense
Combining different martial arts styles including grappling and striking arts with full contact sparring and top-notch physical conditioning makes MMA a very effective tool for self-defense.
MMA for Kids
As a result of its emphasis on strikes, chokes and joint lock submissions in real sparring situations, MMA is not a very child-friendly martial art. Check with the particular school to see if they have classes modified for children.
MMA for Adults
Practicing for MMA requires cross-training both within martial arts and/or combative sports and in general fitness workouts. Expect workouts jammed with technical information as well as grueling cross-training regimes. It is valuable to have a base martial art on which to build on and/or already be in good physical condition prior to starting MMA.
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