Mixed martial arts, called MMA, is a full contact combat sport. It is sometimes known as cage fighting or ultimate fighting. It has grown out of a number of different combat sports, most of them dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years. In the West, Greco-Roman wrestling and boxing were the best known forms of unarmed combat. In the East, a number of different kinds of unarmed combat were developed by soldiers so that they could protect themselves in the event they lost their weapons in the heat of battle. Among these were ju-jitsu, judo, karate and kung fu. Round about the 18th century in Europe, boxing and wrestling were at a high point. People began to wonder which of the two of these were the supreme forms of combat. They began to arrange matches between boxers and wrestlers. At first the wrestlers took some nasty hits and the boxers had the upper hand. This was until the wrestlers managed to grapple and then the tables were turned. Towards the end of that century, the Eastern forms of martial arts became known in the West. Now the competitions began to get really interesting! However it was not long before proponents of each form of martial arts realised the wisdom of getting to know something about their opponents’ style of fighting in order to counter them with their own strategies. This was the birth of true Mixed Martial Arts. In Brazil ‘vale tudo’ and in Japan ‘shooto’ were the forerunners of MMA. Some of the contributing martial arts were: Boxing required fighters to be fast and light on their feet. The fighters had to be extremely fit and to know how to hit hard where they aimed. Timing and correct anticipation was everything. Wrestling needed weight, brute strength, and powerful holds and grapples. The wrestlers’ muscles were trained until their powerful grip was virtually unbreakable. Speed and agility were minor issues. Ju-jitsu, the Japanese martial art experienced huge popularity in the Pacific Rim, especially Brazil. It used the application of joint-locks and chokeholds similar to those in judo, but was basically a ground fighting grappling type of martial art. The famous family of Grazie took the sport to the United States, and even today their family name is synonomous with martial arts and MMA. Judo, the gentle unarmed combat, was intended purely for self defence. It brought with it to MMA an exquisite sense of balance and timing as well as grappling techniques that were able to render powerful men completely helpless. Karate from Japan was developed almost as a philosophy of supreme self control together with lightning fast, deadly strikes and kicks. It was probably the main originator of kick boxing, a vital part of today’s MMA. Kung fu was a Chinese family of training and martial arts. It could also refer to any dedicated training and hard work and was not necessarily restricted to martial arts. Wushu concentrated on martial arts. The rationale of long, hard mma training, dedication and acquiring of skills is probably the main contributor to MMA. It is believed to date back more than 4,000 years.
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