MMA fighting styles

Mixed martial arts are gaining popularity in our region | MMA in Pennsylvania.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship had its best fiscal year in 2021. So why did it pick up so fast?

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Stadiums and arenas are filling up again, as the country continues to emerge from nearly two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and cancellations.

Many of our entertainment activities and outlets were put on hold during the pandemic, but in the world of mixed martial arts there was an opportunity for growth, while other sports were dormant.

For centuries, martial arts have been widely recognized as a method of self-defense, discipline and mental toughness.

Some of the disciplines that you may be familiar with are karate, judo or even boxing. However, over the years hundreds of styles blended together, leading the way to what we know today as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), arguably the most successful MMA promotion in the world, was one of the only major sports promotions to hold regular events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, the organization posted its best financial year in 2021, with just under $1 billion in revenue and a 40% increase in its fan base, according to UFC President Dana White.

So why did it take so quickly?

In addition to adapting quickly and being disciplined about COVID-19 protocols, Zero BJJ York owner Mike Oberdick believes MMA has grown because it taps into the emotions of the viewer, presenting competition in its rawest form.

“Before guys were fighters, now guys are athletes,” Oberdick explained. “Years ago you had to convince people, ‘What is jiu-jitsu?’ Not being jaded, but I’m not trying to convince you anymore.

“Whether it’s MMA or jiu-jitsu as a whole, [it] is the tribe aspect of it. You could go your whole day without coming into physical contact with anyone, which in my line of work is weird,” Oberdick said. space, but you develop one thing, that you see things differently.

There are two main facets to MMA: striking and grappling.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu – which translates to “soft art” in Japanese – is one of the oldest martial arts and was developed so that samurai could fight effectively while unarmed, among other reasons.

There are no kicks or punches, but the discipline uses chokes, joint locks and takedowns instead.

Along with wrestling, jiu-jitsu is recognized as the basis of grappling in MMA and has appealed to all walks of life.

“Everyone is treated the same. Race, creed, job, wealth – I don’t care,” Oberdick said. “As soon as you come here, you get the same respect from me, and I demand that from everyone else.”

Oberdick says the sport has made its way into younger generations, with impressive results.

“Even in our children’s classes, we have little girls here who, at that age, are a little smarter than the boys and the girls stick to the boys… and I say ‘Yes!’, you know ? Because they’re not as strong, but they don’t have to be,” Oberdick exclaimed.

The martial arts school owner earned his black belt in 2013 and started Zero BJJ in York the following year.

Since then, Oberdick has worked to develop a relationship with the community, making martial arts more accessible to everyone.

“We’ve got a young lady who’s looking after some 18, 19-year-old combative kids. She’s probably a buck-30. She’s very small, but at this point she’s fine,” Oberdick explained.

While the sport is watched by millions, he emphasizes that real fights are not enjoyable, and Oberdick strives to make his students feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

He prefers the term defense of life to self-defense, as the lessons learned translate into more than physical protection.

“You have to make them realize what they are capable of because they are capable of it, but by doing it slowly and seeing them achieve their goals, they want to come back,” Oberdick concluded.

In the next PA MMA segment, we’ll hear from two professional fighters from the area. One is currently in the UFC and the other is a local pro and gym owner. They will explain how wrestling lays the foundation for many fighters and why the transition to other martial arts has gained momentum in the region.

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