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The New Truth

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The New Truth


“What if I told you I found a new truth?”

- Malcolm McDowall to Patrick Stewart

taken from The Motion Picture “Generations



I am a professional wrestling fan, I always will be. That’s the simple truth. But I’m not as big a fan as I used to be.


I’ve discovered a “new truth”. I have discovered the amazing world of Mixed Martial Arts, and once you’ve discovered that, it’s pretty hard to put up with Vince McMahon.


Mixed Martial Arts is a general term that is used to describe the mixing or combining of martial arts styles to form a single effective fighting art. Mixed Martial Arts is very different from traditional martial arts, and worlds apart from pro wrestling.


Mixed Martial Arts really is “The Truth”. It’s REAL fighting.


The late, great Bruce Lee used to teach his students that a complete Martial Artist should be versed in more than one style of fighting, which was a somewhat controversial theory with other Martial Artists at the time. Most Martial Artists take great pride in their particular style, and believe it to be the best of all possible fighting styles. This line of thought has also led to a lot of interesting debates amongst “fight fans”. Could a Boxer beat a Wrestler? Could a Wrestler beat a Karate expert? Could a Karate expert really beat a “Street Fighter”?


And as pro wrestling fan, I myself had asked myself the question many times: “What would happen if this was REAL?” I could never see a scrawny pretty boy type like Shawn Michaels ever actually winning a REAL fight. Although I respected the athletic abilities of pro wrestlers, and enjoyed the dramatic storylines, I often wondered how they would fare in legit competition.


The Mixed Martial Arts (or “MMA”) movement started here in North America initially as “No Holds Barred” fighting when a company called W.O.W. Productions headed up by a man named Art Davie, proposed to put on a Pay Per View event entitled the “War of the Worlds”.


Art Davie was a Jiu Jitsu student of the world famous Gracie family from Brazil, and along with his partner and instructor Rorian Gracie, wanted to stage an event to showcase the Gracie style of fighting, and attempt to prove it’s superiority over all other styles of fighting. W.O.W. found their chance after they met with SEG Entertainment, (a division of BMG Music).


W.O.W. and SEG came up with the concept, which they renamed “The Ultimate Fighting Championships”. The “UFC” began on November 12, 1993 and showcased a tournament of martial artists from all styles and disciplines. As was expected, the Gracie family style of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu proved dominant, and Royce Gracie defeated many opponents of all styles, in the first few UFC Pay Per View Events, and made the family fighting style famous around the world.


Royce’s main rival in the UFC’s early years was a man now familiar to pro wrestling fans, Wayne “Ken” Shamrock. Ken Shamrock came from the Pancrase style of “Submission Shoot Wrestling.”


The origin of the name PANCRASE dates back to the ancient Greeks who had a sport competition called PANCRATION. PANCRASE is the name of the organization founded by Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki in May, 1993 which produces the new professional martial arts sport. In fact, Mr. Funaki had originally been a professional wrestler with NJPW, but had started PANCRASE due to his frustration with having to constantly “put over” or lose to less skilled wrestlers. (In the PANCRASE logo, red indicates blood, and black indicates the complete collection of all martial arts, as the mixing of colors ends up creating black. The PANCRASE cross indicates all the best techniques from all the martial arts.)


PANCRASE had the look of Pro Wrestling…but was very real. Martial arts techniques used in PANCRASE matches include wrestling, judo, boxing, sambo, karate, kempo, jiu-jitsu, and Thai boxing. Even if the fighter is an expert with karate techniques, these techniques alone will not be effective enough to win in a PANCRASE fight. The fighter needs to think about what he will do if he throws a kick but his leg is grabbed by his opponent. Karate does not have submission techniques. Judo does not have kick techniques. Traditional wrestling does not have kick techniques. In order to win, PANCRASE fighters need to train mixing various techniques from every martial arts disciplines.


Ken Shamrock’s muscular physique and “World’s Most Dangerous Man” moniker gave the UFC a natural foil for the quiet but brilliant Royce Gracie. The Shamrock vs. Gracie rivalry led to a heavily hyped “Superfight” at UFC III.


Mixed Martial Arts had arrived as a sport in North America.


The Gracie style of Jiu Jitsu focused mainly on ground fighting techniques and most martial arts did not have strong knowledge of fighting on the ground. It was Brazilian jiu-jitsu, along with Royce Gracie's superior knowledge of it for his time, that caused a major change in the fighting world. Many fighters discovered that a stand-up brawler could be easily taken to the ground, choked out and forced to “Tap Out”, or give up and submit.


However, after a few more years, it was realized that a very powerful striker could defeat a person that was only knowledgeable in ground fighting. Also, with the rising popularity of MMA, more and more fighters were challenging the Gracie style.


At the same time, there were other problems for the growing sport. Many politicians, (most notably Republican John McCain) were horrified at the concept of Mixed Martial Arts, and without even fully understanding it, and exerted political pressure to have MMA events driven off Pay Per View.


Thankfully, MMA has survived. It has shaken the (self proclaimed) “No Holds Barred – There Are No Rules” mystique. Holds ARE barred in Mixed Martial Arts. You cannot bite, gouge eyes, hit to the groin or kick a fighter while they are down and defenseless.


A major political coup was scored recently when the new owners of the UFC succeeded in having the MMA officially recognized by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. UFC Pay Per Views are now held in Las Vegas, and are even legal to wager on!


On the international scene, the PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan have brought the wrestling style of show-biz glitz and drama to the very real world of MMA. Much like the UFC, the philosophy of PRIDE is acceptance of any technique of any school, everything is accepted. The basic idea is to eliminate the restrictions as much as possible, so that all fighters in various fields can fight fairly. In a real situation, you cannot ask to the opponent "Don't punch me", or "Fight me without Judo rules". PRIDE brings the fights closer to reality.


There is now a colorful cast of characters in the MMA world. Some like Ken and Frank Shamrock, Dan Severn, Tank Abbott, Mark “The Hammer” Coleman, or Don “The Predator” Frye you may already know. Others like Bas Rutten, Sakuraba, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, or Vanderlei Silva may not be so familiar.


There is one thing that cannot denied. With the emergence of both the “new” UFC and PRIDE as the “big two” organizations each running bi-monthly Pay Per Views, and smaller organizations like PANCRASE and King of the Cage supplying up and coming fighters…


Mixed Martial Arts is here to stay as a legit sport. If you are a wrestling fan, and find yourself getting bored, or turned off by Vince McMahon’s monopoly and two dimensional booking, I encourage you to give a UFC or PRIDE PPV a try.


You may find what I have found. Although there is always a place in my heart for a good pro wrestling show, the drama, athleticism and realism of a MMA event gives an element of “truth” to the fighting world.


There’s just something cool about watching two guys REALLY beat the crap out of each other.


It’s the truth.


Send feedback to Dave Dymond

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