So, while we're on the subject... O.k. maybe we weren't but we were definately standing next to it.
MMA is the hottest martial arts thing - or at least was a few years ago... I'm a little slow on these things. I don't even know who the latest and greatest silat guy is - though I think it might be Steve Benitez... Anyway, you can pretty much tell by who ever is getting pulled into Dan Inosanto's Academy. He is either causing it or chasing it. At any rate, MMA is still hot as far as I know and in any case, it's a subject that has been around forever it seems. Yes, of course, it's the "new" thing but it's really just a new label for the "old" thing.
Maybe it's a truly new idea brought to light or maybe it's the Bruce Lee thing coming around again, but in any case, it's here and in my opinion it's as old as martial arts but with a slightly newer disregard.
The essence of it is this: Take a bunch of pieces of martial arts and combine them to create a personal style that covers most sportive situations. Then, train the crap out of them until you are good. If you want, mix in some "rhoids," protein shakes, and herbal supplements and bam "YOU ARE THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING MACHINE." Basically, take what is useful and throw away everything else - but the new twist is to do it in very specific studies. Go to someone who will teach you good, high level, techniques that you can just learn and work on applying them. Essentially, get what other people have worked their butts off to find out over years of study and then add it to your aresenal so you're ready for the UFC. (Too bad people have sold what took them years to discover to someone else in only a matter of months...)
The basic logic is probably sound, but the essential question remains - if you study pieces can they offer you a legitimate form study or is it just a grab bag full of stuff that has to keep being added to? Will your growth stop the moment you stop finding the newest best technique?
First off, MMA is not new. There have always been people combining new ideas together. The primary difference that I see is in the purpose and thoughfulness of those things chosen. That is the primary difference between a mish-mash of stuff and a system. A system has any number of pieces from any number of other systems that can logically be walked through and made sense of from start to finish. That is, that they offer a conceptual framework, principle framework, physical framework, etc. MMA on the other hand seems to only seek answers to specific questions - much like statistics. Useful as long as the right questions are asked but limited in overall scope. I liken MMA to getting a Technical Degree where more traditional studies might be the equivalent to getting a Bachelor Degree and eventually being able to go on and get a Masters or Doctorate. The purposes are not the same and only for a time will the results be the same.
MMA is not the same as studying multiple systems. Rather, it is the study of pieces of systems that answer specific questions or seek to resolve specific problems within the confines of a specific format. The problem then, is when the format is changed.
One of my first instructors always said that the "secret to martial arts was training, training, training." As I have gotten further and further into my silat studies I recognize that Pencak Silat really can contain the answer if you are willing to explore it. It is not something that can be taught and it is not something that should be taught. It should be left for the pesilat to discover so that it is there's personally.
So what? Well, I personally have not known anyone involved in MMA who was able to continually evaluate ideas and formulate new ones based on those evaluations. That type of skillset only comes from someone who has a bachelors or masters in one system and has then added to it. The framework was already established and THEN they went on to add to it.
For those who might be duped into MMA from the start, I caution you to look critically at all of the best people out there and examine what there roots really are.