From The "Original" MMA to the Modern Sport

So, you’re interested in learning MMA?

If so, then I’m guessing you’re a mixed martial arts fan, correct?

Me too!

I can remember watching my first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1994.

It was UFC III, which aired on September 9, 1994.

I’ve been watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship since then.

Yeah, I know what some of you youngsters are probably thinking, “Man, he must be old.  I didn’t know the UFC has been around that long.”

Always a Fan of the Sport

So, as you can see, I’ve always been a fan of the sport.

UFC III was later renamed UFC 3: The American Dream. 

For the hardcore MMA faithful, those were days. 

Back then, there were no weight classes or weight limits, time limit or rounds, or judges.

The fighters that night included Keith Hackney, Emmanuel Yarborough, Ken Shamrock, Christopher Leininger, Harold Howard, Roland Payne, Royce Gracie, and Kimo Leopoldo.

In the quarterfinals, Hackney defeated Yarborough, Shamrock defeated Leininger, Howard defeated Payne, and Gracie defeated Leopoldo.

In the semi-finals, Shamrock defeated Mitchell who was a replacement for Hackney who could not continue due to injury and Howard defeated Gracie who forfeited due to fatigue.

In the finals, Steve Jennum defeated Harold Howard.  Jennum was a replacement for Shamrock who withdrew due to injury.

Questions for You

Does your interest go way back to the early days when the competitors had to win three fights in one night?

Or is your interest more current?

Who is your favorite combat athlete in the UFC?

Connor McGregor? Demetrius Johnson? Stipe Miocic? Daniel Cormier? Joanna Jedrzejczyk? Amanda Nunes? Jose Aldo? Holly Holm?

Do you prefer the strikers or grapplers?

At the outset of the UFC, strikers were clearly strikers and grapplers were clearly grapplers.

In the UFC of today, most of the combat athletes are much more well-rounded.

Sure, a guy usually still does one (striking or grappling) better than the other, but the overall development is much better today than it was at the outset.

The UFC has generally reinforced the notion that the victory will usually go to the stylist who is able to keep the fight in his preferred range.

For instance, if the striker can keep the fight at striking range and prevent the grappler from getting inside to grappling range he greatly improves his chances for success.

Occasionally, however, fighters will dominate the range and the fight only to be “caught” by a very savvy and skilled technician. 

This happened at UFC 81 when Tim Sylvia kept Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and his grappling at bay for quite some time. Silvia had a couple of chances to end it, but just couldn’t finish. Nogueira ended up catching Sylvia in a guillotine choke.

MMA Needs for the Cage

The UFC has created the need for its combat athletes to train diligently to sharpen both their stand-up and ground skills.

MMA athletes in the cage strive to develop the striking skills of punching, elbowing, kicking, and kneeing.

Additionally, much time is invested in learning to defend against these strikes as well as learning to defend against the grappler’s takedown.

MMA athletes in the cage also strive to develop the ground skills of the guard and the mount.

Additionally, much time is spent working on “ground-and-pound.”

Takedowns and submissions are worked on too; as are defenses against takedowns and submissions. 

MMA Needs Outside The Cage

Outside the cage refers to “the street.”

The street creates its own needs for the MMA enthusiast.

Sure, stand-up and ground skills remain important, but both take on a new perspective.

MMA enthusiasts in the street need to be well-versed in defending more than punches, elbows, kicks, knees, takedowns, and submissions.

Three examples can highlight this greater need – weapons, multiple opponents and outcomes.

We all know that weapons are not allowed in the UFC.

Weapons, however, become a very real possibility in the street!

If the weapon is long, then the length of the weapon creates a different distance.

If the weapon is edged, then manner of attack (slashing or thrusting) creates specific defensive challenges.

The bottom line is that weapons create the need for new skills to be developed.

If you think the typical preparation for MMA in a cage prepares you to go against weapons you should watch professional UFC fighters Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Marcus Davis, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Brian Stann during their encounter with the Last of the Mohicans exercise at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Another distinct difference is the possibility of multiple opponents.

This cannot happen in the octagon, but it can certainly happen in the street.

Multiple opponents also create the need for new skills to be developed.

Once again, if you think typical MMA preparation readies you to go against multiple opponents you should watch the previously mentioned fighters during that Last of the Mohicans exercise I just mentioned, as it contains multiple opponent scenarios, albeit with weapons.

Yet another distinct difference is the outcome.

In the UFC arena, the outcome sought is victory by KO, TKO, submission, or decision.

There are rules that govern the competition.

In the street, the best outcome is escape.

If escape is not possible, the next outcome sought is victory by ANY means.

NO rules govern the engagement!

This outcome reality creates the need for a different mindset and some additional skills, such as dirty boxing, finger jabbing, pinching and tearing, and biting.

Like his UFC counterpart, the street MMA enthusiast must also invest much time in learning to defend against a variety of strikes that may include many “sucker” tactics as well as learning to defend against the grappler’s takedown.

Getting taken down in the street could be costly, perhaps even fatal?  

A weapon may appear after the takedown or friends may come from nowhere.

The ground is not where you want to be in the street!

While some MMA enthusiasts in the street arena may strive to develop their ground skills of guarding and mounting, we do not advocate these tactics in the street.

This is due to the situation and the possible outcome.

Remember, there are NO rules!

The first choice should always be escape.

You should not commit yourself this much in the street because of the unknown elements.

Wrestling and grappling are fine to use, just don’t engage yourself to the point that it would be hard to disengage.

A Story About Situational Awareness

A short story is in order to illustrate the need for situational awareness and the need to understand that how you train and what you train to do will determine how you fight.

This tale is about an English chap well-versed in arts that should have served him well in the street – Jeet Kune Do, Kali and Silat.

He also trained very diligently in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu because he loved to train martial arts and he had an upcoming cage fight.

During a seminar with his teacher’s teacher, he informed his teacher’s teacher that he had been training A LOT of grappling in preparation for his upcoming cage fight.

While his teacher’s teacher was fine with the cross-training, he warned the Englishman about not becoming a product of his training.

Unfortunately, the Englishman did not heed the warning.

He got into a street confrontation with a guy.

As the encounter began, he “shot” for a takedown.

His takedown was successful!

He commenced his “ground and pound.”

Everything was going great!

That is, until he got kicked in the head by a friend of the guy he was pounding.  

The head kick hurt him.

Yet another friend of the guy getting pounded arrived on the scene.

The three of them proceeded to tag team the Englishman.

He spent several weeks in the hospital.

In the end, he was lucky!

It could have ended much worse!

The point of this story is that MMA needs in the street are different than MMA needs in the cage.

So, unless you cage fight exclusively, you might want to reconsider your MMA training program.

Basic & Specific Needs

Basic needs for the MMA athlete and the enthusiast are similar.

Both need footwork / movement skills, punching, elbowing, kicking, kneeing, wrestling and ground skills.

Both need striking and grappling defense.

Specific needs diverge slightly for the MMA athlete and the enthusiast. 

While both need striking defense, the enthusiast is likely to encounter striking tools not allowed in the cage, such as finger strikes aimed at the eyes and 6-to-12 elbows, perhaps targeting the head or spine, depending on position?

While both need grappling skills, the enthusiast should strive to use wrestling to keep the encounter on the feet and / or to setup dirty boxing or joint wrenching or breaking techniques.

If taken down, the enthusiast should use grappling skills to return to standing as quickly as possible.

If the MMA enthusiast decides to take the encounter to the ground, he should strive for less-engaging positions that allow for easier disengagement in the event the situation becomes multi-attacker.

The no-rules-environment of the street should also steer the MMA enthusiast towards a study of weapons and additional "dirty" tactics, such as pinching and tearing, biting, etc. as these may be a reality in the street.

This brief foray into the basic and specific needs of the MMA athlete and the enthusiast is by no means complete.

It merely touches on the physical elements of fighting or self-defense.

I should note that the mental aspects of the cage versus the street is even more important, but I will not address that topic here.


While there are many problems that will be encountered in your search for high-quality training, three are especially important to consider.

Problem #1 – Fundamentals Are Glossed Over

While fundamentals are not viewed glamorously like flashy techniques or techniques perceived to be advanced, they are the most important element to long-term growth and development.

Just as a well-built house requires a strong foundation, so too does a highly skilled martial artist. The foundation for a martial artist is his or her fundamentals.

However, the fundamentals are often glossed over in many MMA training programs. This could be the result of teachers trying to ready students for the cage too quickly or trying to get to the “higher-level” material in their curricula to impress students so they stay in the program.

Problem #2 – The Blatant Capitalization on MMA

Since MMA is so HUGE these days, nearly EVERY martial arts school is trying to capitalize on the rage of MMA to make a buck.

While I can certainly appreciate a school’s desire and need to make money - because they need to make money to stay in business to continue teaching, simply offering a program that features stand-up and groundwork does not, in my opinion, make it a high-quality mixed martial arts program.

For instance, let’s say a “stand-up” school offers an MMA program that features its teacher as the stand-up expert delivering the striking program and a friend of his who is a jujitsu guy as the ground expert delivering the grappling program.

Is this a high-quality mixed martial arts program?


Maybe not!

Why you ask?

If there's real integration, then maybe it is a high-quality program.

If, however, there’s no real integration, then it's likely not a high-quality program!

Without real integration, there’s no system!

It’s two separate styles that are being forced into integration.

So, instead of one cohesive system it offers two different and unrelated systems.

I do not believe this is a good approach to cultivating high quality martial arts performance.

Problem #3 – The Forest is Lost Because of the Trees

Many of the warriors in the UFC are awesome fighters in the cage.

I’m sure many are also very formidable in the street in a weaponless encounter with one individual.

Remember, however, that there are NO rules in the street and an experienced “street fighter” is a VERY dangerous opponent.

He abides by NO rules and he uses ANY tactics that have proven effective in dismantling his adversaries.

Are the combat athletes of the UFC equally adept at handling themselves when the situation becomes one of life and death as may happen when a dagger appears?

What about against a double stick-wielding opponent?

How do they respond to a three-on-one situation?

I believe that martial arts developed as a method of self-defense to protect oneself. 

While I certainly embrace combat applications, I believe the roots of martial arts remain self-defense.

Even if you’re an aspiring combat athlete who hungers for the cage, you MUST NOT lose sight of the forest because of the trees.

In other words, don’t get so caught up in the sport that you lose the self-defense mindset and skills.

Why Should You Choose HIMA?

While there are many answers to that question, I’ll focus on the three most important ones as far as you’re concerned.

#1 – Solutions to Your Problems

You are now fully aware of the three BIGGEST problems facing you in your quest to become a mixed martial artist.


With the pervasiveness of fundamentals being glossed over, it can be difficult to find an alternative. That difficulty is over!

First, HIMA offers the patented Magda Institute’s Phase System that was personally developed by Sifu Cass Magda.

This system lays the foundation for high performance martial arts by intensely focusing on the fundamentals at the outset.

Second, Sifu Cass is a masterful martial artist AND teacher that has received his training from the best in their chosen specialties.

His pedigree is awe-inspiring!

He received his Jeet Kune Do training from Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee’s right-hand man, his Filipino martial arts training from Inosanto as well, and his Indonesian martial arts training from Paul DeThouars.

Each teacher instilled the importance of fundamentals!

Third, never one to rest on his laurels, Sifu Cass continues to teach, train, research, and refine the Phase System.

The curriculum you will learn at HIMA is the same one being taught at the Magda Institute in Reseda, CA.

It’s also taught in all the other Magda Institute Association schools in California, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, England, Germany, and Italy.

The curriculum is updated often!

Fourth, the SYSTEM harmoniously integrates Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, Kali (Filipino Martial Arts), MI Grappling, Muay Thai (Thai Boxing), and Pentjak Silat (Indonesian Martial Art).

No ONE tool is over-emphasized!

The focus is on developing a complete martial artist – a mixed martial artist. 

So, YOUR problem of the fundamentals being glossed over is SOLVED!

#2 – Wealth of Experience

The wealth of experience that HIMA draws from comes from two places – me and the Magda SYSTEM.

For starters, I have been training in martial arts since 1988.

I have spent time training in Tae Kwon Do, Kempo Karate, Wing Chun Gung Fu, and the arts of the Magda Institute, which include Jeet Kune Do, Kali, MI Grappling, Muay Thai, and Pentjak Silat.

My studies have provided an opportunity to see some of the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the arts mentioned.

Additionally, my studies have provided me with a broad perspective that allows me to analyze other systems better.

Furthermore, my affiliation with the Magda Institute provides an invaluable resource for my students and me.

The Magda Institute Association’s SYSTEM of MIXED MARTIAL ARTS was born in 1988.

It is a SYSTEM of mixed martial arts that has been integrated since its inception.

It is NOT two fragmented systems put together to form a new, incomplete “system.”

It has been producing high-quality martial artists and human beings for decades!

So, YOUR problem of a POOR “system” that is POORLY integrated is SOLVED!

#3 – Your Development Really Matters

You are a valued individual at HIMA!

In time, you become part of the HIMA family and our extended family, the Magda Institute Association family.

YOUR complete development is our PASSION!

With dedication and perseverance, you WILL become a COMPLETE mixed martial artist who has been exceptionally well schooled on self-defense.

You will understand the mindset and possess the tools and skills needed for the street.

HIMA will not ONLY enhance your performance as a martial artist, it will be THE CATALYST in YOUR growth and development as an achiever in life!

You WILL become successful in other areas of your life too!

So, YOUR problem of NOT seeing the forest because of the trees is SOLVED!

Your Next Step

While your next step is clearly your choice, I do have three recommendations for you.

  1. If you live in our service area (see below) and are ready to start your MMA training or just want more information, contact us today!

  2. If you live outside of our service area and you're ready to start your MMA training, look for a local teacher near you and call today!

  3. Regardless of your location, use this gateway for further exploration into our MMA training program.
  • Mixed Martial Arts (Coming Soon)
  • Footwork (Coming Soon)
  • Punching (Coming Soon)
  • Elbowing (Coming Soon)
  • Kicking (Coming Soon)
  • Kneeing (Coming Soon)
  • Trapping (Coming Soon)
  • Grappling (Coming Soon)
  • Weapons (Coming Soon)
  • Concepts & Theories (Coming Soon)

Service Area

Given our prime location, we are in an ideal position to serve the 4-state area of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Here is a partial list of some of the cities and towns we serve:

  • Berkeley County, WV: Marlowe, Falling Waters, Martinsburg, and Hedgesville

  • Jefferson County, WV: Bolivar, Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, Ranson, and Shepherdstown

  • Washington County, MD: Williamsport, Hagerstown, Clear Spring, Funkstown, Sharpsburg, Keedysville, Boonsboro, Smithsburg, and Hancock
  • Frederick County, MD: Braddock Heights, Middletown, and Frederick

  • Franklin County, PA: Greencastle, Chambersburg, and Waynesboro

  • Frederick County, VA: Winchester

  • Morgan County, WV: Berkeley Springs

Thanks for checking us out!

Guro / Sifu Ron Hebb

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