The Sensation Called Mixed Martial Arts
The Sensational MMA
The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is a fairly new sensation in most nations.
Although MMA can be traced to the Vale Tudo tournaments transpiring in Brazil since the 1920s and 1930s, some have claimed that the actual roots are more presumably the ancient Greek competitions and the sport of Pancrase.
Whatever the roots may be, MMA has a long past and its popularity has increased exponentially in the USA and other Western nations in the past 10–15 years.
Though cloaked in debate, it seems MMA is here to stay. Those involved in combat sports need to understand the past and regulations of MMA to comprehend the sport and help avert injury.
Background Of Mixed Martial Arts
Although Pancrase was a sport in the ancient Greek competitions that mixed wrestling & boxing and appears identical to MMA, the current account of the sport is traced to the country of Brazil and especially the Gracie family. The story of the start of MMA in the USA, a birth that extended to other nations like Japan, Canada, and numerous countries in Western Europe, is a tale of the dawn of a recent martial art called Brazilian or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The name Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ was given to this martial art to distinguish it from the classic art of Japanese Jiu Jitsu from which it started.
Back To No-Holds-Barred
BJJ started with the immigration of a highly trained Judo (jiu-jitsu) fighter named Mitsuo Maeda from Japan. At the onset of the 1900s, Japan was trying to create a settlement in the land of Brazil and Count Komo (Mitsuo Maeda) immigrated there to advance the work of the Japanese. Komo was a skilled Judōka and fighter in no-holds-barred matches who had trained under the teaching of the renowned Jigoro Kano, the creator of modern Judo.
During Komo’s stay in Brazil, the Japanese settlement was helped by a Brazilian politician of Scottish ancestry named Gaston Gracie. As a way of thanking Gracie for supporting the settlement, Komo started mentoring Gracie’s sons in learning jiu-jitsu even though instructing the art to non-Japanese was prohibited at that period. Komo continued training Gracie’s sons for a few years and then returned to Japan, allowing them to alter the art.
Of Gracie’s sons, the most prominent were Carlos, the athletic elder brother, and younger Helio, a weak and little child. Carlos started altering the art to make it as applicable as possible to the rugged streets of Brazil. In the start, Helio Gracie had problems with the techniques due to his small size. To make up for his size he trained in various leverage points to maximize the effectiveness of a skill permitting even a very small individual to perform it and beat a much more powerful adversary. Through Helio’s originality and steady training, BJJ evolved into a very useful and effective art that permitted a smaller competitor to conquer a bigger one.
Helio Gracie Represents
As Helio Gracie entered his athletic peak he and Carlos tried to promote their art by presenting a challenge that any dude of any size could solicit a match to fight. These contests were dubbed “Vale Tudo”, which denotes “anything goes” in Portuguese, the aboriginal lingo of Brazil. Helio fought numerous times in these first “no-holds-barred” fights and his stardom started to flare across Brazil. Helio Gracie would fight anyone for many years in Brazil, even contesting the renowned US heavyweight boxer Joe Louis to a contest (Louis refused). Over the following half-century, the name Gracie and the art of jiu-jitsu that the family created were esteemed throughout the nation of Brazil.
The Gracies Choose Young Royce
During the early 1990s, Rorian Gracie, one of the sons of Helio, assisted in creating a new outfit called the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or as most know it, the UFC. The UFC was Rorian Gracie’s chance of demonstrating in the USA the strength of the art that his father had evolved. In 1993, the foremost UFC competition was held in Denver, Colorado. It was advertised as a no-holds-barred bloodsport with no consequence to weight classes, no duration, and few restrictions. The first UFC was fought in a tournament-style setup in which the victor would continue to compete until he bested the bracket, three matches in one evening. Rorian and the Gracie family chose younger brother Royce Gracie to represent the family in this foremost UFC.
Although Royce Gracie weighed about 175 lb or 80 kg, he conquered all contenders by tapping out. The challenger signaled their wish to terminate the competition by tapping the mat even though Royce was outweighed in every match, occasionally by as much as 60 lb or 27 kg. This first tournament generated three significant incidents in the world of martial arts.
- It propelled the Gracie family’s reputation & name into the fighting industry in the USA and presented their art, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to American fight lovers.
- It proved the usefulness of grappling techniques and the significance for a fighter to know how to fight on the ground. Until that time many fighters concentrated exclusively on striking and the striking arts such as boxing, karate, and taekwondo.
- It forged a new phrase “ultimate fighting” that finally evolved into the present sport of mixed martial arts.
Initial UFC Haters
Over the following decade, the UFC and the sport of MMA moved through tough spells as they encountered mounting objections from combat sports controllers and the general media. Senator John McCain lead the onslaught to prohibit the new sport, dubbing it “human cock fighting” and when no genuine sports authority approved the fighting events, the sport was compelled to endure underground due to a scarcity of funding and intimidation from the government.
Zuffa Does UFC Justice
In 2001, a group called Zuffa purchased the ownership of the UFC and started collaborating with both the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board and the Nevada State Athletic Commission to establish a set body of regulations so that the sport could be an authorized event in those states. Presently, the UFC is the biggest MMA promotion outfit in the world since 2011. It delivers events worldwide in 12 weight divisions and follows the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Its pay-per-view ratings crown even well-promoted boxing fights. In the USA, MMA is surging in popularity with its cable television show and a marketing storm by Zuffa and its partners. The sport of MMA is currently the fastest-growing combat sport on the globe.