MMA: The Next Step
Mixed Martial Arts, born out of full contact, limited rules competition between anyone from any style willing to step into the cage or ring. Initially promoted as a bloodbath that could even end in death, then re-marketed and developed as the sport it had become. A sport which as far as contact sports go, is actually on the safe end of things with very few serious injuries and not a single death in a sanctioned event.
MMA has come a long way in the past decade, evolving from a clash of styles, into a style of it's own. With it's own techniques, strategies, and training methods.
Beginning with the dominance of the grappling stylists, who took down and tapped much larger and stronger opponents with ease. Then come the wrestler, with stronger takedowns, stronger takedown defences, and excellent control on the ground. They could control where the fight took place, and learnt enough about submissions to say safe. Bringing in the ground and pound strategy. Then comes the strikers again, but this time, with a knowledge of the ground, and takedown defences.
And then the MMA fighter, someone well versed in all aspects of the game, with the ability to integrate them all, not as 3 separate games, but as one complete style of fighting.
So what comes next?
Well, first needs to be accessibility, a sport that only top athletes can train and play in is not going to get very far. MMA needs to be something that everyone can do, and is fun for them to do, and is also reasonably safe. Pro-football is not safe for everyone, but just about everyone can learn to play flag football in a safe way. MMA needs the same thing.
This is really not that hard to do, with appropriate padding, some modification on rules and the right ATTITUDE from those playing MMA can be done safely at a low level with very little risk of injury. Anyone from 5 to over 50 can play, have fun, learn the skills and be safe.
This is something that is already being done very successfully by quite a few schools. But others still seem to believe that MMA should be reserved for top athletes only, ones that are interested in competition and already have a competitive record in other sports. This is simply no the case.
And after that?
Well one other step that MMA should be taking is bringing it back from being just a ring sport to being a full martial arts program. Which again, can be done very easily and very safely. Multiple attackers, Weapons, "Stun and run" tactics, and all the other things MMA gets criticized for not having can be integrated into the same training environment, pressure testing things and learning what works and what doesn't in a safe environment.
MMA right now tends to be rather non-inclusive, and this needs to change. This is a lot more about perception then anything else. It is perceived as something that only competitive combat athletes should be doing, but it isn't. It is not dangerous, it doesn't require anymore physical conditioning then any other sport. Not everyone that does it has to do it with the goal of fighting in mind.
MMA is something everyone can do, at a number of different levels. Thinking otherwise is like thinking that if you want to play football you have to play the way NFL players do. Not everyone can do that, and not everyone that is playing football has too, why would MMA be any different?