MMA History


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MMA History

Mixed martial arts (MMA), is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports. The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Olympics where one of the earliest documented systems of codified full range unarmed combat was in the sport of pankration.[dubious – discuss][citation needed] Various mixed style contests took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. The combat sport of vale tudo that had developed in Brazil from the 1920s was brought to the United States by the Gracie family in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The more dangerous vale-tudo-style bouts of the early UFCs were made safer with the implementation of additional rules, leading to the popular regulated form of MMA seen today. Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with minimal rules. Later, fighters employed multiple martial arts into their style while promoters adopted additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport. The name mixed martial arts was coined by television critic Howard Rosenberg, in 1993, in his review of UFC 1. The term gained popularity when the website, then one of the biggest covering the sport, hosted and reprinted the article. Following these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity with a pay-per-view business that rivals boxing and professional wrestling.
Mixed Martial ArtsA Greek statue pancratium, an event showcased at the Roman Colosseum. Even as late as the Early Middle Ages, statues were put up in Rome and other cities to honour remarkable pankratiasts of Rome. During the Classic Greek era there existed an ancient Olympic combat sport, known as Pankration which featured a combination of grappling and striking skills, similar to modern mixed martial arts. This sport originated in Ancient Greece and was later passed on to the Romans.
No-holds-barred fighting reportedly took place in the late 1880s when wrestlers representing styles, Greco-Roman wrestling and many others met in tournaments and music-hall challenge matches throughout Europe. In the USA, the first major encounter between a boxer and a wrestler in modern times took place in 1887 when John L. Sullivan, then heavyweight world boxing champion, entered the ring with his trainer, Greco-Roman Wrestling champion William Muldoon, and was slammed to the mat in two minutes. The next publicized encounter occurred in the late 1890s when future heavyweight boxing champion Bob Fitzsimmons took on European Greco-Roman Wrestling champion Ernest Roeber. In September 1901, Frank "Paddy" Slavin, who had been a contender for Sullivan's boxing title, knocked out future world wrestling champion Frank Gotch in Dawson City, Canada.

Another early example of mixed martial arts was Bartitsu, which Edward William Barton-Wright founded in London in 1899. Combining judo, jujutsu, boxing, savate and canne de combat (French stick fighting), Bartitsu was the first martial art known to have combined Asian and European fighting styles, and which saw MMA-style contests throughout England, pitting European and Japanese champions against representatives of various European wrestling styles.

The history of modern MMA competition can be traced to mixed style contests throughout Europe, Japan, and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s; In Japan these contests were known as merikan, from the Japanese slang for "American [fighting]". Merikan contests were fought under a variety of rules including points decision, best of three throws or knockdowns, and victory via knockout or submission.
As the popularity of professional wrestling waned after World War I it split into two genres: "shoot", in which the fighters actually competed, and "show", which evolved into modern professional wrestling.
In 1936, heavyweight boxing contender Kingfish Levinsky and veteran professional wrestler Ray Steele competed in a mixed match, which Steele won in 35 seconds.
In 1963, "Judo" Gene Lebell fought professional boxer Milo Savage in a no-holds-barred match. Lebell won by Harai Goshi to sleeper hold, leaving Savage unconscious.
In the late 1960s to early 1970s, the concept of combining the elements of multiple martial arts was popularized in the west by Bruce Lee via his system philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. Lee believed that "the best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt to any style, to be formless, to adopt an individual's own style and not following the system of styles." In 2004, UFC President Dana White would call Lee the "father of mixed martial arts" stating: "If you look at the way Bruce Lee trained, the way he fought, and many of the things he wrote, he said the perfect style was no style. You take a little something from everything. You take the good things from every different discipline, use what works, and you throw the rest away".
Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki took place in Japan in 1976. Both fighters refused to engage in the other's style and after a 15 round stalemate, it was declared a draw.



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