The PRO MAI Grading System

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The ultimate question when we’re considering the merits of any combat principle or technique is a simple one
“Does it work?”
This question is the guiding light of MMA, a technique or method has to work or have the potential to work in a real combat setting for it to be valid and worth our investment of time and effort.

This ridiculously simple principle is also what has allowed the huge amount of progression that we’ve seen in MMA in just the last few years let alone since it’s inception. The very fact that techniques and practices are regularly tested in live scenarios negates much of the need for endless debate and argument. You may think that a certain technique does or does not work and debate the merits of a particular method or approach but ultimately it’s irrelevant as the truth will out in the combat arena.

This principle will now underpin our new testing system as well.

In the past we have always had a significant amount of focus on testing individual techniques at gradings, while this certainly has benefits it can also be quite limiting and potentially have a negative impact on progression. This has been evident over the last few years as we’ve attempted to deliver a consistent syllabus for the students. As we’ve laid down specific techniques that have needed to be practiced for each level we’ve very quickly wanted to make modifications and adjustments to reflect the progressive nature of our teaching. This means that you are left with an ever moving syllabus that is constantly shifting as MMA naturally progresses.

While this might seem like a reasonable approach it makes it incredibly difficult for students to find consistency in the testing process as the requirements may change month to month and the student experiences instability in the syllabus. So if there’s healthy progression in our method and techniques then there will consequently be instability in any testing system that focuses on method and techniques.

So now our testing system approach will change, our testing system will focus on the results of your technique and method, not the technique and method itself. This will mean that the physical tests will consist entirely of drills and sparring and there will be no requirement to demonstrate individual techniques. Also the drills themselves will be results orientated. For example, one of the drills for your test may be to achieve as many takedowns off the cage as you can in a 3 minute round. This will bring us back to the original question
“does it work?”
Your method may differ from others or your techniques may be more unorthodox than some but the ultimate judge will be your ability to get those takedowns. If you can score those takedowns then you will be marked highly if you can’t get the takedowns then you will not.

Not only does this bring us right back to the ultimate point of MMA but it also allows us to be more consistent and stable with our testing approach. A 3 minute round of takedowns off the cage is highly likely to still be a relevant test in 3 years time even if the method and techniques we use to achieve the feat have changed significantly.

So for each level that you test for their will be a set of drills that you have to undertake and as often as possible these drills will have clear objectives. Your ability to succeed in the objectives of these drills will determine whether you are successfully promoted or not.

We will of course still teach highly specific techniques and methods as part of the classes that you take part in during your training for the test. And at any point in time we will be teaching what we believe are the most effective ways to achieve the objectives of the drills and ultimately Mixed Martial Arts combat.

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