Mixed Martial Arts, as the name suggests, is the combination of various martial art techniques and fighting styles utilized in a full contact combative sport. Mixed Martial Arts competitions see fighters with different martial art backgrounds compete against each other with the rules allowing for both striking and grappling moves. Mixed Martial Arts as it exists today gained international recognition after the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. One early objective of Mixed Martial Arts was to assess which martial arts were the most useful in real fight situations.
Mixed Martial Arts has its roots in mixed style contests that were popular around South East Asia in the 1900s. In these events, different fighting styles would be pitted against each other for entertainment, for example, a boxer versus a karateka. This phenomenon gained further popularity because of two brothers named Carlos and Helio Gracie. Living in Brazil, the brothers adapted Judo in their own style and then took out newspaper ads that challenged all comers to attempt to defeat them in combat. This led to practitioners of different martial arts from all over the world flying to Rio de Janiero to take up the 'Gracie Challenge'. The challengers often felt they were representing the integrity of their pure martial arts. When the family moved to the USA a generation later, they continued the tradition, with Helio's son, Rorion Gracie, reviving the 'Gracie Challenge' in California. Due to Rorion's hard work promoting his families' mixed martial art form in the US, the UFC was eventually founded in 1993. The UFC is a Mixed Martial Arts competition. Initially, UFC's reputation as a 'no-holds-barred' sport and it's lack of rules hindered it's progress. After eventually amending the rules to ensure fair competition and toning down the ultra-violence marketing approach, UFC finally brought Mixed Martial Arts to the edge of the mainstream with pay-per-view events generating significant interest globally.
The combination of various martial art disciplines has led to an interesting hybrid of styles. As Mixed Martial Arts has become more popular and more fighters have taken up the sport, certain styles and techniques have proved to be more effective than others. The Wikipedia article on Mixed Martial Arts states the following martial arts are popular and used in combat regularly:
The combination of the different skill sets utilized within these martial arts has led to some now established hybrid styles:
Fighters are only permitted to wear shorts, much in the style of a boxer as traditional martial arts uniforms are considered unsuitable in competitive fights. Small, open-fingered gloves are also permitted in competitive fights. For training purposes, students will often wear protective equipment such as shin and forearm guards, head guards and other protective clothing to avoid injury.
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The popularity of Mixed Martial Arts is in large due to the promotion of the sport by the Ultimate Fighting Championship company. The UFC hosts Mixed Martial Arts tournaments all over the world and has five weight divisions. The competition is taken very seriously and UFC has a global audience. Fights take place within an eight-sided cage known as 'The Octagon'.
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