Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA for short, was a term coined in 1993, with the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the very first UFC, martial artists from different styles (karate, boxing, etc) fought in a no-rules, no time-limit contest to see who would reign supreme. It was won by a smallish guy called Royce Gracie (Royce Gracie Highlight Video). He introduced the world to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a style of fighting that involves wrestling your opponent into joint locks or chokes.
Since then, MMA has been evolving through its various iterations. First, the submission style dominated. Then, wrestlers who could pin their opponents and pound them with fists reigned with a style called “ground and pound”. Then it was the strikers who could stop the takedowns with their “sprawl and brawl” style. The next generation was expected to be a generation of well-rounded MMA athletes, the hybrids, who had been well trained in all styles (striking, clinch and grappling). While some jack-of-all-trades athletes excelled, it is the ones who give expression to one or two particular styles who typically dominate. Check this out.
While the art is evolving, so are the rules. The current global standard for MMA regulations are “the unified rules”. These prohibit such things as kicking or kneeing the head of a downed opponent, striking to the groin or attacking the eyes with fingers and so on. There are probably over 100 rules in place now to take it from a brutal, no-rules contest to a brutal sport with lots of rules.
MMA is not a new sport by any means. People have been fighting since people have been people. It may be at the highest level it’s ever been. The competitions are bigger and better than ever. Athletes are able to make full-time careers of fighting. And because of the ease of access to information that we live in, the finest techniques and concepts are available to anyone, anywhere.