Mixed Martial Arts: A Storied History

Hand-to hand combat sports have been around for thousands of years, spawning a long and storied history documented in several ancient cultures. Yet, the grueling sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), as we know it today, is evolving and taking the world by storm. While full combat sports have always been popular in some form or another, it is the mixed martial arts discipline of combining multiple fighting styles that truly separate it from the pack of other contact sports.

The sport of full contact Mixed Martial Arts can trace its roots back to the ancient Greeks and ther introduction of Pankration into the Olympic Games. While the name Pankration sounds like something whales eat, it actually means “all powers” and was thought to have derived from mythological heroes Heracles and Theseus. This no-holds barred style of fighting only had two rules: no biting or eye gouging.  Pankration quickly gave way to boxing and wrestling, which took favor in Western civilization, while traditional martial arts styles held popularity in much of Asia and the Pacific Rim. While much of the world trained and fought with a variety of fighting styles, Vale Tudo, a style from Brazil and the notable Gracie family became highly popular. However, in much of the West, this type of fighting — while popular in Brazil and Japan — didn’t gain mainstream acceptance until the enterprising president of the Semaphore Entertainment Group, Bob Meyrowitz helped develop a catalyst for the sport’s popularity we see now in today’s Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts.

Today, the adoption of varying martial arts styles such as Judo, Karate, Catch Wrestling, Muay Thai, combined with incredible advancements in technology, training and fitness equipment, have brought mixed martial arts not just widespread publicity, but a cult following.  Joe Rogan, well-known UFC commentator, even suggests that because of these advancements, mixed martial arts had evolved more in ten years since UFC began than in the 700 years that preceded it.

At Nexersys, we’re excited to see and be a part of the future of mixed martial arts.


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