Martial Arts in the 21st Century and their Evolution
by, 03-10-2010 at 10:47 PM (609 Views)
Martial Arts have evolved since their inception, which some would argue their origin. Regardless of this fact, Martial Arts have seen a variety of changes in the last ten years. With the intensifying magisteria of MMA, there seems to be no room for the traditional – unless we're speaking of children, then the traditional is the only way to go. But, this is an egregious circumstance on the view of traditional martial arts. Does their classification of "traditional" invalidate them? Here we shall look at the Mixed Martial Arts world and the "Traditional" martial arts world and compare the two.
Mixed martial arts, popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), have taken the combat sports world by storm. With such famous practitioners such as; Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Frank Mir, BJ Penn, and Brock Lesnar, MMA has been a phenomenal marketing machine for Martial Arts. However, with such zeal, many have "poisoned the well." As with anything popular, there are people looking to make a profit off of MMA; they can misrepresent the art – teaching people incorrect techniques and leaving out details. This is dangerous if anyone ever tries to compete, and a poor ambassador for the sport. The fans of MMA also add an interesting dynamic. Fans are die-hard, they entrust their feelings and money into the sport, but also can be poor ambassadors for the entirety of Martial Arts. Wearing TapOut shirts and not training, commenting on one fighter's ability saying "they could do better," and the crème de le crème, "just stand up!" Believe me, sir or ma'am, if it was just that easy to stand up, then they would. But these are just pet peeves me and my training partners/seniors have picked out. Some would argue that this is a good thing, and mostly I would agree, but with any sport, you have great fans and you have bad fans.
"Traditional" Martial Arts previously did not have such a name, MMA created the idea of "Traditional" – as Modernity created the idea of Traditional when it comes to eras – and with that, the name "Traditional" somehow invalidates it. This is most certainly not the case. Just because something doesn't work in the cage doesn't mean that it won't work in the street – and vise-versa. MMA is a sport and the creed that the UFC dictates – "As real as it gets" – is a misnomer. It's as real as it gets as long as you don't eye-gouge, groin-hit, stomp-kick, 12 o'clock elbow, knee a downed opponent, et cetera; then, yes, it is as real as it gets. Also, what about running away? If you encounter a situation where there are 5 people versus you, will you pull guard? Shoot for a double leg takedown? Box them? Good luck with that. Martial Arts have always taught self discipline and techniques that were fun and, most of the time, practical. Mixed Martial Arts teaches self discipline and techniques that are fun and, some of the time, practical. That doesn't invalidate MMA as a way of self protection; it is just more geared towards the sport. A right straight will knock out an opponent, given proper strength and technique, no matter if they are on the street or on the mat.
Mixed Martial Arts is simply a new art, not a replacement for all Martial Arts. Let's do away with the idea of "Traditional" versus Mixed, and stick with the regular debate on which Martial Art is better. But, that's not really a good question either, but a topic for another discussion. Jiu-jitsu is a fantastic way of defending yourself against larger opponents who tend to grab or punch you with hay-makers. Jeet Kune Do is a fantastic way to protect oneself against a variety of attacks. Kendo is a great way of defending oneself if someone ever swings a sword at you. You get the point. I am merely stating that MMA and MA are great and have overlapping magisteria when it comes to ideals, techniques, and sport. I would certainly put MMA within the circle of Martial Arts, but not outside.
My instructor and I were discussing this many months ago and compared the idea to religion. The practitioners of the various Martial Arts can be compared to the practitioners of the various religions. Many believe their religion to be correct and others to be wrong or misguided. This can be said about Martial Arts and exemplifies the situation perfectly. I would compare MMA to the ever populous Christianity and their control on the main-stream. MMA is ever present and almost become synonymous with Martial Arts, as when one mentions Religion in the US one immediately thinks of Christianity. I'll leave that point there as to not offend anyone, that's certainly not my point – just making an analogy.
Overall, MMA and MA have similar goals – as should their practitioners – and those goals are simple; have fun, test your strength, and grow as a person/art. With these ideals in mind, one can hope that MMA and MA will continue to expand and maybe one day, the negative spin on the pre-MMA Martial Arts will dissipate and the respect it is entitled will be given.