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"Mixed Martial Arts: A Technical Analysis of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in its Formative Years"

Daniele, Bolelli

Journal of Asian Martial Arts
Volume 12, Issue 3, pp. 41-51 (2003)


In this essay, Bolelli discusses the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as what he considers the martial arts "revolution." Fighting competitions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Pride Fighting have encompassed myriad martial arts styles with very limited rules to create a combat sport which some believe could be compared to battles between gladiators in the Coliseum. The idea of using multiple martial arts styles for competition is not a new concept; the Greeks introduced the sport of Pankration (Pan, meaning "all", Kratos, meaning "powers") in 648 B.C.E., and Bruce Lee promoted the utilization of multiple techniques as well. However, the sheer popularity of these competitions, specifically the UFC, has grown exponentially since they were introduced in the 1990's.

Bolleli's essay gives a very detailed description of the rules, format, and techniques of MMA and how it has evolved significantly despite being a fairly new sport. For example, in an attempt to create an equal playing ground between the different styles, the original rules only prohibited biting, eye-gouging and fish-hooking. Due to protests that the sport was too brutal and vicious, more rules were created for the safety of the competitors, but the sport still allowed room for a wide variety of striking and grappling techniques to be used while either upright or on the ground. Furthermore, it was originally believed that the most successful techniques would be strikes in order to end matches by knockout. Yet as time passed, competitors discovered that the best methods for victory involved bringing their opponents to the ground with grapples and locks. This realization caused a significant change in the types of martial arts that were focused on in training by each competitor.

I recommend this essay. It gives a great view into the world of MMA and its development over the past decade. My only complaint, however, is that in his introduction, Bolelli mentions the implications of mixing martial arts system as having a tremendous impact on moral and philosophical aspects of martial arts as well as the technical aspect, but since the essay is a "technical analysis" only, he falls short of discussing this anywhere else in his essay. Because of this, the essay remains more of a fact sheet than an analytical argument of MMA as a sport.

Annotated by: James Minahan (March 2006)

Martial Arts:

Topics: competition/sparring | history | mixed martial arts |



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