From the Mind of Babalu #5… The Martial Arts in Mixed Martial Arts
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Over the past week or so I have been having a unique discussion with a traditional martial artists. When I say Traditional or TMA I mean Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Ninjistu etc… all the arts that are very form intensive. I am not here to say my martial art is better than anybody else’s martial art. I’m not the type of person to bash on the choice anyone decides to make regarding their self defense practices, but its human nature for you to side with the art that you practice and believe in. For me its human nature to side with an art, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, that I have a passion for, that I teach, and have seen it used effectively in and out of the ring or cage. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not just a martial art to me, its a lifestyle.
This discussion that I spoke of earlier was about the evolution of MMA which in his opinion strikers were taking over the sport of MMA and the use of TMAs inside the cage were going to be at the forefront of this evolution. With the recent events of Anderson Silva knocking out Vitor Belfort and more recently Lyoto Machida knocking out Randy Couture with simple front push or snap kicks every single TMA enthusiast wet their pants just alittle on those nights with excitement. Lets face it to be a successful professional Mixed Martial Artists their are 4 main components that you have train on a regular basis. In no particular order, your stand up art either kickboxing or Muay Thai mixing in boxing as well, your Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and of course strength and conditioning. Some fighters may even find a use for some techniques from other TMAs and mix those in as well, thats why its called Mixed Martial Arts! They use whatever will help them win the fight. With that being said, all the arts mentioned above as your main components are the arts that have been proven to be effective in the cage or the ring in the sport of MMA.
To take it just a little further about the opinion that strikers are taking over MMA, being a great striker is all well and good and needed to be successful but its far from the only art needed. Even with the success of Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Boxing in MMA if that is all you are then you are looking at a very short career in MMA. Someone who steps inside the cage with high level striking and little to no wrestling or BJJ knowledge cannot succeed even at the lower levels of MMA. Yes they may be able to catch someone with a kick or punch and end the fight but that is highly unlikely. Just take a look at James Toney vs. Randy Couture. Now on the flip side a strong grappler with little knowledge of stand up skills can still be very successful. Just look at Jake Shields, the guy is a very elite grappler with great wrestling and great BJJ and he came into the fight with GSP on a 15 fight winning streak. With that being said every fighter has a base in some art. Every successful fighter has an art in particular that they do better than the other arts. Some are better at kickboxing versus grappling and vice versa, but to be complete you have train them all and continue to try to improve in all of them.
Another area of discussion that I had with the TMA guy was the use of Traditional Martial Arts inside the cage/ring. I am not saying that these arts aren’t relevant, all I’m saying is these arts have yet to be proven base art for a successful MMA fighter except Lyoto Machida. Who is a black belt in a type of Shotokan karate that is combat based. What you haven’t seen at a high level of Mixed Martial Arts is a fighter whose base is primarily Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Ninjitsu, and the list could go and on. Forget the high level even on the local level you will not see this. Why? Because it has not been proven effective inside the cage. It may have been proven effective on the street or with various police agencies but minus those 2 kicks that got the TMAers pants wet, in the cage it is absent. For example I’m a BJJ guy, if I was to prepare for an MMA fight I would work hard on my base art with my instructor, then my instructor would probably say why don’t you go to this guy over here who has a great knowledge of boxing and kickboxing to work on your standup to help you get ready. There is no way humanly possible that my instructor will ever tell me to go around the corner to this local Kung Fu or Tai Chi school to work on my stand up. Those words will never come out of his mouth…. Again why?? Because as a whole they have not been shown to be effective in MMA. Like I stated before, you may stumble across some techniques that can be used effectively in MMA from the TMAs, but using most of them as your base art to fight MMA is not wise in my opinion.
I will end this by saying that all martial arts have their place. The respect, discipline, honor, camaraderie, self defense, and life skills that it teaches us and our younger generation on a regular basis is irreplaceable. I’m not a basher of the Traditional Martial Arts at all, just from what I have experienced in MMA as a sport I am a realist. Realistically until these arts are proven in the cage/ring as a whole, people interested in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts will always look at the arts successful and proven in the cage/ring for training avenues to better themselves for the sport. Let me know what you think… give me some opinions I would love to hear them.