The Difference between Traditional Martial Arts and Mixed Martial Arts 

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 By Frank Dux;
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Frank Dux is considered by some as the father of Mixed Martial Arts.
Despite its name, ‘Mixed Martial Arts’ (MMA) is not a martial art.
It’s a professional sport.
It is a business and athletes are paid to compete.
Frank Dux’s exploits became widely known after the 1988 film Bloodsport starring Jean Claude Van Damme [as Frank Dux] became in international success.
The perception that MMA training is superior to traditional Martial Arts in terms of preparedness in dealing with a street crime or sudden attack however might be the greatest misperception a person might make in his life, and possibly his last.
To compare the physique of an MMA fighter to the traditional martial artist is not enough to judge truth.  In sudden confrontation, the physique is part of the totality, which is judged in a lens of many considerations, such as does the aggressor possess a hidden weapon, which actions outweigh potential legal entanglements arising from his injury or death, and challenges of defense in an inhospitable environment. These are common variables needed to be taken into account instantly when planning which tactics are  suited to survive, uninjured, and prevail by ending the aggressor’s ability to pose danger.
As Sun Tzu stated, “Battles are won or lost before they are ever fought.”
This is not part of MMA training.

All forms of martial arts exist as ‘never cold without hot.’  There exists no superior way but there exists the superior fighter.

Frank Dux (right) trained the actors in the fight scenes on the film set of Bloodsport.
The claim that MMA training is superior to other martial art disciplines is dangerously invalid.
At Ft. Lewis, Washington, The US Special Forces stationed were impressed by the MMA. The Green Berets explored integrating its training into their own warrior training. They turned to their civilian trainer/adviser, a martial artist named Kelly Worden.
Worden objected. He found his opinion challenged. He consented to a match with a professional MMA fighter. Comparing the men’s physiques, Worden appeared doomed. He would be taken to ground, and subdued through the grappling arts.
Worden instincts were not sports orientated.
The contest began and observers wondered how many seconds Worden would last. In unsportsmanlike manner, and in violation of MMA rules, Worden gathered dirt and, with lightening fast movement, shoveled it into his opponent’s mouth, cutting off breath; taking him down, prepared to suffocate him. The match ended in abject surrender.
The difference between sport fighting and battlefield skill is the mindset of a warrior.
Playing by the rules Worden was outmatched, but when defending life there exists no rules or referee. Worden’s opponent was ill-prepared for his action, unable to take into account the way his environment would be used against him. This vulnerability stemmed from perfecting his skills in a controlled MMA gym environment.
The term “Mixed Martial Arts” therefore is misleading given it suggests sports training is a system of self defense, a compilation of many systems mixed to procure the “best of the best”, taken from all traditional and modern martial arts disciplines, then honed into one superior method.
This perceived “conglomeration” contributes to the illusion that MMA training is superior to other self-defense systems. The MMA industry facilitates this by calling attention in advertisements to the legacy of Bruce Lee and of avoiding “the classical mess” — using only what is personally useful and disregarding the rest.
The suggestion of shortcuts to proficiency in martial arts is falsehood.
The term “Mixed Martial Arts” or “MMA” was created out of rebranding a business, the unsuccessful Gracie family- run UFC that promoted this sport under the “No-Holds-Barred” aka “NHB” banner.
Critics allege the name change from NHB to MMA was made to legitimize athletes and transform them from being viewed as thugs and brawlers into role models.  The term MMA enabled the UFC to expand market share by attaching itself to the traditional martial art community irrespective of the fact that full-contact sport’s athlete’s skills have little to do with Traditional Martial Arts training.
Their skills being more a mixture of bar room bare knuckle boxing accompanied by basic Brazilian JuJitsu or Greco Roman wrestling.  Rounds and weight classes were introduced, along with the banning of certain strikes and holds that would be no longer permitted. The spongy matting provided an advantage to the techniques of Brazilian Jujitsu.
The reason for reinventing UFC has been linked to allegations that the Gracie family were barred from having events in Las Vegas because they fixed fights by bribing judges, referees and embellishing the records and skills of inferior opponents to make bets offsite.
The UFC is attempting to monopolize the martial art industry by establishing gyms in competition with Traditional Martial Arts schools openly calling attention to how few “traditional martial art practitioners” are able to compete in MMA, suggesting that Traditional Martial Art training is inferior.
The presumption is a fallacy since the purpose of martial arts training is to prevail in violent conflict.
There are no weight classes, no padded mats, no holds barred in sudden confrontation.
No martial art system may be judged by the number of participants in sporting events. These events have rules to protect the athlete that handicap those who train to kill or maim rather than ‘KO’ an opponent.
The emphasis placed upon honorable conduct and martial art etiquette is necessary to produce military bearing, a code of conduct with is absent in MMA culture.
The undisciplined, hedonistic, episodic behavior of MMA icons are alien to Traditional Martial Artists.
MMA stars in interviews reveal their success is meaningless. The popular MMA athlete Rhonda Rousey after suffering defeat to Holly Holme confessed she contemplated suicide over it.
A still from a video, reportedly of Frank Dux (left) fighting an opponent in a real Kumite no holds barred fight. Dux is seconds away from landing a knock out blow.
Showing respect for one’s opponent defined the first MMA matches, called among other names, “Kumite” as portrayed in the film Bloodsport, which inspired a generation of fighters responsible for having breathed life into the present MMA movement.
Things are different now. Most MMA  stars appear lost, more concerned with how they are going to be accepted and perceived as fighters versus living in the true way of the warrior or “martial way”.
The mindset of the MMA practitioner or any professional athlete is foreign to a martial artist.
Mixed Martial Arts is not martial (military) arts training.  The reason is that it is taught without ethics, honor and sense of duty. Military traits that develop the will to prevail in life and death matches.
The attainment of honorable accomplishments requires honorable behavior.  It means acting in accordance to rules of war, or peacetime, following its code of ethics.
Ethical behavior comes through self-control: overriding impulses, breaking compulsive cycles, doing things that need be done when unenjoyable.
Traditional Martial Arts are more concerned with self-control to maintain a code of ethical behavior in life; being capable of making the ultimate sacrifice in defense of family, friends and country.
That is not to say all MMA sports fighters are brutish. But the focus of MMA training is winning in a ring. Fame and fortune are paramount.
MMA culture is void of the protocols that instill ethical actions, a code of conduct, a respect for self and others. The nature of the MMA culture promotes anti-social behavior when stars, like Brock Lesner, spit on audiences, or when at weigh-ins, thug like performers hurl epithets, chairs and punches at each other.
van damme y frank dux
Frank Dux (left) trained Jean Claude Van Damme to play him in Bloodsport.
When Traditionalists face off to compete they bow or salute, demonstrating mutual respect. The MMA pattern of behavior promotes antisocial thuggery and is the antithesis of traditional martial arts decorum.
The way of war is an art and science. Being trained and mentored in true military skills instills the discipline to remain focused for long periods, to act with measured force, to follow through under duress.
Self-discipline is necessary.  The experience of combat, be it sport or life and death, teaches the student that each is responsible for his actions some which may be foreseeable and some which may inadvertently cause suffering for ourselves or others, possibly involving life and death.
As Frank Dux advanced in age, he maintained the way of the warrior fighter.
The MMA and Traditional Martial Artists have this in common: Each must learn to coordinate multiple actions toward one goal. To succeed, both must master the skill or task to achieve higher goals; to remain in control of breathing, regardless of chaos going on, and the level of danger and stress. And to understand how to dominate our adversary or environment, which requires skill and a disciplined mind.
Mixed Martial Arts fighters and Traditional Martial Artists possess combative skill sets and condition themselves for trauma. But the Traditional Martial Artist is defined by self-discipline that honors traditions, ethics and etiquette. These bring success outside of the world of martial arts.
But are summoned at a moment’s notice, when the world becomes martial, unplanned, not in a ring, but in the arena of life, where discipline alone will mean the difference between extinction or survival, of servitude and defeat or dominance with honor.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during his "Make America Great Again Rally" at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, Tuesday, August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Ben Brewer
Donald Trump told The New Yorker that Bloodsport is an old favorite of his. The movie follows Frank Dux, a U.S. soldier entering a violent, underground martial-arts competition. Dux did the choreography for all the fight scenes.

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  1. Mr. Ducks is such a close associate of Kelly Warden [sic] that he couldn’t spell his name properly. What other “facts” did he get wrong?

  2. Dear Mr. Dux,

    I enjoyed your article as you articulate some very interesting points in what is a long running dialogue on the subject.

    That said, I believe you were referring to Mr. Kelly Worden, not “Warden” (sp), early in your commentary. As an honorably retired Special Forces combat veteran, long time H2H instructor for both the Special Operations and law enforcement communities, and martial artist / former executive editor of Full Contact Magazine now many years ago, I respectfully offer your information regarding Mr. Worden is perhaps incomplete.

    Mr. Worden began training, under contract, both Air Force special units and the 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in either 1990 or 1991. Since then he has trained hundreds of war fighters from the various units affiliated with 1st Group, to include its Support battalion, Military Intelligence assets, parachute riggers, and so on. This excluding the many 18 Series qualified Special Forces operators assigned to the “A-Teams”, which form the tip of the spear in the Special Forces Regiment that have learned from him at the compound.

    Kelly Worden’s programs of instruction are rooted in the requirements, needs, demands, and expectations of the 1st Special Forces Group. Over the years he has worked closely with a rotating cadre of extremely talented, battle hardened non-commissioned officers and officers to fine-tune the Group’s H2H’s emphasis / needs These are based on where the detachments are deploying (environment, culture, capabilities of the expected resistance/opposition, time available for pre-deployment training, etc).

    Mr. Worden has trained and certified Group H2H instructors as well, per the requirements of Group for an in-house cadre.

    His philosophy, training, and understanding of what his students face upon deployment has resulted in numerous first-hand accounts coming back from the war fighters describing real world hand-to-hand situations they found themselves faced with…and winning.

    The event described in your article, as I understand it, occurred in roughly 2012. It was not a match, nor a sparring invitation, nor a “beat down”. It was a training point made during a scheduled class at JBLM/1st Group. Such training points are something we as Special Forces soldiers, particularly those of us who are fully qualified to wear the beret, not only appreciate but demand of our instructors and each other. I do not believe the individual you describe was a fully qualified operator. If he whined about eating a little dirt to learn why his thought process was in error – and for the benefit of the class – probably not a “Green Beret”.

    If you know otherwise please send me his name at my email address and I’ll check that out for you as I also believe he was an grappling student whose instructor (Marcelo Monteiro?) teaches in Tacoma, Washington, as does Mr. Worden. I believe I met Marcelo, now years ago. If he knows MSG (Ret) Tom Bigley, who I served in Iraq with, that would be the connection. He, like Worden, is a very accomplished and respected instructor.

    In closing, I have provided this link for your benefit. Mr. Worden has long, long promoted and lived realistic and multi-system martial training to include grappling/ground-fighting when and where applicable/necessary –

    Kelly Worden is one of the very few civilians who is always welcome at the 1st Group compound, a privilege extended by a succession of H2H cadre and Commanders who have met him, trained with him, and taken their detachments into combat and found his thought processes valid in the arena as opposed to the cage. He has been honored with a succession of letters of commendation, appreciation, and plaques from not only 1st Group but other SOF units at JBLM who he has worked with.

    I trust the above is helpful to you and your readers. Sometimes “stories” become “tales” when passed down over time and from mouth to mouth across great distances. You might agree we have all suffered this phenomenon.

    Always respectfully,

    Greg Walker (Ret)
    USA Special Forces
    “No Fallen Comrade Left Behind”

  3. Kelly Worden has a rebuttal to this article:


    Also, you lying scumbag, Frank, you know full well this is not a picture of you.

    “A still from a video, reportedly of Frank Dux (left) fighting an opponent in a real Kumite no holds barred fight. Dux is seconds away from landing a knock out blow.”

    Reportedly by whom? You’re the author, so you would know if that was a picture of you, wouldn’t you? That’s Philippe Cadoret.

  4. Dear Mr Dux,

    Concerning the “unsportsmanlike manner, and in violation of MMA rules:
    The rules are there are no rules, especially in a foreign land where people are trying to KILL you not “submit’ you or point fight you.
    MMA is a sport not a “fighting system”. BJJ is great 1v1 but not in a far away land where bullets are flying and hand to hand is not USUALLY 1v1.
    Combative fighting systems like marine corps martial arts program or army combative programs or the system devised and implemented by Datu Kelly S. Worden are designed to be effective in real life combat situations.
    The only rules are survive and come back alive.
    Concerning the statement “Frank Dux is considered by some as the father of Mixed Martial Arts” there are many who pioneered “Mixed martial arts” systems long before “Dux-ryu” and Jeet Kune Do such as Kajukenbo from the late 1940’s

    Thank you for the lovely article by the way, I enjoyed it immensely.


  5. So you don’t know if that image from that still is of you or not? Well let me tell you, it isn’t you. That’s Philippe Cadoret in a Kung Fu tournament in the 1980’s. Are you really going to continue these lies Frank?

    You aren’t the father of MMA, many would contest that claim along with most of the claims you’ve made about your so called fighting career as well as your military/espionage career. Your statement regarding Mr. Kelly Worden is a poor recounting of a story he told you on his radio program some years ago. His rebuttal to this article’s claims islocated here.

    You’ve been telling the same lie for over 35 years, are you going to lie for the rest of your life Frank? You talk about sportsmanship and martial artists being role models shouldn’t a good role model be an honest person? Honest with other people AND to themself?

    “We are men of action, lies do not become us.”

  6. Dux insists on a manner.
    However, Dux insists on one’s martial art as Ninjutsu.
    There has not been the traditional martial art called Ninjutsu in Japan.
    A martial art called Ninjutsu is a martial art made in the United States based on Hollywood fiction image.
    There is no qualification to insist on a manner in Dux profiting by a lie.
    It is Japanese bushido that the United States hated most in WW2.
    Franklin Roosevelt hated Japanese equality mind and weak protection mind by Bushido.
    Therefore the United States which occupied Japan prohibited Japanese traditional martial arts for a Japanese.

  7. While this is a well written article, and some very valid points are made, it is very obvious that it’s author is more concerned with bashing MMA and it’s rapidly growing popularity and preference over the TMA than anything else. To say that MMA fighters and MMA training is devoid of things like etiquette, honor, respect, and a code of conduct is entirely erroneous. As a practitioner of both TMA and MMA, as well as Kajukenbo Self Defense, I take offense to that statement. Fame and fortune are paramount to me, and are not paramount to most I have trained with. Fighting itself is paramount to us, and being able to cripple another human being’s ability to make violence against you is the ultimate goal and purpose of training. Regardless of what the author chooses to believe, there IS infact an etiquette and code of conduct that comes along with that and is very present in the training. And to say, or imply, that an MMA fighter (or boxer, wrestler, kickboxing, jiujitsu practitioner, etc) would not be able to proficiently defend his own life in deadly physical encounter outside of the ring is absolutely ridiculous. Does the author believe that the once the rules are gone and the MMA fighter’s life is on the line that he simply forgets all of the techniques that he has trained into muscle memory and have become reflex? Does the MMA fighter not know how to fight without rules? Does the author truly believe that the MMA fighter wouldn’t use all of the “illegal strikes and holds” and “unsportsmanlike” techniques he could to save his own life? I can assure you that in a life or death encounter, the MMA fighter wouldn’t hold back one bit, and would employ all of the techniques he is prohibited from using inside the cage or ring to save his own life. To think otherwise would be ridiculous. Why wouldn’t he?! Simply because he can’t use those techniques in competition? If he was in a life or death fight and found himself in a position to where the only viable and/or available option was to bite, or gouge out an eye, or attack the groin, throat, or spine, or pick up the most readily available weapon, why wouldn’t he do those things? And moreover, why would the author believe that the MMA fighter wouldn’t know HOW to do those things? Because he doesn’t specifically train to do those things? Well, I’m here to say, that it does not take much training at all to jam my finger into an eye socket, or grab and rip apart a scrotum, if those are the only available and effective options I have to save myself from being killed.

    Well written article, but the author is sadly mistaken if he believes that MMA FIGHTERS have no honor or etiquette, and are not as capable of defending their own lives in a deadly encounter as TMA practitioners.

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