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Conor McGregor And Stephen Thompson Show That Traditional Martial Arts Are The Future

UFC 205 is in the record books and it was an event for the ages. We saw Conor McGregor become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts in two different weight classes at the same time. It’s quite the accomplishment to say the least and though the Irishman may talk a whole lot of trash, he’s been able to back it up with an excellent overall game. Stephen Thompson also acquitted himself well in the co-main event against reigning welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. What do all three of these men have in common?

Their fighting styles all have influences from traditional martial arts.

McGregor’s decimation of Eddie Alvarez wasn’t simply captured by swinging his left hand and hoping for the best. It took timing, distance, anticipation, all traits of traditional martial arts like karate and taekwondo. McGregor’s style and movement can be directly linked to boxing, karate, and taekwondo and you can see that in his movement. Conor McGregor is unique in his striking style because his footwork allows him to get in and out like karate, but his boxing skills allows him to strike in the pocket with comfort and ease. McGregor’s movement allows him to appear like he’s there to be hit, but a quick transition to his traditional movement sees him shooting out of range and returning with blistering fast combinations ala karate. But Conor McGregor isn’t the only man to infuse traditional arts into their style.

Stephen Thompson’s entire game is based on point karate. The bouncing, the in and out movement, all of it stems from karate. But where Conor McGregor was originally a boxer who mixed traditional arts into his striking style, Thompson is a karate stylist who learned how to box and box well. Karate can be very in and out on a linear plain. What Thompson has done is utilize that blitzing skill and learn to exit on another angle in order to counter his opponents when they come forward chasing after him. When he’s in the pocket, uppercuts, hooks and crosses are all in his arsenal making him as much a threat at short range as he is at long range. But Tyron Woodley also showcased that he has a bit of karate skills himself. His ability to close the distance with his own blitz showcases his own skills that can be traced back to traditional martial arts. The explosiveness of his blitz, cutting distance in the blink of an eye and landing with thunderous punches is the very foundation of karate.

Karate is all about hitting and not getting hit and while that may not be the case at all times, the men involved in the main and co-main event of UFC 205 have been able to demonstrate just how effective that blitzing style can be. Muay Thai kickboxing still has its place in the sport and always will. But in a sport where constant movement and footwork could be the difference between being taken down or staying on your feet, traditional martial arts movement and skills are going to play a major factor going forward and could be the remedy for success in the future of MMA competition.

What’s your thoughts on karate and other traditional martial arts?

Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.


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