Monday, April 28, 2014

Bruce Lee- The Father of Mixed Martial Arts?


Modern day mixed martial arts is recognized as the fastest growing sport in the world. It's popularity over passes other fighting oriented arts such as boxing, wrestling, and kick boxing events through the many tickets that are bought. The combat sport's incorporation of a variety of martial arts along with the sheer brutality of two modern day gladiators brawling it out with only their two hands and feet which appeals to our instinctive nature to fight. As quoted by the official chairman of the UFC( the largest MMA promotion up to date) says that fighting is in our DNA, and we love it. The sport itself is probably the closest you could get to an  real fight which is restricted by a set of rules that were designed to protect the athletes( fighters) themselves and ward off the conservative politicians who see it as glorified human cock fighting as well as the police. Now, if you read my previous post, Bruce Lee is going to be featured in the upcoming UFC game developed by EA sports as a fighter at four different weight classes. Many people on the internet perceive him as the second coming of martial arts prowess and he will wipe the floor with any fighter, even the title holders or the pound for pounders. However, there are a few misconceptions about his skill in which I will address eventually in this post. The fact that Bruce openly expressed his view that martial arts should not be limited to one style is undisputed through his array of films. But he wasn't the first guy to do it. The question of Bruce Lee being the father of mixed martial arts pops up a lot among fans as well as fellow martial artists. However, even as a fan of the legend myself I would have to say that there that the concept of incorporating various disciplines was not established first by Bruce and has existed since the Trojan era.

Link: I brought up this question upon a social media site as I was unsure of my judgement a year ago.

- (Mine)
- (someone else's)

Bruce's underlying philosophy revolved around no distinct style or no style. He believed that a true martial artist should be experienced in all aspects of fighting, whether if it is grappling or striking oriented, so he or she can be prepared for any situation and be able to react accordingly. Traditional arts have a certain process in which they follow through a set of movements like kata which teach the practioner specific techniques that are designed for a specific attack or scenario . However Bruce had proposed that in a real fight, anything can happen which is a good point. He believed that traditional martial arts limited an individual's ability to defend themselves as they focused on only one aspect of fighting. Bruce exposed himself to a variety of martial arts as well, never truly mastering a single style but to take what he found practical as well as effective to include in his arsenal of tools. He used his own philosophy through the compilation of a variety of martial arts as each discipline focused on a different view of fighting.  After the fight with  a Gung Fu practitioner named Wong Jack Man, Bruce heavily began to refine his skills . His conclusion of the fight between Wong and him lasted too long, for almost 3 minutes. At the very end, Bruce had to chase him across the room and pin him with punches in order to win the fight. Bruce later developed a philosophy which emphasizes on practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency called Jeet Kune Do.

The techniques and methods of Jeet Kune Do were designed by Bruce to be applicable in real life situations and combat.

Also, Jeet Kune Do always evolves as the world evolves which makes the style very flexible among other martial arts  which continue to stick to their old roots. This type of philosophy is valued greatly by UFC fighters or mma fighter alone as they have to be willing to learn new things in order to compete successfully at high levels of combat as different fighters bring different skill sets, some may be wrestlers and some may be Karate specialists. In the ring, one trick pony fighters, one style or one type of fighting, finds themselves in very difficult situations as very fighter is different, and some may be skilled than others. Especially when Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is highly popularized in the sport as one practioner, Royce Gracie, managed to defeat three fighters from different disciplines by submission in one night. Combine that with a striking art and that would be the bare minimum of a well rounded fighter.

Back to the primary question, Bruce was not the originator of mixed martial arts but he was a pioneer. You could say he reintroduced the idea through his philosophies as well as movies. However, this concept has been visible through a centuries old art called Pankration. Pankration is a Greek combat sport utilized by the Spartan warriors when they were to be disarmed in battle. The hybrid art was created in 648 BC and blended both boxing and wrestling, two arts that continue to be a heavily favored combination among mma fighters of today. The art even contained rules such as biting and no eye gouging which is still retained in modern mixed martial arts.

Also, another martial art which blends several other disciplines in order to from one holistic is called Kajukenbo. It is another hybrid martial art developed in the late 1940's which combined a mixture of martial arts consisting of: Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Kenpo, and boxing. The art incorporated a blend of striking, kicking, throwing, takedowns, joint locks and weapon disarmament. The arts emphasis on fluid transition from one to the next aspect of fighting to create the most favorable response for any situation. Evidently, Bruce utilized the same time of thinking but this art's existence solidifies the fact that he was not the father of mixed martial arts.

Although Bruce may not have been the originator of mixed martial arts, his contributions through movies as well as his fighting methods helped make the concept more well known across the globe.

Another question I would want to address in this post is whether or not Bruce would dominate in the UFC. Now before you berate me on view on Bruce's success in the UFC give me a chance to explain myself. Bruce's ground game was not the best and he believed that with his speed and dexterity he could take down any opponent via stand up. He also saw the grappling arts as difficult to work with as the practitioner is forced to go to the ground with his or her opponent which could the person in a vulnerable posisiton to be hit from behind if it was a street fight with more than one person. However, he was very interested in the grappling arts and exposed himself to Judo, Ju Jitsu, and wrestling through notable masters in the art, a notable one would be Judo Gene Lebell who teaches modern mixed artists up to this day. If Bruce Lee just magically woke up from his grave, I am afraid to say that that he would most likely  lose that bout with a any moderately decent fighter  in the ring, not because of his size or lack of experience but because his skill set is limited compared to the disciplines of the present which have been somewhat modernized. Also Bruce did not really study the grappling arts as much as striking  because he perceived the grappling aspect to be impractical in a real life situation. An example which justifies his views would be that the grappler would put him or herself in a very hazardous position if he or she were to be take someone to the ground with other people since the others could just trample him or her to death or just ambush the grappler. Another reason why Bruce would not do as well in his first time in the ring is that he probably would not know how defend against the variety of submissions since Brazilian Jiu Jitsu( the primary martial art which emphasis on ground work and utilizes submissions as a way of attack) was introduced a few decades after his death to the world. The style itself proved its worth among the other styles when an practioner from the Gracie Family( invented BJJ- Brzillian Jiu Jitsu) managed to take out three opponents( a striker, sumo wrestler, and a greco roman wrestler) all in one night. After its introduction in the ring by the Gracie Family, bjj has been a necessary art to learn ever since by any fighter who wishes to stay in the game.  Finally, the styles in which Bruce studied have evolved over time just as he anticipated with his own in order to keep with the ever changing world. Basically, if Bruce were to fight in the present with the pre-existing mindset before set, he would be severely limited by knowledge as the many disciplines have changed and the amount and degree of the change would most likely be profound to point where Bruce can't simply keep up with the pace unless he is willing to learn.

Regardless of this, Bruce would stand a chance and would probably do remarkably well in the octagon if he was willing to set a bit of time to learn the new methods of new fighting styles which had evolved from pre-existing styles. His physique and mindset would be his most beneficial factors if he were to fight in the octagon.

Clip from Bruce Lee Documentary, " I Am Bruce Lee" which talks briefly about Bruce's contribution to modern mma. It even contains the quote stated by Dana White in which I took the actual quote from.


1 comment:

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