What is Mixed Martial Arts?
Mixed martial arts is a full contact sport that combines different fighting styles.
Mixed martial arts is a full contact sport that combines different fighting styles, including karate, boxing, kick boxing, wrestling, muay thai and Brazilian ju jitsu. In modern times it has become famous through competitions such as the UFC and Strikeforce.
In a way, all martial arts styles and therefore martial arts history in general has led up to what we now consider to be ‘MMA’. The wish to compare one martial art to the other has long been present in history, however the first full contact mixed fighting event was back in 648 B.C., with the Greek Pankration. Fights similar to this continued through Roman rule and into the later centuries.
In the late 1880’s mixed arts competition was brought to the USA when wrestling and boxing met when John L Sullivan, the heavyweight boxing champion of the time entered the ring with his trainer and Greco-Roman wrestling champion William Muldoon. The bout ended with Muldoon slamming Sullivan into the mat within two minutes, this altercation brought to light the advantages of having a variety of martial arts to be able to draw technique from.
The history of modern MMA can be traced back to mixed style contests throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900’s. However it wasn’t until Vale Tudo was brought to the United States by the Gracie Family in 1993 that brought the sport into the public eye with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Initially these matches were designed to showcase different martial arts styles so that the most effective martial art for self defence could be discovered, to do this however very few rules were put into place and so the sport was quickly condemned and banned.
To get round the blackout placed on them, the UFC as well as other promoters introduced a strict set of rules, which are still set in place now and have become a standard for all fighters to participate in competition.
Today, thanks to the UFC and other promotions, MMA has become one of the most well known martial art styles in the world and has a gigantic following worldwide. It has become widely popular with female fighters as well, showing that it has progressed a long way from its roots.
MMA is the combination of a number of different styles of martial art, including but not limited to; Boxing, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Kickboxing, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and Wrestling. It is practiced using a mixture of striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground.
MMA competitions are fought with strict rules, so that the practitioners remain safe when competing. The most important of these are the introduction of weight and skill classes meaning that no fighter is severely disadvantaged because of their particular size or overall ability. Another main rule introduced is that of time limits to the matches, bouts are often fought in three 5 minute rounds with a two minute rest in-between. A further two rounds are added on in championship bouts.
Within the world of MMA there are no worldwide governing bodies. However there are a multitude of promotions that fighters usually compete under, and it is these promotions that create their rule sets and deal with disagreements within the art.
Although the rule sets may differ slightly from promotion to promotion there is a set of ‘Unified Rules of mixed martial arts’ that are enforced by the state athletic boards ensuring safety for the practitioners competing.
The Most notable MMA promotions are:
The UFC Bellator Fighting Championships ONE Fighting Championships World Series of Fighting