MMA Impact on Martial Arts

Revolutionary, Evolutionary or None of the Above?

MMA Revolution

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Did MMA revolutionize the martial arts world as some claim?

Anderson Silva MMA bout
MMA Bout
Some have claimed that MMA has revolutionized the martial arts world by creating a competitive form that is closest to a true violent situation as a method of stress testing one's skills. It is therefore the arbiter for who are the best martial artists.

Removing an intent to harm or kill, removing the possibility of multiple attackers or armed attackers, and having a referee oversee the event to assure participant safety and judge results are all far from a true violent conflict. MMA is a sport. It is closer to a karate tournament. It is true that in a karate tournament, rules forbid grappling. In a judo tournament, rules forbid striking. This is all really just a change in the rule set. But there is a long history of beginning to pare back all rules for training in each of those traditions to more closely approximate a real conflict. There is also a long tradition of martial artists challenging each other in a no holds barred scenario. Actually, this idea is not the means by which MMA has revolutionized martial arts at all.

The Real Deal

Real Conflict

Statue of Miyamoto Musashi Duel
Miyamoto Musashi Duel
The closest approximation to real conflict is warfare - or people from different styles and training methods getting together and actually trying to kill each other. This is the foundation upon which traditional martial arts were born. The lessons learned in these conflicts brought about profound realizations - fortunately one of which was to do as little as possible of what they were trained to do. These lessons were carried forth from teacher to student over generations and formed a lineage to maintain quality. MMA has never been tested in this manner, and the question is open as the extent to which the practitioners have embraced profound principles that lead to nonviolence.

What did MMA revolutionize?

Randy Couture & James Tonne
Randy Couture & James Tonne
The real revolution was in the use of television, Youtube and media to promote the competitions and turn it into a Western cultural phenomena. The focus is to create an illusion of realism with images of blood and injuries (which are real but not life threatening), and filming traditional martial artists failing on Youtube with click-bait titles. Every athlete knows that when you change sports, you must start all over as a beginner and take years to mastery. The same is true when you change rule sets in martial arts, which is exactly why a traditional martial artist is at a severe disadvantage when competing under MMA rules. Similarly, when MMA practitioners try defense against multiple attackers, they perform unusually poorly. Just imagine a professional football player defending himself in a hockey game against a stick. Arguments that MMA competition is the arbiter of who are the best martial artists is merely media hype, not in any way true.

But if you sever the roots of the traditional martial arts that reach back to the use of profound principles, does it lose its comprehensive effectiveness and value in life? All martial arts require training in both the physical technique and principle for comprehensive effectiveness. If the purpose of MMA is to redirect training to be purely technical, essentially about fighting alone and the principles are lost, the majority of benefits will be lost along with them. If, on the other hand, a different philosophy of similar efficiency has been substituted into the martial training, then the training has merely changed costumes. The only question remaining is what that philosophy is.

MMA Classes in Westchester, NY: Availability

As they say, they have more MMA classes in Westchester than Seven Eleven's. Inspection for quality and particularly for injury rates will be important. If one plans to train for lifetime benefits, evolutionary changes with age should be considered. But MMA classes may be found in BJJ, Gracie Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts gyms throughout White Plain, Yonkers and New Rochelle.