Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) started out as exactly what it sounded like – different martial arts matched up against one another. Or mismatched, in some cases. It’s like the ancient arguments: who’d win out of a Judo player and a Karate practitioner? A Wrestler and a Kickboxer? An Astronaut and a Caveman?
What happened fairly quickly was it became obvious that there were certain skills everyone needed for MMA competition. One-dimensional fighters, who could only strike or only grapple, could be at a severe disadvantage. So the strikers had to learn a bit of grappling and the grapplers had to learn to hit. More importantly they had to learn to deal with one anothers’ styles.
A body of technique emerged over time that covered all the basics. This ‘generic MMA’ technique includes takedowns and submissions, strikes and kicks, and how to deal with the common methods used by most others. Different fighters and fight schools have their own take on the body of technique, and often augment the core techniques with aspects of their favoured systems.
Some schools are heavily influenced by Wrestling, Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, others by boxing, kickboxing or Muay Thai. Sometimes a more unusual style makes an appearance, which can cause an upset if nobody knows how to deal with it, but pretty soon counters are devised and pass into the common body of technique.
Thus to some extent Mixed Martial Arts has sort of become a style in its own right. At least, a lot of people think so. Guys regularly come into my classes and say they want to learn MMA. Not to compete, just to train. At another time they’d have wanted to learn Karate or Gung Fu, I guess. These days it’s MMA they want because that's what they're seeing on TV.
I wonder what’s next?