The example of mixed martial arts we see today has been refined over many years. Most fans will quote UFC 1 in 1993 as the birth of MMA, but they would be wrong. Long before that November night in Colorado there were numerous examples of mixed martial arts combat.

In reality mixed martial arts has a long and colourful history that goes way back before the 1990’s. The first ever recognised Jiu Jitsu school was established by Carlos Gracie in 1925, but of course Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is only one element of MMA. But what came after this truly was the birth of MMA.

Helio Gracie demonstrating an arm lock, date of photo unknown…
In what came to be known as the ‘Gracie Challenge’ in the 1980’s, the legendary Jiu Jitsu family would accept any fight, anywhere, anytime. Of course there were no gadgets and cell phones to film most of these fights on.

The idea would later become the basis for the first series of UFC events, with Royce Gracie winning three out of the fist four. He was the first and only ever three-time UFC tournament winner.

Gracie family timeline…
This concept of pitting different martial arts against each other would later lead to what we now know as MMA. A perfect blend of all styles and practices, making a complete athlete.

Back in the old days of the Gracie challenge, money was not the driving force. It was all about pride and representing your art and family name…

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