Taking it to the ground with Mixed Martial Arts
By: Victoria Chau, Staff Writer
Self-discipline, confidence, determination, and technique are four words associated with all sports. Add into that mixture ground-and-pound, no-holds-barred, submission, tap out, sleeper hold and taking-it-to-the-floor, and we’re talking about the increasingly popular sport of mixed martial arts, better known by its acronym MMA.
MMA has seen a re-emergence through an exploding fan base that truly started in the beginning of the 1990s, but can claim roots back to Ancient Greece. Despite being an extremely old sport, it has been the topic of heated debates. Its critics claim that it is simply too dangerous and promotes a “desensitization to violence.”
MMA advocates and practitioners refute this claim. They invite critics to better educate themselves about the sport to see that it is all about controlling the environment that MMA is practiced in. But before we get into the bashing and praise that MMA has received over the last decade, let’s rewind and see where it all started.
THE HISTORY OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Rewind: 648 BCE in Ancient Greece
In 648 BCE, the Ancient Greeks decided to introduce what they called the sport of Pankration. This sport is the combination of two words: pan meaning ‘all’, and kratos meaning ‘powers.’ So put together, the sport was ‘all powers.’ This meant that Pankration was a mixture of boxing and wrestling that had only two rules: no eye gouging and no biting. To make it more interesting, the Greeks had the fights take place in a ring that was usually 12 to 14 feet across to encourage close-quarter combat. These bouts would end only when one participant was knocked unconscious or ‘submitted’ by raising his hand. Naturally, a referee was involved.
Sounding familiar yet?
Those that participated in the sports were called Pankratiasts and were often the heroes of Greek myths and legends. Even Hercules himself was said to have been a Pankratiast. Alas, with the rise of the Roman Empire also came the decline of Pankration, which was shoved aside for other combat sports. In the West, wrestling and boxing eventually became the more popular of combat sports and in the East (more specifically East Asia) the traditional martial arts flourished.