I was there to witness the Renaissance of Martial Arts, the birth of modern-day MMA. I was just coming of a hand injury sparring with Riddick Bowe which brought the heartbreak of an injury release from my promotional rights contract with Don King. I moved back to Seattle and was invited to come train at AMC (The first “Intentional MMA” gym in the US). The UFC was functioning but it was really a show about competing styles.
Satoru Sayama’s (tiger mask) inspiration was starting to leak into the US and AMC had a few guys that had already fought in Pancrase, and Shooto but no one really knew what they were doing yet. You had The UFC, Shooto, Pankration, Vale Tudo, Luta Livre and Pancrase as outlets to fight, but no one was quit sure how to train (Generally everyone had a single foundational style as a base and they were just pasting on other skills as they could)… the Sport was born before the competency of its athletes caught up.
Seattle was a true melting pot of martial arts at the time and AMC had produced a number of Muay Thai & Kick Boxing Champions but It was Matt “The Wizard”Hume that was pressing into the NHB, MMA, Pankration concept.
I don’t know how intentional it was at the time, but Matt scheme in fighting was truly unique, He refused to allow any of our individual expertise to own the day, or the fight. Matt insisted upon the “Medici Effect” (although I’m not sure the term had yet been coined) “The Medici Effect” is the idea taken from the wealthy Medici family, whose patronage brought poets, philosophers, scientists, painters and other artisans from around Europe to Florence, Italy, between the 13th and 17th centuries. Bringing these talented people together and allowing them to collaborate is believed to have kicked off the Renaissance period, a period of human history marked by great innovation.
The new rule of fighting was not how do we conform to a style, but how do we become a more complete fighter? We learned to always look for inspiration from other styles or experts. We were constantly reminded to ask; why we did what we did, as opposed to assume it was correct. Fighting became beautifully liquid, for anytime you added a treasure of action you had to then question your previous reactions. We deconstructed all the movements, rhythms, angles, approaches and constructs of each style, as we were seeking to fit them into a sport that they weren’t originally intended. We looked at every training option as an option because it was about the outcome and not the existing model
There was a new excitement about the martial arts, not just the styles, but the history and culture of the styles. We now felt as though what we thought was once mundane information, might now hold a the keys to unlock a previously untapped potential. The argument of what was best style, was as irrelevant as asking what is better, music or painting? Learning to understand one art, can bring a greater beauty to the other. The new conversation became what can we use from each style to make something new? How can we turn the puzzle pieces to find a fit? Can we somehow create a more beautiful picture?
It has been 20 years and Mixed Martial Arts continues to expand its reach in seeking inspiration from around the globe and into history. Creativity is the new normal and a necessity in becoming the best.
Study today’s Greats such as , Conor McGregor, Demetrious Johnson, Tony Ferguson, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, & Cristiane Justino Venâncio (Cyborg)…. The list goes on and on. They are all innovators in the sport with many crossing over and finding success in other venues because of their refusal to be constrained by unhelpful boundaries.
Take a look at your life, your business, and your dreams. Have you bridled you potential or are you open to innovation and inspiration.
I want to challenge you to start doing 3 things today…
#1: Create a team of Innovative inspiration! This might be a virtual team that is build listening to Podcast such as the Fourhourworkweek.com. You might find your mentors reading books like Tools of Titans or The Medici Effect. Or you might find them in networking with others that share the similar passions.
#2: Start journaling, I don’t mean like “dear diary” although that is okay, But start waking up and writing down your thoughts on your dreams, and what you can do, explore, or delete to achieve them. Or take a moment before you go to bed and jot down your successes, challenges or new thoughts from the day.
#3: Look outside you preconceived ideas for inspiration and innovation. Look around you with an open mind, Challenge your methods, and the models that you may have let previously constrain you. Look to innovate and be a creator.