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Is the Mixed Martial Arts competitor the new “Karate Kid” for this era?

Bowing, traditional white gi, old wise instructor, wax on & wax off – that was my idea of martial arts when I was a kid. The media and in particular the Karate Kid movie images were emblazoned on my mind. But in today’s society is that nostalgic image of martial arts all but dead. I think the answer to that question is maybe a surprising “yes” and “no.”

In Traverse City, Michigan at the Seung-ni Martial Arts Academy, where I instruct, we have both a Mixed Martial Arts Team (“MMA”) as well as traditional martial art classes including Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (“BJJ”). Both the new and the old ways are very popular at the Seung-ni Academy because they each have something special to offer today’s martial artist. Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art where the students wear simple white uniforms and bow on and off the mat and learn to speak in Korean. These traditional martial art students, who range from age 3 and up (oldest being in her 70’s), learn kicks, punches and blocks and improve their focus, respect, self-control and confidence. BJJ, known as the gentle martial art, specializes on ground self-defense and seeks to disable an attacker with submissions. The Traverse City area students who train at Seung-ni take great pride in their traditional art form and work hard to earn their ultimate goal of a black belt. It is my belief that although Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu are traditional the values and character instilled from such training are still very important in today’s modern society – if not vital!

But, for those Traverse City teens and adults who are not drawn to the traditional martial arts, MMA also has much positive to offer. Those on the Mixed Martial Arts team acquire many of the same life skills and values as the Taekwondo student it’s just conveyed in a different format. They learn to respect themselves and others by eating right and avoiding vices and for showing up to MMA class every night so their fellow students will have a training partner. They learn about control – there are not that many individuals in Traverse City who want to get punched and choked regularly in training – so they have to watch their power in sparring or they will not have an MMA partner. Tempers are kept in check and negative energy is turned into self-esteem on a regular basis at the Seung-ni Academy every evening during MMA workouts.

In short, in Traverse City if a person chose a traditional martial art like Taekwondo or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or opted instead for mixed martial arts training, both would offer significant benefits. Bullying, low self-esteem, ADHD, poor grades, disrespect at home, lack of pride, poor strength and physical conditioning – can all be remedied and overcome through martial arts. There is a right martial art for everyone and at the Seung-ni Academy in Traverse City we seek to find the right art for the individual so they can excel. And, although Mr. Miyagi never stepped foot into an MMA cage fight – if he had, I bet he would have held his own.

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