What is really the difference between TMA and MMA? False Dichotomy...

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by drewtoby, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. drewtoby

    drewtoby Orange Belt

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    I can't help but notice all of the TMA Vs. MMA threads popping up that revert to the "my style rocks/yours sucks" mentality. Very few good points are ever made on them (although there is the occasional insight that makes the non-ego-maniacs think, which is why I have read through a few).

    Well, I'll take a risk and hope that I can spark an insightful thread that does not revert to ego-maniacs and internet tough guys...

    What I see is most people don't have a good grasp on the difference between MMA and TMA. It is a blurred line at best, if not a non-existent line forced upon the martial art community as a whole through advertising and kept in place through style bashing/etc. There is support for both arguments (and much for in between), and a lot comes down to whether MMA is to be considered a style or a sport. Regardless of what you believe in regards to the differences, you cannot simply have MMA without TMA. What would there be to mix?

    The arguments that then stem from this grey/false separation center around superiority. The aliveness and realism/effectivness of MMA is compared to other arts. I find the goal of proving superiority to be open to much interpretation. Superior in what sense? The two most common argues are: In fighting? In self defense? Fighting is loosely defined, and I don't want to argue about the rules/etc of sanctioned fighting tournaments. I will focus on the latter.

    It all depends on how one is to train. And lets remember, there are multiple ways to skin a cat. Katas can be used to teach and aid in technique memorization, sparring, bag work, slow partner work, fighting under rules, etc. are all training methods with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here I find a lot of people arguing about how aliveness is the end all/be all. It is not. HERE is a article worth reading about said topic. In summary it asserts that one relies on pure technique in a self defense scenario, and that technique can be developed in a variety of ways, alive or not. After all, self defense situations are hardly prolonged fights to the death, but rather get out alive scenarios. There are some good points in this article.

    The way I see it is the more time spent in each kind of training leads to better preparation, as all have their strengths and weaknesses. Still, no one can be perfectly prepared for the evils of true violence. Some days people are able to rise to the occasion, other days they are unable to move from fear/analysis paralysis. The best advice I have gotten was on another forum by an officer stating "people generally expect too much out of their training."

    In summary, I find the whole MMA Vs. TMA debate to be pointless (especially when attempting to separate the two into neat little categories), just as style superiority arguments backed by aliveness. Knowledge can be obtained through any instructional method, when taught correctly. Sure, some arts can be learned and applied faster than others, but this does not make them superior.

    This is my short take on this whole internet battle of MMA vs. TMA. I do not want to write a book on this topic. I am sure that I missed some items of importance and need to explain a few concepts more. Please chime in with your opinions!
     
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  2. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    The way I see it, there are many aspects to martial arts. Some arts only cover one or two aspects, some cover them all. Most arts can have a narrow or wide focus, depending on the instructor, school, and student. Things you can get out of martial arts are:
    Fitness (cardio, strength, flexibility, core)
    Competition (sports or just friendly sparring)
    Expression (the art side, techniques, forms, demonstration, etc)
    Self Defense (brutal strikes to sensitive areas, escape techniques)
    Confidence (through expression, self defense, or competition)

    Take an art like Kenpo or Krav Maga, and you're looking at mostly self defense.
    Tai Chi, probably fitness.
    Kickboxing can be competitive or you can do cardio kickboxing which will focus on fitness.
    Taekwondo can focus on competition (olympic schools), expression ("belt factory" "dance studios" that focus on forms), or it can be very well rounded.
    MMA generally focuses on competition, although the high-end competitors also focus on fitness.
    I would argue that wrestling is purely competitive, while there is more of a self defense focus to other grappling arts like Judo or BJJ (although wrestling skills aren't bad to have in a fight).

    The problem is, people generally look at what they want out of martial arts and rate other arts based on that. MMA would be a better choice for someone who wants to compete. While there are other competitive arts, MMA is the big ticket right now. TMA is better if you're looking at other aspects of the art.

    With that said, all 5 of the principles above work together. No matter what your focus is, they all can help each other out. For example, in order to be competitive, you need confidence, conditioning, and technique. In order to defend yourself, it helps to have conditioning and confidence; and competition (even if it's just sparring) will get you full contact practice against a live opponent.

    This is the biggest advantage of MMA, IMHO. A purely competitive art will give you the most time against a live opponent. On the other hand, a lot of the moves that would be super effective in self defense (groin shots, eye gouges, etc) are banned in MMA, so not only do the fighters not get practice with those strikes, but they have to condition themselves to NOT use those strikes in order to follow the rules.

    As with everything, there are pros and cons. A good teacher and a good student will trump the specific choice of art any day of the week.
     
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  3. drewtoby

    drewtoby Orange Belt

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    Good, valid points. I like the 5 principals you brought up, and agree with the teacher trumping style.

    However, just how "alive" does someone have to be? Resisting techniques (as is done in partner work), or all out sparring?

    A good counterargument to aliveness comes with throwing and joint locks. An "alive" opponent will have momentum, meaning that throws will be easier (when done off momentum) than off a static opponent. Also, a tense partner will be easier to lock than a relaxed partner. As for going into the lock or throw, partners can offer various resistance levels and the throw/lock can be done at different speeds until it is second nature. I have mainly been taught Hapkido this way, and see how it can easily carry over into an "alive" situation. I'm amazed how much more work we have to do when someone is relaxed and somewhat static, whether fast or slow. It really drills technique, and small things dictate whether you fail or succeed.

    As for the "dirty moves," it varies on fighter to fighter. Some will be well versed in them too, while others may simply forget them altogether. It depends on the practitioner. I don't want to regress into "we can do dirty moves too" and "you trained to do groin shots and eye gouges anyone can do."
     
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  4. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    This is a well tramped track. I disagree that good points are few in the other threads. I think there has been a lot of good debate. There has also been a lot of chest thumping.

    It is obvious as to what constitutes MMA but not so obvious as to what is TMA. Before you can really discuss the differences between the two, perhaps you need to define 'TMA'.
    :s67:
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    This is true. There's a difference between:
    An opponent who will go down just because he's supposed to
    An opponent who will not fight you, but will make you at least force him down
    An opponent who will fight you
    A real-life attacker

    The problem in class, or against people you know, you often know what's coming, so it's easier to prepare for it. If your opponent knows what's coming, it can become much easier or much harder to do a technique on him than if it is a complete stranger.
     
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  6. drewtoby

    drewtoby Orange Belt

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    True, a lot just depends, just as it does with "aliveness" and any other method. Is the technique being done right, or is it sloppy day after day? Also, does the artist know what makes the technique work? Is it to be rigid or flow?

    I have not limited myself to this forum, but have to agree there is much more good debate here than on many others. Still, other forums also offer good insight. Others don't. At least I have found a few, including this one.

    I have seen MMA vs TMA done to death on here. I want to erode the barrier and find the overlap and similarities.

    As for defining TMA, where do you think is a good place to start? Are hybrid arts to be included? What about sport arts and competitions?

    Once we leave the focus on self defense, we are including basically everything from swords to archery. Heck, throwing playing cards might be included by a few like Tony Lee, even if not lethal.
     
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  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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  8. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Before we go too much further, Can you just answer a few simple questions?

    Is Judo a TMA? What about Russian Sambo? Muay Thai? Kyokushin Karate? As k-man asked, how are you defining "TMA"?
     
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  9. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    I think that with the diversity of martial arts it is almost impossible to define 'traditional'. I would find it impossible even if the OP was as limited as "what is really the difference between Karate and MMA". There is so much diversity within karate alone, I don't see how you can take at least 500 styles of martial art and compare them to MMA.

    Maybe if you took sport based martial arts you might be able to compare or at least contrast them, but to take a martial art such as Ninjutsu and try to compare it to MMA is like comparing elephants and whales. They have some things in common but live in different worlds.

    Could you break MMA into segments perhaps? There could be fitness, overall effectiveness in the ring, effectiveness on the ground and application to Self Defence. You can probably then at least find something in common albeit it small. But seeing that the majority of martial arts would be nothing to do with sport and almost all MMA is related to sport, and that the individual martial arts often have little in common, I think you're like the boy with the wheelbarrow. The job is ahead of you.
    :asian:
     
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  10. drewtoby

    drewtoby Orange Belt

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    I don't know. How should we? I was thinking of diving into that in my initial post, but that is a thread in and of itself. Boxing and wrestling have been around much longer, so are they traditional? Should MMA be considered traditional as well due to the similarities in other historical fighting competitions?

    Also, where does the line for martial arts begin? Should Parkour be included? Hows about a "rough and tumble?"

    Steve, these are not easy questions and the whole basis for debate lies in the definitions. Thank you and K-man for bringing this up ;)

    If we keep going, should we separate arts by their main theories? This would then make MMA extremely hard to define, as the arts that make MMA all have different theories.

    Should we then not work based on commonly shared aspects, but on definition and ambiguity?

    If we must, we can call any martial art a TMA. Or for added complexity have TMA be any on the non-mma staple arts like BJJ, MT, etc.
     
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  11. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    I think I'd really like to hear your opinions. It would really help me if you would give me a point of reference to start from.

    In order to make any progress, please share how YOU would define TMA. By what criteria do you distinguish a TMA from other arts? Must a style be Japanese?

    Please understand that this is, as others have pointed out, a well travelled subject. I'm willing to walk it with you, but I need to know where you're starting from. :)
     
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  12. drewtoby

    drewtoby Orange Belt

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    I think we have arrived at the destination already, to be honest ;) I did not know that breaking down the barriers and categories would be so painless.

    But, to change course slightly, lets define TMA as arts that focus mainly on aspects outside of the MMA rules (joint locks, gouges, etc.)
     
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  13. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    So, you're not willing to share how you would define a TMA?
     
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  14. Hand Sword

    Hand Sword Grandmaster

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    MMA= Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Judo/Ju Jutsu, + others
    Hmmm.... All of those arts seem to have been around for Centuries? Millenia??
    Seems MMA is just TMA's mixed. How is it a new art? New methodology of being open and away from "style," oh wait! I could've sworn I heard or read this before somewhere! ;)
     
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  15. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Looks like you added a little. Thanks!

    Personally, I think the biggest real distinction in arts isn't traditional vs contemporary. In my opinion, the most meaningful distinction is sport vs non sport. The styles with a sport element have a fundamentally different philosophy toward training than those which don't. And both measure proficiency in wildly different ways.
     
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  16. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Well, most arts are derivatives of another. From what I understand about my art (Taekwondo), it evolved from Tang Soo Do, which was the Korean application of Karate, which was the Japanese application of Kung Fu, which draws inspiration from animals that have had their own "arts" far longer than we've had martial art schools. Just watch the difference between how dogs play with each other and how cats play with each other, they have different styles (in fact, having watched 2 cats fight, I'd say the BJJ guard position best fits the term "cat stance").

    Wrestling and boxing you typically think of as sports, but boxing is about 5K years old as a sport, and wrestling even longer, according to cave paintings. So are those TMA?

    I think "TMA vs. MMA" generally gets translated as "Arts with funny stances" vs. "Arts without funny stances." At least in laymans terms, that's how I think of it. (Yes, my art has funny stances).
     
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  17. qianfeng

    qianfeng Green Belt

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    Kung fu is not developed from watching animals or everyone will be a kung fu master from watching their pet dog....
     
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  18. qianfeng

    qianfeng Green Belt

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    Joint locks are allowed in mma except for small joint manipulation and standing locks in most styles are kinda hard to use (from my very very limited experience) and some reading
    Most "tma" dont focus on eye gouges and joint locks except for maybe eagle claw and aikido
     
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  19. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    Growing up I did not view Boxing as a martial art, just something very feudal. To me traditional is just what it is, a set of ideals passed on by the progenitor of that particular art, whether it be kung-fu, karate or whatever. Then the MMA route. I guess you could make an argument that someone learning MMA would not be traditional, but then does MMA have any tradition. You could argue yes to that as well.
     
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  20. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Mma is defined by competition though.

    Rather than the competition defined by the art.

    [​IMG]123
     
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