Every time there is a breakthrough in mixed martial arts, everyone is quick to hop on the next bandwagon. Dating all the way back to the UFC’s birth, people have been quick to declare which style of fighting is superior. In the beginning, Royce Gracie showed the world the efficiency of Brazilian Jiujitsu against all other martial arts. People were on board with Jiujitsu being the king, until wrestlers started learning submission defense. Guys like Mark Coleman and Randy Couture, showed the world that defending submissions, while obtaining top position and raining down strikes is extremely effective. Thus wrestling became the new champion of the martial art world. Until Chuck Liddell showed up. Chuck had a wrestling base, allowing him to stand without worry of being taken down, and his kickboxing allows him to strike with grapplers who are helpless against him. Even when he fought a superior striker, he could put them on their backs and pound them out. Chuck had an answer for everything, thus proving that mixing a grappling base with striking was the absolute best form of fighting. This, I believe, is where Mixed Martial Arts truly became what it’s name suggests.
Right off the bat, traditional styles were written off as useless in this world. The traditional karate, kung fu, and taekwondo users got killed in the early days. But just like the boxers, kick boxers, and muay thai fighters of this time, traditional martial artists were not cross-training other effective martial arts the way Chuck was. It is only in recent times that Karate guys like Lyoto Machida, and taekwondo guys like Anthony Pettis started showing the world what their particular martial art was capable of. They gave themselves the ability to do so by learning the absolute needed martial arts like kickboxing and grappling, and then applying their knowledge of traditional martial arts to the fundamentals. What we are starting to see is the ability to learn what you need to know, and then use your unique experience of the world to add your own flairs and build your unique fighting style. This is evolution.
When it comes down to it, it is all about the person using the martial art an not the martial art itself. Every athletes body is more suited to specific martial arts. Guys like Lyoto Machida were born to be strikers, no matter which route they take. While guys like Marcello Garcia were born to be grapplers. Some guys can make anything work. You know if Lebron James had taken Tai Chi and wrestling from a young age, he’d be in the octagon kicking ass right now showing the world how dominant tai chi is. If anything, mixed martial arts has shown us that there is no superior martial art. Only superior martial artists.
What works for one athletes body, might not work for another’s. Just because Pettis is kicking everybody’s ass with taekwondo, doesnt mean you should go sign up at your local dojo. It means that Pettis is good at utilizing taekwondo for his specific fighting style. I suggest that you experiment and find what works for you, as opposed to letting people tell you what is the best. If the short history of this sport has taught us anything, it’s that no art stays dominant forever. A sport with so many different combinations and possibilities, will always continue to evolve. There is no superior form of fighting, there are only more creative and talented fighters making their art form work. It is the practitioner, not the martial art that dictates the result.