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The Stunning Rise of Mixed Martial Arts

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Mixed martial arts, also known as no-holds-barred fighting, is a combat sport that mixes techniques from different martial arts, Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, and Brazilian jujitsu. While mixed martial arts have been around since the late 1800s, it was Bruce Lee who made the movement popular by creating a unique fighting style that combined everything from western boxing to karate to fencing. Mixed martial arts didn’t become an official sport until the Ultimate Fighting Championship was established in the United States in 1992. Pankration, a form of mixed martial arts originally practiced in Greece as far back as 648 B.C., is now under consideration to become an Olympic sport. There are very few rules in mixed martial arts, all of which were established over the last ten years. Before that, mixed martial arts was a brutal combat sport in which the health of the fighter was always at risk. The new rules dictate that certain moves, including head butts, biting, and eye gouging. Attacks to the groin area, kidneys, and trachea are also prohibited. Because there is no worldwide association presiding over mixed martial arts, rules vary from country to country. Amateur fights usually have a stricter set of rules, in order to protect the health of the fighter.

There are basically three stages during a mixed martial arts fight: stand-up fighting, clinch fighting, and ground fighting. Stand-up fighting includes techniques such as kicking, punching, kneeing, and elbowing the opponent, while ground fighting involves holding the opponent down through the use of grappling holds. Clinch fighting means holding the opponent, either to prevent strikes or to get the dominant position while on the ground.

Fighter Profiles

Yves Edwards began training in traditional martial arts in his youth before eventually taking up mixed martial arts. Like many aspiring martial artists, Edwards cites Hong Kong cinema as a formative influence. “I’ve always liked the old Hong Kong flicks, and I was a big comic book fan, you know the superheroes, they were always big in my mind. Anything that will make me physically better than the average person, and teach me to do things that the average person can’t do, I was game for it.” He is a well-rounded fighter, with a strong boxing background, training with Lewis Wood, a #6 WBA Featherweight boxer. This is in addition to his experience in muay thai and Brazilian jujitsu. Something of a showman, Edwards calls his fighting style “Thugjitsu.” It’s just finding what’s a weakness in your opponent compared to your strength, and exploiting it. Edwards also teaches Thugjitsu at The Revolution Dojo in Houston, Texas.

For the last fourteen years, “Big” John McCarthy has been the world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts referee, beginning with his participation at UFC 2 on March 11, 1994, in Denver, Colorado. McCarthy has refereed nearly six hundred bouts worldwide. His unmatched tenure includes many of the sport’s greatest moments, including Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock at UFC 40 in 2002, and Randy Couture-Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 in March 2008. McCarthy was one of the original authors of the mixed martial arts rules and regulations that are utilized today, and is a recognized historian of the sport. His advocacy of the sport has been instrumental in the passage of MMA regulations in numerous states. In 2002, McCarthy spoke at the Association of Boxing Commissions, delivering a presentation MMA’s merits. He would address the association three more times at its annual events, and was later invited back to teach educational seminars for both the ABC and international Professional Ring Officials Association (IPRO). McCarthy has also travelled and taught at nearly twenty individual athletic commissions in North America. McCarthy served a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department from 1985 to 2007. McCarthy was awarded his Tactic/Self-Defense Instructor Certification by the LAPD on August 12, 1993, and taught until his retirement on September 15. In his twenty-two years on the force, McCarthy instructed over one thousand recruits in arrest-and-control procedures and survival tactics. In 2007, California State Senator James Battin awarded McCarthy with a commendation for his career accomplishments in the sport, “for the work he has dome to increase the safety, visibility, and importance of mixed martial arts.” In Sept. 2006, Brazilian jujitsu black belt McCarthy opened Big John McCarthy’s Ultimated Training Academy (BJMUTA), the first fully functional MMA gym in Valencia, California, where he also teaches. McCarthy drafted a curriculum and testing system named Command for MMA referees and judges, which is the only program accredited by the ABC.



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