Are The UFC And MMA Helping Or Hurting The Martial Arts Industry?

Are the UFC and MMA helping or hurting the martial arts industry? Sound off and be heard!

Are the UFC and MMA helping or hurting the martial arts industry? Sound off and be heard!

It’s an important question to ask, and one that I don’t think has been asked enough…

I certainly have my own opinions on this, but I want to know what you think. I think it’s time for the opinion of the instructors and school owners out there to be heard, one way or another.

So, complete the survey below, and let the martial arts industry know what you have to say about this controversial topic:

01.19.2010: This survey is CLOSED.

The response was overwhelming, and the survey results were interesting, to say the least.

I’ll be posting the results later this week. Thanks for participating!


  1. Paul on January 13, 2010 at 11:22 am

    This is a decent question.

    When I considered my answers to the survey, one of the things I considered, was not just the sport of MMA, but the marketing, the trash talking and taunting, and the way it’s presented.

    There are great fighters in the UFC, such as Rich Franklin, who bring a good attitude to the public eye, and truly behave with professionalism, and mindfulness about a higher responsibility that comes with being a celebrity.

    Then I’ve seen more than a few, that I wouldn’t bed down with the dogs.

    I’ve also seen wannabe trainers, stepping into the picture… guys who know less about martial arts in general than some of the youngsters in our classes who’ve barely started training. They’re taking some guys and yes, girls too, under their wing, to try to get them ready to get busy in the ring or cage, and it’s obvious that all they’re doing is setting their charges up to get the bejabbers knocked out of em.

    All of this, can make it an uphill battle trying to keep our own students and instructors ‘on task’, and building themselves towards the most important kind of glory you can experience… the glory of being able to take care of yourself in our crazy world, with a minimum of violence, and an INCREASE in peace.

    I’ll be the first to agree, that cross-training is a wonderful thing. That’s why I added boxing training to my list of things to do, though I’m a traditional Taekwondo student through and through. That’s why I don’t pass up a chance to drop in on other schools of various martial arts styles, to see for myself what else is out there. (And there’s awesome training out there in a variety of styles, and instructors who are out of this world!)

    But, the bottom line to me… MMA isn’t exactly a great thing for our industry. It COULD BE… but it brings too much bad baggage with it. The marketing and conduct standards, are largely ignored, and its appeal to the lowest common denominator is therefore allowed to flourish.

    The main thing keeping the sport on track, is the involvement of athletic commissions, and the attention paid to the safety of the contestants. (We can take some lessons from that to take our own safety records to the next level!!)

    So, in summary… it’s a mixed bag in my eyes. There’s some good that comes with the popularity of MMA. And there’s enough bad that comes with it, that it truly deserves our attention as a society. More than anything, the conduct issues I’ve raised, represent one more red flag. A red flag that says our society is truly sick in the head, and that our moral and ethical values as a society, have truly taken a back seat to attitudes and sensibilities that are more self-destructive.

    If that’s not a cause for serious concern to a martial arts instructor… I don’t know what is.

  2. Mike Massie on January 13, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for the in-depth and thoughtful comments, Paul.

    I feel your pain… I’m a traditionalist who has always cross-trained in different arts, ever since I was a young teen and first began training. So, I have a more open mind than most.

    Things I like about MMA: The fact that it brings an empirical approach to martial arts training (if it doesn’t work, it won’t last long), the increased focus on fitness and staying in shape (at times I’ve been that stereotypical “fat karate instructor” and let me tell you, there’s NO excuse for being out of shape as an instructor), and the increased exposure.

    Things I don’t like? The attitude, the excess violence, the way the fighters are treated (fork over more of that cash, Dana), the fact that there’s no retirement pool or disability insurance for pro fighters, and the decreased emphasis on good values and sportsmanship that it has brought.

    Thank goodness for classy fighters like Franklin, Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, and Joe Lauzon, who recently demonstrated what grace in defeat is all about.

    I wish they’d clean up the image, while retaining the effectiveness and reality of the matches… but we’ll see how that goes. The folks in charge will do what the public demands, and until the public demands more class, we’ll continue to see what we’ve been seeing.

  3. Tom Whitaker on January 13, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    MMA & particularly the UFC have brought martial arts to the mainstream. Although I have always respected martial arts traditions, I’m definitely not someone who most would consider a traditionalist. So, mixed martial arts being in the main stream has definitely helped my school. The problem we run into is the attitude of MMA. This attitude is present with any fighting system. When I was a kickboxer I saw it at most kickboxing shows I attended. Boxing is the same way. The Ultimate Fighter show perpetuates this attitude and it sickens me.

    I like what my good friend and MMA/Kickboxing promoter, Jeff Devore says. When people come in we give them what they want so we can give them what they need. I get people coming in all the time wanting to fight. I teach them to fight and get them in the ring/cage. However, they also will learn about the respect and self discipline of the martial arts. These are life changing benefits which will stick with them long after they quit fighting. We can’t stop the MMA train, the only thing we can do is change the attitude is from within, though our own schools.

  4. Lanjul Stocks on January 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Hi there.

    Again I think this is a very good question!

    I would think of the top of my mind “yes it’s great for the industry” because it has help in martial arts exposure. But then when you start to think deeper and take a step back from the picture I feel some where in-between.

    Pros – good for marketing, martial arts is has had a more modern vibe to it (bad or good – it relates to the children and teens) and if you can posture your martial arts school as – a modern, mixed/ crossed training school, but with out the bad attitude then this could be the way forwards – as an example Bruce lee’s jkd.
    E.g. Just like mixed martial arts but modern martial arts – train in x amount of style in out special rotating curriculum, taking the best techniques to give you the best program – guaranteed.
    Lastly one last pro of this is that the bad attitude students will come and go but the people who would have done karate before they seen “the new and better UFC – MMA will stay because the family martial art environment it what they wanted in the first place but they just did not know it though.

    Con’s ditto what you other guys have said! + I believe that more negative role models will be put in the public’s eye which may not be too good.

    One last thing – mike said about staying in shape.

    This is a great opportunity too – my target market is family martial arts. With this in mind martial arts business owners can now (if they lead by example) move in to the wellness industry. Children – stop obesity and provide an educational after school activity and parent because of the increase in social need to stay in shape we can now present a real program that provide physically, mental and social wellbeing.

    Thanks Lanjul Stocks
    Blast Out Martial Arts

  5. Harry Grimm on January 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I also believe the UFC and MMA is a mixed bag. The trash talking and the conduct are forced on the fighters for promotional concerns. The moral implications for our society are considerable but not the issue I have with MMA as it relates to martial arts.

    Its the training or rather the lack of it on a local level and the attitude that prevails with all too many of the practioners that after a few months of training they think they know and stop taking classes but just train. These neophyte students can then get a fight on the local scene against another neophyte, and win reinforcing the belief that they are getting good. In too many MMA schools the many beneficial aspects of the martial arts are left out. Too may of these local fighters have no base to work from and a total lack of defense. Don’t get me wrong here I know of some very good MMA schools and I do enjoy the fights, I just don’t consider it martial arts but an aspect of it namely the sporting end. Again there are some very good schools

    The most positive point of mma is it has caused us to look at our training methodology and start to bring it back towards reality. I consider martial arts the study of possibilities and mma the study of probabilities, in that mma trains for and uses the highest workable percentage moves. But you will also see moves fade out of favor (doesn’t work often enough anymore) and other moves get popular.

    Yes, there does to be some moves in most systems that don’t seem to work. But is it that they don’t work or that the student doesn’t know enough to understand it or make it work? Martial arts is really the study of motion and how it applies to self defense but too few realize this. As we study the martial arts we have to move into the realm of the lower percentage moves in order to further our education.

    My major complaint of mma is the thinking that traditional martial arts doesn’t work or isn’t real. Martial arts because it is an art can mean many things to many people. It is a short sighted but popular view to bring it into a single dimension. MMA is not self defense (although that doesn’t mean they can’t defend themselves)but a sport.

  6. Mike Massie on January 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Harry, I appreciate your perspective on this… the flip side of what you’ve said (or a different aspect of it) is that what is considered to be a low-percentage move against an experienced and skilled opponent can be a life-saver against an unskilled opponent.

    A great example of this are simple collar chokes from judo and jiu jitsu. Most students learn to defend them after just a few months of training; however, a good collar choke is easy to pull off against an untrained student….

    Great points you made! Thanks for commenting.

  7. Chris Pollman on January 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Why I like MMA and UFC – Yeti (Chris Pollman)

    Many years ago Chojun Miyagi said we needed to get away from kata for defense and have offensive kata or we were going to make karate-do less attractive to many people. Indeed we have just about reduced it to a cookie cutter Mac Dojo for children. We have gotten so caught up in teaching a creed and a bunch of techniques that don’t work that we have lost the adult student. Life skills are important but young adults want self defense and to learn to fight if they have to.

    I believe that Wallace, Lewis and others who started the full contact kickboxing era did us a great service. We now cross train in boxing, down fighting and judo, weight lifting and cardio. MMA is just the next step in the right direction. Dr. Jerry Beasley at Radford University put cross style training on the map. His Karate College was remarkable. I remember more than one midnight seminar with Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace breaking out the full contact kickboxing equipment and letting anyone who wanted to try it, gear up and have a go. For many instructors it was the first time they had ever fought. Most only watched, but still they learned. Joe and Bill taught kindly and everyone left smiling and sometimes a little bruised. After a few years of this the University found out about the midnight special seminars and shut us down. They worried about someone getting hurt. But you know what I loose more students every year to football or basketball injuries then to martial art injuries. As a matter of fact I can’t remember when we had a martial arts injury including the cage fighters that caused someone to even miss one class. I remember now it was back in the Cardio Karate days, we had several knee injuries.

    Anyway by putting on the gear and training and then getting in a real fight and competing you provide legitimacy to your art and to your school. By training and helping the young men and women who want to compete in the ring and cage you are finding what works and does not work. If you do it right the adults will return. You can still use all that other stuff in your children’s programs.

    I got rid of three fourths of my stylize system and put in some cross training. Make it real and teach it in a safe manner. Don’t ground and pound your students. Ground and pound the 140 lb dummies they make for that. Get some timers you can adjust and mix up your training with rounds, of boxing, kickboxing, take downs and downfighting. Use heavy bags, speed bags and timing bags. Buy a Focus Master. Teach your students to hold pads for one another. I’m not talking about lining up and kicking a body shield. I mean real focus pads like a boxing coach. 2 minute a round for beginners and intermediate. 3 minutes for advanced. Only 1 or 2 out of every 100 students is going to want to get in a cage. Help them. Teach them to be ladies and gentlemen. No trash talk. Shake hands after the fight win or lose. Teach the positive change you want to see in our industry.

  8. Mike Massie on January 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Tom, good points. It’s funny because part of my exposure to pro fighters has been through you, and in my mind you and your students are the exact opposite of what many in the fight game are; that is, you and your students are thoughtful, courteous, respectful, and disciplined. I know it’s been many years since I’ve visited your school, but I doubt any of that has changed.

    I was making an observation to the members on my forum the other day that I have NEVER met a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt or a real Muay Thai coach from a legitimate Thai lineage that lacked manners…

    My theory on why those folks seem to always be well-mannered and courteous is because those styles are still very close to their cultures. So, the people who are passing those systems along are able to act as guardians of their respective cultures… they want to ensure that their arts are passed along faithfully, honestly, and intact. It takes humility to learn a style or system in a manner that is faithful to cultural traditions. So, the knuckleheads are weeded out over time.

    In the same vein, I’ve heard that lots of young guys that do MMA have been trying to pick up traditional karate since Lyoto Machida has risen to fame. What do you want to bet that most don’t last long enough to learn anything of any use?

    Even The Little Dragon emphasized having a philosophical approach to the martial arts to equal the practicality and effectiveness of his style and system (or “no style” as it were). Similarly, there’s nothing to stop the thinking individual from making the leap from a mere fighter to warrior-scholar. Perhaps, it will only take some of the current respected trainers and fighters setting an example for the younger guys who are coming up for it to become a cultural mainstay in the arena of mixed martial arts.

  9. Mike Massie on January 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Yeti, you make some great points. For a long time, the martial arts have needed an injection of reality. (Something I learned early on. I remember the time when Tom and I invited a buddy of ours over to my backyard to train. We were brown belts, and this guy was a 2nd dan from another school. I’ll never forget the look on his face the first time he got hit… I really felt bad for him, because in his school, they never made contact! In fact, it was feeling the sting of Tom’s jab that got me interested in cross-training in contact styles in the first place… but I digress.)

    The thing is, I’d really prefer to give people that reality while still maintaining the respect and discipline.

    Thanks for chiming in – your perspective is always welcome.

  10. Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. on January 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    The press is helping, but some prospects believe all martial arts is mixed martial arts sports and they don’t want their child to be involved it that


  11. Rick on January 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    There are many things to be gained from studying a martial art, only one of which is fighting. MMA emphasizes only a part of the picture-physical training and ring contests. The fighters are supremely conditioned athletes and very tough professionals. I enjoy watching them.
    Not every martial arts student is destined for the ring, and not many want that kind of contact. Not every traditional art is transferable to success in the cage. That does not mean that students of traditional arts cannot become capable at defending themselves, get in better shape, achieve personal growth, and learn discipline valuable in all aspects of life.
    In addition, a true martial art is precisely that, martial, as in battlefield personal combat. In a kill or be killed situation is dropping on your back with your legs open really realistic?
    Clearly the ring and the cage are not illustrative of deadly techniques, and traditional arts and self-defense techniques cannot be used in the cage within the rules. It’s apples and oranges.
    The harm to traditional arts is that young people are getting no exposure to the value of a lifelong study of martial arts, they are only getting the impression that cage fighters represent the ne plus ultra of combat techniques. In fact, more and more cage fighters don’t even claim to be martial artists but call themselves freestyle fighters, and MMA has developed into an art of it’s own, made up of a handful of techniques that work best within the rules of the cage. And as Massie points out, the old school martial artists displayed manners and respect, not trash talk.
    Lastly, although I am a fan of the sport, I very rarely see a cage fighter fight like a martial artist. Once in a great while, a cage fighter with a traditional background will approach the fight with a martial arts mindset, use clean traditional technique, and win convincingly. That kind of skill does not come overnight, but more of that in the cage, coupled with a little respect towards one’s opponent, would actually help martial arts schools.
    In the end, there is room for everybody, if we understand that each art has a distinct and specific application and value.

  12. Pete on January 13, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    firstly i’d like to say that i’m a traditional karate-ka and don’t cross train. i beleive karate to be a complete fighting system when studied/taught correctly and feel to many people teach methods rather than principles these days as its these principles that make karate a complete fighting system rather than a ‘if he does this you do that’ or just a simple fitness class with an edge!

    however when saying that i do do contact training at home with a few partners and enjoy sparing students of other styles but i don’t deviate from the style i practice, as i do karate and hence thats what i use regardless of who i am sparring because lets face it, i don’t do thai boxing or mma or any other style so it seams pointless to me trying to spar as they do as i will, no doubt, not be as good as them if i try to fight fire with fire and most likely lose.

    i do watch ufc and mma on the tv and have friends that train in mma. when watching the ufc i see a lot of moves that are universal to all styles and could come from any number of traditional styles.

    i particually enjoy trying to see kata bunkai-oyo being used during matches and if you understand bunkai-oyo and pay attention during a match you would be surprised how many kata aplications you see!

    anyways, the point i acctually wanted to make is that students who start martial arts because they have been watching the ufa or any type of mma is they want to get in the ring and be fight ready in next to no time. they don’t want to stand in line and learn the basics, they see kata as a pointless exercise etc… because they don’t allow the style they choose to do, even the time to show them where to find what they want to learn.

    i surpose in part its this face paced world that we live in… people want everything fast… fast cars, fast food, various gadgets to make everyday life easier and mundane jobs faster to complete. this transfers over to martial arts too, poeple want to be a black belt after a 6week course (and unfortunatly these courses do exist).

    on top of this the sheer fact that aggression is part of the scoring in ufc is the opposite to what traditional martial arts are trying to impart. funokoshi has been quoted many times after saying that karates ultimate aim is perfection of character – i believe through disciplined training (not dull, boring training, just disciplined)

    a writter above has mentioned the simplifying of the karate sylabus in order for the style to be introduced to the masses but the essence of true karate is still there. it’s not as evident to see but it’s still there.

    so one of the main problems with mma is the way that traditional arts are taught today – with children, yes, teach them the moves and principles behind them – but with adults they need more than this, they need to feel that what they are being taught is usable and effective while gaining the character benifits of training (as adults often need these just as much as children but they wont admit to it being stuck in their ways and unwilling to see they need to change for the better).

    basically what i’m saying here is that mma has just brought to light that most traditional clubs don’t teach traditional arts, just the chilrens sylabus to adulds and a further simplified version to children.

    us traditionalist need to step up our game and ensure that we are teaching effectively and staying true to our styles – if we do, we can demonstrate that traiditional arts are just as effective as mma and that in many cases being a master of one art is better than being a jack of all trades.

    thanks for letting me ramble on.

    take care.

  13. Richard ~ Goju Ryu Bushido Karate Academy Australia on January 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Simply ~ Paul said it all

  14. sean russell on January 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Hi everyone, martial arts was not designed be in the ring! When you place rules and regulation to an art meant for combat you take away a persons ability to overcome a larger opponent. This is why weight classes exist in the ring or octagon fighting.

    Fighting is savage in nature and meant only to defend yourself or other when needed. This doesn’t have to be in a defensive style it can also be in an offensive manner, the best defense is a good offense. However, I am a small guy and a tug on the groin or poke in the eye, be it a bug or an eyelash, sure stops a 300 lbs guy when you are under 200 lbs. So, ask yourselves are training people to survive a bad situation or be the next MMA champ.

    Please don’t misunderstand me the MMA fighters are excellent athletes and talented. But, there seems to be a lot of violence promoted by some gyms looking for the next champion!

  15. Joe Ferguson on January 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    The questions is definitely one that will spark debate, and may never fully be resolved. I believe that MMA (in all its forms) is actually a boon. It has brought people into our dojos and training areas.

    However, as an instructor, it is my duty to be completely honest with my clients and my soon-to-be clients. It is my duty to instill the honor and dignity that is involved with my art. If I train them properly, those that joined my classes with the sole intent to “kick butt”, will learn not just how to do that, but also learn that the only ‘competition’ is within ones’ self.

    I find the current situation with MMA very much like the 80’s when all the Ninja and Karate movies were coming out and everyone wanted to learn to be like the person on tv. Some quickly dropped out of classes because they weren’t trained in the “Miyagi” style, or didn’t realize how much work went into the art. But then, there were those who stayed with it, still doing their arts today, and are the ones that finally began to understand what it was to be a practitioner.

    However, that being said, I’m a Taijiquan practitioner, so I don’t have the problem of people knocking down my door wanting to learn how to fight. After all, how many Taijiquan styles do you see in the octagon?? but even then, I can still use the popularity of MMA to market my art. It’s just up to me to train clients with the proper mindset of the art.


  16. Larry Clements on January 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm


    UFC and MMA have their place. But we all need to stop and realize some truths. Human beings like to watch violence and are entertained by it. The masses will always be the masses and if there is profit to be had they will sell MMA and UFC.

    It is beneficial to us to expose the idea of sports fighting to the populace. As their increased interest leads more to seek out training of their own. But why choose the old ways without knowing their value.

    It is important that we do not fall into the night without being noticed. We all need to start informing the public more and more about the benefits of the traditional arts.

    I am really sick at the sports addict meatheads writing articles about the effectiveness of their sports training. However those articles are selling dreams. They try to angle that the slow and sure path of traditional arts has less to offer than the traditional paths.

    I am also sick of people writing articles about the “old” styles being outdated. Those who train in the traditional arts know better. My style is a Okinawan Family traditional art. And I was taught it as a method of self defense not as a sport. I researched the art further and took it to a higher combat level that was there within the training as it was originally taught when I was in military intelligence and needed to teach something to those I worked with.

    We need to educate the populace that what we are teaching is different we need to further our personal education in areas of physical anatomy, and kinesthesiology, Cross training. Why because when we cannot talk the talk of our peers out there we end up looking like fools.

    Remember way back when you were a white belt newbie learner what you were looking for. Well for most of us that was ANYTHING we can find. We are no longer in that environment. We are now a service industry fighting with 3 other schools on average for the same customers. The sports groups are there own and separate group. We need to educate the public of that and stop hoping for them to come waltzing in the door after having figured it out.

    Whether your focus is family training, children’s development, Self-Defense, combat training, or a little of them all. The public is no longer willing to wade through and figure things out for themselves. We don’t have to like it. I certainly don’t agree with the modern condition. But it is the way it is. And we must adapt to the environment if we are to survive.

    It makes me sick to think of the number of styles and traditional training that is disappearing right now across the globe. All because of politics, egos, and poor education of the masses.

    I think a revolution is needed a revolution in thinking that will give us the ability to educate the public in the way they are used to these days.

    I am working on an idea of a new type of training facility that will have traditional schools working together under the same building as a one stop shop of martial education and body work. But it will take dropping the egos and the one-up-manship and really working together. I am working on something that we can make a household name that gives students a place they can go they can trust will work with them. A place of education. Wish me luck. I will be patenting the idea for the business model and facility design. If I can manage to fit it in around working on my a masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and trying to get a new dojo started right now.

    If we are to survive we cannot hope to do so with the model that we have used in the past. Let the UFC and MMA hold a spotlight and let us light the candles to the older paths in a whole new ways.

    My two cents for what it is worth.


  17. Javier Lozano Jr on January 14, 2010 at 5:34 am

    This is a very interesting topic… I’ve trained in a traditional Japanese art, Wado-Ryu Karate, for 20 years, and had a hard time accepting MMA and UFC type fighters.

    I always believed that they were poor martial artists, with basic fighting skills, no understanding of the ‘art’ and poor attitudes. I would almost consider a boxer a better ‘artist’ at fighting than a MMA athlete.

    Why…? B/C a good coach will train you until you pop that jab correctly, or throw that cross with precision. In MMA, you mix so much, it’s like they are “jack of all trades, but master of none”. They do enough to get an understanding… but that’s it How the heck can that fly to be a master…?

    However, since I’ve been operating my new school, and Mike has really introduced me to what will possibly be the future of the martial arts industry. Not to mention that Jim Mahan and I had a deep conversation about MMA, I started to come around and accept it.

    MMA and UFC has helped present day school owners, like American Kickboxing and / or Karate Kid had helped schools in the 70s and 80s.

    There was a time that Karate was NOT for kids… and if you were a child of the 70s and trained with the adults, you became pretty decent, b/c everyone else couldn’t handle it.

    Anyways… Now, unfortunately, we have punk fighters participating in some matches that they have no business being in. But in all honesty… look at the rest of the sports world.

    NBA – Gilbert Arenas got suspended indefinitely for pulling a gun on his TEAM MATE!!! Players are getting in trouble for assault, or fights. Yet, you have stars that are much classier and lead by example like LeBraun James, Michael Jordon, Dewayne Wade.

    NFL – No difference here. Young males making millions thinking they own the world… But, than you have a guy like Peyton Manning who is a class act, or Kurt Warner who is playing like a kid again at 40!

    MLB – Don’t even get me started :)

    Anyways, I guess my point is that attitude, respect, honor, discipline, all of that, is sometimes thrown out the window by athletes with raw talent, but horrible mind sets.

    They expect everything, but don’t wanna pay their dues or give respect back. In my opinion, blame it on the upbringing…

    If anything, it’s cultural differences between the East and West. One demands respect, while the other demands stardom.

    Either way, I’m gonna ride the wave. I’ve grown as a entrepreneur and adapted. I will not give up on my traditional art that I truly love and enjoy, but I will also not turn a blind eye on what the market is requesting.

    Every successful business needs to adapt in order to survive. If you don’t, you will fall behind, and than there is practically no hope you.

    Look at the current, big corporations, that made it through this recession. Interesting that the one’s with hybrids are doing pretty well.


  18. Master Jeffrey B. Cook on January 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I answered negatively in the survey. I am a very traditionaly trained (38 years-started as a kid and am 51 )and hold Master level rank in a number of Chinese Kung Fu fighting ( Wu Kung )styles from soft to hard. My teachers were multiple province champions of Mainland China and Taiwan in fights that ended when the opponent either quit or could no longer move. I have taught for roughly 20 years. I used to teach only age 14 and above but now also teach kids from age 7 ( teaching age appropriately ). I have seen a distinct decline in interest in what I teach. I incorporate both meditation and QiGong ( internal breathing) in my teaching along with forms. The adult class is geared towards practical application of technique, taken directly from the forms, in the real world. 15 -20 years ago I had no problem with attracting students. Now I have difficulty. A big part of it is the present ” immediate gratification” mindset of many of the teens that come through the door. They want to jump right into sparring with having zero experience. When I tell them I do not allow sparring until a certain level of expertise is acheived, they complain and usually leave. When I try to explain that what I teach is Way Of Life and is not a sport and that what they see on tv with the UFC is a sport and is largely impractical for real life use, they leave. When I show those with experience in MMA how they can be countered easily with traditional technique that does not play by the UFC rules, 9 out of 10 leave. The number one complaint is how long it will take for them to become truly competent martial artists. The overwhelming majority of the teens that come in the door want it all now. They are also convinced that MMA technique is the Holy Grail of martial art. I beg to differ. First, I don’t believe that there is any such thing as a Holy Grail of martial art. Any practitioner of any true fighting style that has dedicated themselves fully to their art has a chance against any other style practitioner who has equally put in the time. Like the NFL – any given Sunday. I do however believe that there are styles that are extremely ruthlessly efficient at dispatching an opponent with immediacy. And most of these styles tend to be ancient systems used by individuals back in history that were studied, practiced, and used because they worked on the field of battle either one-on-one or hundreds against hundreds in clan on clan warfare.The styles were taught across time because they kept the trained practitioner alive during a time when any day one could become involved in a conflict that could result in ones death. I have found that many potential students that come to my school really believe that the UFC is “ultimate fighting”. They are unaware that there are strict rules inside the octogon. Many are the techniques I ( and many others here ) could not use in a UFC fight as they are illegal under UFC rules. Personally, I have a very hard time watching the UFC stuff as the majority of the fighters and fights are sorely lacking in good technique. As Mushashi stated ” Why spend all your time trying to get strong? Trying to impress someone? Superior technique is what impresses as it is superior technique that wins”. I do not mean this to diminish JuJitsu technique. I am very good friends with a few practitoners of a very traditional JuJitsu style and the technique is outstanding ( and different from modern MMA type grappling/locking ).Also, as a traditionaly trained fighter I am very well versed in what the Chinese call “Chin-Na” which is joint locking and manipulation. I wish that I could witness such technique executed in a UFC style fight. Please understand that I recognize that all of this is just my opinion, but my backround, my training, the Shifu’s I was so extraordinarily fortunate to have, and my own ears and eyes seeing the decline in both the interest in and respect of traditional fighting arts in the USA allows me to reach no other conclusion. I know of a number of other very traditionally trained practitioners ( all Master ranked ) with whom I maintain contact that feel the same way and have observed the same things as I have.Peace and good days always to everyone.

  19. Mike Massie on January 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Sifu Cook, very interesting perspective! Glad to have you speak your mind here.

    From a business perspective, considering what you teach and how you teach it, I believe you’d be much better off catering to a more mature audience with your advertising and marketing. Feel free to contact me via email if you’d like to discuss this further.

  20. Mike Massie on January 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Javier, I think you’re of much the same opinion as many of the martial artists who have shared their thoughts here. There’s some good that MMA has brought, and some bad… and it still remains to be seen in the fallout on which side the majority of the MMA culture (and the martial arts industry) will rest.

  21. Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. on January 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Just to comment again

    I’ve been in sales over 30 years. Even if someone calls to say do you teach or is this like mma at least they called and you can now pitch your school


  22. Scott Bolinger on January 15, 2010 at 3:59 am

    the ufc hasn’t done anymore damaged than what pro wrestling has done.
    What has damaged the martial arts indistry is sanctioning bodies. Now, i’m out of Nebraska, for me to put on a pro boxing bout, I need to go to a ABC seminar or pay for a trained person to travel to my event, and pay for room and board for that person, plus there sanctioning fee. Now that the ABC has the minopoly on pro MMA, they are the same way. But for me to put on a show and have it count i’d have to go to one of those training seminars and the closest that they do pro officials seminars is over 1,000 miles. But, even with olympic style tae kwon do, to get on the national registry and run tournaments that actually count, i’d have to travel to California to get certified as a official.

    Another big factor that i’ve seen is government intities. You can set up a event, have your insurance in place, everything all set and on the week of the event the governemtn intity will close you down. Basically if somoene don’t like you, they can tell a story to the city councel or county, they’ll believe and put you in question and shut you down. I’ve seen this happen several times. And it happened to me once, were I was going to put on a continuous point sparring matchup. I talked to the police chief, city manager and city council to let them know what I was putting on. gave them my card, let them know that the rules and regulations are on there, I even went through all the rules and regulations with them and let them know of the safety gear we would wear. 3 days befor the event, a police chief from a a city about 80 miles away, tells the police chief in the town I was going to have my event it that I was putting on bair knuckle fights with no rules and on cement and that shut me down and cost me $800., Now this police chief that lied about my program, I talked to him a few weeks before that event and filled him in on what I was putting on and he’s a old tae kwon do guy that as trying to create a organization between the different instructors to monopolize events in the midwest. Which I don’t know why he would ruin my program unless it was just to help his own personal greed.

    What i’d like to seem is if your creating a sanctoning body, you provide the officials training throughout the state. USA boxing don’t provide that, prboxing and MMA don’t provide that, but those events ahve to be sanctioned and have trained officials. But the states athletics commission takes a cut on any event ran. If there doing that, we need something for our money. Provide the officials training. With my federation, that is what I provide. Anytime I sanction any types of fights, I also provide a self defense and offficials seminar. and I usually go through 3 or 4 different styles of sport figting. And when I do these seminars they are open to who ever wants to attend, but the officials and security people has to take the course.

    But another issue, is who do you allow to train official. In USA Boxing, I think you have to be a level 4 offical to teach. i’e been doing martial arts for over 26 years and know the rules and regulations for boxing , but don’t have enough experience to teach officials for usa boxing according to usa boxing. But in Tae Kwon Do and karate , it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to 50 official seminar, you still have to be a black belt to officiate at a tae kwon do or karate tournament. And thats not right eather. If your in martial arts and you don’t care to compete but have your heart set on being a official, then,you shouldn’t have to train 4 years to get your black belt before being able to offiicate. Take a course or have your instructor sign you off as a official

    But several years in a row, USA Boxing has gone down in popularity. But , in my area, to get the a officials seminar, i’d have to travel anywere from 200 to 400 miles. But, the cost to be a official is $60 and cost for a athlete is $45, and I have 5 other coaches sign up and 50 kids sign up, thats a pretty large chunck of change and no reason why that money couldn’t go to getting someone to train officials on a regular bases. That go the same for athletics commissions were they get a persentage off every pro and amatuer boxing event as well as MMA, but sometimes depending on what state your in, they may take there % off kickboixng, karate and taekwondo events. And then your endedin up paying two sanctioning bodies to run a event. Then dependedin on what city you run your event, they might have a event fee. I’ve seen 17% event fee. If your running a event, you paying state and federal tax on that anyway, and then your creating more money for that area for that event wth peopel staying at motels, eating food and maybe a little site seeing.

    it’s the greedy people of the industry and there unwillingness to be flexable that has drug marial arts programs down.

    Author “WarriorRage KickBoxing by Scott Bolinger” President of the WarriorRage KickBoxing Federation

  23. Juan F. Fogal on January 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Firstly, the only sport that I watch is the UFC and a few other MMA type bouts. Having said that, what is needed and wanted from the MMA world is more values and less trash talking. The details of this viewpoint are plainly written in previous posts.

    However, in my opinion the main source of the problem comes from the training approach. In traditional training systems (like mine) you have an Instructor-Student relationship. This is a very old and almost sacred relationship where the Sensei imparts more than just combat skills to the student. In fact, it is the moral lessons that temper the physical skills. One of my Instructors calls this “Warriorship”

    On the other hand, the MMA fighter has a coach or trainer and in many cases 3 or 4 coaches. They may have a Muay Thai Coach, a Boxing Coach, a Grappling Coach and a Nutritionist. So this paradigm belongs more in the realm of (martial) sports rather than martial arts. Instead of creating a balanced individual they are developing fine-tuned athletes that can be likened to a hot rod … or a Frankenstein monster. Where’s the philosophy? Where’s the moral direction? It’s like the Karate Kid’s Cobra Kai Instructor run amok!

    Unless the fighter is getting his moral lessons from an outside source i.e. mentor, church or maybe the ground work had already been laid out previously, they won’t get it anywhere else.

    It is interesting to note that some of the humble and respectful fighters like Royce, Machida or Silva to name a few, have traditional backgrounds.

    So in the end, I think that MMA hase helped martial arts schools gain more exposure and forced many dojos to start teaching “real” techniques again. We just have to separate ourselves from the sports minded programs. Besides, the bad attitude just makes us traditionalists look that much better.

  24. Mike Massie on January 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Juan, very intelligent response. I agree with you 100% that the bad attitude in sport MMA makes traditional martial arts programs look better to the public.

    We just have to focus on conveying this to the public, and separating ourselves in our advertising and marketing.

  25. Pablo Zamora on March 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I feel MMA is not a good thing for the martial arts industry whatsoever. The culture that it represents is pure trash. I run highly professional schools and teach
    Kung-fu, Krav Maga, JKD and Kickboxing. MMA can be taught with the same level of respect and discipline that the other arts are taught by. But then you are promoting it as well. Best thing for us school owners is to keep it out of our dojos.

  26. Mike Massie on March 31, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Hi Pablo,

    Thanks for chiming in. I respect your opinion on this subject.

    However, don’t you think it’s a bit hypocritical since you have “MMA” in your website address?

    Not trying to nit-pick – just making a point that we can’t have it both ways. Either we jump on the MMA bandwagon, join one of those “MMA instructor” programs, and change the name of our karate, kung-fu, and TKD schools to “Anytown MMA”…

    Or we maintain our integrity by still teaching our core arts as we always have, all while learning and perhaps integrating what is relevant and useful from a combat sport that does, in fact, have some very valuable lessons to teach.

  27. Pablo Zamora on August 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Hello Mike,

    I realize this comes a bit late… but I just saw your responce.
    My website address has MMA as “(M)astery (M)artial (A)rts, NOT Mixed Martial Ats!!!


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