The History of Mixed Martial Arts: From Ancient Greece to the UFC

Learn about how Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) evolved from its roots in ancient Greece & China into one of today's most popular sports.

The History of Mixed Martial Arts: From Ancient Greece to the UFC

Between the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Bruce Lee popularized in the West the concept of combining the elements of multiple martial arts through his Jeet Kune Do system.

Mixed martial

arts originated as mixed combat sports in ancient China and ancient Greece. In 648 B. C.

E., a form of mixed martial arts was first recorded in Greek civilization. These fights could last for hours and took place in a small quadrangle, forcing hand-to-hand combat. Techniques included blows, asphyxiation, elbows, knee pads, joint blocks and kicks. This sport fell into disrepair with the decline of Greek civilization until it was resurrected in the 20th century in Brazil, in the 1920s, when Brazilian jujitsu developed and the sport of mixed martial arts was reborn.

Many believe that Greek mixed martial arts arrived in Asia, where they became the catalyst for Asian martial arts. Modern MMA competition became popular in the United States in 1993 with the arrival of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. MMA has evolved from real combat situations to a more controlled sport to increase safety. Mixed martial arts is now a full contact combat sport that allows for a wide variety of fighting techniques taken from traditional martial arts techniques, such as boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, judo, jiu-jitsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The rules of mixed martial arts allow most striking and gripping techniques from standing positions.

The rules prohibit some of the techniques taught in Lotar enhanced Krav Maga, such as blows to the groin and cuts to the eyes, for participants' safety reasons. Mixed martial arts techniques include hitting (such as kicks, knees, and punches) and struggling (such as grabbing, pinning, retaining submission, sweeping, tearing down, and throwing).MMA competitors cross-train in a variety of styles to counter their opponents' techniques. While mixed martial arts were initially practiced almost exclusively by competitive fighters, this is no longer the case. As the sport has become more popular and is taught more widely, it has become accessible to a wider range of practitioners of all ages.

Located in Redondo Beach, California, Elite Training Center is a martial arts studio that focuses on self-defense and physical conditioning. Students include residents of South Bay and people from the Los Angeles region, men and women, adults and youth, people with no previous experience in self-defense, and people with martial arts experience. Teaching trust and respect for others, our academy is based on the four principles of Respect, Honor, Discipline and Strength. The term mixed martial arts, or as it is now commonly known as MMA, dates back to ancient civilization. One of the first forms of this sport comes from the Han Dynasty. It was a Chinese army that used hand-to-hand combat to defeat its opponent.

Several techniques were invented through art “Shau Diao” which featured fighting styles that are used today including wrestling and Kung-Fu. In 1997, the term Mixed Martial Arts had been coined and it was becoming a true sport. After being banned in many states in the early 90s MMA rules began to become more formalized. The UFC instituted stricter rules creating weight classes use of gloves and general safety rules. This process was well advanced in 2001 when Zuffa led by Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta bought the UFC and then continued with the process. Mixed martial arts were created when the Greeks invented the discipline of pankration in 648 B.

E. This was a discipline that involved fighters who used their fighting and boxing skills to win the fight. It had two main phases; anipancration and pancration of Kato. In Ano Pankration fighters stood tall and used punches and kicks to defeat their opponent while Kato's pankration involved fighting blocking joints and even strangling to defeat your opponent. Not only has the popularity of MMA increased in recent years but the sport itself is relatively new; The term “mixed martial arts” was first used in 1993 by television critic Howard Rosenberg who coined it in his review of UFC 1 event; The first event in UFC history. Although 19th century was a crucial period for development of modern forms of many martial arts and individual combat sports many fighters wanted to combine multiple styles and techniques challenging traditional systems that were being developed at that period. Mixed Martial Arts was officially established in 1993 when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was formed. So there you have it; Mixed Martial Arts in modern sense of word haven't existed for more than 30 years but is it possible that idea is really that new? Of course not. It is a martial arts philosophy introduced by Bruce Lee to free people from being restricted to a martial arts style rather than incorporating aspects from other styles into personal style. As money came to sport wrestlers began to see it as career rather than place to test their skills. They differ from modern MMA in that they tried to combine different sports and arts into single system while MMA is combination of individual styles but it has no individual details other than fact that it combines several martial arts into single fight. In 1994 Bruce Lee became iconic figure in world of mixed martial arts after his death now considered by many to be one its founders. In other words that meant fighter wasn't following particular style therefore mixing them up. In 1914 Mitsuya Maeda taught Carlos Gracie Brazilian martial artist art judo jiu-jitsu Vale Tudo's game rules varied from fight to fight with some having almost no rules while others were little more than mixed grappling events. Brazil also credited with contributing founding mixed martial arts established with its discipline Vale Tudo.


Mixed Martial Arts has come a long way since its inception over two thousand years ago. From its roots in ancient Greece to its modern form today MMA has evolved into one of most popular sports around world with millions fans worldwide.


  • Mixed Martial Arts originated as mixed combat sports in ancient China & Greece
  • Modern MMA competition became popular US 1993 with arrival Ultimate Fighting Championship
  • MMA has evolved from real combat situations into more controlled sport increase safety
  • MMA competitors cross-train variety styles counter opponents' techniques