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A Brief History of Mixed Martial Arts

Updated on July 7, 2013

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition is a sport in spite how violent it seems. Unlike other martial arts competitions, it allows fighters with varied fighting backgrounds to compete in a controlled environment. As such mixed martial arts raining can vary from one fighter to another – depending on his style. Moreover, both traditional and non traditional fighting techniques can be used in this competition. Likewise, striking and grappling techniques are allowed. As such, it provides a real-life self-defense scenario. The downside is that it can be quite brutal compared to your ordinary boxing matches.

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Helio Gracie, Founder of the Gracie JiuJitsu
Helio Gracie, Founder of the Gracie JiuJitsu | Source

But MMA is not entirely new. In the olden times, many martial arts schools compete with other schools to determine which school is better. But not in a global setting as it is done with modern MMA competitions. Of course these competitions are done in the spirit of fair competition and improving each school’s techniques. It is also a great marketing tool when the school comes out to be the champion. However, these matches often had no rules and ended in many situations with broken bones and at times death. These no-rules hand to hand combat games can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. The earliest recorded fights were called pankration which was part of the ancient Olympic Games.

Now, fast forward to more recent times, around early 1900’s, the Vale Tudo, was a no-rules competition developed in Brazil. It was the precursor of the modern-day mixed martial arts fights. This sport was dominated by the Gracie family who used Jiu Jitsu as the primary martial arts. The Jiu Jitsu technique popularized by the Gracie family eventually became known as Gracie Jiu Jitsu and became synonymous with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In 1993, this sport eventually reached the United States and was transformed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Moreover, the success of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu style in the UFC competition ushered a revolution in martial arts in the whole world. Now, many are cramming dojos to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, especially the Gracie Jiu Jitsu style.

UFC 1: Ken Shamrock Vs. Royce Gracie

From the very dangerous no rules competitions, MMA fights have become more controlled for the safety of the fighters. Some improvements in the rules include time limits and rounds. This offered the fighters time to rest and recuperate even for a bit. In addition, weight divisions were added to properly match fighters. This has become more important especially when many fighters choose to take the fight to the ground. Another safety precaution is wearing protective gloves and other protective gear (especially for amateur fights).

But it is important to emphasize that, UFC is not the only MMA, full contact sport. In fact, all over the world, there are MMA competitions having a variety of names, rules and followers. But none is as popular as UFC. Today, live streaming UFC matches are among the widely watched programs online. Moreover, UCF-themed video games are available in popular gaming consoles.

MMA competition and training have become more popular nowadays. More than just a sport, it provides practitioners of different martial art styles to improve their techniques. It allows the mixed martial arts fighters to study various fighting styles and incorporate them into their arsenal. Likewise, it unifies different techniques in just one competition. That makes it quite a spectacle to watch.

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