What is MMA? – Is it Just Cage Fighting?

When the world needs something new, there are many who rise to the challenge and answer with ideas. Not all ideas are turned into reality, as we have come to know. There are great ideas all the time, all over the world, but not all, if any of them, are turned into reality. 

Fighting was a real thing in the 1970s and 1980s and the world wanted something more out of martial arts, something which was not a by-the-books tournament in Karate or Aikido. In the 1990s, MMA rose to the scene to help people with what they wanted, something that accommodated all martial arts and allowed fighters of all styles to express themselves.

But, is MMA just a way to compete, or is there something more to it than cage matches and Ultimate Fighting?

Let us take a look at the history of mixed martial arts.

MMA – It’s Much Older Than the 90s

We all like to think that we have invented something, but combining martial arts styles is a really old tradition that dates back to Ancient Greece and the Pankration, a type of fighting used at the traditional Olympics. It also dates even further back in history, to ancient China, and 2000+ years BCE, a form of fighting called lei tai. 

It was much more brutal than today’s MMA, with weapons and fights to the death. However, throughout history, we saw many variations of what we know as MMA today. From bartitsu to catch wrestling, vale tudo to Hong-Kong rooftop street fights, there were plenty of stops until we arrived at MMA.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship – The Breakthrough of MMA

The 1990s were a strange time indeed, music became simpler and the UFC was created. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded in 1993 by Art Davie, John Milius and Rorion Gracie, as a tournament which was supposed to be a one-time-only mixed martial art tournament, to make money and dominate pay-per-view TV.

The UFC 1, or the first UFC, was so successful that there were multiple UFC events every single year since then. It struggled during the early 2000s, but the athletes that competed and the media attention that the UFC got, propelled mixed martial arts to what we know today, a sport where almost anything is allowed and where brutal knockdowns are common.

Is it Just a Cage Match, Then?

Mixed martial arts by themselves are a full contact sport where anything from punches, kicks, grapples, wrestling, ground fighting is possible and allowed. As far as what you combine as a practitioner, it is up to you. MMA is popular today, as a way to learn how to fight and defend oneself, and as a profession.

There are tiers of MMA tournaments, from local to international, the UFC being the most popular and with the most money on the line. MMA can be practiced as a sport and way of fighting, as a way to exercise, or to compete in amateur and professional leagues. However, being a full contact sport, it is much more rigorous than kyokushin karate and on the same level as muay thai.

MMA stands for mixed martial arts and is a combination of martial arts and traditional sports such as boxing and kickboxing, as well as wrestling. It can be trained as a competitive sport, or for self defence, or as a way of exercising.