MMA is becoming more and more popular every single day, as new jurisdictions legalise and sanction the sport all over North America and as the UFC continues to put on shows for its fans all over the world. Not a day goes by where something new is happening the world of mixed martial arts, whether it’s news of a rising star, a new #1 contender for a title, or another steroid allegation (or drug use, if your name is Nick Diaz).
In terms of MMA-geared martial arts, we most often hear about muay thai, boxing, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, and finally Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Once in a while there are fighters who break the mould like Lyoto Machida who is a Shotokan Karate black belt or Karo Paryisian who is a judo black belt. I’m not going to argue that the four martial arts mentioned above are no good because that’s far from the case. What I want to ask is whether or not the rise of MMA in society today has led to a “doing away with” of more traditional martial arts such as Japanese jiu-jitsu, aikido, hapkido, and even the aforementioned karate and judo as examples.
Whenever I step into my own local MMA gym and I train, I don’t often train in muay thai or boxing for the simple reason that I find them boring. I do enjoy freestyle wrestling as well as no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because they’re excellent for cardio work, but at the end of the day, I find these martial arts to be overrated.
Please note, I’m not saying these systems are bad. But I believe that because MMA has become so popular, people talk about those systems (muay thai and BJJ in particular) as if they are the be-all, end-all, supreme martial arts that define the concept of martial arts itself. The martial arts are so varied and complex that there is no one supreme form out there. All of them work in different ways and the best option for anyone who claims to be a martial artist is to explore as many arts as they can and develop a system that works best for them.
I feel MMA’s popularity has discouraged the practice of developing one’s own system and path. It’s important to stay open to new forms of training and always explore new ways of fighting. Don’t get stuck with what is considered popular and exciting because it could hinder your growth as a martial artist.