Can MMA really be thought of as a martial art?

Hot Lunch

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But you can go to a MMA school and learn MMA.
If you're simply training the techniques necessary to be competent and competitive, then what you're learning is not "MMA" because you're not sourcing your techniques from different (mixed) martial arts. They need to call it something else. "General cage fighting" might work.
 

Steve

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If you're simply training the techniques necessary to be competent and competitive, then what you're learning is not "MMA" because you're not sourcing your techniques from different (mixed) martial arts. They need to call it something else. "General cage fighting" might work.
"Need" is a pretty strong word.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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If you're simply training the techniques necessary to be competent and competitive, then what you're learning is not "MMA" because you're not sourcing your techniques from different (mixed) martial arts. They need to call it something else. "General cage fighting" might work.
By that logic, taekwondo needs to change it's name because they incorporate more than just the foot and the fist.
 

Hot Lunch

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By that logic, taekwondo needs to change it's name because they incorporate more than just the foot and the fist.
But at least it includes the foot and fist. Training for cage fighting without previous martial arts training does not include the mixing of anything.
 
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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?
I have always wondered about the history of Shaolin Kung Fu, is it myth or reality?

Taekwondo, Karate Judo etc. have all embraced the competitive model and are classed as martial arts.

The more you look into the history of the arts, the clearer your understanding becomes.

Each art is informed by the culture/environment in which it finds itself and MMA is definitely a product of the times.
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?
Well said Bill
 
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Gyakuto

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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.
Humans like to define and label things妃ost sciences are just that (All science is either physics or stamp collecting-Lord Ernest Rutherford). So in reductio ad absurdum, why label anything at all since it doesnt matter!

Martial arts is a term with certain connotations, agreed with slight variations from person to person, so perhaps we, as the relatively better informed, should protect the definition from being applied willy-billy to anything in order to give it a sense of inappropriate gravitas/credibility.

Personally, I am uncomfortable (no stronger emotion than that- foam remaining firmly in my mouth) with MMA being lumped in with my chosen martial art even though I enjoy watching MMA occasionally.
 

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Humans like to define and label things妃ost sciences are just that (All science is either physics or stamp collecting-Lord Ernest Rutherford). So in reductio ad absurdum, why label anything at all since it doesnt matter!

Martial arts is a term with certain connotations, agreed with slight variations from person to person, so perhaps we, as the relatively better informed, should protect the definition from being applied willy-billy to anything in order to give it a sense of inappropriate gravitas/credibility.

Personally, I am uncomfortable (no stronger emotion than that- foam remaining firmly in my mouth) with MMA being lumped in with my chosen martial art even though I enjoy watching MMA occasionally.
I think, if we are going that route, MMA is one of a relative few actual martial arts left. Say you have two bowls. One with real apples and one with decorative apples. Which one is real? Well, I have to admit, without actually taking a bite, I'm not sure I could tell the difference.

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I think you're hitting on the real nut of the issue here, which is that some people don't like the idea that what they are doing is akin to or associated in any way with something else that they don't like. And that's a perfectly understandable reaction. I just think it's possible that, if this is true, it's not whether MMA is a martial art or not... but rather, is it actual martial arts that bother you? What I mean is, it's possible that you think of what you train as being a martial art... what if it's not? I like to try new things. I've tried things in the past and realized pretty quickly the reality of that activity was NOT what I had in my head. What I thought I would be doing wasn't actually what the activity entailed.
 
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Hot Lunch

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I think, if we are going that route, MMA is one of a relative few actual martial arts left. Say you have two bowls. One with real apples and one with decorative apples. Which one is real? Well, I have to admit, without actually taking a bite, I'm not sure I could tell the difference.

View attachment 29830 View attachment 29831
If fruit = martial art, and each fruit is its own distinct martial art, then

MMA = fruit cup. Those Del Monte and Dole ones you see on the store shelves. You would never call it "a fruit."
 
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Steve

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If fruit = martial art, and each fruit is its own distinct martial art, then

MMA = fruit cup. Those Del Monte and Dole ones you see on the store shelves. You would never call it "a fruit."

Maybe so. But the fruit in a fruit cup is real fruit. Processed? Maybe. Sitting in some less healthy high fructose corn syrup? Sure... that could be analogous to the corruption and other shenanigans currently associated with the sport. But the fruit is still real fruit.

Point is, on a spectrum where you have organic, non-GMO, fruit on one side and decorative fruit on the other... where does one's style ACTUALLY fall? Well, that depends entirely on how you choose to define the term "Martial Art." Personally, the way I define martial arts, MMA would be somewhere closer to the fruit than the non-fruit. Boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, TKD, all closer to the fruit than the non fruit. Aikido, Tai Chi, Wushu, Iaido, and many others... I'd personally put them closer to the decorative fruit. But that's because I personally define martial arts more focusing on objectively verifiable, observable, skills taught in a reliable and predictable manner, and applied within the context of the style. Other people have different ideas about what "martial arts" mean, and that's perfectly fine.

There's also no judgement here. There are a lot of great reasons to train.
 

Gyakuto

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I think, if we are going that route, MMA is one of a relative few actual martial arts left. Say you have two bowls. One with real apples and one with decorative apples. Which one is real? Well, I have to admit, without actually taking a bite, I'm not sure I could tell the difference.

View attachment 29830 View attachment 29831
I could tell匈m a 13th Dan in Ronin Apple ryu
I think you're hitting on the real nut of the issue here, which is that some people don't like the idea that what they are doing is akin to or associated in any way with something else that they don't like.
I do like MMA!

If you placed an Iai demonstration next to a, say Tai Chi Chuan, display and asked 100 people, who were watching, if they felt both arts were in the same category好othing intellectual, just a gut feeling, I suspect more would say they were than if it was Iai and MMA demonstrations.

And that's a perfectly understandable reaction. I just think it's possible that, if this is true, it's not whether MMA is a martial art or not... but rather, is it actual martial arts that bother you?
If I was pushed Id have to say the only true martial arts are military marksmanship, fighter jet driving etc.
What I mean is, it's possible that you think of what you train as being a martial art... what if it's not?
Oh Im pretty certain what i do isnt a 100% true martial art, but it does have elements of a what was a martial art as does MMA.
I like to try new things. I've tried things in the past and realized pretty quickly the reality of that activity was NOT what I had in my head. What I thought I would be doing wasn't actually what the activity entailed.
Ive just started campanology and I completely concur with you!
 

Gyakuto

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If fruit = martial art, and each fruit is its own distinct martial art, then

MMA = fruit cup. Those Del Monte and Dole ones you see on the store shelves. You would never call it "a fruit."
Thats brilliant
 

Gyakuto

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Here goesI think a martial art is a codified system of combat techniques and practices, developed for various purposes such as self-defense, physical fitness, mental discipline and personal development. While martial arts primarily focus on the development of physical skills and combat proficiency, many also emphasise mental and spiritual aspects, promoting discipline, self-control, respect, and personal growth. The practice of martial arts often involves structured training routines, forms or patterns of movements, sparring or simulated combat, and the study of various combat principles and strategies.

Im sending this to the Oxford English Dictionary for inclusion in the next edition
 

Gyakuto

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From Chatgpt-

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is not considered a single martial art in itself, but rather a hybrid combat sport that incorporates techniques and principles from various martial arts disciplines. MMA emerged as a platform for fighters from different backgrounds to compete against each other, allowing for a blend of striking, grappling, and submission techniques.

In MMA, fighters often train in multiple martial arts disciplines, such as Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Judo, and more, in order to develop a well-rounded skill set for both striking and grappling situations. The goal of MMA is to achieve victory through a combination of effective striking, takedowns, ground control, and submissions.

While MMA has its own rules and regulations specific to the sport, it draws on the techniques and strategies of various martial arts styles. So, while MMA itself is not a martial art, it can be seen as a platform that showcases the application and integration of different martial arts techniques in a competitive setting.
 

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Here goesI think a martial art is a codified system of combat techniques and practices, developed for various purposes such as self-defense, physical fitness, mental discipline and personal development.
"Codified system" is the key phrase.

If MMA itself becomes codified into its own system, then "mixed martial arts" is a misnomer. If I combine sodium and chlorine, I don't have "sodium and chlorine." I have salt.
 

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A couple of things that came to mind reading some of the posts.

First, many TMA's are actually "MMA's", so what is the name really trying to communicate? For example, Isshin-Ryu is a combination of Goju and Shorin Ryu mixed with streetfighting from Motobu and also an outside kobudo system.

Kajukenbo: KArate, JUdo/justu, KENpo, BOxing (chinese/western) is a big example and was the first "modern" MMA that we know about. Even though usually Bruce Lee's JKD gets the credit. There are also very old systems that did not get passed on through history, such as, Pankration that were a mix of striking/grappling.

"MMA" is a generic term used for a specific combat sport. Originally, there was no name and it was just "No Holds Barred". The name was created to sound more appealing to politicians and the general public.

BUT, in America what we call "MMA" isn't what "MMA" is elsewhere. In America, when someone says "MMA", there is the assumption that they are talking about the UFC and its ruleset. So, they are generally talking about a mixture of Boxing/Muay Thai/Wrestling/BJJ. If you go over to Europe etc. you find different mixtures of arts (cue up Tez) that aren't necessarily those same arts.

Next, what is the person taking "MMA" for? Just like any other martial arts, some people may be taking it for different reasons. Someone taking it to compete will be very happy to go to an MMA gym and train. Someone who wants to learn "self-defense" might find the training lacking in certain areas if it only focuses on sports competition (some MMA gyms include other skills that are needed in S-D, such as, de-escalation, prefight indicators, weapons etc. I have seen some RBSD systems that this is basically what they teach, a more street-oriented approach using an UFC MMA toolset) Someone who wants to compete and goes to a school that advertises "MMA", but finds that they are mixing traditional Japanese karate with traditional Japanese jujitsu may be very unhappy with the "mix" because that wasn't what they were looking for.

Labels are useful, but only when the label describe something in a manner that there isn't confusion.

So to me, "MMA" as it is commonly used in America, wouldn't be considered a martial art because it is too broad a label that really isn't defined and as it is generally used applies to a combat sport methodology. This does NOT mean that you can't use it outside of combat sports as you would a martial art or that it isn't effective.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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it's possible that you think of what you train as being a martial art... what if it's not?
The concept of anti-MMA is also the concept of anti-change.

When the "shin bite" is integrated into Taiji, some Taiji people said "shin bite" is not Taiji.

It's just a good example that some people (or their MA teachers) had defined a physical boundary what their MA should be. Anything outside of that boundary will be considered as "un-pure".

The following comments are usually used to refuse to accept different concepts.

- My MA style doesn't do this.
- By adding this in, it will make my MA system un-pure.
- This is against my MA system basic principle.
- ...

Example of adding "shin bite" into Taiji.

 

Holmejr

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There are numerous MMA schools. It has become stylized. So now it is an art to itself. Similar to FMA, although there are many similarities, many of the styles are very distinct from each other. Someone might say I learn eskrima and another might say I learn eskrima and have it be very different from each other in movement and philosophy.
 

Steve

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I could tell匈m a 13th Dan in Ronin Apple ryu
But is your apple decorative or edible?

I do like MMA!
Like was a lazy word on my part.

If you placed an Iai demonstration next to a, say Tai Chi Chuan, display and asked 100 people, who were watching, if they felt both arts were in the same category好othing intellectual, just a gut feeling, I suspect more would say they were than if it was Iai and MMA demonstrations.

I would agree. The question, then, is whether one is more or less "martial arts" than the other. And the answer to that question depends on who you ask.

If I was pushed Id have to say the only true martial arts are military marksmanship, fighter jet driving etc.

I'm much more flexible than this. I'd say if you train in a style that is martial in any reasonable sense, and you apply the skills you learn in the intended context of those skills, it's a martial art. And of course, it's on a spectrum... some are more martial than others.
So, for example, I'd say that wrestling, boxing, muay thai, MMA, fencing, sambo, savate, TKD, Mongolian wresting, Judo, Shuai Jiao, Kendo, Kyudo, Kyokushin Karate and many more are definitely martial arts.


Oh Im pretty certain what i do isnt a 100% true martial art, but it does have elements of a what was a martial art as does MMA.

Ive just started campanology and I completely concur with you!
I had to look campanology up. That is super niche. I definitely approve. :D
From Chatgpt-

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is not considered a single martial art in itself, but rather a hybrid combat sport that incorporates techniques and principles from various martial arts disciplines. MMA emerged as a platform for fighters from different backgrounds to compete against each other, allowing for a blend of striking, grappling, and submission techniques.

In MMA, fighters often train in multiple martial arts disciplines, such as Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Judo, and more, in order to develop a well-rounded skill set for both striking and grappling situations. The goal of MMA is to achieve victory through a combination of effective striking, takedowns, ground control, and submissions.

While MMA has its own rules and regulations specific to the sport, it draws on the techniques and strategies of various martial arts styles. So, while MMA itself is not a martial art, it can be seen as a platform that showcases the application and integration of different martial arts techniques in a competitive setting.
ChatGPT hasn't been right about anything yet. :D

Seriously, though... I have to admit that while I'm enjoying some of the discussion here, this subject is pretty tired. I mean, 10 or 15 years ago, I think it could be argued that MMA is not a martial art. But in 2023, I think there is no question that it is, to the point that you have various substyles within it analogous to the different styles of Karate or kung fu.
 

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