The Evolution of Mixed Martial Arts
By Sensei Thad Campbell – TSMMA Feasterville
The purpose of Martial Arts training is to learn to defend yourself in any situation. The goal of a Martial Arts Instructor should then be to prepare their students for the most likely scenario in a real life situation. Without getting into real life situations ourselves, the nearest we can come is by competing.
The problem with competition historically is it has changed many martial arts styles to fit the competition. As opposed to the competition sharpening the style to prepare for a street Self-Defense situation it accomplished the exact opposite.
For instance, Karate when first practiced in the 1500’s was a very reality based style. An Okinawan with only his hands or farm implements needed every bit of real Self-Defense to survive an encounter with a Samurai wielding a sword. Especially in the last 100 years the style itself changed to fit the rules of competition. Point sparring allowed a Karate practitioner to win by simply landing one punch or kick deemed worthy by a panel of judges. Karate became synonymous with darting in and out of range to land strikes. The very select few Karate stylists who possessed amazing power could get away with this type of one strike attack, but what about someone not possessed of natural striking power.
What if your opponent grabbed hold of you when you jumped in. In competition the referee would separate you and you would start again. In a street situation no one would be there to make your opponent let go. Karate or Tae Kwon Do would be great at long range, but medium or close range and the style simply didn’t adapt well.
Lyman Good Uses Clinch On Jim Wallhead!
Other Martial Arts were more progressive. Muay Thai could account for all three of those distances standing up. The competition of Muay Thai allowed for opponents to grab and hold and thus have to compete at long, medium and close range in any given fight. Kyokushin Karate, the style Tiger Schulmann became a legend in, also allowed for holding. They used timed rounds like Muay Thai instead of points to score fights and thus began to bring a little more reality to the competition. This was much more realistic, but still lacking in one crucial area, the ground.
Tiger Schulmann Quickly Implemented Ground Techniques Despite Already Holding A 10th Degeree In Kyokushin Karate
Some styles left striking completely out of the equation. Wrestling, Judo, and Jiu Jitsu relied almost solely on close range or ground situations. Again very effective if the practitioner could control the distance they found themselves. However, if a Judo practitioner found themselves at long range, how could they stop from getting hit?
Judo In The Olympics!
Advent of UFC Changes Martial Arts Competition
This is where the advent of Mixed Martial Arts has changed the teaching of Martial Arts immensely. What we have learned from watching MMA is that a person proficient in only one area will fail to win a fight even if they are way better than their opponent in that one area. The rules of competitions like the UFC allow a fighter to dictate where the fight happens, on the ground or standing up. Thus a premium is placed on the ability of a competitor to understand the techniques they need to defend themselves in both areas!
Some Karate Techniques Still Effective In MMA!
What has become obvious over 20 years of Mixed Martial Arts Competition is there is no one way to do it. Every style has it’s benefits. The truly well rounded fighter is the goal. Thus the goal of our Self-Defense class is to teach a student a well rounded Mixed Martial Art!
Applying UFC Techniques To Mixed Martial Arts Training
Now as an instructor I feel it is my obligation to my students to watch and understand what is happening at the highest levels of competition. The UFC rules are designed to highlight the effectiveness of real world techniques. It’s the closest we can come to seeing what would happen in a street situation without watching a street situation.
If we can practice a technique that will be effective in the cage against another trained opponent, how effective then will that same technique be against an untrained opponent? Thus each time their is a UFC event we get to further our knowledge of Self-Defense.
Joshu Craig Alexander and I will be using these events to highlight some of the best or worst things we saw in each event. We will show how we can implement those lessons, either positive or negative, into our own training to help us either duplicate or avoid the lesson we learned.