YONG SHUL CHOI is the name of the Founder of the Art of Hapkido. Choi’s innovative Art was the result of his training in and combining the principles and skills of two distinct martial arts: Korean Tang Soo Do, and Japanese Aiki-jutsu. Hapkido is an excellent example of a classical/traditional mixed martial art. Virtually every single ju-jutsu system was and is, in fact, a mixed martial art. American Combato, founded by this writer in 1975 is a mixed martial art. The Fairbairn System, The Applegate System, the O’Neill System, the Brown-Begala System, the Biddle System, Bruce Tegnér’s Jukado, the WWII USMC Raider Close Combat System, the Nelson System, Caesar Bujosa’s Jakata, the Sigward System, William Chow’s Kenpo-Karate, Japan’s Goshindo Kempo System, Frank Ryan’s System, Cliff Freeland’s wartime (WWII) System, John Perkins’ Guided Chaos, Jon Bluming’s Method, the ancient Greek Pankration, Indian Varmannie, and more than likely several dozen more systems, schools, courses, and methods all over the world are in fact MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.

SO WHAT IS THIS “MMA” STUFF? Is it really new? Is it unique? Does it offer a whole new perspective on what does an doesn’t work in real combat?

The MMA is properly categorized as a “Mixed Martial Sport”. That is certainly something unusual for the 20th and 21st centuries, since not since the Art of Greek Pankration was reckless, injurious, senselessly harmful brutality considered a “sport”. On the other hand it has always been understood ––– if not explicitly taught ––– that in real combat one resorts to whatever the hell will defeat the enemy, and it matters not in the least where or from whom any particular action resorted to by a combatant originated!

In the simplest terms: true MARTIAL “martial art” has always been, for want of a better term, “mixed”. Kicking, punching, clawing, elbowing, biting, chopping, grasping, kneeing, butting, spitting, jabbing, throwing, strangling, joint breaking, and using anything at hand or a weapon that one happens to be in possessionof, is all part and parcel of actual, real, anything-goes MARTIAL art. A combat art, in order to be a combat art, must be all-inclusive. And here we hasten to remind or to inform anyone wondering about it, that “martial” means:”Of or pertaining to war”. Not sport. Not contests. Not competition. Not championships. But C-O-M-B-A-T; that is, real, dangerous, battle between human beings in which the combatants are doing battle for survival.

In our personal opinion this makes the modern sport of MMA (and its sister activity, the UFC) little more than dangerous, risky nonsense.

How can we possibly say this? Because, while enjoining the entrants to beat each other senseless with both percussionary and grappling SPORT COMBAT ACTIONS, the activity encourages mastery of skills that are bound to cause injury when applied as they are applied in MMA, yet are not necessarily the real actions that one must be trained to resort to in either a desperate self-defense predicament or in a wartime military hand-to-hand combat engagement.

We have no quarrel with avid MMA/UFC participants. So long as they wish to pursue their preferred version of mutual abuse, God Bless ‘Em. This is America, and people are and should be free to participate in whatever sports they wish ––– providing their participation is done as mutually consenting adults. 

OK. However . . . people have been grossly misinformed and misled into believing that the “real path to proficiency” in self-defense is to be on the MMA bandwagon. Never mind what close combat authorities, wartime trainers, highly experienced combatives experts, and even martial arts people who have many years of experience and who have been and done have to say! What the hell do they know, anyway? They don’t even allow full contact!

Well, they “don’t allow full contact” because the eyes, throat, neck, ears, testicles, solar plexus/sternum, bridge of nose, knees, kidneys, spine, etc. are automatic targets in that which they teach, and calling any contact with those targets INSANE during the course of practice and training is understating the matter.

MMA fighters ––– in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s ––– who are in hard training and who are active in tough competitions, and who stay in top shape, can almost certainly use their skills in real combat. However, MMA training and competition is not feasible or desirable for everybody who needs self-defense. Nor does the MMA skill-set have a lifetime shelf life. After the inevitable injuries from the sport, and middle age approach, the MMA stuff is not what you want if some piece of sh-t tries to mug you, if you are jumped, if two or three punks attack you, if a home invasion, carjacking, attempted rape, kidnap, or other form of egregious violence is thrust upon you by dangerous predatory vermin.

Real combatives employ techniques calculated to knockout, maim, cripple, and kill . . . and these unarmed skills are incorporated (in properly organized systems) with modern weapons. The purpose is most emphatically not to become a “tough guy”, or a street fighter, or any variant of physical troublemaker. The purpose is to provide qualty, reliable, lifetime skills and mindset to persons of every background, from housewives to military elites.

Mixed skills are of course mandatory in all combative syllabi. Not that every type of skill is essential (submission type holds, grappling, ground fighting, defensive blocking and restraining actions, and sporting throws, etc.) are worthless. But all types of blows, gouges, jabs, smashes,kicks etc. with one’s natural weapons, select combat throws and takedowns, strangulation methods, workable counterattacks against attacks that take one by surprise, are to be included. And, of course, weapons (which includes training in weapons-at-hand, or “improvised” weapons).

But the most distinctive aspect of real, serious combat training, as opposed to hard-fought combat sports of any kind ––– MMA/UFC, or what-have-you ––– is MINDSET, MENTAL CONDITIONING, AND ATTITUDE. For self-defense and close combat the mind must be trained to utter ruthlessness and to fierce, merciless ferocity. The mental training here is for WAR.

Even the toughest and most hard-fought UFC and MMA matches often end with both winner and loser embracing and expressing real respect and appreciation for his opponent. Bravo! That is good sportsmanship, and we certainly salute those MMA and UFC fighters who see their art as one of friendly, mutually respectful combat sport. But their “mixed martial sport” is not real combat, and those needing real combat training should understand this fact. Their pursuit should be of an art of actual close combat and personal defense.

Don’t worry. Any authentic combatives teacher you meet will, if you enroll for instruction, be teaching you a mixture of skills, tactics, and techniques drawn from many proven sources. That’s what combat requires, and that is what all of us whose profession is teaching self-defense and close combat have always known and taught.

“Mixed martial sport” may be new on the horizon, but mixed martial arts have existed for a long, long, long time.