Hybrid martial arts is a style of fighting that uses multiple disciplines instead of one. It mixes different techniques and forms one powerful system that works for the practitioner. There are different forms of hybrid martial arts, but they all have one philosophy: martial arts should foster free expression. Students are encouraged to be flexible and self-aware. The style one practices should be borne out of the study and experiences one has had with different forms of martial arts. Hybrid martial arts is often linked with mixed martial arts, but they are different. Mixed martial arts combines multiple styles. Hybrid martial arts combines aspects within the various disciplines and gives them a different interpretation.
History / Origins
Hybrid martial arts is a term that is used to describe the mixing of styles and traditions. Hybrid fighting systems incorporate different techniques and theories. It is sometimes referred to as “freestyle fighting” or “mixed martial arts.”
The idea of mixing or hybridizing martial arts can be traced back to the 19th century, when Asian traditions became popular outside of Asia. The concept of hybridization took off in the 1960s and 1970s with the development of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee. Jeet Kune Do used aspects of Wing Chun, Boxing, Fencing and other movements that Lee found effective. Besides Bruce Lee, other figures have been credited with the creation and development of hybrid martial arts:
- Yoseikan Budo, developed by Minori Mochizuki in 1931. Mochizuki fused techniques from other martial arts and encouraged students to learn other fighting techniques.
- Zen Do Kai, developed by Bob Jones and Richard Norton in 1970. It has heavy influences of Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo
In recent times, others have emerged as developers of new Hybrid styles. Although many well-known styles like Jeet Kune Do are still practiced, hybrid martial arts has managed to do what it was meant to do: evolve. The evolution of different forms is tied with the willingness of a practitioner to delve into other martial art forms, to defy limits and find a form that gives the best expression to what the body is capable of achieving. One martial artist credited with advancing the ideals of hybrid martial arts is Fred Degerberg, a former student of Robert Beal, who created Bushido in the 1970s. Degerberg’s commitment has spanned decades and, with him, the mastering of styles, including Kali, Eskrima, Ninjutsu, Arnis, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Savate, Aikido, Wrestling, Judo, Jeet Kune Do, full-contact Karate, Bando, etc. He is also an expert in weapons such as swords, nunchakus, balisongs, axes, shuriekens, sticks, whips, batons and chains. Due to the versatility of hybrid martial arts, many instructors become fight-sequence advisors in movies and television.
One of the earliest forms of Hybrid martial arts is Choy Li Fut founded by Chan Heung of China in 1836. Heung received instructions from different masters, notably Buddhist monk Choy Fook who was one of the few people taught Shaolin Kungfu, which was passed down by one of the few remaining monks who survived the destruction of the Shaolin temple during the Qing Dynasty. The Fut in Choy Li Fut relates to Buddhism and the Shaolin temple’s way of life.
Other examples of early hybrid martial arts:
- In 1898 Edward William Barton-Wright, a railway engineer, incorporated elements from martial arts he had studied (Jujutsu, Boxing, Savate and Fencing) into a new form of fighting he named “Bartitsu.”
- Gichin Funakoshi created Shotokan Karate in 1936 by fusing the best elements of two popular Karate styles: Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū.
- Minoru Mochizuki created Yoseikan Budo in 1931 by fusing elements of Kobudo, Judo, AikiJujitsu and Jujutsu. Budo encouraged students to find their own sense of truth by learning different techniques and philosophies. This would later tie in with Jeet Kune Do, believing that a good martial artist does not give in to the limitations of one style, but is free to use whatever works best.