Can MMA really be thought of as a martial art?

drop bear

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I would suggest it’s a ‘combat sport’. The word ‘martial’ pertains to war and implies the art under this definition was used in potentially lethal warfare, battles, skirmishes. You can probably see this means most of the ‘martial arts’ we all practise are not, by this definition, true martial arts.

But do labels matter in this case? I don’t think so. MMA is thrilling to watch and in which to participate.

Which it is if you look at any modern army combatives.
 

drop bear

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MMA is not "a" martial art. It's a mix of various existing martial arts. Maybe that's where they got the name, "mixed martial arts," but that's just a wild guess. But the mix has been specifically selected for success in the professional sport of MMA, including the exclusion of illegal moves according to the rule set. A little of this, a little of that.

The exact mix is different for each fighter, according to ability and preference. So, the art is not consistent from fighter to fighter. It's an individualized, not a standardized art, but can't that be said of most arts? It's a mongrel. Can a mut be considered a breed? I don't care. It's fun to watch, but not for me to do.
Here is my view on this. Yes you are correct. But you can go to a MMA school and learn MMA.
 

drop bear

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Well…. with regards Japanese Budo, competitive matches can be seen as contrary to the traditional concept of Budo in several ways:

1. Focus on Winning: Budo, which encompasses disciplines like Judo, Kendo, and Aikido, emphasizes personal development, self-improvement, and the cultivation of character. Competitive matches tend to prioritize winning above all else, which can shift the focus away from these essential aspects of Budo.

2. Development of Ego: Budo encourages practitioners to transcend their ego and develop humility. In competitive matches, the desire to win can inflate the ego and foster a sense of superiority over opponents. This goes against the humble and respectful attitude that is integral to traditional Budo.

3. Lack of Mutual Benefit: Traditional Budo emphasizes the concept of "mutual benefit" (Kyōsei), where practitioners aim to improve themselves while also benefiting their training partners and the community. Competitive matches often prioritize individual success and can foster a mentality of defeating opponents rather than fostering mutual growth and support.

4. Disregard for Harmonious Interaction: Budo places great importance on harmonious interaction and maintaining a balance between oneself and others. In competitive matches, the goal is often to overpower or defeat opponents, which can create an environment that is less focused on harmonious interaction and more on dominance.

5. Limited Range of Techniques: Competitive matches usually have specific rules and regulations that restrict the range of techniques that can be employed. Traditional Budo, on the other hand, emphasizes the exploration and mastery of a wide variety of techniques for self-defense, personal growth, and spiritual development. The focus on winning within the confines of competitive rules can hinder the comprehensive study of Budo techniques.

6. Ethical Concerns: While competitive matches in martial arts generally have rules to ensure safety, there is still a risk of injury. Traditional Budo prioritizes the well-being of practitioners and emphasizes ethical values such as respect, compassion, and non-aggression. The potential for injuries in competitive matches may contradict these values.

It's important to note that some forms of Budo have adapted to incorporate competitive elements while still preserving the essence of traditional practice. However, the points mentioned above highlight some of the ways in which competitive matches can be seen as contrary to the traditional values and goals of Budo.

The counter argument is that competition fosters personal development, humility and harmony to your training partners.

And is tested much more vigorously.

So your personal development needs to survive months of hardship in a fight camp. And this also things like food.

People risk loosing in competition and loose big. In front of thousands of witnesses. Which a fragile ego will not risk.

Good sparring is a test of harmonious interaction especially hard sparring. Because you cut a very fine line.
Iron sharpens iron is about mutual benefit.

Injuries. Yeah. That is definitely a thing.
 

drop bear

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Well…. with regards Japanese Budo, competitive matches can be seen as contrary to the traditional concept of Budo in several ways:

1. Focus on Winning: Budo, which encompasses disciplines like Judo, Kendo, and Aikido, emphasizes personal development, self-improvement, and the cultivation of character. Competitive matches tend to prioritize winning above all else, which can shift the focus away from these essential aspects of Budo.

2. Development of Ego: Budo encourages practitioners to transcend their ego and develop humility. In competitive matches, the desire to win can inflate the ego and foster a sense of superiority over opponents. This goes against the humble and respectful attitude that is integral to traditional Budo.

3. Lack of Mutual Benefit: Traditional Budo emphasizes the concept of "mutual benefit" (Kyōsei), where practitioners aim to improve themselves while also benefiting their training partners and the community. Competitive matches often prioritize individual success and can foster a mentality of defeating opponents rather than fostering mutual growth and support.

4. Disregard for Harmonious Interaction: Budo places great importance on harmonious interaction and maintaining a balance between oneself and others. In competitive matches, the goal is often to overpower or defeat opponents, which can create an environment that is less focused on harmonious interaction and more on dominance.

5. Limited Range of Techniques: Competitive matches usually have specific rules and regulations that restrict the range of techniques that can be employed. Traditional Budo, on the other hand, emphasizes the exploration and mastery of a wide variety of techniques for self-defense, personal growth, and spiritual development. The focus on winning within the confines of competitive rules can hinder the comprehensive study of Budo techniques.

6. Ethical Concerns: While competitive matches in martial arts generally have rules to ensure safety, there is still a risk of injury. Traditional Budo prioritizes the well-being of practitioners and emphasizes ethical values such as respect, compassion, and non-aggression. The potential for injuries in competitive matches may contradict these values.

It's important to note that some forms of Budo have adapted to incorporate competitive elements while still preserving the essence of traditional practice. However, the points mentioned above highlight some of the ways in which competitive matches can be seen as contrary to the traditional values and goals of Budo.
So as an example from a non competition standpoint.

Baz Rutten effectively just using hardship as a personal development vehicle.


And I think it is very easy to use those Budo arguments to remove hardship and accountability.
 
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O'Malley

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Well…. with regards Japanese Budo, competitive matches can be seen as contrary to the traditional concept of Budo in several ways:
FWIW many forms of boxing and wrestling are way older and arguably more traditional than the concept of Budo or even of the earlier concept of Bushido (which is itself a relatively new thing, as it started in the 1880s as the Japanese admired the English concept of "gentlemanship" and Western ideas of chivalry and started to look for equivalents in their native culture and history). See Bushido : the creation of a martial ethic in late Meiji Japan

1. Focus on Winning: Budo, which encompasses disciplines like Judo, Kendo, and Aikido, emphasizes personal development, self-improvement, and the cultivation of character. Competitive matches tend to prioritize winning above all else, which can shift the focus away from these essential aspects of Budo.
Judo, kendo and several lineages of aikido have competitions as well. So what makes them different from MMA? Just because they come from Japan? How does one demonstrate that those arts emphasise personal self-improvement more than MMA?

2. Development of Ego: Budo encourages practitioners to transcend their ego and develop humility. In competitive matches, the desire to win can inflate the ego and foster a sense of superiority over opponents. This goes against the humble and respectful attitude that is integral to traditional Budo.
Quite the opposite. In MMA, boxing or wrestling, you lose way more than you win, from day one. This develops humility and lucidity about one's own ability. In aikido or iaido, you are never in a situation where you can actually be overcome by another human being. Your ego is never challenged (one may argue that it is the practitioner's job to do so, but it's quite a complacent environment, isn't it?). Which often leads to people believing that they can do things that they actually can't. Dojo hierarchies based on rank are also relatively common.
3. Lack of Mutual Benefit: Traditional Budo emphasizes the concept of "mutual benefit" (Kyōsei), where practitioners aim to improve themselves while also benefiting their training partners and the community. Competitive matches often prioritize individual success and can foster a mentality of defeating opponents rather than fostering mutual growth and support.
See above. To win in MMA and other sports, you first need to lose a lot to someone much better than you, who then takes the time to teach you what you're doing wrong. Then you teach the newer guys. Mutual benefit. Lots of clubs refer to themselves as "Teams" (even in the name) who train together, win together and lose together.
4. Disregard for Harmonious Interaction: Budo places great importance on harmonious interaction and maintaining a balance between oneself and others. In competitive matches, the goal is often to overpower or defeat opponents, which can create an environment that is less focused on harmonious interaction and more on dominance.
How do you define harmonious interaction? I find it quite easy to have a harmonious interaction with someone that has agreed to be in harmony in the first place. It requires more effort (physical and mental) and more training to maintain harmony in a more chaotic environment such as sparring/competition. Shouldn't that be the goal?
5. Limited Range of Techniques: Competitive matches usually have specific rules and regulations that restrict the range of techniques that can be employed. Traditional Budo, on the other hand, emphasizes the exploration and mastery of a wide variety of techniques for self-defense, personal growth, and spiritual development. The focus on winning within the confines of competitive rules can hinder the comprehensive study of Budo techniques.
What do you mean by "comprehensive"? Karate typically does not train groundwork. MMA typically does.
6. Ethical Concerns: While competitive matches in martial arts generally have rules to ensure safety, there is still a risk of injury. Traditional Budo prioritizes the well-being of practitioners and emphasizes ethical values such as respect, compassion, and non-aggression. The potential for injuries in competitive matches may contradict these values.
Here's the first kata of Araki-ryu, can't be more traditional than this. You emphasise respect, compassion and non-aggression by serving tea to your guest, taking him down by surprise and breaking his ribs before killing him.


Talking about ethics, the Aikikai, the biggest aikido organisation in the world, headed by the Doshu (the "leader of the way"), so the leader of what is often (mistakenly) referred to as "the way of harmony", has a tradition of questionable ethics. Apart from the founder's terrorist activities, active participation in fascist circles and assistance provided to perpetrators of atrocities under international criminal law, the first chairman of the organisation had (the year he took the position) signed the Axis pact with nazi Germany and fascist Italy. To this day, the Aikikai:
- maintains close relationships to a large Japanese neofascist party, that denies the Nanking massacre and the existence of Korean "comfort women" during Japanese occupation and states that Japan should be thanked for the invasion of Manchuria (without mentioning their position on societal matters like, say, LGBT rights for example);
- maintains close relationships to its financial patron, the company founded by the "richest fascist in Japan";
- maintains a rule according to which the title of "shihan" is automatically granted for teachers in Japan but the ones abroad need to apply. The title of "shihan" ("examplary teacher") does not mean anything but, as some foreigners were starting to achieve higher ranks it was granted to Japanese teachers as a supplementary honorary title (I refer to your earlier point about ego). The title was officiously reserved for Japanese until some people like Christian Tissier became too big to ignore and everybody started asking questions;
- wrote a public letter to another aikido organisation saying that they cannot hold competitions because it is the "immutable will" of the founder, disregarding the fact that competitions have been held in aikido for more than 50 years; that the founder is not really in a position to change his mind, being dead since the late 60s; and that both Jigoro Kano and Gichin Funakoshi's opposition to competition did not impede judo and karate to thrive after including it. The true reason is that the Aikikai is going for subsidies by sports organisations (such as the Olympic Committee) and cannot let other organisations that do competition become too big and get the subsidies for themselves.

In light of this, can we really make such big statements that aikido promotes ethical values better than, say, MMA?

Nothing personal and I don't mean to demolish your points, but if we put them in light of the facts, we see some big cracks.
 
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Gyakuto

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FWIW many forms of boxing and wrestling are way older and arguably more traditional than the concept of Budo or even of the earlier concept of Bushido (which is itself a relatively new thing, as it started in the 1880s as the Japanese admired the English concept of "gentlemanship" and Western ideas of chivalry and started to look for equivalents in their native culture and history). See Bushido : the creation of a martial ethic in late Meiji Japan
Oh yes, Bushido is bullshido, a fabricated romanticism of the Samurai.
Judo, kendo and several lineages of aikido have competitions as well. So what makes them different from MMA? Just because they come from Japan? How does one demonstrate that those arts emphasise personal self-improvement more than MMA?
The competitors? Nothing…they’re the same, but the raison d’tre of these arts is not supposed to be competition. A minority of the practitioners take part whereas MMA revolves around the concept of competition, doesn’t it?
Quite the opposite. In MMA, boxing or wrestling, you lose way more than you win, from day one.
Surely that’s not the case for eventual champions, otherwise they’d never get to the top of their game.
This develops humility and lucidity about one's own ability. In aikido or iaido, you are never in a situation where you can actually be overcome by another human being. Your ego is never challenged (one may argue that it is the practitioner's job to do so, but it's quite a complacent environment, isn't it?).
Do you require an opponent, defeating you in some way to have one’s ego challenged? I’d suggest the most severe critic is oneself and it’s that that keeps some Budoka ego’s in check.
Which often leads to people believing that they can do things that they actually can't.
I think that’s very true of the MA in general…we’re a delusional bunch. Many of us think we’re effective fighters, ‘keeping it real on the streets’. Most of us would have our faces caved in by a boxer or MMAer.
See above. To win in MMA and other sports, you first need to lose a lot to someone much better than you, who then takes the time to teach you what you're doing wrong. Then you teach the newer guys. Mutual benefit. Lots of clubs refer to themselves as "Teams" (even in the name) who train together, win together and lose together.
MMAers are know for their humility and lack of ego.
How do you define harmonious interaction? I find it quite easy to have a harmonious interaction with someone that has agreed to be in harmony in the first place.
Then how can you have competition? They require an uncooperative opponent trying to subdue you. That’s not very harmonious, is it? But that’s competition.
What do you mean by "comprehensive"? Karate typically does not train groundwork. MMA typically does.
MMA doesn’t teach eye gouges, groin attacks, biting, head butts. Karate typically does.
Here's the first kata of Araki-ryu, can't be more traditional than this. You emphasise respect, compassion and non-aggression by serving tea to your guest, taking him down by surprise and breaking his ribs before killing him.

I’d suggest that’s Bujutsu rather than Budo. We have kata in which you cut the back of a fleeing enemy, push through a crowd of onlookers to assassinate someone addressing them and of course where one attacks first.
In light of this, can we really make such big statements that aikido promotes ethical values better than, say, MMA?
Absolutely not!

Not at all, they were only ideas off the top of my head for the sake of debate. I personally think MMA is the most effective unarmed combat system around and many ‘martial artists’ would be quickly humbled if they tried to take one on.

But there’s something about an art that disqualifies a winner for fist pumping after defeating their opponent that speaks to me. It says something. When a rikishi wins a bout, their stoic, unemotional demeanour seems very dignified to me and in stark contrast to what I‘ve seen in the MMA arena.
 

O'Malley

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The competitors? Nothing…they’re the same, but the raison d’tre of these arts is not supposed to be competition. A minority of the practitioners take part whereas MMA revolves around the concept of competition, doesn’t it?
Most practitioners in the boxing and muay thai gyms I know never compete (the competitors are there but they are a very small subset). By contrast, my local judo and nippon kempo clubs encourage every student to compete, although not all do. My sample size is small, so perhaps we can ask the MMA/sports guys here whether what you say is true?
Surely that’s not the case for eventual champions, otherwise they’d never get to the top of their game.
On what basis do you say this? My understanding is that they get to that high level by failing and correcting mistakes.


How about we ask the MMA/sports guys here for input?

Do you require an opponent, defeating you in some way to have one’s ego challenged? I’d suggest the most severe critic is oneself and it’s that that keeps some Budoka ego’s in check.
I think that’s very true of the MA in general…we’re a delusional bunch. Many of us think we’re effective fighters, ‘keeping it real on the streets’. Most of us would have our faces caved in by a boxer or MMAer.
Isn't there a contradiction here? How can one keep his own ego in check and be delusional at the same time? And how does one solve this?
MMAers are know for their humility and lack of ego.
You seem sarcastic. Could you please clarify?
Then how can you have competition? They require an uncooperative opponent trying to subdue you. That’s not very harmonious, is it? But that’s competition.
Depends on how you define harmony. If harmony is total cooperation, there can be no harmony as soon as there is opposition. This means that one cannot maintain harmony outside the dojo, because it disappears as soon as someone opposes you.

If you define harmony as the lack of unjustified physical harm, then it becomes more interesting. In competition, both competitors agree on the rules beforehand. Those rules are decided by committees which have to agree on them, sometimes following the advice of medical experts. And in the ring the competitors demonstrate an ability to adhere to those rules no matter the intensity of the physical opposition. Which I find harmonious. And when there is physical harm, it is most often limited to the risk that competitors and organisers have accepted.


More interestingly, one becomes able to manage intense physical opposition without causing unjustified physical harm. MMAers, BJJers and wrestlers use their grappling skills to subdue uncooperative opponents all the time, so when someone physically opposes them outside that context, they can still do it. Which I find harmonious. Same for strikers' defensive abilities.


MMA doesn’t teach eye gouges, groin attacks, biting, head butts. Karate typically does.
Your point was that MMA is more limited technique-wise than budo. However, MMA includes techniques that many budo lack. Eye gouges, groin attacks, biting and head butts do not change this.
I’d suggest that’s Bujutsu rather than Budo. We have kata in which you cut the back of a fleeing enemy, push through a crowd of onlookers to assassinate someone addressing them and of course where one attacks first.
Yet iaido is considered budo, am I correct? So what is the difference?
But there’s something about an art that disqualifies a winner for fist pumping after defeating their opponent that speaks to me. It says something. When a rikishi wins a bout, their stoic, unemotional demeanour seems very dignified to me and in stark contrast to what I‘ve seen in the MMA arena.
It's perfectly legitimate to prefer one art over another. I was just answering some statements and assumptions about MMA/combat sports that I saw, which were incorrect AFAIK. Perhaps you would reconsider them after engaging with the MMA guys on this forum. Which would actually further the point about the value of external feedback over self-assessment. It happened to me.
 

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Once the sport/competition element is added, the martial art is lost.
I'll strongly disagree with this on both historical and practical grounds.

However, I will agree that a practitioner who focuses their training exclusively on working within the confines of a particular competitive rule set will handicap their ability to adapt their art to a wider range of combative contexts. Fortunately it's not that hard to set aside a little training time and thought to exploring how the art can apply outside of competition rules.
Personally, I think MMA is glorified violence and is very far removed from the original ethos of martial arts - but it makes a lot of money for all those promoting MMA, and damages a lot of young men and women in the process.
Historically, there is no one "original ethos of martial arts." Different arts have been founded on principles ranging from "kill or be killed" to service to a community to competition to spiritual development and everything in-between.
MMA is not "a" martial art. It's a mix of various existing martial arts. Maybe that's where they got the name, "mixed martial arts," but that's just a wild guess. But the mix has been specifically selected for success in the professional sport of MMA, including the exclusion of illegal moves according to the rule set. A little of this, a little of that.

The exact mix is different for each fighter, according to ability and preference. So, the art is not consistent from fighter to fighter. It's an individualized, not a standardized art, but can't that be said of most arts? It's a mongrel. Can a mut be considered a breed? I don't care. It's fun to watch, but not for me to do.
I can argue both sides here. MMA isn't a classically defined style with a founder and a start date and a prescribed list of techniques and methods. But it is more and more taught and trained as a separate class from its parent arts, with techniques that are modified from the original forms in the parent arts, and with methods of training and fighting which are innovations compared to the original arts that it is derived from.
 

Tony Dismukes

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he word ‘martial’ pertains to war and implies the art under this definition was used in potentially lethal warfare, battles, skirmishes. You can probably see this means most of the ‘martial arts’ we all practise are not, by this definition, true martial arts.
I wouldn't get hung up on the literal etymology of the word "martial". to the best of my knowledge, the term "martial art" in English has always been more descriptive of general combative systems than specifically battlefield arts. 99.9% of the martial arts practiced today and since the term was coined are not and were not arts of warfare. And those that do have military connections are/were mostly secondary supplemental systems meant to develop fighting spirit or cover unusual emergency circumstances. If you want to train a modern "martial art" in the sense of warfare, lean to drive a tank or coordinate supply logistics. If you want to train a historical "martial art" in the sense of warfare, learn to march in a pike formation ... or coordinate supply logistics.
Well…. with regards Japanese Budo, competitive matches can be seen as contrary to the traditional concept of Budo in several ways:
I think we can agree that MMA is not Japanese Budo. Budo is a theoretical cultural ideal applied to a relatively modern subset of Japanese martial arts. But it might be interesting to look at some of the similarities and differences.
1. Focus on Winning: Budo, which encompasses disciplines like Judo, Kendo, and Aikido, emphasizes personal development, self-improvement, and the cultivation of character. Competitive matches tend to prioritize winning above all else, which can shift the focus away from these essential aspects of Budo.
Wrestling is a competitive art but many, many, many wrestling coaches will explicitly tell you that the primary value of the sport is personal development, self-improvement, and the cultivation of character. Some boxing coaches will say the same, but you see that more at the amateur level than the professional level. MMA is still in the early stages of development so we don't yet have a general agreement in terms of the primary values of the art/sport. But I'd say that at least some MMA coaches and practitioners see it as a path for personal growth.
2. Development of Ego: Budo encourages practitioners to transcend their ego and develop humility. In competitive matches, the desire to win can inflate the ego and foster a sense of superiority over opponents. This goes against the humble and respectful attitude that is integral to traditional Budo.

In MMA, boxing or wrestling, you lose way more than you win, from day one.

Surely that’s not the case for eventual champions, otherwise they’d never get to the top of their game.
Everyone loses a lot in the beginning. World-class champions will eventually get to the point where they can win a lot more than they lose and then they need to find higher level training partners or devise training challenges which will push them to the point of failure. The overwhelming majority of practitioners will never be world class champions and so will always get plenty of opportunities to lose and develop humility and grow from those losses.
3. Lack of Mutual Benefit: Traditional Budo emphasizes the concept of "mutual benefit" (Kyōsei), where practitioners aim to improve themselves while also benefiting their training partners and the community. Competitive matches often prioritize individual success and can foster a mentality of defeating opponents rather than fostering mutual growth and support.
I can confirm that working as a team to help each other grow and improve is a huge part of MMA culture.
4. Disregard for Harmonious Interaction: Budo places great importance on harmonious interaction and maintaining a balance between oneself and others. In competitive matches, the goal is often to overpower or defeat opponents, which can create an environment that is less focused on harmonious interaction and more on dominance.
This is one of these stated ideals which comes across as rather vague and abstract. Give me some specific examples of how this might play out in a Japanese Budo art, and I can tell you whether those examples would typically apply in the MMA community as well.
5. Limited Range of Techniques: Competitive matches usually have specific rules and regulations that restrict the range of techniques that can be employed. Traditional Budo, on the other hand, emphasizes the exploration and mastery of a wide variety of techniques for self-defense, personal growth, and spiritual development. The focus on winning within the confines of competitive rules can hinder the comprehensive study of Budo techniques.
There are specific techniques which are typically banned in MMA (depending on the specific sanctioning body). But I can guarantee that the technical repertoire in MMA is at least as extensive as that of any Japanese Budo art that I've encountered.
6. Ethical Concerns: While competitive matches in martial arts generally have rules to ensure safety, there is still a risk of injury. Traditional Budo prioritizes the well-being of practitioners and emphasizes ethical values such as respect, compassion, and non-aggression. The potential for injuries in competitive matches may contradict these values.
MMA culture doesn't usually talk much about particular ethical values as do Budo arts, but in my personal experience MMA practitioners demonstrate those values on average as much as Budo practitioners.

But speaking of potential for injuries ...

You mention the demeanor of rikishi in another comment, indicating that you consider Sumo to be a part of Budo culture. In my opinion, the JSA is way, way more negligent of the health and well-being of athletes than any MMA organization that I'm aware of. Rikishi are routinely pushed to compete while suffering from injuries which would disqualify them from competing in MMA. 350 pound wrestlers routinely fall head first off of a raised dohyo (sometimes with another 350 pound wrestler on top of them). And medical professionals are not immediately on hand to deal with the results. Hibikiryu very likely might not have died if he didn't have to wait around for paramedics to show up. In contrast, any legitimate professional MMA event will have a ringside doctor on hand to render immediate medical assistance. This is a case where the Budo culture is very much more concerned with cultural tradition than the well-being of practitioners.
MMAers are know for their humility and lack of ego.
I will note that a significant amount of the boasting and trash talking that you see in MMA comes from the commercial side of professional fighting - hyping up fights to sell tickets to fans who enjoy drama. I'm very much not a fan of that aspect of the MMA world. I'd prefer it if more MMA fighters demonstrated a more Budo-like attitude (as some do).
But there’s something about an art that disqualifies a winner for fist pumping after defeating their opponent that speaks to me. It says something. When a rikishi wins a bout, their stoic, unemotional demeanour seems very dignified to me and in stark contrast to what I‘ve seen in the MMA arena.
Yep, that's a definite cultural difference.
 

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The competitors? Nothing…they’re the same, but the raison d’tre of these arts is not supposed to be competition. A minority of the practitioners take part whereas MMA revolves around the concept of competition, doesn’t it?

Most practitioners in the boxing and muay thai gyms I know never compete (the competitors are there but they are a very small subset). By contrast, my local judo and nippon kempo clubs encourage every student to compete, although not all do. My sample size is small, so perhaps we can ask the MMA/sports guys here whether what you say is true?
Based on my experience ...

In BJJ, only a minority of practitioners compete and only a minority of those who do compete do so regularly. (Although the percentages will vary by gym. There are some gyms which are very competition focused.)

For boxing, Muay Thai and MMA, it varies significantly by gym. There are some where a minority of practitioners actually compete and others which are only focused on active competitors. I haven't been to enough different to confidently estimate what percentage of gyms cater to hobbyists as well as serious competitors. My gyms has active amateur and professional fighters as well as hobbyists. I know that some gyms have separate classes for the hobbyists and the active fighters, but we don't have enough gym members to divvy them up like that.
 

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Excellent points of view highlighting the fluid nature of what we do.

But returning to the original question, MMA cannot be classed as a martial art since the term, in the eyes of muggles at least, conjures images of mostly white, belted uniforms, lots of bowing and strict etiquette, a lack of jollity in classes, the ability to trace the lineage of one’s art back directly to Mr Miyagi and the delusion of competence/invincibility in fighting. These are not present in MMA. Q.E.D. 😐
 

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I will note that a significant amount of the boasting and trash talking that you see in MMA comes from the commercial side of professional fighting - hyping up fights to sell tickets to fans who enjoy drama. I'm very much not a fan of that aspect of the MMA world. I'd prefer it if more MMA fighters demonstrated a more Budo-like attitude (as some do).
But the fighters agree to behave like this which speaks volumes to their sensibilities and I find it distasteful. I really admired boxer Wladimir Klitschko because he was so respectful to his opponents during the press conferences - a true gentleman.
 

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MMA has been in fashion for a fair few years now. It appeals to the younger, testosterone-fuelled, crowd. It has a big turnover, just like other clubs and hobbies, but can it really be classified as a martial art?
Do you consider shaolin kung fu a martial art? Or tai chi? Or karate? What about pankration, or silat? What about judo or taekwondo?

All of those are either competition based martial arts, or arts that are a conglomeration of others (or both), which are the two main arguments people make against MMA. So if you consider those arts, what would be different about MMA?
 

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It is, if you change the name of it to something else and train it as one art. "Mixed martial arts" literally means that it's not one single art.
 

WingChunIsNoSport

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In my opinion it is sports and entertainment that incorporates martial arts though not every UFC/MMA fighter is a martial artist.
 

Tony Dismukes

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But the fighters agree to behave like this which speaks volumes to their sensibilities and I find it distasteful. I really admired boxer Wladimir Klitschko because he was so respectful to his opponents during the press conferences - a true gentleman.
I'm with you on this. I'm not at all a fan of the manufactured drama and I have more respect for the fighters who don't buy into that game.

With regard to this aspect of the sport, there seem to be 3 main categories of fighters.

You have the guys who consistently show respect and publicly deport themselves in a way which would fit with the Budo ethos that you discussed earlier. Georges St. Pierre would be a good example.

You have the guys who treat their fight careers as a money-making venture where entertaining fans with drama is part of the job. Chael Sonnen is the perfect exemplar of this philosophy. In real life he's a smart guy with a ton of respect for his fellow fighters. But he was smart enough to realize that playing the role of a disrespectful, boastful trash-talker could get him matches with higher paydays and he chose to go that route. I don't like it, but he was looking out for his financial interests and not particularly concerned with impressing people who have my outlook.

And then you have the guys who, while being talented athletes, are just flat out immature, egotistical, and hot-tempered. I'm not going to name names here, (especially since it can sometimes be hard to distinguish them from the second category), but they definitely exist. These are the ones who you could point to as the antithesis of Budo ideals.

But ...

MMA and other combat sports don't have a monopoly on these sorts of individuals. Thugs, narcissists, bullies, and general a-holes exist within the "Budo" arts as well. They're just more likely to dress up their character flaws with philosophical rhetoric.

This isn't to say that the Budo arts (or any other martial art or combat sport) can't be valid vehicles for genuine self-development and personal growth, but it doesn't happen automatically. You have to put in the sustained, often difficult, effort to use the art as a tool for transforming your life off the mats as well as on. Not everyone does that, even if they show up for classes, develop skills, gain rank, and give lip service to the ideals of the art.
 
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Taiji Rebel

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In my opinion it is sports and entertainment that incorporates martial arts though not every UFC/MMA fighter is a martial artist.
Yes, this correct. It is razzmatazz, WWE-style entertainment. Lots of brashness, bling and big-egos on display. It is a 100% entertainment-based sports event that has modelled itself on the world of wrestling. You can see the same model used in the sport of boxing too. They also also employ plenty of trash-talking and other promotional stunts to create maximum audience numbers for pay-per-view events .
 

Hot Lunch

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Yes, this correct. It is razzmatazz, WWE-style entertainment. Lots of brashness, bling and big-egos on display. It is a 100% entertainment-based sports event that has modelled itself on the world of wrestling. You can see the same model used in the sport of boxing too. They also also employ plenty of trash-talking and other promotional stunts to create maximum audience numbers for pay-per-view events .
And there's absolutely nothing wrong with this.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I will never understand this. Is a scooter really a motorcycle? Is blahblah-kyu really a martial art? Is checkers really a sport? Is a crepe really a pancake?

Why does it matter? Who cares? Well, clearly a lot of people care; in my opinion, they care way too much.

"Martial arts" is a term. It means many different things to many different people. No one is going to come up with a definition that everyone agrees with. I know YOU have your pet definition. Can you grasp that not everyone agrees with it, and you can't make them agree with it?

I just cannot bring myself to care in the slightest what MMA is or is not. It frankly doesn't interest me; I don't follow it. That doesn't make it bad, invalid, or without worth; it just means I don't care for it. It is clearly popular with lots of people.

But consider this. MMA doesn't care if it is a martial art or not. It will continue to exist and be popular no matter what YOU think it is.

Not one single person here who is frothing at the mouth with anger over the yes or no side of the question is going to change their mind. Nothing, literally nothing, is going to happen.

So nothing will be settled, nobody will be convinced, the world will not change, but everybody who gets upset about this type of thing will be more upset than before.

Yay, I guess?
 
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