Traditionalists Take Issue With Mixed Martial Arts

Brad McCrillisContributor IApril 16, 2009

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 13:  Kushal Shresta (R) of Nepal receives a kick to the face from Fadi Al Najjar (L) of Jordan during the Men's Karate 65kg preliminary round match during the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 at The Qatar Sports Club Indoor Hall, Dedcember13, 2006 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With a background in both traditional and mixed martial arts, I at times find myself in the cross hairs of traditional martial artists.

Don’t get me wrong, just because someone is a traditionalist does not mean that they disrespect the mixed martial artists. Many of my fellow Black Belts in fact rabidly follow the UFC.

There are many other traditionalists that feel that MMA is the worst thing to happen to the Martial Arts.

Many traditional martial artists in fact look down upon those that do MMA. One needs only to have read some of Bill “Super Foot” Wallace’s articles in Black Belt Magazine to understand the depth of the Traditionalist's distaste.

You no doubt have heard a few of the tired arguments. It is not real self-defense.

Other Traditional Martial Artists (TMA) take more of the aesthetic viewpoint that the tradition of the Kata is what made Martial Arts last throughout time.

I hear these arguments and it makes me question the true knowledge and understanding of the people making these statements.

Many MMA practitioners have some type of Traditional Martial Arts. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu  is taught with their students wearing a Gi and has a belt ranking system. Muay Thai is a Martial Art that has existed for centuries.

The Kata was a way to practice the art form and was a way of exercise. What better description could there be for the countless drills that I have participated in for BJJ class?

The same traditionalists that often put down MMA for its fighting will puff up over their own version of fighting. In Karate, this is known as the kumite or “Point Sparring” matches.

This is a maddening argument for me, as the “Halo” and excessive contact rules come into play in kumite.

The Halo rule is a Professional Karate Commission (PKC) rule. Imagine an invisible helmet that extends around the head. All one has to do is to enter a strike into that invisible area to gain a point.

In other words to gain a point in kumite, it is possible to do so without ever actually making any contact.

To explain the excessive contact rule in kumite, imagine being disqualified in a MMA bout because you hit someone too hard. 

I know this article sounds like I am very down on TMA, which could not be further from the truth. There are many worthwhile benefits of TMA styles and I hope to explore those in a future article.