Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Rise of Mixed Martial Arts

Today we have a guest post by Virginia Cunningham on the rise of Mixed Martial Arts over the past ten years. Enjoy.
The Rise of MMA In The Past 10 Years

Beginning with the influence of Bruce Lee and the early brutality of the Gracies’ version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts (MMA) has come a long way in the United States.

 It has become both a valued spectator sport and an athletic phenomenon, giving rise to a variety of training methodologies and reshaping the way that many of us characterize “being in shape” or exercising.
 A Little History

They established rules and guidelines for fights and obtained a Nevada Athletic Commission Sanctioning that eventually put the sport back on pay per view and in front of the public eye.

Under the Gracies family no-holds-barred style of fighting, the UFC was just far too brutal for television. While popular, it wasn’t sustainable until Zuffa took over and made it more of an athletic event than a drummed up violence expo.

This was the beginning of MMA’s rise to popularity, particularly in the United States, as it would eventually eclipse the revenue earnings of both professional boxing and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2006.

The Ultimate Fighter reality show that aired on Spike in 2005 was undoubtedly a large piece of that financial puzzle.

It was the type of fighting that 80’s and 90’s kids had always wanted -- exciting, real and far different from the boxing matches their dad’s and granddad’s used to watch.

The Appeal

Not only does the UFC attract a strong male fan base, but with a recent increase in the number of female fighters participating, women are becoming increasingly interested in the sport, increasing its popularity all the more.

In addition to MMA being just plain fun to watch, a lot of the appeal of the sport in recent years has come from the effect that it has had on our exercise routines.

Particularly with women becoming more and more interested in fitness and contact sports, the MMA training programs have found their way into many of our own gyms, fitness classes, exercise programs and even blogs.

In simple terms, MMA training focuses on multiple muscle groups, functional movements and high intensity training, which combine both strength training and cardio, as opposed to separating the two.

So now, instead of just trying to burn calories and build mass, this type of training allows us to engage in a kind of “hybrid” of the two, that many believe is a far more effective way to exercise.

Add this to the fan base that certain fighters have amassed, the fierce and vocal rivalries between popular combatants of both genders, and you’ve got yourself one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
The Connection

What might be an even more powerful draw of the sport, is if you consider the combination of the influence on how we exercise and the fascination of the sport itself.

Let’s be honest -- we all want to be able to fight and defend ourselves. Somehow that makes all of the mundane tasks of our daily lives a little more acceptable. Sure, we might be comfortable working a desk job, but we still want to be able to throw down if we have to. It’s possible that MMA has given us a powerful illustration of that and allows us to tap into a bit of our own inner strength.

That, and it’s a great excuse to get together and eat wings.

Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer and health enthusiast in the Los Angeles area. Writing for NorthWest has allowed her to not only share her knowledge of personal health and fitness, but she has also been able to explore new options for her fitness routines, including mixed martial arts.


Women in Martial Arts said...

Good guest article. My wife has a moderate interest in martial arts, though it is more focused on the Traditional aspects of training, rather than the octagon.

Now if I can just get back in the dojo!


Rick Matz said...

It's all good!

Paul said...

Interesting article. And interesting enough, imposition of some illegal moves serves to protect the athletes and make the sports more interesting e.g. head butt (which was legal in early UFC/Gracie days) may end a game quicker and is more "real-life", but makes the game less interesting as a spectator sports. An example from wrestling: single or double leg takedowns are legal in free-style wrestling. But that makes free-style wrestling less interesting as a spectator sport than Greco-Roman wrestling where more "spectacular" take-downs are needed.

In HK, amateur Muay Thai and MMA are getting more and more popular. Again imposing more illegal moves over and above the professional league is important. More protective gears are also essential. Accountants, lawyers, business executives etc don't want themselves to get brain damage. They never dream to actually fight in the Octagon anyway. But some do want to have a good workout and enjoy the feeling of a warrior - and a cultured way to channel our inner aggressiveness or killer instinct.

Rick Matz said...

Good observation.

Anonymous said...

Just want to point out a couple of things.

Virginia: The New Jersey State Athletic Commission sanctioned MMA before the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and the NJSAC was instrumental in helping to develop the Unified Rules. Just wanted to clarify that as giving the NSAC that much credit, as if it's because of them that the UFC got back on Pay-Per-View, is inaccurate as that credit really belongs to the NJSAC, which sanctioned UFC 30 (the first Zuffa event and the first UFC since UFC 22 to be released on home video), UFC 31 (the first Zuffa event with the full Unified Rules and the first post-Dark Ages event seen live on PPV), and UFC 32. UFC 33 is when the NSAC finally got on board, but Zuffa was already off and running.

Paul: When it comes to headbutts, I don't think they make MMA "less interesting," as Ken Shamrock and Mark Coleman both made pretty good use of them when they were in people's guards in the early days, but at the same time, to say that they "may end a game quicker" is to overestimate the effectiveness of the technique, which was treated a lot like the crossface or the shoulder shrug, i.e., just an extra technique to frustrate your opponent while trying to create enough space to do some real damage with punches or elbows.

I also think it's highly subjective whether one finds freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling more "interesting" rather than being a simple matter of rules.

Paul said...

Headbutts are prohibited in most contact sports because they are considered dangerous, which among other things can end a fight "prematurely".

Preference is one's subjective choice, yet it is marketers (or educators' etc) responsibility to find underlying reasons for such subjective choice and make decisions accordingly. Promoters of professional wrestling always make the choice of staging more spectacular throws instead of the more "realistic" move of "pulling legs".