The real diff. tween TMA & MMA

El_Nastro

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Just felt like sharing some stuff I've been thinking about lately.

These thoughts were spawned by the great "Rules Debate" that commonly takes place between any TMA'er and MMA enthusiast. The conversation usually goes something like this:

MMA: "TMA is fake. You don't fight for reals in The Cage."

TMA: "That's because the cage has rules. TMA trains for The Street. If you put a TMA'er in the cage, you take away eye gouges, rabbit punches, genital-ripping, and throat-smashing!"

MMA: "As if you actually do any of those moves! You can't realistically practice eye-gouges and genital-ripping! Besides, on 'the street', there's nothing stopping a cagefighter from doing any of those dirty, deadly moves either. We could eye-gouge and throat-smash too if we wanted."

At this point the conversation usually becomes a full-on flame-war between TMA-guy & MMA-guy. The TMA guy will talk about how MMA has too many restrictive rules & how TMA is for "the street" and MMA is "just a sport". The MMA guy will then point out how no TMA'er has done well in MMA, and how most TMA's don't have a "ground game". We've all seen (or participated in) these conversations before.

Lately I've been thinking that these things in slightly different terms. And as it turns out, the TMA guy and the MMA guy are sort of both right.

I think that ultimately the difference between TMA & MMA has nothing to do with the rules at play during the fight, rather the real difference lies in the conditions for which it was designed. Lets talk about MMA for a second, & look at those conditions.

When the first UFC's came out, MMA was a competitions between TMA'ers. Remember those days? There were karate guys, kempo guys, kickboxers, WC'ers, judoka, and of course BJJ.

Over the years though, MMA became a style unto itself. It became optimized for a very specific set of conditions. Consider all the things that a modern cagefighter can take for granted:

-he knows the fight will be 1 on 1, and he doesn't even have to consider the possibility that anyone else may jump in.

-he knows there won't be any weapons of any kind involved, so he doesn't even have to consider them.

-he knows exactly what the environment will be. it'll be a flat mat in a well-lit room.

-he can be pretty sure that his opponent wont actually try to KILL him

-he knows there'll be medical professionals on hand, and even if he does get hurt real bad, someone'll get him to a hospital.

-he knows exactly when the fight will take place, so he has plenty of time to psychologically prepare

-he knows he has all the time in the world. a cagefighter doesn't have to worry about cops showing up, the bad guy's buddies showing up, or anything else like that, so he doesn't have to hurry. how many times have we seen a good grappler employ patience as a strategy?

-he knows there's no time limit on training...he can spend as much time as he wants in the gym before choosing to fight

There might be more, but these are a few of the conditions under which MMA has evolved. It's the exact same mechanism as biological evolution by natural selection...there are selective pressures that influence the way a species evolves, and these are the selective pressures that have influenced the MMA style and training approach.

Now let's think about the conditions that influenced TMA and other non-cagefight systems (like Krav Maga or Systema). Of course each system is going to have its own unique set of conditions that the founders were considering when they created the system...some are meant for formation melee war, some for more modern ballistic war and special ops, and some are meant for civilian self-defense on the street. Regardless of which of these sets of conditions we're talking about, NONE of them can take for granted any of the things a cagefighter can.

TMA's tend to assume the absolute worst for every one of the types of conditions listed above. They assume there'll be more than one opponent, that there'll be weapons, that the terrain will be rough, the lighting bad, that the bad guy is out to kill you, that you've got to hurry and win the fight fast, that you'll be surprised, etc. etc.. Considerations for all the variation in these conditions have to be built in to a TMA. This is why no TMA's have a complex, high-level "ground-game"....because that sort of strategy is a horrible idea except in a very specific set of conditions (that being a duel). This is why Wing Chun doesn't spar like how boxers do....WC figures there's no time to fight like a boxer where you jab, get a feel for the opponent, step back, maneuver around, jab, jab....search for the opening, then attack - WC assumes you've got to get in there and get it done immediately...WC assumes there just isn't time to box. It's why Krav Maga or MCMAP doesn't spend a lot of time on the "rubber guard" or Muay Thai shin-kick conditioning; not because the those people don't know how awesome Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai are, but because those strategies aren't worth employing and aren't worth taking the time to train for given the conditions under which Krav Maga & MCMAP were developed.

To put it another way, it's not that TMA's can do "deadly dirty moves" and MMA can't. In fact, that's exactly backwards. TMA can't do a lot of the things that MMA can. TMA doesn't have the luxury of getting heavily into groundfighting, TMA doesn't have the luxury of a strategy where you can take your time and be patient. TMA's just can't take for granted a lot of the things MMA can, so TMA's strategic options tend to be more limited than MMA's.

This being the case, is it any wonder that TMA tends to lose to MMA in cagefights?!

It's sort of like the difference between a humvee and a dragracer. Who wins in a race...a humvee or a dragracer? The dragracer wins every time...provided it's on a flat, straight track. And the designer of a dragracer has the luxury of optimizing his vehicle for a very specific set of conditions. He can put a huge engine in the vehicle, he can streamline it, he can choose just the right tires, he can forget about gas mileage. A humvee designer doesn't have those options.


Or the difference between a rapier & buckler and a two-handed longsword...the rapier was designed for 1 on 1 dueling from the get-go. All things being equal, the rapier/buckler fighter wins every time. The rapier designer can choose to make a sword that's fast, long, and light because he doesn't have to worry about armor, doesn't have to worry about needing to kill or dismember the enemy with one swing...so the rapier designer has a lot more options, and thus the rapier fighter has a lot more options. A longsword can't be that light...it's got to be able to cut and thrust. It has to be able to penetrate armor. It can't be fully optimized for a 1 on 1 duel against an unarmored enemy like the rapier.

Or it's the difference between a snub-nosed revolver and a customized, competition sniper rifle. What's better? The revolver or the rifle? The rifle's more accurate, has more power, and a longer range. By every quantifiable measure the sniper rifle is better. The competition sniper rifle designer doesn't have to worry about weight or barrel length, how cumbersome the weapon is, the recoil, or how maneuverable the weapon is; he can make whatever decisions he wants that'll optimize it for the competition. But a snub-nosed revolver can go with you anywhere, it's easier to shoot, you can pull it out anytime, and it's a lot less expensive.

So anyway...to summarize...it's not about "rules" vs. "no rules" or "let's see you fight in the cage" vs. "my style is for the street!", it's about the conditions and variable a given system is built to account for. MMA exists solely to fight one enemy in a featureless, surprise-free environment, and so it's silly to even suggest that straight WC or Aikido or Karate or TKD could ever compete with MMA-style BJJ/Muay Thai in a "fair" fight, because those systems were never intended for that kind of fight...MMA is. The advantage to TMA is that you're more prepared for a wider range of conditions, if only by virtue of the fact that your training involves assuming the worst for every variable (or at least it should.)
 
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Tez3

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Sigh...oh great another MMA v TMA thread.


MMA is a competition using TMAs. End of subject. Please.
 
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El_Nastro

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Sigh...oh great another MMA v TMA thread. MMA is a competition using TMAs. End of subject. Please.
I like the way you roll dude.I think maybe I'll go find a thread I'm not interested in, ciick on it, and write about how I'm not interested in reading it.
 

Tez3

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I like the way you roll dude.I think maybe I'll go find a thread I'm not interested in, ciick on it, and write about how I'm not interested in reading it.

I'm not a 'dude', if you use the search button you will find that the MMA v TMA thing has been done to death. We've had all the MMA haters, the ones who think we are all bald ugly men with tattoos who know nothing about TMA and we've had the TMA people who can't stand MMA because you can't gouge out eyes and you fight how you train etc etc. We've had every cliche and every possible view point, it's flogging a dead horse to rehash it all again. Sorry but there it is.

The whole point of MMA is that it's for competition and it uses TMA to compete.

This would really have been better being posted in the 'Great Debate' section rather than the WC one.
 

JohnEdward

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I have to agree the MMA vs. TMA is done to death, especially to us veterans. But the thing is with each year new people join both MMA and TMA, making the debate fresh in their minds especially as MMA keeps becoming evolving and changing sport. With every sport there is hype and with every art their is snobbery. The core issue really is sport vs. art. The two really don't compare, it is apples and apples. Meaning MMA is constructed from traditional arts. MMA comprising arts come from traditional arts turn into sports and then combined into a specialized competition sports venue. Basically traditional martial arts specialized that is exercised in a controlled combative environment. That has been happen in martial arts for centuries but the difference is the combination of specific arts, i.e. grappling (Bjj or jujutsu), striking (boxing and Muay Thay). Because of the lack of understanding of traditional arts, MMA background in relation to traditional arts, and traditional arts keeping to tradition, staying as recreational activity ( not training to be sport fighters) and self defense/street defense philosophy creates debate.

The debate ceases when there is a realization that MMA "Mixed Martial Arts" is martial arts applied in a different area with a traditional combative approach, that MMA fighters are what traditional martial artists where about. It is all martial with different applications. The practice of traditional arts is a post-fighting practice, and to keep and maintain techniques for future use like MMA venues then there is no debate. Because TMA and MMA are two sides to the same coin. When that is realized and understood the debate is rather tired. But to those who are fresh to both MMA and TMA, the debate arises based on the lack of a holistic understanding, and complete understanding of both entities. MMA and TMA are not two distinct rival entities born out of different camps, but instead martial arts in different applications.

The debate I think is required as it forces each side to look closer at each other, learning more and appreciating the martial arts. Yes, there are some who will never "get it" and hold differentiating options and debate the issue until their grave. But there are more who come to the realization appreciating both MMA and TMA as martial arts with different applications, and that is what is important.
 

Tez3

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I have to agree the MMA vs. TMA is done to death, especially to us veterans. But the thing is with each year new people join both MMA and TMA, making the debate fresh in their minds especially as MMA keeps becoming evolving and changing sport. With every sport there is hype and with every art their is snobbery. The core issue really is sport vs. art. The two really don't compare, it is apples and apples. Meaning MMA is constructed from traditional arts. MMA comprising arts come from traditional arts turn into sports and then combined into a specialized competition sports venue. Basically traditional martial arts specialized that is exercised in a controlled combative environment. That has been happen in martial arts for centuries but the difference is the combination of specific arts, i.e. grappling (Bjj or jujutsu), striking (boxing and Muay Thay). Because of the lack of understanding of traditional arts, MMA background in relation to traditional arts, and traditional arts keeping to tradition, staying as recreational activity ( not training to be sport fighters) and self defense/street defense philosophy creates debate.

The debate ceases when there is a realization that MMA "Mixed Martial Arts" is martial arts applied in a different area with a traditional combative approach, that MMA fighters are what traditional martial artists where about. It is all martial with different applications. The practice of traditional arts is a post-fighting practice, and to keep and maintain techniques for future use like MMA venues then there is no debate. Because TMA and MMA are two sides to the same coin. When that is realized and understood the debate is rather tired. But to those who are fresh to both MMA and TMA, the debate arises based on the lack of a holistic understanding, and complete understanding of both entities. MMA and TMA are not two distinct rival entities born out of different camps, but instead martial arts in different applications.

The debate I think is required as it forces each side to look closer at each other, learning more and appreciating the martial arts. Yes, there are some who will never "get it" and hold differentiating options and debate the issue until their grave. But there are more who come to the realization appreciating both MMA and TMA as martial arts with different applications, and that is what is important.

However it's not going to be a serious discussion when the OP starts with stereotyping people to stir people up and to reinforce those stereotypes.
 

billc

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El Nastro, done to death or not, you can never do a thread to death since each time new perspectives tend to come up, and new people may be joining martialtalk who haven't seen those arguments before, or are new to the whole martial arts thing in the first place. A new person may enjoy seeing a concise and very well thought out description of this particular line of thought on mma and tma. It was a great post and a great way to approach the argument. I think you captured the essence of the differences and why they exist. Thanks. Once again, great post. I really enjoyed it.
 

Xue Sheng

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Difference between MMA and TMA

MMA trains to fight an opponent that they will likely see again
TMA trains to fight an opponent they hope to never see again
 

Xue Sheng

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I think Bruce Lee was a fraud.

Why I otta :mst:
Just the thing I would expect from an ecologically minded wanna be Old School JJJ guy.. although who can balme you...we were AWSOME!!! :D

What about Lee Van Cleef?

Well that depends
Lee Van Cleef as the Master or Lee Van Cleef from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly :D
 

clfsean

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What about Lee Van Cleef?

Don't knock "The Master"!
$autovancleef2.jpg
 

clfsean

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I think Bruce Lee was a fraud.

Eh... I think "fraud" is a bit harsh. Not trained completely yes. Street fighting background yes. Undeniable amount of self confidence / ego most definitely yes.

What he did is he hit Hollywood with something different, a funny accent, stories from Hong Kong & an odd philosophy. If San Fran's or NYC's respective Chinatowns opened up to teaching non-Chinese before he got here, I think his influence would've been greatly reduced.
 

Tez3

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El Nastro, done to death or not, you can never do a thread to death since each time new perspectives tend to come up, and new people may be joining martialtalk who haven't seen those arguments before, or are new to the whole martial arts thing in the first place. A new person may enjoy seeing a concise and very well thought out description of this particular line of thought on mma and tma. It was a great post and a great way to approach the argument. I think you captured the essence of the differences and why they exist. Thanks. Once again, great post. I really enjoyed it.


Are you sure about this? MMA is a very left wing sport you know! :)


MMA is a sport btw the way. All the styles used in it are traditional martial arts so arguing that MMA is one thing and TMA another is odd as they are one and the same. MMA is a sporting aspect of using your martial arts. As I've asked before many times...why does eye gouging always come in the conversation?
 

Buka

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Based on what folks who trained with him told me, I think there is a certain confusion today between Bruce Lee the actor and Bruce Lee the martial artist.

As for TMA and MMA, to me, it's not really a good comparison. I think each school is specific in what it does and what it teaches. The usual comparisons are all about fighting, anyway. There's more to the arts than fighting.
 

JohnEdward

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No one has mentioned David Carradine yet....:eek: It is said Bruce Lee was upset that he wasn't given that role.

Manny Pacquiao credits Bruce Lee for his skill. Pacquiao says he was inspired and derived much technically from Bruce Lee, as well as his success. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/sports/02pacquiao.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

And, I have to say Bruce Lee did inspire me to get involved in martial arts like millions of others back in the 1970s. Bruce Lee pretty much argued against traditional karate which was big as well back then. It reminds me of the argument of Judo vs. Jujutsu, Wing Chun vs. MMA, and a host of others all in the vain as the TMA vs. MMA arguments going on now.


Can I get an Amen!
 

Jenna

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To the OP, I think you have made some good valid compares and contrasts, and that makes your post interesting to read, thank you.

I might suggest respectfully though that perhaps though you have oversimplified the complexities of how both of those systems TMA and MMA operate in reality in order to draw out their differences. Do you not think this is so?

I would suggest that your OP could be abridged succinctly by saying that the real difference between TMA and MMA is purely contextual. By that I mean that they are both fighting arts though they are shaped entirely due to their respective operating environments.

I think it is a bit like trying to establish the real diff. tween an apple and an orange. While one may be proven to be more nutritious, in the end, they are just different.

I still prefer oranges.
 
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