Attempting to explain MMA to a non-fan is nothing short of a brief lesson in quantum physics. MMA is a uniquely dynamic sport, as while definitions of more traditional sports such as basketball, or football remain consistent everywhere in the world, with universally recognized ‘standard rules’, the term ‘martial art’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There are thousands of martial arts practiced in the world today, ranging from Olympic level competitions such as Judo from Japan or Wrestling from Ancient Greece, to more crude, so called ‘rough’ styles such as Filipino Dirty Boxing. What makes MMA unique is that every single martial art, which can be practiced independently, is brought together into a single competition. For example, Boxing, Karate, Taekwondo, and Freestyle Wrestling are all sports in their own right, there are tournaments, and promotions for each one of these around the world, but in MMA, all of these arts can be exercised simultaneously. So an environment is created where a world champion kickboxer can compete against an Olympic wrestler, or a Karate black belt can go up against a Kung Fu master. It’s these incredible and unique matchup’s that make MMA such an eclectic and exciting sport to follow.
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What is the History of MMA?
The history of MMA is another story altogether, unlike sports like Cricket or Tennis which have been around for centuries, MMA is just over a couple of decades old. Strangely enough, many of the sports that can be used in MMA, such as Kung Fu, or Tai Chi, have ancient roots and have been practiced for unfathomable amounts of time, compared to these, MMA is in its mere infancy. The birthplace of MMA was the inaugural ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship’ which was a tournament held in Colorado in 1993. The aim of the tournament was to establish what the greatest martial art of all was. So, the organizers invited various experts of their crafts, and put together a one night tournament with 8 participants, each representing a different martial art. And at the end of the night, the competitor who remained standing would be crowned the ‘Ultimate Fighter’. The tournament encompassed fighters of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and styles, including Dutch kickboxing champion Gerard Gordeau, and legendary shoot fighter Ken Shamrock. However, at the end of the night the unthinkable happened, in a sea of large, tough men, a 6 foot man with a slight frame named ‘Royce Gracie’ had won the tournament by utilizing his family’s proprietary martial art, ‘Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’. Thus, Mixed Martial Arts was born.
Why is MMA Different from Other Sports?
There is one final point which makes MMA the most unique sport of them all, and perhaps, it’s the greatest example of why it sits in a different league than any other athletic contest. This is the fact that it is an individual sport, not a team one, and that competitors get plenty of time to allow their personalities to shine through. There are press conferences before and after every event, allowing the fighters to voice their opinions, and project their personalities for the general public to see, this allows fans to form a far more personal connection to an athlete than in any other sport. These competitors are constantly in the spotlight, allowing fans to gain an affinity, or aversion to a certain individual, leading to deeper emotional investment when that particular fighters contest rolls around.
All in all, hopefully this piece has changed your preconceptions about my favorite sport. I would implore everyone to give MMA a shot, while it certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, there is a good chance that your opinion of it will be changed if it hasn’t already, and you may even begin to appreciate it in a certain light. If nothing else, should one try to watch MMA for the first time, they will surely experience something different, which cannot be attained in any other way.