As a lifelong student of martial arts and a fan of the sport of mixed martial arts since before it became known as “MMA”, I have watched my fair share of films that drove me to follow my own martial arts journey and that of other martial artists. Some are documentaries that helped me learn the history of the sport, others are films that Hollywood put a spin on that made martial arts seem more interesting.
There is a beauty in the time and training it takes to become a decent martial artist and to do it professionally, and competitively requires something special. I have a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Isshin Ryu karate that took a little over 10 years apiece to earn. Yet it would still be hard to explain the "arts" part of martial arts to someone who does not want to train. Luckily, there are films that can do that.
In the 20 plus years MMA has been around, not enough is said about the films in the genre or ones that document the history of the sport. Especially now that the sport has grown so much, it seems there are a lot of new fans that have questions about the early days of MMA. So if you are one of the fans that are new and want to know more, in no particular order these are 20 films that I think can help you learn more about MMA or had a part in MMA’s growth.