Rogue Community College
Mixed martial arts: Brutality at its finest
Two men face off in an octagon shaped “ring”, each vying for the advantage needed to either subdue their enemy with a flurry of brutal blows to the head and midsection or the opportunity to take them down to the mat and submit them with a technique designed to break a limb or pass out from lack of oxygen if they are unwilling to admit defeat. This is the sport of mixed martial arts, or MMA, as it is referred to more frequently. Some claim it to be a sadistic, violent activity that is synonymous with the arenas of ancient Rome and the gruesome fights to the death by gladiators. Senator John McCain, one of the leading antagonists against MMA, has in the past referred to it as “human cockfighting” (Siegel, 2007, para. 18). MMA should not be banned, is no more dangerous than other high-contact sports, and can have a positive influence in an individual’s life. Mixed martial arts boasts a much longer past than most people are aware of. The first recorded history of MMA was when it was presented into the Olympic Games by the Greeks in the form of the sport called pankration in 648 B.C.E. Pankration is a fighting form that incorporates wrestling and boxing into a deadly style of unarmed combat that the Spartans used to dominate the battlefield. Pankration quickly rose to be the most admired game in the Olympics and fans were drawn to it; filling the stadiums. The allure of these matches can be seen today in modern mixed martial arts bouts. This fighting style consists of standing strikes using the feet, hands, elbows and knees and on the ground using submission holds and blows to the head and midsection. Pankratiasts were extraordinary grapplers and employed a multitude of techniques to subdue their adversaries via chokes and joint locks. These fighters were pursued by Alexander the Great because of their infamy in battle. He had recruited a considerable amount of these individuals when he invaded India in 326 B.C.E. This is rumored to be the origin of martial arts in Asia, as most forms can attribute Indian influence from about the same time period. Because of the extreme training this form required, it later declined in popularity in those who participated in the sport. At this time the west favored specializing in either boxing or wrestling and traditional martial arts were adopted as the combat sport for Asian nations. Mixed martial arts remained dormant for centuries, only emerging briefly at various times in history, until it was revived in 1925 in Rio de Janeiro by the Gracie family. George Gracie emigrated from Scotland to a small province of Brazil in 1801, where the family settled and thrived. In the first part of the 1900’s, Mitsuyo Maeda emigrated from Japan to the same province as the Gracie family, where he began to train Carlos Gracie in the martial art form of Judo. Carlos Gracie trained with Maeda for six years as a young adult, until Maeda returned to Japan. Gracie then trained his brothers in the art of Judo and they adapted it to the form known today as jiu-jitsu, a dominant style adopted in MMA today. In 1925, Carlos and Helio Gracie moved to Rio de Janeiro and opened the first jiu-jitsu training camp. To gain recognition for their young school, he advertised in local papers issuing the “Gracie Challenge”. This challenge consisted of an all-out challenge to take on any and all who thought they could best them. These contests resembled the pankration events of old. Thus the sport of mixed martial arts was reborn. Vale-tudo, which means “anything goes” in Portuguese, rapidly became the second most popular sport in Brazil, closely following soccer. This once again shows that these types of spectator sports are sought after by the general populace. Helio Gracie, who weighed only 135 pounds, was an important aspect of this popularity as he proceeded to fight in over one-thousand...