Can MMA really be thought of as a martial art?

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
Does "foot hand way" suggest that it's a generic mixture of other things, or an art that stands on its own?
Neither. It's entirely ambiguous.

It could refer to Taekwondo. Or Judo. Or Muay Thai. Or ballet. Or sewing (with the old machines).
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
361
Reaction score
147
Neither. It's entirely ambiguous.

It could refer to Taekwondo. Or Judo. Or Muay Thai. Or ballet. Or sewing (with the old machines).
If I hear of an art called "foot hand way," I'm not getting the impression that it's a generic mixture.

You can literally combine two or more of any martial arts and call it "MMA." Had kudo not been given a name, you could've called that MMA too. Since any possible combination can go by that name, it has zero meaning outside of the sport itself.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
This goes back to what we were discussing earlier with the fruit.

My original point wasn't that the blend of fruits in the cups were an unhealthy concoction sitting in preservative-laced HFCS. It's that you would refer to it as "mixed fruit" rather than "a fuit" as you would an apple or an orange. And that's how I'm looking at MMA.
I understand what you're trying to say, and I tried to bring you back to the point. You're getting confused by the analogy, and I totally believe that you would get into a who's on first discussion. You're actively trying to draw me into one with you. :)

My point was and remains that regardless of the packaging, real fruit is edible, regardless of how fake it looks (e.g., fruit cups). And fake fruit is inedible, regardless of how real it looks (e.g., decorative fruit). Eat it whole, mix it all up in a cup, blend it in a blender... it's still real fruit.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
Yes and no.

Most people are going to define a martial art by the martial aspect more than anything else. While MMA and many sports like it typically don't have an "artistic" component to them, one can use the second definition of artist, as provided by our lovely friends at Google:
That's really the only way to define the term, in my opinion.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
If I hear of an art called "foot hand way," I'm not getting the impression that it's a generic mixture.

You can literally combine two or more of any martial arts and call it "MMA." Had kudo not been given a name, you could've called that MMA too. Since any possible combination can go by that name, it has zero meaning outside of the sport itself.
You can go to TKD and do forms in the style of ITF (with the sine wave), Palgwes (with deep stances and strong movements), Taegeuks (with shallow stances and fast movements). You might be restricted to body kicks. You might be allowed to do all sorts of things.

You might go to a school like my current school and 90% of what you learn is kicks and forms. Or you might go to a school like my last school and learn punches (traditional style and modern style), kicks, forms, weapons, stand-up grappling techniques, and a few other things along the way.

Taekwondo schools are typically heavily influenced by the Master's former training. My old Master was also a Hapkido master, so there was a lot of Hapkido mixed in. I'm training Muay Thai and BJJ, so when I open my TKD school, there will be some of that. My current school is pretty much pure Taekwondo.

"Foot hand way" has basically zero meaning. It could be striking, grappling, or something that isn't even martial arts.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,774
Reaction score
5,766
Location
New York
If I hear of an art called "foot hand way," I'm not getting the impression that it's a generic mixture.

You can literally combine two or more of any martial arts and call it "MMA." Had kudo not been given a name, you could've called that MMA too. Since any possible combination can go by that name, it has zero meaning outside of the sport itself.
You could call any of the things that he provided foot hand way as well.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
13,135
Reaction score
5,333
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?
Mixed Martial Arts simply means you'll get trained in multiple martial arts. MMA alone is not a Martial Art. There is no standard foundation for Mixed Martial Arts. For some it's Muay Thai, others it's BJJ or Karate. My foundation would be centered around Jow Ga kung fu.

The foundation that I would use in my martial arts combo would not be the same as the foundation used in

The most accurate thing that anyone can do for MMA is to simply acknowledge the Martial Arts that are used in it, instead of trying to think of it as MMA fighting system.
 

Tony Dismukes

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
7,329
Reaction score
7,159
Location
Lexington, KY
If someone tells you that they're an MMA fighter, you're going to ask what arts they trained in. If their answer is "MMA," then a real life Abbott and Costello situation is about to happen.
As time goes on, an increasing number of MMA competitors are entering the sport having trained just MMA. They don't necessarily have any prior martial arts background. They don't necessarily take separate classes in BJJ, Muay Thai, etc. They just train MMA.

A little while back I did some research to determine the primary training background of every UFC champion ever. For about 20% of them, the answer was just "MMA". Good luck telling a UFC champion that he's not an MMA fighter because he hasn't studied BJJ, boxing, wrestling, etc in separate classes.

I get the desire to have language be logical, so that we can just look at the individual words in a phrase and derive the literal meaning, But that's not really how language works. (If it did, then we'd have to look at the entire phrase - mixed martial arts. "Martial" means related to war or the military. So "mixed martial arts" would mean something like combined operations where you get your infantry, tanks, and artillery to work together.)

Language is defined by its users. For a majority of the general public, as well as martial artists and competitive fighters, the term "mixed martial arts" aka MMA refers to the modern combat sport which incorporates unarmed striking and submission grappling, including fighting standing up and on the ground and to the training methods which have been developed in conjunction with that sport. It doesn't refer to arts like JKD, Wado Ryu, Kajukenbo, Danzan Ryu, etc even though those were all explicitly created by combining elements of pre-existing arts. It also doesn't refer to your cousin Bob who trains both Judo and Kali and is figuring out how to combine them in a fight.

You might like those MMA practitioners who just train MMA as a unified system rather than taking classes in separate arts to come up with a new name for what they do, but unless something happens in the cultural zeitgeist to make that happen organically. you can't force it.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
Mixed Martial Arts simply means you'll get trained in multiple martial arts. MMA alone is not a Martial Art. There is no standard foundation for Mixed Martial Arts. For some it's Muay Thai, others it's BJJ or Karate. My foundation would be centered around Jow Ga kung fu.

The foundation that I would use in my martial arts combo would not be the same as the foundation used in

The most accurate thing that anyone can do for MMA is to simply acknowledge the Martial Arts that are used in it, instead of trying to think of it as MMA fighting system.
@skribs just shared in detail how there's not "standard foundation" for TKD... is TKD a martial art? I bet if you got a bunch of karateka together, they could argue for hours about significant variations in their repective forms of Karate. Is karate a martial art?

Personally, I think MMA is so well developed as a martial art that it has spawned as many substyles as Karate or TKD. I just don't think folks who do MMA are as interested in labelling it... a cultural thing, IMO. Though some do. From calling it pancrase to Miletich Fighting Systems to Gaidojutsu, etc.

It's the same thing.
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
361
Reaction score
147
@skribs just shared in detail how there's not "standard foundation" for TKD... is TKD a martial art? I bet if you got a bunch of karateka together, they could argue for hours about significant variations in their repective forms of Karate. Is karate a martial art?

Personally, I think MMA is so well developed as a martial art that it has spawned as many substyles as Karate or TKD. I just don't think folks who do MMA are as interested in labelling it... a cultural thing, IMO. Though some do. From calling it pancrase to Miletich Fighting Systems to Gaidojutsu, etc.

It's the same thing.
The issue is the fact that we can define each martial art by the techniques used. Every judo throw has a nomenclature, as does every punch in boxing, and so forth.

MMA is defined by the rules of the sport.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
The issue is the fact that we can define each martial art by the techniques used. Every judo throw has a nomenclature, as does every punch in boxing, and so forth.

MMA is defined by the rules of the sport.

Are you suggesting that the techniques in MMA are unnamed or ill-defined? I am pretty sure that every technique in MMA very well defined. Folks have no problems at all communicating with a complex and evolved, shared vocabulary.

Or are you suggesting that a jab, cross, and hook are different or less well defined in MMA than in boxing? Or any of the throws that are used in MMA are less well defined than in Judo, wrestling, or BJJ?

Or is it the rules of the sport that you think is the issue? You mention Boxing and Judo... how are these two martial arts different than MMA?
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
13,135
Reaction score
5,333
They don't necessarily take separate classes in BJJ, Muay Thai, etc. They just train MMA.
But they are still training bits and pieces of existing systems. If you train a little BJJ then you are still training BJJ not MMA.

Example: Someone asks me if I train BJJ. If I allow my MMA sparring partner to teach me then my answer is "yes but only bits and pieces that I learn from training with a guy who does MMA."

if I teach you a small amount of Jow Ga techniques then you are still learning Jow Ga. You just aren't getting the full course. My MMA partner learned some Jow Ga from me. Just a little bit. He not only learned it, he used it against me. What he learned was not MMA. It was Jow Ga even though it was a very small piece.

This is why I say the most that we can do is acknowledge the system that the technique comes from. Which is better than thinking that it's born from MMA.

Jow Ga is technically a mixed martial arts system but not by itself. We still acknowledge the 3 systems that make up Jow Ga.

My personal thought is that MMA should do something similar so that the fighters can understand or at least know the root of what they train.
 

Hot Lunch

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 25, 2023
Messages
361
Reaction score
147
Are you suggesting that the techniques in MMA are unnamed or ill-defined? I am pretty sure that every technique in MMA very well defined. Folks have no problems at all communicating with a complex and evolved, shared vocabulary.

Or are you suggesting that a jab, cross, and hook are different or less well defined in MMA than in boxing? Or any of the throws that are used in MMA are less well defined than in Judo, wrestling, or BJJ?
Different arts have different names for similar techniques, do they not?
Or is it the rules of the sport that you think is the issue? You mention Boxing and Judo... how are these two martial arts different than MMA?
In Judo, there are certain techniques that are taught that are illegal in tournaments.

Boxing has existed long before Queensberry rules.

So the art can be separated from the rules of the sport in the case of boxing and judo.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
Different arts have different names for similar techniques, do they not?
Do they? Some do, but is that a function of language of origin or the art? Is osoto gari unique to judo? That translates to something like "major outer reap throw". If Judo had originated in an english speaking country, would it be called something different?

In Judo, there are certain techniques that are taught that are illegal in tournaments.
In some schools, but not others. Are you suggesting that MMA schools don't teach techniques that are illegal in tournaments?

Boxing has existed long before Queensberry rules.
So, modern, western boxing is a derivative of some other boxing style? Does that mean modern boxing isn't a martial art? What if they use a shared vocabulary with the other boxing styles?

So the art can be separated from the rules of the sport in the case of boxing and judo.

And again, how is that different with MMA? I mean, look. 15 years ago, you might have a point. But this isn't the olden days. Things have evolved. MMA has been pretty stable for like 25 years now, longer if you look at pancrase and vale tudo as precursors to modern MMA. 15 years ago, I might have agreed with you. But time marches on.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
13,135
Reaction score
5,333
@skribs just shared in detail how there's not "standard foundation" for TKD...
There is a standard foundation of TKD. I'm not sure why skribs thinks that when he wants to maintain belt rank if attending a new TKD school. If there were no foundation then the expectation would be to learn something new that is totally different. But to be honest the smallest changes or variations are big deals for Skribs. So it makes sense that he would think that.


Or are you suggesting that a jab, cross, and hook are different or less well defined in MMA than in boxing
Neither and none of that. Jabs are jabs. It's just the context in which jabs are thrown that make them different but they are the same thing.
Boxers are good with jabs but his jabs will change and be thrown differently if he is confronted with kicks and grappling. Same punch different context.

Which is why it's good to spar outside of one's system. MMA does just this and as a result they have a better understanding how to throw jabs in different context.
 

mograph

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 10, 2008
Messages
1,745
Reaction score
914
I realize that we give words meanings, but focusing deeply into the name of something is not likely to yield much about the characteristics of the thing itself: it can just give us insight into how people came to name the thing.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
But they are still training bits and pieces of existing systems. If you train a little BJJ then you are still training BJJ not MMA.

Example: Someone asks me if I train BJJ. If I allow my MMA sparring partner to teach me then my answer is "yes but only bits and pieces that I learn from training with a guy who does MMA."

if I teach you a small amount of Jow Ga techniques then you are still learning Jow Ga. You just aren't getting the full course. My MMA partner learned some Jow Ga from me. Just a little bit. He not only learned it, he used it against me. What he learned was not MMA. It was Jow Ga even though it was a very small piece.

This is why I say the most that we can do is acknowledge the system that the technique comes from. Which is better than thinking that it's born from MMA.

Jow Ga is technically a mixed martial arts system but not by itself. We still acknowledge the 3 systems that make up Jow Ga.

My personal thought is that MMA should do something similar so that the fighters can understand or at least know the root of what they train.
Is San Shou a martial art? They learn take downs, but not ground submissions. Are they learning bits and pieces of shiu jiaio or judo?

In judo, they are learning "bits and pieces" of other older forms of Jujutsu. Is judo a martial art?

Boxing focuses on punches... are they learning bits and pieces of muay thai?

More to the point, does anyone think that the wrestling in MMA is the same as wrestling in the discrete art? Is the grappling found in MMA the same as the grappling in BJJ or in Judo? Is the boxing the same? The karate? The TKD?

If the hangup here is a visible pedigree, I could possibly see your point if there was no demonstrable evolution taking place. But even where the line can clearly be seen between technique in MMA and in other styles, the execution and tactics involved are not the same.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,589
Reaction score
7,108
Location
Covington, WA
There is a standard foundation of TKD. I'm not sure why skribs thinks that when he wants to maintain belt rank if attending a new TKD school.

I'll take his word for it.
If there were no foundation then the expectation would be to learn something new that is totally different. But to be honest the smallest changes or variations are big deals for Skribs. So it makes sense that he would think that.
I don't follow. On one hand, you are saying that if there is no foundation, then they would be learning something totally different. And small changes and variations are no big deal. On the other hand, when it comes to MMA, where even though they aren't learning something totally different, there is no shared foundation? You seem to be all mixed up. Or was this just a cheap dig on Skribs? Not very nice.

Neither and none of that. Jabs are jabs. It's just the context in which jabs are thrown that make them different but they are the same thing.
Boxers are good with jabs but his jabs will change and be thrown differently if he is confronted with kicks and grappling. Same punch different context.

Which is why it's good to spar outside of one's system. MMA does just this and as a result they have a better understanding how to throw jabs in different context.

So, it's context that matters? Just to be clear, is boxing a martial art? If the context is MMA, what's the problem?

And sparring outside of one's system is good if your goal is to be well rounded outside of the style. If a Judoka has no interest in being well rounded, what do they gain by sparring outside of their system? And how would that be different in MMA?
 
OP
T

Taiji Rebel

Black Belt
Joined
May 18, 2023
Messages
525
Reaction score
188
The following page has some points worth consideration when defining and understanding the terms martial art:
Here are two paragraphs which caught my attention:

1) Lets start off by dissecting the term martial art. Martial is something relating to war and it comes from the name Mars, given to the Roman god of war. The term martial art emerged around the 14th century to describe European fighting arts, now known as Historical European martial arts.

2) Every martial art you can find is not simply a system of techniques and their application, but a philosophy to live by. You cannot ignore the moral teachings of the creators and the masters if you ever want to perfect a martial art; there is no martial art without them.
 
Top