HISTORY OF MMA: Deep Roots and Strong Branches
Mixed Martial Arts or at least the mixing of Martial Arts dates back to the Greco-Roman era. In those days, it was a combat sport known as Pankration and was a popular event in the ancient Olympics since 648 B.C.
Pankration events were quite brutal. There were few rules. In fact, no biting and no eye gouging were the only stipulations. The fights lasted until one competitor was knocked unconscious or submitted by the raising of his hand. It was not uncommon for a bout to end with the death of one or both fighters.
Even though modern day MMA events are not near as savage as those of old, there are certainly similarities. Both feature exchanges of strikes and grappling skills.
Europe had its own style of MMA. In the 1880's, there were tournaments where wrestlers met up with boxers and so on.
In 1899 in London, the MMA art of Bartisu was born. Bartisu was the first Martial Art that combined Asian and European styles of fighting and combined Judo,
Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, Savate and Canne de Combat (French stick fighting).
The 1900's saw even more evolution in the mixing of Martial Arts. Japan hosted contests called merikan, slang for "American fighting". Like ancient times, these fights ended only with a knockout or submission.
Then came the Vale Tudo tournaments in Brazil that were founded by the Gracie (the kings of the history of MMA) family. In these bouts, there were very few rules. In fact, Vale Tudo translates to mean "no rules".
Professional wrestling matches began to take on a Martial Arts flair as well. Boxing followed suit as well and the two faced off in 1936 with the match against Kingfish Levinsky, a boxer, and professional wrestler, Ray Steel.
And so it goes that MMA was "on". Bruce Lee shared his philosophy that the best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man but rather someone who can adapt to any style.
MMA's popularity has boomed in recent years to the explosive sport we know today, a sport of deep roots and strong branches.