MMA is a combat sport that is becoming more and more popular, which is certainly due to its famous representatives. Especially famous is Conor Anthony McGregor, the Irish MMA fighter knows not only how to win fights, but also how to stage himself. But how did the combat sport actually come into being? In the following, we would like to offer an insight into how it came about.
Martial arts at the Olympic Games
From 776 to 720 BC, the Olympic disciplines included almost exclusively various running sports. It was not until about 708 BC that wrestling was introduced and in 688 BC boxing was added. Boxing quickly became a popular sport at the Olympic Games and sooner or later the question arose whether the boxer or the wrestler was the better fighter. This was the birth of MMA.
The new sport was first called pankration. In 648 B.C. it became Olympic and was supposed to settle the question of the best of all fighters and the best fighting styles. Pankration meant as much as “the whole strength” or “the whole power”.
Pankration as training
However, the exact history and development of MMA today is unclear. According to Greek mythology, Hercules and Theseus were responsible for the sport making it into the Olympic Games. However, some historians assume that soldiers developed pankration as a training to prepare for war. Still other sources claim that the Egyptians were already practicing pankration in 2600 BC. It is impossible to say which traditions are true, because knowledge about the exact original roots of the sport has been lost over time.
What is certain is that men were allowed to punch and kick during pankration. Moreover, it was allowed to use all other parts of the body for fighting. Wrestling and continuing the fight on the ground were also allowed. Sporting rules existed from the very beginning, even if they were minimal. The rulebook included the following prohibitions:
- Poking in the eyes was not allowed
- Biting was also forbidden
The goal: to make opponents give up
The goal of pankration was to force the opponent to give up by all available means. The fights always lasted until a fighter raised his hand and thus gave up – or until the sun went down. Pankration fighters were highly respected because they had to master the techniques of both wrestling and boxing. The first Olympic athletes were not amateurs, but professional fighters. A pancreation champ got a very good pay, did not have to pay any taxes and got his food from the city.
Pancreation eventually gave rise to Mixed Martial Arts as we know it today, which is a modern form of full-contact competition. Just as in Pankreation, the fighters in MMA use punching and kicking techniques from various martial arts such as boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai. But also ground fighting techniques from wrestling, judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are used. In addition, there are other elements from other martial arts.
There are some MMA competitions that enjoy great popularity. TV coverage also leads to widespread interest. These are usually held by the UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization. It is not uncommon for injuries to occur to one or both fighters, and the cage fights often end in bloodshed.