I’m pretty sure you have seen, heard of, or even trained in some sort of martial art(s) in your life by now. And with martial arts being in mainstream media and movies, as well as a school or gym being in almost every city of America. It’s pretty safe to say you’ve been introduced to a form of fighting known as mixed martial arts. But if not, then keep reading this small primer on what is mixed martial arts.
Mixed martial arts, or MMA for short, is a full contact fighting sport which allows participants to fight inside an octagon shaped cage, roped rings, or even on raised platforms, depending on the competition style or association. The fighters use a combination of fighting techniques and styles, which they’ve learned and honed through many hard hours in the gym using different training methods. Fighters are allowed to use any combination of strikes, takedowns, and grappling in order to score points, knock their opponent out, or force them to submit by tapping out.
Even though mixed martial arts or the MMA broke out in 1993 with the first Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC, mixed fighting styles and competitions have been around since 648 B.C., where it was introduced by the Greeks, then it was called pankration and was featured in the Olympic Games of that time. Historical documents show there have been similar styles of this in the 1800’s which have continued through the early 1900’s until now in our present day and, as I believe it will, far into the future.
Fighting styles of the past differ from MMA in that they were developed and created as ways of self-defense or to be utilized by soldiers in combat and war. Where as MMA of today is still a form of self-defense but it’s prominently used in sports entertainment and competition. Though, not very different now than in the past where fighters of various disciplines gathered to test their skills and techniques, the MMA today has established sets of rules for competitor safety and to help promote the sport.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC can be seen on many television stations and is featured as pay-per-view events regularly. It’s very safe to say that MMA has now become more popular today than any other fighting sport, especially since more people are willing to pay to watch it live or on television over wrestling or boxing.
There are many different weight classes currently being used by the UFC to promote fair competition, even more so now since the popularity of the sport has grown so much over the years. And now the number of competitors is far greater than ever before, with new men and women fighters coming into the sport everyday.
As stated before a fighter can win a MMA bout by a few different ways: either by scoring points with clean techniques, strikes, takedowns, and/or grappling on the floor to win by judges decision; by knocking their opponent out, or forcing them to submit by tapping out! If the ref stops a match due to one fighter not defending well or if they’re unable to fight back, that is known as a technical knockout or TKO. The ref of bout may deduct points from or even disqualify a fighter for illegal contact or a foul, especially if it was intentionally committed or a no contest for an unintentional foul.
The biggest difference in MMA over other sports like boxing or wrestling is the actual ring where the fighters compete. It’s built on a large octagon shaped platform surrounded by a padded metal frame wrapped in chain link fencing which forms a caged battle ground for those MMA warriors brave enough to venture through it’s only entry.
Fighters that enter this cage have to be equipped with the proper gear. They can only enter a match wearing approved tops (for women), shorts, shoes, and gloves. The most important, I feel being, the gloves must have at least one inch of padding around the knuckles and be approved, they also have what is called half fingers, unlike boxing gloves, so the fighter will be able to use his fingers and grab the opponent for grappling and takedowns, while reducing risk for finger injuries.
Everyone knows MMA is great to watch, but it can be just as much fun to compete or be involved in. It has many benefits to be gained through its proper use and training, which include weight loss, strength gain, and a great form of self-defense. So what are you waiting for, let’s uncage your MMA beast!