As a karate guy – in the 80’s I noticed mixed martial arts become popular. At first I like many of my peers thought that ground work was beneath me (pun intended). If the MMA practitioners would just stand up and fight – things would work better. Chokes, arm bars and throws were the stuff of movies because if anyone tried to get close to me – I would deck them.
Then I started to take notice that jiu jitsu seemed to be good for ground attacks just like boxing or karate was good for standing attacks. The first MMA matches were really long matches (longer then the 3 minute boxing or 2 minute karate matches I was use to) that ended with injuries many times.
I remembered wrestling in school and knew what great shape these guys had to be in to compete in MMA. A MMA competitor has to meld striking and grappling arts along with building strength to be successful. While it is true that in MMA (from my observations) as well as karate, fighters have their favorite moves. But the fighters have to train with their weaknesses too so they can be better fighters.
When I briefly trained with full-contact karate, I practiced boxing, karate, and conditioning to be a better fighter. Even though I practiced boxing – I did not like to stay inside much like a good boxer could. I was more effective staying on the outside picking my shots. I once practiced several rounds with an experienced boxer and got pounded in the first round. I had the height advantage and figured I could out punch him. Well my opponent was far better at inside fighting then I and soundly pounded that point home.
The second and third round went better as I adjusted to using my reach and timing from the outside and was able to pick my shots at will. MMA is kind of similar to my experiences as a fighter tries to fight in his or her comfort zone, but may have to rapidly adjust the strategy to win.
MMA today is what full contact karate was in the 80’s… the next generation of fighting. When I started fighting boxing was on the way out as the best fighting system (as full contact karate grew up). Now karate while still every bit as effective (as boxing still is) in a street fight, it is no longer on the cutting edge in my opinion. There are too many styles that claim certain moves as the best over other styles. I once had the pleasure of fighting a formal Korean stylist (favors kicks with good form) who got mad at me because I had no form (in his opinion) even though he could not hit/kick me while I was countering him effectively. It should not matter in fighting where you get something – just if it works or not.
My opinion of MMA is that it is very effective and can not really be pinned down to a style. While it is true that different schools will favor certain moves – MMA seems to use any moves that work well without regard to where the moves came from. Who knows – maybe another evaluator will be reviewing MMA to the newest thing in 50 years (mind control?) but right now I don’t really see how it can be improved on. MMA is the definition of adaptive and will probably have a long run. Having said that – I am still very comfortable with karate will probably just stick to what I like. I think that any contact self-defense method, including boxing, karate, judo, aikido, kung-fu, muay thai, jiu jitsu, wrestling, and MMA are great ways to prepare for self-defense!