MMA Where Does it Fall? Sport, Art, Style???

The worldwide practice of martial arts includes millions of people.  In the span of the last 500 years martial arts has evolved and on a micro-cosmic (micro-scopic) level several styles some have progresses more than others.  Over the past five centuries, some disciplines are growing faster than others offering new techniques that even give way to the emergence of new systems.  As a whole, all styles of martial arts are considered to share the active purpose of improving awareness, health and the confidence of its practitioners.  


04_titan_judo_spotlight 0017-thumb-200x144-13043.jpgStyles like Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Kung Fu have all carved a path for themselves here in the United States, being received with apprehension at first and then growing in popularity where they are accepted even in America's most conservative communities.  It is no surprise then that the mixed martial arts or MMA is following that same path.  Although its birth was back in 1980s, MMA is considered to be the fastest growing sport in America.  It is uncertain however, if the sport of MMA draws its practioners because they are looking for a prescription of personal growth, like most 'traditionalists.'  Or, if they are compelled to train in MMA because they love all its non-traditional components and the fact that is has few common denominators with styles like karate, tae kwon do, kook sul, kung fu, kendo, tai chi and wushu.  


But can we really compare MMA to its traditional ancestors any more?  We did say that it is the fastest growing sport in America, not art.  Tae Kwon Do is still one of the most practiced martial arts afterall.  Can sport and art be compared?  If we are comfortable interchanging sport and art, we can then encompass all martial derivatives into one category.  Therefore our next question should be, Should Mixed Martial Arts be considered its own Entity? Art? Style? Or it is now just another sport?

I believe that (under a loose definition),kickboxing, muay thai, savate, boxing, mixed martial arts, sambo, judo, Olympic style tae kwon do, full-contact karate are all cousins of sorts and under the umbrella of martial arts.  Despite that they are primarily competitive expressions of punches, kicks, strikes, throws and submissions, many do not rely on forms and stances for their students to become skilled, successful and to advance. This being said, I have asked a few members of the martial arts community their thoughts on the topic.

Yes, I do believe mixed martial arts could be considered it's own art.  It

would also be nice to recognize the styles that contribute the variety of

techniques.  I always enjoying learning the strengths of each individual

style.  It gives you a great appreciation for what they do.  Many schools

are moving away from advertising a particular style. You will now see more

schools listed as "Martial Arts" which is more inclusive of many styles.

When people ask me about certain styles I enjoy explaining the strengths of

each one.  I educate them on what things are most likely the same and what

things each art specializes in doing.  I believe they too enjoy the

education and can appreciate many arts.

Teri Lee

Sixth Degree Black Belt

Training for 26 years

Started in TKD with ATA in 1980 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

1st Degree (6 years) in Japanese Style with Mahato Karate Association in Hot

Springs, Arkansas.

West Coast Martial Arts with KJN Ernie Reyes Sr. since 1987 (2nd, 3rd, 4th,

5th and 6th Degree)

shapeimage_2_000-thumb-227x291-13045.jpgI think that MMA can be considered it's own art or system. I think that as the sport has evolved we are finding that it is necessary for participants to be well versed in all aspects of unarmed combat. This was not always the case with arts such as Wushu, Judo or Karate. As much as these classical styles have claimed to be complete systems, MMA has uncovered the holes in many styles. Bruce Lee once said, "Let what works be the test for what is right." MMA continues to demonstrate which techniques actually work in most cases.

Alberto Lopez

Shotokan Karate

3rd Dan

19 years

Alberto Lopez Photography

"Just by virtue of the name "Mixed Martial Arts," the first question you should ask automatically is, "What's the mix?" I respect the title "Mixed Martial Arts," but I, personally, always like to know what the fighter's history is so I can get a feel for what I might be expecting when he or she goes into the ring.

So, bottom line, I don't think it should be it's own art, but simply a title given to those who have explored multiple disciplines. Really, "mixed martial arts" as an "art" would cause a lot of confusion since the combinations are INFINITE as to what that even means. One fighter could be TKD, HKD and Brazilian Ju Jitsu while the other could be CLF, Sanshou and Judo. If you say that each one of those guys comes from the art of "Mixed Martial Arts," what the heck does that mean? Does it mean they prefer ground, footwork or open fist?

Shortly after calling it an art, you'll branch out into other "Arts" with guys saying they are grandmasters and then the comedy begins.....

Last comment. If you notice when watching MMA, the announcers say that the fighters are Mixed Martial Artists but they always end up talking specifically about the fighter's background since MMA is a poor descriptor of their true disciplines and tell nothing of their strategies.

Jimmy Westberg

TKD Black Belt

non-practicing, Big Time Martial Arts Enthusiast

Avid Student of the Martial Art

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