To say that there are many different styles of Martial Arts would be an understatement. As a kid, watching movies, I became fascinated by Karate and Kung Fu. It was that general to me. There were no breakdowns of different schools of practice within these Martial Arts. I saw Martial Artists throwing punches, kicks, and throws that didn’t give me any reason to believe they wouldn’t work in real life. They were spectacular displays of skill that made it apparent that it would take years to master. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Dam, and Steven Seagal were all larger than life to me. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that each of these martial artists had such different styles. They just all looked like a bunch of dudes that nobody would mess with.
What kid doesn’t have a fear of being kidnapped, or bullied?
That is what made these movies so appealing, it would have been impossible to bully or kidnap someone who had this much skill in hand-to-hand combat.
After the magic and innocence of childhood wears off a little bit, and life has been lived more… we start to realize that movies are glamorized and exaggerated. Along came a big slap in the face to all of the Martial Arts movies and childhood fantasies. The name of that slap was the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Some guys were brave enough to finally ask: “What Martial Arts style is truly the most effective?” and actually throw an event where Martial Artists from all over the world, of varying styles, would fight each other bare knuckled to see who was truly the best. When I found out about this event, being an avid Martial Artist and fan of combat sports, I had to see it. I talked my dad into ordering it, as I’m sure his curiosity was equally aroused.
When the first fighters entered the cage and bout began, I saw reality. These Martial Artists, with years of practice, were ordinary men with the same beliefs that I had as a kid. These men believed before entering the cage, that the years they had devoted to their specific Martial Art, would ultimately prove to be the most effective of them all. It was pretty obvious right away that when anybody gets in trouble, they want to go into survival mode. Guys that are supposed to be great strikers will try to grab ahold of their opponent if they start taking damage. One of the other obvious points was that most of these men were not used to taking real-life punishment. Most of these men were probably feared by their students, so they were never really challenged as the “Alpha” in their respective gyms.
A cousin to the famous Gracie family, with the same pedigree of dominant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Carlos Machado is quoted as saying
“The Ground Is My Ocean, I’m The Shark, And Most People Don’t Even Know How To Swim.”
When you see the first Ultimate Fighting Championship, it becomes more than an arrogant quote, it becomes the truth. Royce Gracie dismantled and could have severely injured or even killed his opponents in each of his bouts to become the first winner. My reaction was of disbelief. I hear so many people talk about that first UFC and say that it made them immediate fans of BJJ. Not me, I was disappointed that someone with a similar style to Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan didn’t win. I had believed for so long that these men were pretty invincible. After seeing a man of small stature win, eventually I realized and respected the effectiveness of BJJ.
In summation, I am proud to see the evolution of Martial Arts, and never has a better platform been created than the UFC. In my opinion, the UFC is what Bruce Lee stated about Martial Arts way before the inception of MMA. Bruce Lee said that you can’t limit yourself to one style. He recognized boxing and wrestling as Martial Arts when most people would have simply called them sports. To see Bruce Lee as an MMA fighter would have been awesome. The UFC game does him justice, but it would have been great to see in real life.