Martial Arts as a competitive sport are growing fast in popularity. In fact, there are MANY forms of competitive martial arts out there. However, that number of different martial arts are actually dwindling, as we now see a growing number of martial artists funneling into Mixed Martial Arts.
Now Mixed Martial Arts competition differs from all others, in that it does not consist of a specific discipline. There are highly RECOMMENDED styles that you take up, in order to perform optimally, but there is no specific discipline that is absolutely necessary to enter into Mixed Martial Arts. There are base skills that need to be covered in order to compete. Those skills are:
- Stand-up or Striking
- Ground Striking
- Submission Fighting
- Submission Defense
- Takedown Defense
- Ground Position Control
Often, fighters sum this up as “Stand-up Game” and “Ground Game.” They often use these terms interchangeably with Kickboxing and Brazilian Jujitsu. These terms, however, are not entirely accurate.
Kickboxing is often referred to as a martial art, and in some respects, it may be. However I personally consider it more of a competition sport than a martial art as it does not have a specific stem, or root. If you look at the best kickboxers out there, like Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and others, you will see that their skills originate in a traditional discipline like Kenpo (aka Kempo) Karate, Taekwondo, or Muai Thai. These each have their own sport versions of their martial arts, such as Taekwondo’s Kyolugi, Karate’s Kumite, and Thai Boxing. Practitioners of any of these arts can be considered Kick-boxers. Let’s break down each individual word. Kicking, and boxing. Boxing is primarily a western style of fist fighting. All of the above mentioned styles with their respective competitive martial arts incorporate kicks and punches into their fighting systems. Therefore, I would say that anyone who practices those sport styles, and truly understands them could be kickboxers. And you will often see these styles matched up as “Karate vs. Taekwondo!” or “Taekwondo vs. Muai Thai!” The styles themselves are, in the long run, irrelevant compared to the individual kick-boxer’s application of his own style. The style is the foundation, and it is up to each sport martial artist to make the techniques his own, and if he so chooses, to apply it against fighters in other disciplines.
Brazilian Jujitsu is a very specific discipline which has been WAY overgeneralized to mean grappling. Granted, many of the techniques that we see in MMA are also seen in BJJ, these techniques are also seen in other styles such as Japanese Jujitsu, Judo, Korean Hapkido and Yusul, or Western wrestling. Sometimes fighters use Jujitsu or BJJ as an overall blanket term to mean grappling. This is highly inaccurate, as many styles can contribute to grappling in sport martial arts.
One other aspect that sets Mixed Martial Arts apart from Traditional Martial Arts is… well… Tradition! These ancient martial arts stem from long traditions and cultures, with techniques being passed down from generations, from master to student, and so on over thousands of years. I see modern mixed martial arts competitions sorely lacking in these traditions of honor, integrity, humility, and etiquette. You’d be hard pressed to see one of these guys bow before a match.
Now, many mixed martial artists have no traditional roots or backgrounds, and have no idea of the rich culture of traditional martial arts that they have inherited by training in MMA.
It is my personal mission to bring tradition and culture back into MMA and sport martial arts, and to support all those Mixed Martial Artists with roots in traditional disciplines, like Jeff Joslin, Dan Hardy, Georges St. Pierre, Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and others.