MMA Discourse Community
MMA Discourse Community
Have you ever turned on the TV and watched UFC or some other cage fight? Most of you are thinking that it is nothing more than a bunch of brutes fighting for money. The fact is there is some skill involved in it. This is known as Mixed Martial Arts or MMA for short. According to Andre Herbert, “MMA is using the most effective techniques of various martial arts so that they complement each other perfectly. ” Some of these styles use striking (kicking and punching) and grappling (grabbing, lifting) techniques. The styles used in MMA are pretty diverse.
There is Muay Thai, which is a form of martial arts that originated in Thailand, which uses hands, elbows, knees, shins and feet for striking purposes. They also have Boxing, which is used for the punching combinations and footwork. Wrestling and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu are used for grappling techniques that includes takedowns, submissions, chokeholds and anything that makes you want to yell out “Uncle! ” or “Mercy! ”, for those of you who played those kind of games as a kid. There is also a little bit of Kung-Fu, Karate Judo and etc. influences on the styles.
In this ethnography, I will discuss how MMA is more than just a combination of different fighting systems; it is also a discourse community, in other words according to John Swales, it is a made up of individuals who share “a broadly agreed upon set of common public goals”. This form of fighting can be traced back since the Greco-Roman times during the ancient Olympics when the sport was called Pankration. They would combine hand to hand combat with some ground work. This was nothing more but a prototype (T. P. grant). Bruce Lee was said to be the Father of MMA because of his philosophy in combat.
He hated how in Kung-Fu that there are so many fixed positions but they might not work out in real time combat. He wanted more freedom with the way people fought. He liked boxers because they have strength and technique and they could throw their punches where ever they wanted. Bruce Lee then quoted, “The best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt on any style. He kicks too good for a Boxer, throws too good for a Karate man, and punches too good for a Judo man. ” (I am Bruce Lee).
Meanwhile in the 1920’s, in Brazil, they would have events known as Vale Tudo fights, which means anything goes in Portuguese. They would fight with bare hands and use grappling skills from Shoot Wrestling and Ju-Jitsu. From there on, it would expand throughout time and across the nation and reached the U. S. during the 90s especially in the UFC. The UFC or also known as Ultimate Fighting Championship, was a tournaments back then in the 90s, where many martial artists from different styles would compete for the grand prize money and the title of the Ultimate Fighter.
The Gracie Family brought their Vale Tudo style to the tournament, their representative was the Ju-Jitsu black belt Royce Gracie. He single handedly, forced everyone to tap out into submission. Since then, every fighter considered combining different styles into their training (Marc Margolis). Methodology For this research, I conducted interviews from the fighters to coaches and everything in between. I trained under Andre Herbert, an instructor at Charlotte Krav Maga, for a while and I even conducted an e-mail interview with him.
What makes Andre Herbert an expert in the MMA discourse communities are his credentials, some of them include his black belts in Krav Maga, Kempo Karate, and his certifications in Fit-To-Fight, which is an MMA orientated program (Charlotte Krav Maga). I also conducted an interview with a former classmate of mine, Michael Thompson, who also trained in MMA and is joining the Navy since they also use MMA techniques. What I am trying to do is gather different views on MMA from different people in power because it really is a broad discourse community since it had so many styles and different people have a different variation of a style.
Also not everyone in the community is a fighter because you also have the judges, the hardcore fans, and the coaches. This will create a variety of views on the MMA world and discourse community. Results In Mixed Martial Arts, all characteristics of a discourse community are present. In fact, some of the characteristics can be identified if you look closely. One of the easiest examples to identify the characteristics would be the training sessions before a fight. They use lexis (terminology), have a form of communication between the coach and the fighter, and they have a set of common goals.
The type of lexis they use varies on which style they are using. When someone is working on their Muay Thai or Boxing skills, they would work with a partner that is using boxing mitts/thai pad. They would practice combinations with these. The mitt/pad holder would call out a number, which is a code for a kind of punch/kick, or number combinations, which is a code for a variety of punches/kicks sequence done at a time. For example, the mitt holder would yell out “1, 2, 4, 3! ” while the person hitting the mitts would recognize it as “Jab, Cross, Upper Cut, Hook” in their mind and would perform the technique requested.
They do this so they could imitate a possible scenario within a real fight so they would know what combination to pull out when the time comes. There are also the different forms of communication between the coach and the fighters. Aside from the number system mentioned above for communication, they also use physical body language during the training session so they can make sure that the people involved in the training session are safe. An example of this would be when they practice on their ground game such as wrestling or Brazilian ju-jitsu.
In Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, there are a number of submissions from choke holds to arm bars. If they are not careful they could knock the wind of out someone or accidently snap someone’s arm in half. They use body language whenever they feel like they had enough. If someone were to go for a chokehold on their training partner or opponent, they would usually go easy but also give it some energy. That energy, let’s say 40%, can actually be enough to choke someone out. The person getting choked has to let their partner know when it is enough and they do so by tapping on their partner.
That lets the partner know that they are going too far and that they should let go. Another form of communication would be the actual match. There are two fighters going at it, and they try and figure out what each other might do so they could counter attack. They have a funny way of communicating; both sides have to interact with each other but they do not want to make it obvious that they are going to try this technique or this punch/kick combination. They would try and mislead each other so they can set them up for something else.
For example, there is a match going on, one fighter wants to try out their favorite striking combination while the other wants to take them to the ground. They just want to set it up nicely, let’s say the person who wants to go for the takedown predicted the other guy would try and go for a strike. All they have to do is, wait for the striker to hit 1st so they can either dodge or block the attack and go for the takedown. This can be detected by a person’s stance and playing around with their heads by throwing fake punches and etc.
In other words, it is like a game of chess except it is more physical and alerting. There are many goals within the MMA community and they are driven by various reasons. Maybe one fighter practices MMA for the prize money they could win, others for self-defense reasons, physical and mental empowerment or for recreational purposes. For example, with the respective interviews between Andre and Michael, surprisingly they both have almost the same reasons to practice MMA, they both said that their fathers were practicing martial arts and that they felt encouraged to try it too.
Later on, Michael also said that he also started doing it because he got bullied when he was younger and he needed some sort of discipline to help him against his bullies and protect people around him. According to Andre, the main goal of the MMA community right now is to get people to see it as a legitimate sport. There are many stereotypes in MMA from outsiders such as “they are all meatheads or that all fighters are violent”, and “they are nothing more but gay men that love to get in different positions with other half naked men”.
The brief summary in Andre’s view is “For years MMA companies have had a perpetual black eye because the perception is that MMA is essentially human dog fighting. ” According to the counter statement by Michael, “It depends on how people look at it themselves, but really unless you practice it yourself, you really can’t judge people for what they do because they are making a living for it”, people have to take a closer look than what is shown in front of them. According to Andre, “Modern MMA is in its infancy, so there are still many rowing pains to be had”, it is not considered a real sport because it is relatively new.
What is also hurting the creditability of MMA is how the biggest organization, UFC, has a lack of competition. The only thing the fighters can do to achieve this public goal is to keep doing what they are doing until people change their minds. One of the other main goals of MMA, are the training sessions, so the fighter can be best prepared mentally, physically, and spiritually. They do this so they can enter the fight with confidence and so they can show off their polished skills throughout the fight.
Another important role of training is to give the viewers a good show. They want to keep everyone entertained whether the fighters win, lose or draw, that is what makes them champions. There is a lot of good sportsmanship and mutual respect towards the fighters and their opponents. If someone loses, it gives one a chance to see the errors they made and the opportunity to correct them in a rematch or another fight. If someone wins, it lets them know that they are in the right track.
Overall, the shared goals between every fighter and coach in the MMA community are to achieve some sense of self-enlightening. Conclusion MMA has been around for a long time since the ancient Greco-Romans, made some changes with China and U. S. through Bruce Lee and his philosophy system, Jeet Kune Do, and then took a trip to Brazil with the Gracie Family and back worldwide with organizations like UFC. The Mixed Martial Arts community is a community that welcomes all from any race, gender, age and background because it has a place for everyone.
Anyone can become a member just by signing up to a local gym and start training rigorously. After analyzing the different aspects of MMA and the characteristics of a discourse community, such as the lexis, communication and common goals, the MMA community is a discourse community. The main value of the MMA community is to work hard, have fun and to better oneself. The purpose of the MMA community is to combine different elements of combat to unite them as one system of combat and to teach people discipline.
Subject: Martial arts,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 2 November 2016
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