Female 'fighting machines' or a fight brought to perfection.
First women matching men in the MMA cages
Cyborg, a Fighting Machine and Ronda Rousey, a Crushing Pussy-cat
No-holds barred fight in the octagonal cage
From a 'Supremacy MMA' videogame. Resource VG 24/7
Humans have fought since immemorial times, rarely for fun, more often for superiority; rarely friendly, more often to death. So, no wonder, fighting techniques has been perfecting, particularly unarmed hand-to-hand combat. Eventually, an universal combat sport of 'no-hold barred' fighting came into existence. It has different names but the idea is to fight to the end, to submission using almast all imaginable techniques.
Ancient Pankration executed by women
'No-hold barred' fighting is the full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking techniques (including usage of knees and elbows) and grappling techniques (including chokes and painful moves) - both standing and on the ground. The sport includes variety of hand-to-hand combat techniques available in the world. Nowadays, the common used name is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
The main concept of this universal combat style is the submission principle – to subdue an opponent forcing him or her to give in – by any means. The sports focus on obtaining submission using submission holds. Usually, a match is stopped at the moment when one of the fighters is virtually able to kill another one.
The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Olympic combat sport of Pankration as well as to Chinese sport Sanshou (Sanda) and Japanese martial art Jiu-Jitsu.
Nudes in no-holds-barred affairs
The idea of combining hold/throw and punch/kick fighting techniques in one universal martial art or a hand-to-hand combat style is not a modern invention. Ancient Greeks invented a combat sport of Pankration (meaning 'all force') which was a combination of grappling and striking techniques similar to modern mixed martial arts. It was first introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648BC. No wonder, this combat sport was also part of the arsenal of Greek soldiers. This sport originated in Ancient Greece and was later passed on to the Romans.
Another example of such a combined martial art was the old Japanese art of Jiu-Jitsu which originally was developed for Samurai military needs.
The movement that led to the creation of the American and Japanese mixed martial arts scenes was rooted in two interconnected subcultures and two grappling styles, namely Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and shoot-wrestling. The former was based on the Vale Tudo events in Brazil; the latter led to creation of the Japanese “Shooto” school. In fact, shoot-wrestling also gave rise to the staged shows called “professional wrestling” widely popular in some countries, particularly, in Japan, USA and Mexico.
Various mixed style contests took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. The combat sport of Vale Tudo that had developed in Brazil from the 1920s was brought to the United States by the Gracie family in 1993 with the founding of the “Ultimate Fighting Championship“ (UFC). The more dangerous vale-tudo-style bouts of the early UFCs were made safer with the implementation of additional rules, leading to the popular regulated form of MMA seen today. Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with minimal rules. Later, fighters employed multiple martial arts into their style while promoters adopted additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport. The name mixed martial arts was coined by television critic Howard Rosenberg, in 1993, in his review of UFC 1. The term gained popularity when the website newfullcontact.com, then one of the biggest covering the sport, hosted and reprinted the article. Following these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity with a pay-per-view business that rivals boxing and professional wrestling.
While mixed martial arts were initially practiced almost exclusively by competitive fighters, this is no longer the case. As the sport has become more mainstream and more widely taught they have become accessible to wider range of practitioners of all ages. Proponents of this sort of training argue that it is safe for anyone, of any age, with varying levels of competitiveness and fitness.
Various mixed style contests also took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. The combat sport of Vale Tudo that had developed in Brazil from the 1920s was brought to the United States by the Gracie family in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which is currently the largest MMA promotion company worldwide. Prior to the UFC, professional MMA events had also been held in Japan by Shooto since 1989.
In fact, the physical one-on-one fight was traditionally exclusive men's prerogative; with some important exceptions though. So called bare-knuckle prize fighting was extremely popular sport and entertainment in Britain. At least since the early 18th century women often participated in such prize fights. Remarkably, unlike men, who tried to follow 'noble' boxing rules, women prefered fighting in a free style using punches, kicks and other 'unsportsmanlike' moves along with holds and throws. Although such fights were quite chaotic, they can be consider more as a form of ultimate or extreme fighting than boxing. Probably the first reported female 'no-holds barred' fighter was famous 18th century British bare-knuckle fighter Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes; once at that time almost any hand-to-hand combat techniques were used in female prize figths, including ones banned in the contemporary MMA fight.So,
At the turn of the 20th Century, after Jiu-Jitsu sensei brought this martial art to Europe it became extremely popular among women. Famous Edith Garrud from England trained women in Jiu-Jitsu and boxing to make them to be able to defend themselves.
About the same time women's fighting for a prize and audience pleasure became popular in Europe, particularly in France which was reported by writers and artists. These reports also tell about brutal no-holds barred style of such fights - see the illustration by Jeane Veber (below right.)
'No-holds barred' fight. 1897
Artwork by Jeane Veber
MMA: Ground and Pound
In due course, the more dangerous Vale Tudo style bouts of the early UFC's were made safer with the implementation of additional rules, leading to the popular regulated form of MMA seen today. Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with minimal rules. Later, fighters employed multiple martial arts into their style while promoters adopted additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport. The name mixed martial arts was coined by Rick Blume, president and CEO of Battlecade, in 1995.
Once the sport became relatively less dangerous, women were allowed to the rings and octagons. However, women’s no hold barred fighting trace back to ancient times. There are many records of women participating in Oriental martial arts. In isolated cases, women competed in Ancient pancration. Roman female gladiatrices were trained in unarmed hand-to-hand combat as well as in ultimate fighting – both with and without weapon. In the 18th century British women often engaged in no holds barred fighting for prize. In fact, famous Elizabeth Wilkinson was a real ultimate fighter rather than a boxer.
Originally, MMA were designed as a way to bring the best combat systems and the strongest fighters to light. Usually, MMA fights run in special octagonal cages, sometimes - in the boxing rings. Semi-gloves (without finger covers) are put on participant hands (like gloves for taekwondo). Such semi-gloves allow fighters to box as well as to wrestle (and even to use fingers for hair pulling in "no-hold barred" fights, which are not allowed now).
There are (and used to be) several different names for mixed style fighting and its variations: hand-to-hand combat, extreme fight, ultimate fight, freefight, mixfight, Vale Tudo (a Portuguese term meaning "anything goes"), Shooto (an English transliteration of the Japanese words Shu To, which loosely translates to "learn combat"), pancrase, etc. The MMA came from the ancient Greek Olympic sport pankration that combined striking and grappling techniques.
Usual legal techniques using by MMA fighters include: general grappling, chokeholds, joint locks, leg trips, kicks, knee strikes, punches, takedowns and throws. Illegal techniques include (not always all) biting, elbow strikes, eye-gouging, forearm strikes, hair pulling, head butting, pressure point techniques, kicking or kneeing the head of a downed opponent, small joint manipulation and strikes to the groin, spine or throat.
As a result of the MMA events, martial arts training and the understanding of the combat effectiveness of various strategies have changed dramatically over the last ten years. MMA competition has indicated that there are three distinct phases in unarmed fighting: Stand-up fighting; Clinch fighting and Ground fighting.
Each organization and promoter determines its own rules (in accordance with a local government regulation). For instance, kicking and kneeing a downed opponent are allowed in Pride but not in UFC. At the same time, elbows to the head/face are allowed in UFC but not in Pride.
Modern fighting strategies
The following is a breakdown of the different fighting styles of modern MMA. With essentially no exceptions, all successful fighters train with (and thus practice against) experts in all disciplines used today. Howerer, most fighters base their overall strategy on one particular style and become associated with it.
Sprawl-and-brawl is a stand-up fighting tactic that consists of effective stand-up striking, while avoiding ground fighting, typically by using sprawls to defend against takedowns. A sprawl-and-brawler is a usually a boxer, kickboxer or Muay Thai fighter who has trained wrestling to avoid takedowns and tries to keep the fight standing.
Armbar by Ronda Rousey -
her favorite technique
Clinch-and-pound is a clinch fighting tactic that consists using a clinch hold to prevent the opponent from moving away into more distant striking range, while at the same time striking the opponent using knees, stomps and dirty boxing techniques. Clinch-and-pounders are usually wrestlers that have added in components of the striking games. Often, wrestlers that have added the striking game are partial to strikes from within the clinch (particularly wrestlers who have developed a strong clinch game already). In the case that an exchange on the feet does not go in their favor, they can bring the fight to the ground quickly as their true expertise lies in wrestling, so they are ultimately less timid about trading blows.
Throw by Ronda Rousey
Ground-and-pound is a ground fighting tactic consisting of taking an opponent to the ground using a leg trip, takedown or throw, obtaining a dominant position, and then striking the opponent. Ground and pound is also used as a precursor to attempting submission holds. Russian female heavyweight judokas Svetlana Gundarenko and Irina Rodina used similar tactics at the MMA tournament in Japan. Technique consisting in slamming (hurling) an opponent on the floor sometimes is used in such positions. The move is very efficient (and dangerous) against an opponent (especially lighter) who clutches at you or clings to you or accomplishes a hold technique. Slamming the opponent to the ground helps release from clutches and allows to break down the opponent's resistance and to accomplish a submission.
Ground and pound is sometimes referred to as lay-and-pray, when combatant is using his or her positioning to rest, and not to advance in position or using effective striking. These two styles are used by wrestlers or other fighters well-versed in defending submission holds and skilled at takedowns. They take every fight to the ground, maintain a grappling position, and strike (attack) until their opponent submits, is knocked out or is cut so badly that the fight can not continue.
Ground and choke/lock is a ground fighting tactic consisting of accomplishing a jiu-jitsu style technique in order to stop the opponent. This is the favorite tactic of judokas and jiu-jitsu wrestlers. Using this technique, a skillful wrestler sometimes defeats a bigger and a stronger opponent. An instant throw usually follows by a joint lock. The choke is accomplished in the “chest-back” position – by holding the opponent’s neck from behind while holding the opponent’s body by legs. Chokes by legs are rarer.
Thus there are four main ways to achieve an upright victory in MMA:
- Repeating punching to the unproteced head
- Pain hold or joint lock
Rules & Terms
Each organization and promoter determines its own rules (in accordance with a local government regulation)
In MMA any position may be advantageous
Angela Lee hangs on Mei Yamaguchi
May 6, 2016, in Singapore
Victory in a match is normally gained either by the judges' decision after an allotted amount of time has elapsed, a stoppage by the referee (for example if a competitor cannot defend himself intelligently) or the fight doctor (due to an injury), a submission, by a competitor's cornerman throwing in the towel, or by knockout.
Knockout (KO): as soon as a fighter is unable to continue due to legal strikes, his opponent is declared the winner. As MMA rules allow submissions and ground and pound, the fight is stopped to prevent further injury to the fighter.
Submission: a fighter may admit defeat during a match by:
- Tap on the opponent's body or mat/floor
- Verbal submission
Technical Submission: the referee stops the match when the fighter is caught in a submission hold and is in danger of being injured. Often it is when a fighter gets choked unconscious; other times it is when a bone has been broken in a submission hold (a broken arm due to a kimura, etc.)
Technical Knockout (TKO): declared when the referee, official ring physician, the fighter, or the fighter's cornermen decide that a fighter cannot safely continue the match.
Referee stoppage: The refery may stop a match in progress if:
- A fighter becomes dominant to the point where the opponent cannot intelligently defend himself and is taking excessive damage as a result
- A fighter appears to be losing consciousness as he/she is being struck
- A fighter appears to have a significant injury such as a cut or a broken bone
Stoppage by referee Kim Winslow.
Miesha Tate lost the fight against Cat Zingano
Doctor Stoppage/Cut: the referee will call for a time out if a fighter's ability to continue is in question as a result of apparent injuries, such as a large cut. The ring doctor will inspect the fighter and stop the match if the fighter is deemed unable to continue safely, rendering the opponent the winner. However, if the match is stopped as a result of an injury from illegal actions by the opponent, either a disqualification or no contest will be issued instead.
Corner stoppage: a fighter's corner men may announce defeat on the fighter's behalf by throwing in the towel during the match in progress or between rounds. This is normally done when a fighter is being beaten to the point where it is dangerous and unnecessary. In some cases, the fighter may be injured.
Retirement: a fighter is so dazed or exhausted that he/she cannot physically continue fighting.
Decision: if the match goes the distance, then the outcome of the bout is determined by three judges. The judging criteria are organization-specific.
Forfeit: a fighter or his representative may forfeit a match prior to the beginning of the match, thereby losing the match.
Disqualification: a "warning" will be given when a fighter commits a foul or illegal action or does not follow the referee's instruction. Three warnings will result in a disqualification. Moreover, if a fighter is unable to continue due to a deliberate illegal technique from his opponent, the opponent will be disqualified.
No Contest: in the event that both fighters commit a violation of the rules, or a fighter is unable to continue due to an injury from an accidental illegal technique, the match will be declared a "No Contest".
In other words, there are three essential ways to win a MMA fight:
- To force the opponent to submit Submission (also referred to as a "tap out") is a term for yielding to the opponent, and hence resulting in an immediate defeat. There might be several reasons to submit: suffering an injury; avoiding an intensive pain or injury or losing consciousness; being choked; being overwhelmed by striking, preventing being knocked out or injured. The submission is commonly performed by clearly tapping the floor or the opponent with the hand or sometimes with the foot, to signal the opponent and possibly the referee of the submission; the submission can also be verbal. The submission can also be announced by the fighter’s team. If the submission is decided not by the fighter, it is called technical submission.
- To knock the opponent out by striking him/her Knockout is usually awarded when one participant is unable to raise from the canvas within a specified period of time, typically because of fatigue, injury, loss of balance, or unconsciousness. In MMA, KO is relatively rare, more common is early stoppages (Technical knockout also referred to as a TKO) often declared when the referee or other judges (such as official ring physician, the fighter, or the fighter's cornermen) decide that a fighter cannot continue the match, even though he did not fail the count; or, in many regions, a fighter has been knocked down three times in one round.
- To dominate during the fight in order to be declared a winner by judges after an allotted amount of time has elapsed. If neither of the contestants has won decisively, the outcome is decided by judges.
The most of upright victories in MMA fights have been achieved by painful armlocks, knockouts and chokes.
Mixed martial arts promotions typically require that male fighters wear shorts in addition to being bare-chested, thus precluding the use of gi or fighting kimono to inhibit or assist submission holds. Male fighters are required by most athletic commissions to wear groin protectors underneath their trunks. Female fighters wear short shorts or short skirts) and sports bras or other similarly snug-fitting tops. Both male and female fighters are required to wear a mouthguard.
The need for flexibility in the legs combined with durability prompted the creation of various fighting shorts brands, which then spawned a range of mixed martial arts clothing and casual wear available to the public.
Combat disciplines contributed to MMA
Valentina Shevchenko throws down Amanda Nunes
A MMA fighter, who wishes to truly be successful in MMA, needs to have a base in the following martial arts and combat sports:
- Kickboxing and Muay Thai
- Freestyle & Greco-Roman Wrestling
- Jiu Jitsu
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- San Shou
Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan is an example of multi-sport fighter having practiced Muay Thai, Taekwondo and Free Valey Tudo (see the clip at left)
Due to peculiarities of the MMA, some tactics adapted from the traditional martial arts which techniques are used in MMA can be either effective or not as effective as they are in particular martial arts. For instance: boxing stances which lack effective counters to leg kicks and the Muay Thai stance which is poor for defending against takedowns due to the static nature, or Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, techniques which must be adapted for No Gi competition. It is common for a fighter to train with multiple coaches of different styles or an organized fight team to improve various aspects of their game at once. Cardiovascular conditioning, speed drills, strength training and flexibility are also important aspects of a fighter's training. Some schools advertise their styles as simply "mixed martial arts", which has become a style in itself, but the training will still often be split into different sections.
Under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, athletes compete for three five-minute rounds, with championship matches waged over five five-minute rounds. Scoring, like boxing, is done on a ten-point system, with the winner of the round receiving ten points and the loser nine points or less. Unlike boxing, MMA matches are scored not only for effective striking attacks, but for ground fighting effectiveness, submission and takedown attempts and defense, as well as ring generalship.
Bouts end via knockout, referee, corner or doctor stoppage, or submission. When a bout ends by submission, the fighter either verbally or physically “taps out,” signaling that he has had enough
The rules include: licensing, medical examinations, approved gloves, weight classes, time limits, rounds and mandatory drug testing.
A feminine 'no-hold barred' fight
ends with armbar
A ring-side doctor attends to a fighter following a loss. Mixed Martial Arts competitions have changed dramatically since the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993, specifically with the inception of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. A paucity of data on injuries that occur in MMA and the resulting concerns and controversy with regard to MMA’s safety remain. Several recent studies indicate that the overall injury rates in MMA competitions are similar to other combat and martial art sports, including boxing and karate.
Many skillful strong women have fought in the contemporary rings and octagons. But until Cristiane Santos of Brazil appeared in the octagon, female fighters had looked too feminine by contrast with brutal male MMA fighters. Cris fights differently: she acts as a robot designed for killing, without remorse. She methodically smashes her opponents in tough manly way – with highest speed, strength, skills, techniques, ferocity and implacability. This is no accident that her nick name is
Cyborg - a combination of human and machine. Actually, the nickname Fighting Machine would more suit her...
Her appearance in the octagon represents the turning point in the female combat sports. Actually, nothing seems to have to be improved once the Fighting Machine is already fighting and winning in the cages.
Brazilian cage fighter Cristiane Justino Venancio Santos (Cyborg) was born on July 9, 1985. Santos won the title on August 15, 2009 by defeating MMA Gina Carano via TKO in the first round. Cyborg lives in San Diego where training and teaching at The Arena, one of the premier MMA gyms in the United States. Santos is currently the #1-ranked pound-for-pound female MMA fighter.
Since the “fighting machine” Cyborg appeared in the octagon, it would be very difficult to anticipate any higher level the women’s combat sports could raise. It seemed to be the summit; there would no visible direction to move. A lady exists who fights like a true man, what else can be really improved in this area?
Unfortunately, Cyborg tried to increase her 'musculinity' by using setroids. On December 17, 2011, Chris Cyborg faced Hiroko Yamanaka and won via TKO just sixteen seconds into the first round. However, on January 6, 2012, it was announced that Justino had tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. As a result of the banned substance, the fight's result was changed to a no contest. Justino had her license suspended for one year and was fined $2,500.
In fact, there were (and there are) female athletes in the combat sports (including MMA) who didn’t lose their femininity during bouts and matches. For instance, the video clip at the right (from the site giphy.com) represents elegance and gracefulness of female contest in MMA. But it is quite unlikely that such ladies would be able to pit something against the fighting machine.
And yes, soon a Judo Olympic medalist Ronda Rousey came into the MMA octagon and began defeating all her opponents; almost everyone by means of a simple Judo technique requiring adroitness and finished techniques rather than raw strength. Being solid, resolute, determined and explosive and at the same time well-built, attractive and feminine, Ronda openly accused Cyborg in artificial hormonal misbalance; in other words, she considered her as not a real woman. Cyborg, in turn, recently lost weight to be with Rousey in the same weight category and negotiations are going about the fight between them. If the bout happens, it will be a dispute between two absolutely different styles: savagery, mercilessness and raw strength against flexibility and precise science. The question is whether Ronda is able to withstand attacks of man-like Cyborg and to manage to bend her arm or the fighting machine will smash her feminine opponent.
Anyhow, Ronda Rousey will have gone down in history. She will be remembered as a merciless rough fighter who manages to keep her femininity even during a fight. As a matter of fact, there are several beautiful feminine female fighters but they really lose feminine attractiveness in the octagon. It is not about Ronda Rousey. She has proven than a woman can fight as fiercely and roughly as a man not losing her femininity at that. That’s what makes her to be remembered.
Ronda Jean Rousey (born February 1, 1987) is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress. She is the first and current UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, as well as the last Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion. She is undefeated, having won eight of her ten fights by armbar. (At that she won eight fights via submission in the first round.) Rousey became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo at the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.
Rousey is the consensus #1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world, according to MMARising, MMAWeekly, and other publications. She is ranked #1 at 135 pounds according to the Unified Women's MMA Rankings.
Ronda Rousey in her open bra
gets held by Liz Carmouche
In fact, Ronda Rousey wears heart on sleeve and always tells her own, disregarding rules of decorum. This is what Ronda Rousey said about the invincible Cyborg: "This girl has been on steroids for so long and [has been] injecting herself for so long that she's not even a woman anymore. She's an 'it.' It's not good for the women's division. It's not good at all…I haven’t been really too impressed with her actual skill set," Rousey said. "It’s only her strength that she draws off. ...And the way that she is on the ground, it’s absolute horrendous. And her distance is absolute horrendous. The only thing that she has is pace and power, and I have pace, precision and power."
Besides her combative skills and feminine attractiveness, Ronda Rousey achieved notoriety by her peculiar combat bra which in some bizarre moves and positions is unable to stay at place. (During a MMA fight the fighter’s body is so much deformed, unless it is bundled up.) This is what was reported. “Minutes after Ronda Rousey bounded into the Octagon this past February for the first women's fight in UFC history, she found herself grappling with two formidable opponents. The first was former Marine Liz Carmouche, who was suddenly suctioned to Rousey's back, strangling her and twisting her head. The second was her low-cut black crop top, whose elastic spaghetti straps were no match for Carmouche's moves. In a last-minute mishap, handlers had failed to order Rousey a formidable fight-night bra and instead handed her one of the light-as-air chest coverings she usually wears for weigh-in. Now that teensy swath of fabric was the only thing standing between Rousey's goods and 13,000 onlookers at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. -- and it was inching closer and closer to the mat.” By the way, her bras slithered down not only during that fight. No doubt, if she was allowed, she would continue fighting without the bra unabashed. She seems to be very confident in her body.
In fact, after that embarrassment during the Carmouche fight, Ronda didn’t hesitate to defeat her powerful opponent without batting an eyelid. She sued the same signature armbar, which she knew from her Judo practice. In fact, the armbar is quite an elegant technique, far from Cyborg’s signature slaughtering attacks by which she beats her opponent almost dead. Ronda Rousey manages to use fists, legs and knees in an elegant way, so even bleeding noses of her opponents do not mar the impression of this combative she-cat. Irreproachably delivering throws in the Judo style, Ronda Rousey literally forces her opponents to fly all over the cage and flies herself after them – just to find her on top and to choke them in her velvet paws.
Big cat’s gracefulness, agility and precision allow her to defeat tougher opponents not losing attractiveness and femininity. This is what makes the difference and what distinct her from other female combatants.
There is a famous song by Emily Autumn “Fight like a girl”. In the past, this expression literally meant hairpulling, screaming and scratching. Now women proudly say that such a fighter as Ronda Rousey fights just as a girl, which means efficiently, spicily and mercilessly...
Is MMA the end of the history of combat sports? In fact, every single unarmed combative move and technique can be used in a MMA fight, while very few moves are not allowed by the MMA rules. The progress in combative sports is even more striking as far as women are concerned in combat sports – they have stepped up from “helpless creatures” to full-fledged fighters.