Mixed Martial Arts is all about using any move or technique learned in basically any martial art to defeat an opponent, therefore it can be difficult to place its exact creation or inception in history. Of course, the earliest contact sport or martial art with very few rules (or a no holds barred concept) was called pankration and was started in Greece around the year 648 B.C., taking its place among other sports in the Olympic Games.
It can be safely said that while pankration may have been the parent sport of other full-contact combat styles, it was too early a form to have any direct influence itself. However, it has taken on many techniques from the sports and martial arts that pankration had spawned.
Wrestling is one of its greatest influencers and to the untrained eye, a Mixed Martial Arts competition or match can be mistaken for a modern wrestling match. It was during the late 1800’s that wrestling and boxing became popular and participants such as John L. Sullivan and William Muldoon were well known for some of their no holds barred antics.
Because of this, many people held anything goes matches and more often than not, the wrestler won. In Europe, Jiu Jitsu versus boxing matches were held, and sometimes, it was boxing versus other styles as well. There was definitely a demand for both people who wanted to study Mixed Martial Arts and observers who wanted to watch competitions for sport or show.
Not surprisingly, a major catalyst in the creation of Mixed Martial Arts was the one and only Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee formed his own styles by making use of different styles such as Karate, fencing, boxing, Jiu Jitsu, wrestling and more to allow him to use what he felt were the best defenses and the best attacks from each martial art. In addition to Bruce Lee, a prominent figure is a man by the name of Royce Gracie who in 1993 won the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship. It was after this that it gained a heavy cult following and began to spark interest across the globe.
As Mixed Martial Arts became more and more prominent, competitions and matches became commonplace in both the martial arts world and the entertainment industry. Students learned to borrow moves and techniques from each other to help each other discover what the best and most useful defenses and attacks were. Of course, a student must be trained in several different forms before they are ready to compete in a match or competition. The popularity and recognition that it has received thus far shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, in fact, the sport is becoming increasingly attractive to both spectators and students of Mixed Martial Arts.