Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) emerged as a contemporary, legal sport that makes use of various martial art techniques and combating skills. The origins of MMA can be traced back to the time of Ancient Greek Olympics. As the world re-discovered the essence of martial arts in self-defense, MMA and other martial arts have been widely accepted as a form of entertainment as well. Today, MMA matches are organized around the world, and the fights are widely accepted by different cultures – especially in the US.
History / Origins
The term “Mixed Martial Art” is a derivative of the collocated words martial + arts. “Martial” originated from the Latin word “martialis” meaning war or warlike movements. The word “art” bears the meaning of expression or application of a skill, ability, and talent. Therefore, the term “Mixed Martial Art” means a combined expression or unified use of war skills and warlike movements.
MMA is not new in the martial art world. Believers and followers of MMA regard Ancient Greek Warriors as its founders. Ancient Greece held something similar to today’s MMA matches as a part of the early Olympics, where competitors performed the sport “Pankration”, meaning “all powers.”
May it be western or eastern, each territory has a martial art to call its own. The reason why martial arts are often associated with Asian countries is because preserving history and art, including fighting forms and combat skills, is a part of the Asian culture. The westerners, on the other hand, came up with different, modern ways of fighting which include the use of firearms and weapons.
The passing of time made the world re-discover the essence of martial arts, whether for self-defence or entertainment. The martial arts fame gave birth to the idea of mixed-style competitions. In 1920, Vale Tudo, a Brazilian mix of martial arts, sparked the locals’ interest. When Vale Tudo’s popularity grew, it became a famous attraction in carnivals and no Brazilian festival was complete without it. In 1993, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) founders brought MMA to the US. They organized underground mixed-style competitions and MMA enthusiasts intensely adapted the sport. It did not take a long time to for MMA to spread and become known around the globe.
Jeff Blatnick, a New Yorker and a Greco-Roman super heavyweight wrestler that later became a sports commentator, was given credit for giving Mixed Martial Arts its name. He worked with UFC and played a relevant role in making UFC recognized and regulated by athletic commissions.
In the beginning, MMA, received mixed reactions from different athletic institutions. Nevertheless, it eventually became a famous modern sport. MMA was named a legit sport with courtesy of Las Vegas based Zuffa LLC who took over the UFC company in 2001. UFC continues to be the biggest organizer of competitions among various MMA groups. UFC’s MMA is recognized by the majority of prestigious athletic institutions, such as the State Athletic Commissions in California, Nevada, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Several stories are being told about the spread of MMA and no one can say with certainty which of these are just urban legends. There is a story that says the spread of MMA was a courtesy of Alexander the Great, who, as a part of the strategy of strengthening his army, was fond of recruiting soldiers and warriors outside of his territory. The recruited warriors spread what they had learned in the army to their respective countries, while troops of Alexander the Great incorporated the combating skills they learned from the recruits.