October 25th, 2009 12:15 EST
(MMA) Mixed Martial Arts: The New Warriors of the Decade
The format of combat sports has changed from the days we watched Sugar Ray Leonard going toe to toe with Roberto Duran in the ring to the Muhammad Ali and George Foreman battles. There is a new sport out that blends the devastation of boxing, the holds of wrestling with the skill of a variety of Martial-Arts techniques into a fighting form that is now being practiced and studied by many boxers and Martial-Artists.
It is called Mixed Martial Arts or the MMA. This new fighting form allows the combatants to use an array of techniques from both the traditional and non-traditional martial-arts forms. Most of the competitors use striking and grappling techniques in their arsenal to try to defeat their opponent.
As I watch a lot of these fights, I see most of the fighter use a lot of techniques from both American Kickboxing and Mauy Thai Kickboxing. These two forms of fighting are great for self-defense and are relatively easy to learn and practice. The all-around Martial-Artist normally has many kicks, punches, strikes, back fists, takedowns and so on in their fighting style because the Martial-Arts in its entirety has the self-defense philosophy. You have to have techniques to defend against armed attackers that may be coming at you with a knife, a gun, a baseball bat and so on. If you look at some of the same techniques that fighters use in the MMA, the same techniques can still be used to defend against just about any self-defense situation you may encounter and be able to defend yourself successfully and come out still in one piece. Bruce Lee once said to have an all around fighting style; you need to have techniques from wrestling, boxing, and kickboxing. The MMA combines all of these techniques together into one form.
The history of the modern MMA started in 1993 when the founder of the Ultimate Fighting Championship was looking to combine the best Martial-Arts techniques used in unarmed situations to form a philosophy of competition in the ring. When the MMA first started, there really were no safety rules; it was sort of a free for all in the ring. Later, more and more rules for safety were added to protect fighters against the devastating blows and situations fighters faced in competition.
Jeff Blatnick, who was a former Greco-Roman wrestler, coined the name, mixed martial arts. The sport has increased its fan base with the showing of many fights on cable and occasional fight being shown on prime time television. The test of the sport came in 2005 when the United States Army adopted and sanctioned this sport into its first annual Army Combative Championships which was held by the Army Combative School.
The rules of the MMA have evolved from the beginning of the start of the sport and have taken shape throughout the last decade which focuses on the protection of the fighters. There are now nine different weight classes just like boxing; fighters compete against opponents that best suit their weight class. You don`t want a fighter that weighs 106 pounds soaking wet to fight another opponent that weighs 250 pounds. Not that the size would really matter in the sense of self-defense but it is safer to compete against opponents more your size.
Padded, open fingered gloves were also introduced to not only protect the fighter`s hands when striking bit to also alleviate cuts when getting hit. This also encourages fighters to use more strikes and punches which promotes more competition in the match and adds to the excitement of the fight just like watching a traditional boxing match.
Other rules and this really depends on the rules of each state the fights are being held in but in kickboxing and especially in Muay Thai Kickboxing the use of elbows and knees are a big part of the styles of those two martial-arts. The use of those techniques has been eliminated to protect fighters and especially young fighters from the devastating effects of getting hit by an elbow or a knee. The use of knee techniques is still used but the rules basically state no knees when a fighter is down.
There are several ways a fighter wins a match or is declared the winner. One of the main ways to win a fight is by knockout. When one of the competitors becomes unconscious by a strike then the other fighter is declared the winner. The same rules apply in boxing.
When both fighters are engaged in ground fighting, one of the fighters may give a tap on the mat or on the opponent`s body; or may give a verbal announcement. The referee may stop the fight is a fighter is taking massive punishment and cannot seem to defend themselves against the other opponents attack, a fighter is declared unconscious by a strike or a submission, or a fighter has significant damage such as a broken bone or a cut. Also, the fight doctor may stop the fight, the fighters corner may announce defeat by throwing the towel in which may happen after a round or during the fight, a decision by the judges after the fight as gone the distance, the fighter may forfeit the match, or a fighter may be disqualified, and finally there is the no contest rule where if a fighter or both fighters get a violation against them and if a fighter sustained an injury from an accidental strike form the other fighter then a no contest is declared and the fight is stopped.
Some of the popular styles of the martial-arts used in competition for the striking techniques as mentioned earlier include styles of Muay Thai Kickboxing, boxing, traditional kickboxing, and full-contact karate. The other forms to improve the clinch part of the competition and training include techniques from Greco-Roman Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, Sambo, and Judo are used to practice the techniques for takedowns, throws, and Muay Thai techniques are added in to practice the striking forms in the clinch.
Other techniques used in the ground fighting part of the MMA are forms from Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, Shoot Wrestling, forms from Catch Wrestling, and more techniques and forms from Judo and Sambo help practice and improve techniques to defend against and offend with ground fighting.
This relatively new form of fighting has shown to take shape in popularity with fight fans. The sport of the MMA is growing and really if you ever watch a fight you can see most fights are fun to watch and even interesting as the fighters perform not only like two warriors in the ring but the way the overall styles are used and the techniques are thrown adds to the excitement of the fight. It is to me more like taking the philosophy of boxing to the next level.
Form the self-defense standpoint and from my personal opinion, this form of fighting is probably one of the most effective and probably the best to use in just about any self-defense situation. It is also fun to train with because it adds variety to your martial-arts workout.
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