Royce Gracie started it all in MMA.
In the mid 1990’s I sat gobsmacked as a 180-pound jujitsu expert named Royce Gracie outlasted and outmaneuvered hulking 250-pound men and won the Ultimate Fight Competition (UFC), the first of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournaments. I was inspired.
Very soon after, I found myself in jujitsu classes being manhandled on the mat by guys much smaller than me. Even as an ex-high school wrestler, on the ground I was putty in their hands. I saw firsthand how skill and technique trump size and power in this great equaliser of martial arts combat, jujitsu. I was sold.
By 2000 we were teaching chokes, arm bars, and takedowns in our schools in Sydney, and in time added over 150 grappling and jujitsu techniques to our syllabus. Boxing and kickboxing techniques also featured heavily in our training along with traditional American Kenpo Karate.
All roads lead to the present.
Australia’s first Ultimate Fighting Competition, UFC 110 in Sydney’s Acer Arena, sold out in less than a day. UFC 127, also at the Acer Arena, sold out in 30 minutes. I attended both events and was extremely impressed by the level of competition and fan engagement. What impressed me most was the overall skill of the fighters. Since the first UFC, stand-up fighters have turned the tables by mastering enough skills on the ground to neutralise the grapplers. By 2011 the best fighters in the UFC were all-rounders. Once again, I was inspired.
We recently introduced MMA classes. Not if, but when MMA becomes mainstream in Australia as it has in the US, we will be ready. We will ride this tsunami, not be overcome by it.
The lesson in this.
Keep your eyes open to what is happening around you. Be open to change. This world is changing more rapidly than we can comprehend. Stay tuned and never stop learning new things about your chosen field. You never know when it will come in handy.
Are you inspired by what is happening in MMA? Are you still learning?