I have been reviewing cage fights in my down time of late, mostly UFC-type stuff.
As I have been re-evaluating my martial path, looking at how other warriors train and fight has become of interest. I remember when UFC first started and was only on pay-per-view. I ended up seeing a lot of those fights, and one of my high school classmates, Stephen Bonner, is now a UFC ring fighter.
Anyway, after 20 years of thought and interest in the martial arts 7 years of hard-core training, here are my observations.
MMA is typically great if you want to go fight in a ring and prove you can kick ass against other people who want to prove the same thing. I am not interested in that. I am more interested in a martial way with practical street value.
The biggest asset of MMA training is first conditioning. You become prepared to go round after round, endure punishment and dish it out. Your body becomes weaponized and tough. Technique follows. And after about 6 months of training, you have someone who can at least handle themselves in a brawl, fight, or possibly a mugging.
I am a boring person in that respect and am rarely in brawls or fights. Mostly because I know where not to walk. This is called awareness and it is an integral part of following a martial path. I am not aware if MMA students are taught to practice martial awareness unless they have learned it elsewhere first, but this is the most valuable asset in my martial tool bag. Street awareness and being able to sense the signs of trouble before it comes. This, more than anything, has saved me from having to do battle or from bad things happening to myself and others.
Techniques and martial ability are next. These are what you use when you have no choice or the best option is to duke it out. MMA is good in this regard because the student, particularly the dedicated one, has a large tool bag of techniques. In and out of the ring, basic American boxing and the kicks of Muay Thai are, in my opinion, some very effective means of destruction. Combined with some basic techniques from wrestling and you have a strong, competent fighter.
I speak as a karate-ka and aikido-ka. I love those arts and will always practice them in some respect, but I can say without a doubt that the addition of American boxing and arts outside my core makes my personal skills so much stronger and gives me another answer to a potential problem or situation.
Finally, I would add Judo as a strong path to strengthening fighting ability. Judo is sweet, but needs strikes to make it viable. If one is fortunate to find training in an aiki-jitsu-ish art, such as daito-ryu, that would be the cat's pajamas in my opinion.
Anyway, these are my scatterbrained thoughts on MMA. It's good training as far as it goes. I think the well-rounded fighter needs to steep themselves to some degree in an MMA environment, and also because that that's the martial arts being promulgated in our present day. That's the type of trained fighter your are likely to face. But at some point, one needs to train for living, and that's where I think going back to the traditional (I like the Japanese) arts, where a formalized martial path is evident, has its strength.
Over and Out,