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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) vs. Traditional Martial Arts
In today’s fast-paced world, things change and evolve at what may at times seem like an alarming pace. Martial Arts are no exception. Over the last 10 years or so, the field of martial arts has seen many changes, most notably the integration of different styles, or “mixing” of martial arts. In the past, those seeking the way of martial arts would choose a style they preferred or identified with, and stick with that style over many years. In our interconnected world where information is a mouse-click away, it is not surprising that people wish to know which style is “better” or if elements of different styles can be learned to create an “ultimate fighter.”
In order to answer this question, it is important for the seeker of martial arts training to ask themselves a question: “What do I want to get out of training in the martial arts?” If the answer is to pursue martial arts as a sport in which you get in a ring with another fighter and prove who is the toughest, then consider MMA. This is the arena for you. You will learn elements of various martial arts styles and be able to compete in an emerging and popular sport. Of course, there are martial arts schools who teach “MMA style” to folks who never intend to “get in the ring.” These individuals will likely learn various effective techniques and get into shape.
If the answer to the above question is to gain knowledge of martial arts techniques and get into shape while also learning to adhere to its tenets and grow as a person, consider traditional martial arts. True martial arts training strips one of ego, teaching its students traits such as respect, humility, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Students and masters of traditional martial arts may also train competitively and in this context traditional martial arts is also a sport. The kata, or forms, taught in traditional martial arts are not meant for fighting, though they do help students build strength, perfect their technique, and build muscle memory. Traditional stances, taught properly, build strength and improve footwork. Of course, today’s traditional martial arts studios usually do offer multiple styles and classes to comply with customer demands. Often this involves a stand-up style and a ground style or situational training from the same geographical area (i.e. Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido are both from Korea). Situational training, otherwise known as self-defense, seeks to instill subconscious reactions which kick in during an adrenalized state. In summary, traditional martial arts teaches its adherents control over their own minds and bodies while promoting personal growth.
So, the short answer to the difference between MMA and traditional martial arts is that traditional martial arts teaches lessons of the mind, heart and body, whereas MMA is primarily a sport drawing from traditional martial arts techniques.
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