Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guess What? Bruce Lee Really is the Father of MMA


The UFC has announced Bruce Lee as a playable character in their upcoming EA Sports video game, and in the promotional materials, the famed martial artist is hailed as the "Father of MMA". This designation has some crying foul.

Here's what acclaimed journo Jonathan Snowden tweeted on the subject:

CagedInsider scribe Tommy Hackett agreed.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun with a video game. But at a closer look, that character, and the claims the UFC is making about him, may not have much to do with who Bruce Lee really was.
Josh Gross chimed in as well.
Did Lee actually play any sort of role in the forming of the UFC and modern MMA as we know it? Was he a consultant for UFC 1, working alongside Rorion Gracie and Art Davie to help design the Octagon and pick the fighters? Of course not. He'd been dead over 20 years by the time the first UFC hit the pay-per-view airwaves.

But what Lee did do - and deserves all the credit for - is popularize the notion of blending martial arts styles for more effective combative abilities. Lee preached actual fighting skill over flashy and out-dated techniques, and prior to UFC 1, he was the beacon of light shining down on upon all the martial artists of the world who knew on some level that whatever traditional styles they were learning weren't the final word in unarmed combat. And those particular kinds of martial artists were legion, toting around copies of The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, practicing grappling techniques in the dojo after hours with the other karate black and brown belts, holding focus mitts while fellow judoka practiced their boxing, or taking private lessons in Filipino stickfighting.

Prior to what went on in the Octagon, the seeds of "real combat" were planted by Lee, and watered only by anecdotal evidence gleaned from stories of bar fights and alleged street encounters. Sure, those seeds grew exponentially when we saw with our own eyes what happened when Gerard Gordeau's kickboxing, Minoki Ichihara's karate and Keith Hackney's kenpo clashed with Royce Gracie's jiu-jitsu, but the soil of our minds was fertile for fascination for such things for a reason.

Bruce Lee was that reason.

Those who don't see that probably weren't hunting for the kinds of answers Lee, and later on the UFC, provided.

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