Is Mixed Martial Arts Forgetting Its Core Principles?

Many of the classical martial art styles like Kung Fu, Judo and Karate originated in the far east as a standard skillsetfor most armies. Mastering hand-to-hand combat was essential before the introduction of firearms, and is still considered an excellent way of training.

While martial arts had a very real-life impact (could be the difference between life and death) back in the day,nowadays it’s mostly considered a training activity like any other. Tournaments and shows are held with both the pure form and with mixed martial arts (MMA), and it’s a money generating activity if you are good at it.

But one of the core principles that is common to most martial arts is to perfect both body and mind while building up agility and strength. But, it seems the mind part is severely lacking in many western dojos where the training only focuses on the physical aspect.

This could be likened to yoga, when the spiritual element is shunned for the pure physical training.

Many eastern philosophies entertain the idea that a battle is not won by muscle, it’s won by the mind, even before it starts. Conditioning the mind so that you act without the interference of conscious thought is should be an integral part of any martial arts training;the mind game is just as important as the physical.

Meditation is often used to empty your mind of thoughts, to focus and to merge the mind with the body. Without control of your mental facilities, you cannot control the physical part of yourself.

Meditation also helps you be still, present in the moment, both literally and figuratively speaking. Sitting still, not reacting to your thoughts and inner dialog, can sometimes be harder than physical training. This is mostly because we are not used to it in the modern, western, world where we live in a society with constant distractions. Turning off the outside world and focusing on our inner self is only getting harder the more technology is integrated into our daily life.

Mixed martial arts may have taken the physical aspects of eastern culture and moved it into the spotlight, but let’s not forget the valuable lessons about mastering the mind that they also teach.


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  1. Mike Colon on June 29, 2016

    Totally agree with this article! MMA or fighting sports in general are not only about physical strengths. The process of powering the fighters’ mentality is also very important and actually much more complicated than one might have thought. I myself train boxing and kickboxing and have gone through all ups and downs of strengthening my mindsets in order to become a “stronger” fighter with the “real strength” coming from inside.

  2. James on October 1, 2016

    You may be right on this one but let’s not forget that MMA is a sport where meditation does not have a place on its practice when you are pressed for time on defeating an opponent.