THE HISTORY OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Elite MMA prides themselves on the knowledge they have of the history of mixed martial arts, and how they apply this to their modern day classes and teaching techniques. The Elite MMA family contains some of the best in the business and they regularly strive to improve their skills and knowledge. Elite MMA often travels to train with, or hosts professional mixed martial artists to ensure they are always at the forefront of the best and newest techniques, while still maintaining the rich history and discipline of the arts.
EVOLUTION OF FIGHTING STYLES
In the early 1990s, two styles stood out for their effectiveness: Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu (also called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ). Jiu-Jitsu had the early advantage, since wrestlers were not equipped with a way to defeat them standing. However, when wrestlers started training in striking, pure Jiu-Jitsu stylists ran into difficulties since they had a hard time taking the fight to the ground and away from their stand-up weaknesses. This represented the first step of evolution towards cross-training. Wrestling eventually branched into two styles described below: "Ground-and-Pound" (wrestlers who prefer fighting on the ground) and "Clinch-and-Pound" (wrestlers who prefer fighting standing up).
The kickboxers were next to evolve and added grappling skills to their arsenal. In the early days, they could not compete with the grapplers, since they could not avoid the takedowns and had no defense on the ground. After adding ground techniques to their training, they scored some major upsets, and showed that fighters specializing in striking could be effective in the sport.
Due to its early dominance, BJJ was the last to evolve. Eventually, Wrestling and Muay Thai were added to their training, and Jiu-Jitsu fighters have returned to being competitive again in the sport.
MMA is also considered an evolution of Pankration. A combination of striking and grappling that was introduced in the Olympic games in 648 BC. The "Pancrase" fighting promotion in Japan has strong ties to modern MMA and actually predates the first UFC by a few months.
MODERN FIGHTING STYLES
The following is a breakdown of the different fighting styles of modern MMA. Although there are essentially no successful fighters who do not have a complete training system that incorporates all of these skills, most fighters will base their overall strategy on one particular style and become associated with it.
A sprawl and brawler is a kickboxer who has trained wrestling to avoid takedowns and tries to keep the fight standing. Usually these fighters will study enough submission wrestling so that in the unfortunate event that they are taken down, they can tie their opponents up and survive long enough to get back to standing or until the referee restarts the fight. This style is deceptively different from regular kickboxing styles, since sprawl-and-brawlers must adapt their techniques to incorporate takedown defense. Maurice Smith is credited with introducing this style by becoming a successful kickboxer in a time where ground fighters were dominating the sport, including winning the heavyweight title of the Ultimate Fighting Championship by defeating Mark Coleman.
Fighters who have been known to use this style: Maurice Smith, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović, Chuck Liddell, Pedro Rizzo, Wanderlei Silva
These are wrestlers that have added in components of the striking game (typically boxing). Although their base is in wrestling and ground control, they are rarely reluctant to throw some leather on the feet. Often, wrestlers that have added the striking game are partial to strikes from within the clinch (particularly wrestlers who have developed a strong clinch game already). In the case that an exchange on the feet does not go in their favor they can bring the fight to the ground quickly as their true expertise lies in wrestling, which means they are ultimately less timid about trading blows. Don Frye was among the first wrestlers to add versatile strikes to his arsenal, but it was Randy Couture’s stunning performance in which he used close range boxing to out-strike a reputedly superior boxer in Vitor Belfort, that was the true birth of this style of fighter. He was the first to demonstrate that standing and ground were not the only phases of combat. Through the use of Greco-Roman clinching techniques, he showed that a third phase, the clinch, was not well understood and could be used to devastate ill-prepared opponents.
Fighters who have been known to use this style: Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Don Frye
This style is for wrestlers or other fighters well-versed in defending submissions and skilled at takedowns. They take every fight to the ground, maintain a solid top position, and hammer away until their opponent submits, is knocked out, or is cut so bad that the fight can't continue. Although not traditionally considered a conventional method of striking, the effectiveness and reliability (as well as recently-developing science) of this style cannot be denied. Originally most fighters who relied on striking on the ground were wrestlers, but considering how many fights end up on the ground and how increasingly competitive today’s MMA is, strikes on the ground are becoming more and more scientific, technical, and essential to a fighter’s training. Dan Severn was the first proficient fighter using Ground-and-Pound with his brutal takedowns and powerful fists, forearm shots, elbows and knees on the ground. However, many modern MMA camps have developed intricate strategies for attacking while on the ground.
Fighters who have been known to use this style: Mark Coleman, Fedor Emelianenko, Matt Hughes, Takanori Gomi, Tito Ortiz
Typically associated with Brazilian Jui Jitsu, but also encompassing a number of other styles, such as Olympic Judo, Sambo, a myriad of other descendants and arts inspired by Kodokan Judo, evolutions of pre-1940's Catch Wrestling or even Hybrid styles such as Shoot-Fighting , Shooto and Pancrase. Submission wrestlers attempt to win on the ground using joint locks and chokes to secure a tapout. This style has evolved since the early days as submission wrestlers now usually crosstrain in Amateur Wrestling and Kickboxing to complete their skills, but still focus on submissions as their primary weapons. The Brazilian Top Team, Red Devil Sport Club and Various Shooto schools/clubs lead the way and have the best representatives of this style.
Fighters who have been known to use this style: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, Kazushi Sakuraba, Genki Sudo, Frank Mir, Rumina Sato
TECHNIQUES AND STRATEGIES
The techniques and strategies of Amateur wrestling, Submission Wrestling and Muay Thai are usually not used as in the original arts/sports, but instead are modified to fulfill the needs of MMA competition. For example, freestyle wrestlers do not need to deal with striking during a takedown attempt, and Muay Thai bouts are broken by the referee if the fighter falls down after a kick that missed the target. This is very different from the situation in MMA competition, and techniques and strategies for MMA competition have to reflect this. Some fighters may substitute one or more of the basic styles mentioned above with Judo, Sambo, their own brand of Jujitsu, or Boxing. According to the "phases of combat" theory, all phases should be covered to stay competitive and only techniques proven in actual competition should be used. This is a reason why it is quite difficult to find "exotic" styles in fighter's bios now.
The rules for most Mixed Martial Arts competitions have evolved since the "glory days" of Vale Tudo. As the knowledge about fighting techniques spread among the athletes and popularity increased among the viewers, it became clear that the original minimalistic rules systems needed to be amended.
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