Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
WHAT ARE MMA?Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport in which a wide variety of fighting techniques are used, including striking (such as kicks, knees and punches) and grappling (such as clinch holds, pinning holds, submission holds, sweeps, takedowns and throws).
Some unarmed hand to hand combat techniques are considered illegal in most or all modern competition, such as biting, eye-gouging, fish-hooking and small joint manipulation. Over the last ten years, strikes to the groin have become illegal in all sanctioned organizations. The legality of other techniques such as elbows, headbutts and spinal locks vary according to competition or organization.
Modern mixed martial arts tournaments as a popular phenomenon emerged in 1993 with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, based on the concept of pitting different fighting styles against each other in competition with minimal rules in place, in an attempt to determine which system would be more effective in a real, unregulated combat situation. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, mixed martial arts events implemented additional rules for the safety of the athletes and to promote acceptance of the sport, while maintaining as much of the original no-holds-barred concept as possible.
The history of the modern MMA event can be traced to the Gracie family's vale tudo martial arts tournaments in Brazil starting in the 1920s, and early mixed martial arts matches hosted by Antonio Inoki in Japan in the 1970s. The fighting concept of combining various combat disciplines gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the emergence of Bruce Lee and his theories of mixing various martial art styles. The sport gained international exposure and widespread publicity in the United States in 1993, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Royce Gracie dominated the Ultimate Fighting Championship, sparking a revolution in the martial arts, while in Japan the continued interest in the sport resulted in the creation of the PRIDE Fighting Championships in 1997.
A victory in a bout is normally gained by the judges' decision after an allotted amount of time has elapsed, a stoppage by the referee or the fight doctor (in the event that the competitor is injured or can no longer defend himself intelligently), a submission, by a competitor's cornerman throwing in the towel, or by knockout.
One of the earliest forms of widespread unarmed combat sports with minimal rules was Greek pankration, which was introduced into the Olympic Games in 648 B.C.
No-holds-barred events reportedly took place in the late 1800s when wrestlers representing a huge range of fighting styles including various catch wrestling styles, Greco-Roman wrestling and many others met in tournaments and music-hall challenge matches throughout Europe.
Boxing vs. jujutsu contests were popular entertainments throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s (“Merikan”).
Professional wrestling died out after World War I and was reborn in two streams: "shoot", in which the fighters actually competed, and "show," which evolved into modern sports entertainment professional wrestling.
TrainingMixed martial artists train in a variety of styles that have been proven effective in the ring, so that they can be effective in all the phases of combat. Typical styles, taught prior to an individual career, are: stand-up, clinch and ground.
Stand-up: Various forms of boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and/or forms of full contact karate are trained to improve footwork, elbowing, kicking, kneeing and punching.
Clinch: Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo, and Judo are trained to improve clinching, takedowns and throws, while Muay Thai is trained to improve the striking aspect of the clinch.
Ground: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, shoot wrestling, catch wrestling, Judo, and Sambo are trained to improve submission holds, and defense against them. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, pankration, and styles of amateur wrestling are trained to improve positioning and maintain ground control.