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In this article, I would like to examine mix martial arts styles and the role traditional martial arts plays. With the emergence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the drastic rise in MMA’s popularity has caused a lack of traditional martial arts practitioners to compete in
mainstream fight tournaments. Mixed martial arts mainly comprise of three disciplines: Muay Thai, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One might ask where are the traditional martial arts (Karate, Taekwondo, and Kung Fu)? Are these combative sports inferior to their MMA counterparts? Is It supported to be a mixture of disciplines, after all, RIGHT?Â Traditional Martial Arts vs MMA
Contrary to popular belief traditional martial arts are still held in high regard among many of the greats. In fact, if we were to take a look at two of the most respected fighters in the history of MMA, Georges St-Pierre, and Anderson Silva, we would see that both of them found their grounding in traditional martial arts long before their foray into MMA. Georges St-Pierre is a 3rd-degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate while Anderson Silva has practiced virtually every martial art under the sun.
Traditional martial arts are proving to be more effective as time goes by. As the sport of mix martial arts styles is evolving, we are starting to see a new generation of young fighters, many of which do not have a grounding in traditional disciplines. It is becoming a more common occurrence to see a knockout at the hand of a traditional martial artist not even Randy Couture’s chin could survive a Shotokan Karate crane kick from Lyoto Machida in UFC 129.
The reason being, the new wave of practitioners are simply not prepared for such techniques, which makes me wonder if we are going to see a steady shift in disciplines over the next few years. Maybe the current MMA standard is not quite as polished as people may think, and maybe the return of the Japanese and Chinese disciples that gave birth to the sport of MMA in the first place is just upon the horizon.
One of the most common criticisms of the training regimes of traditional martial arts is the lack of focus on full contact sparring. Many MMA fighters claim that this where training in combat sports like Taekwondo and Karate flows. It is true, there may not be much emphasis on the full contact aspect of fighting; however, other aspects of preparation are accounted for that are not present in MMA training, such as the kata in karate.
One distinct feature of traditional martial arts that cannot be denied is the complete control a fighter has over their body. Many MMA fighter is brawlers and in a combat situation, their technique is flawed to make amends for the actions of their opponent. A lot of MMA fighters claim that in a real fight situation technique gets thrown out the window and a fighter must do whatever they can to the distance. If this was the case then SEALS Team 6 would not have rehearsed over and over and over again to ensure they known ever detail before their raid on Osama bin Laden compound (read No Easy Day, by Mark Owen)
Their point does not defy the point of training in a particular style? Is not this where the beauty and excitement of MMA came from in the first place?? Let us not forget the original idea behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship was to find the most effective martial art in a real fighting situation. Although there is a strict set of rules in most traditional martial arts tournaments, it is more likely to see a traditional martial artist execute a particular move with perfect style and grace than an MMA fighter.
One of the main reasons behind this is due to the lack of emphasis on full-contact fighting and the fact that technology is such an important aspect of training. To be promoted in many traditional martial arts fighters must learn patterns called katas. These patterns teach muscle memory and technique, which is a crucial element of self-defense and is simply a different philosophy of training.
K1 fighters tend to have the best stand-up technique out of any promotion (note the emphasis on the word technique!) Here we see an abundance of martial artists from all types of backgrounds, often performing tornado kicks, hook kicks, and other aerial techniques that are rarely performed in the UFC. When Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champ) was fighting in the Pride promotion we saw him get submitted by Ryo Chonan after being taken down by a flying scissor lock.
This was a huge surprise to the world of mixed martial arts, as most practitioners thought that the execution of these types of traditional martial are moves was near enough impossible, especially against a veteran fighter like Anderson Silva. Ryo Chonan has a history in Kyokushin Kaikan Karate. He has spent years developing his craft, practicing specific moves to perfection. Sure, he is flawed in other aspects and does not have the most impressive record, however, he was able to spot a flaw in Anderson Silva’s fighting style and use the techniques of Karate to his advantage.
Let us take a look at some of the UFC’s current rising stars. John Makdessi is a Canadian mixed martial artist, and his particular style, which is a hybrid of karate and Taekwondo. He has built a name for himself by performing, and effectively pulling off a vast selection of impressive kicks and traditional techniques. And there is also a YouTube sensation Anthony Pettis, Who has managed to successfully execute techniques from Capoeira, which is a Brazilian form of martial arts. Pattis also stunned the crowds in WEC 52 when he leaped off the cage and kicked Benson Henderson in the face delivering what has gone down in history as the Show Time kick. Could these rising young stars begin to shape the new era of MMA?
Mixed martial arts is a spectator sport and successful techniques from traditional styles seem to get far more attention and appreciation than many MMA techniques. So maybe that is where the future lies. However, at least, traditional martial arts have proved one thing which is regardless of how many practitioners there are in commercial completions, they are certainly here to stay.