Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills, from a mixture of other combat sports, to be used in competitions. The rules allow the use of both striking as well as grappling techniques, both while standing and while on the ground. Such competitions allow fighters of different backgrounds to compete.
The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to various mixed style contests that took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. The combat sport of Vale Tudo that had developed in Brazil from the 1920s was brought to the United States by the Gracie family in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Professional MMA events had also been held in Japan by Shooto starting back in 1989. In due course the more dangerous Vale Tudo style bouts of the early UFCs were made safer with the implementation of additional rules, leading to the popular regulated form of MMA seen today. Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with minimal rules. Later promoters adopted many additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport.
The name mixed martial arts was coined by Rick Blume, president and CEO of Battlecade, in 1995. Following these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity with pay per view reach rivalling boxing and professional wrestling.