Hybrid (Mixed) Fighting Styles

Mixed Martial Arts:
The Book of Knowledge

by BJ Penn, Glen Cordoz,
Erich Krauss
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Photos by Gregory Brophy (hand wraps), Gerville Hall (TaeKwonDo girl), Lucian (Karate fight).
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Hybrid martial arts (also known as hybrid fighting systems) refer to fighting systems that incorporate techniques and rules from traditional and non-traditional martial arts, combining different fighting distances (close combat, kicks, strikes, etc.) to form an all-round fighting system.

Most hybrid fighting systems combine ground fighting, stand-up fighting and clinch fighting techniques. The cross-cultural hybridization usually also leads to a dilution of the original philosophy behind the martial arts and a hardening of the rules.

Hybrid Martial Arts Styles vs. Traditional Martial Arts

While Hybrid styles favor a wide combination of techniques, leaving also room to a certain 'creativity' when needed, traditional styles are usually based on a smaller, fixed number of techniques that are exercised over and over again. The philosophy behind traditional styles is that 'less is more' and that a small set of perfectly mastered techniques is more effective against multiple opponents.

Traditional martial arts were originally designed for military combat and therefore used either stand-up fighting techniques (because ground fighting would be ineffective against multiple opponents) or techniques that were meant to be immediately lethal, such as chokeholds, pressure point techniques, etc.

Most hybrid styles were developed with the aim to be more 'street effective' in one-to-one close combat situations. The aim was not to develop soldiers who would resist mentally in the most physically exhausting situations, but rather to develop martial artists who would neutralize a single opponent in the shortest possible time using a wide array of techniques depending on the situation. As hybrid styles always keep real-world threats and confrontations as a reference they generally combine different fighting ranges. The reason is that, unlike the open battle field of the traditional martial artists, urban situations (elevators, corners) do not always offer enough space for stand-up fights alonge to be really effective.

Types of Hybrid Marial Arts

The most famous hybrid style full contact martial arts is MMA. Actually MMA is often taken as a synonym for hybrid martial arts, while it is just one of the many hybrid fighting systems.

Examples of these hybrids styles include:

- Kajukenbo, which was developed from kenpo, incorporating karate kicks, judo throws, jiu jitsu joint locks and Kung fu circular technique;
Bartitsu, a combination of techniques from jiu jitsu, judo, stick fighting, boxing and savate, forerunner of MMA,
RAF, a fighting system based on Russian and Soviet traditions of hand-to-hand fighting, wrestling and fencing.

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