Mixed martial arts as we know it began in November 1993 in Denver, Colorado, the night of UFC 1. What began as a showcase of individual martial arts disciplines from Jiu Jitsu to Tae Kwon Do and all the rest, has become a recognised sport with competitors and followers from all over the world. While the concept of mixed martial arts is still relatively new, martial arts have been around for thousands of years, MMA is the culmination of millennia of training and perfecting different disciplines from around the globe.
The Origins of Martial Arts
The origins of some forms of martial arts date back thousands of years. Recordings of Asian martial arts have been founded dating back as far as the Xia Dynasty and in texts like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War which dates back to 350BC. Around the same time in Ancient Greece, versions of boxing and wrestling were being developed to take part in the ancient Olympic Games. People from all over the world have been developing forms of martial arts for millennia, all of which has helped to create the MMA that we know today.
Traditional Western and Eastern Disciplines
It was during the 18thand 19thcenturies in particular that hand-to-hand combat began to gain popularity as a sport and a hobby. Greco-Roman wrestling became a particularly popular combat form and was established as a modern Olympic event. Boxing as we know it took shape in the 19thcentury with the Queensberry Rules being established in 1867. Meanwhile in Japan Karate, Kendo, Judo and Jiu-Jitsu were becoming the martial arts disciplines that we see today. The huge increase in travel and trade worldwide meant that martial arts began to spread from their home origins to other countries.
Cultural Diversity Led to the Growth of Martial Arts
The rise of Kung Fu films during the 20thcentury saw Asian martial arts being introduced to Western audiences on a massive scale. This not only resulted in more people from different cultures training in different disciplines, but it also resulted in the emergence of new disciplines. The modern Muay Thai rules were being solidified in the ‘20s and Tae Kwon Do was developed in the ‘50s. As martial arts become more generally accepted as a sport, we began to see more and more of them. Judo became an Olympic sport in the ‘60s. American kickboxing was created in the ‘70s and events such as The Karate World Championships became more commonplace.
The Beginning of MMA
Mixed martial arts started out as a showcase of individual martial arts in order to display different fighting styles and their effectiveness. It was an exciting time that brought together many separate martial arts communities into one event. Due to the nature of UFC many martial artists began cross-training in multiple different disciplines in order to improve their abilities. Fighters who had once been pure grapplers began improving their striking skills whilst the strikers began to add grappling techniques to their style too.
“What started as different disciplines being pitted against each other soon became fighters from different disciplines adapting the old and learning new techniques in order to become more efficient fighters. It wasn’t long before MMA became its own unique style, combining a mixture of different elements from all different styles of fighting. Events such as UFC have made mixed martial arts a household name. It’s a sport that’s followed just like any other,” adds Conrad Thompson, regular contributor to Draftbeyond and Writinity.
The Rise of MMA
However, the rise of mixed martial arts has not diminished the popularity or value of the more traditional martial arts disciplines such as Karate or Boxing. Traditional disciplines still continue to be a popular choice for both competitive athletes and for casual trainers wanting a recreational sport. Many people begin martial arts training as a way of learning self-defence, something that is becoming more important to many different groups of people. More refined forms of mixed martial arts are emerging, advertising themselves as combat sports or a mixture between two or more particular martial arts. While these aren’t yet recognised as official martial arts disciplines, they still attract large numbers of students wanting to get fit, learn self-defence and take up a new hobby. Mixed martial arts competitions also allow these fighters a place to test and hone their skills against other opponents.
Some traditionalists and critics have quarrelled over whether MMA should be classed as a true martial art discipline. They have argued that it symbolises an increase in societal tolerance of violence and that it threatens the traditional values of martial arts. However, since MMA’s beginning in 1993 a rule structure and secure governmental regulation have been put in place. The UFC has also adapted its rules to ensure fair competition still takes place. Judgement will always be made on combat sports by people who believe that they are too violent, however, as they become ever more popular, more people will come to understand the sport.
“Many non-combat forms of these sports are emerging particularly as gym classes. They are designed as get-fit programs and provide a less combative form of exercise. The non-contact sports such as boxercise, kickboxercise and MMA drill classes are thriving with fitness enthusiasts who are eager to get in shape without having to fight,” says Robert Bailey, author at Researchpapersuk and Last Minute Writing.
The Evolution of Combat Sports Continues
Combat sports are highly likely to continue to evolve over the years. New disciplines will emerge, old ones will continue, and many will adapt as times change. People still, and will continue to, take boxing lessons. Martial arts have always been an incredibly varied sport and they will continue to be so. During the 2020 Olympic games we will see Karate enjoy its debut as an Olympic sport. Mixed martial arts will continue to grow into its own discipline and no doubt new disciplines will continue to sprout. Combat sports are now more inclusive and popular than ever. New gear, better media coverage and more disciplines means that there is now such a wide variety to of martial arts to choose from. Whether people want to get fit, be an athlete or just spectate, there is a discipline for them.
Charles Phan is a content writer and proofreader at Gum Essays and Lucky Assignments with years of experience. Chris has a degree in Marketing and enjoys writing about business strategies, entrepreneurship and start up companies.