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When I began training Poughkeepsie martial arts back in 1999 the term “mixed martial arts” was so esoteric that when I brought it up in conversation it was like I was speaking a foreign language. The UFC was off pay per view and no one had aspirations of being a cage fighter. The few people that did train had the attitude of superiority with their chosen style. This was especially true of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I remember telling my Poughkeepsie martial arts Jiu-Jitsu coach at the time that I was thinking of wrestling with my high school. He was very displeased and told me, through his thick Portuguese accent, “Wrestling is all strength, why you want to do? A wrestler take you down, you choke him”. That was the line of thinking back then. My style is better than yours, no need to learn, no need to evolve.
Following the success of The Ultimate Fighter and the subsequent explosion of the UFC, mixed martial arts became a world wide sensation. Every Poughkeepsie martial arts school, even those operating for over a decade as a single style, became “MMA Gyms” and although the signs outside the gym were painted over, very little changed within the curriculum of these gyms. The grappling schools added a few heavy bags and the striking schools learned a few headlocks, but few instructors expanded their horizons and rarely were outsiders brought in to even out the program.