Nowadays, in the various cages of the MMA world, we see fighters more and more enriched and full of tattoos.
Our favourite athletes often have huge tattoos, large and some right across the body structured as if it were a work of art, but many wonders why the union between this discipline and the art of ink is so deep, much more rooted in this sport than in others.
Some say it's to distinguish themselves, some say it's to make them meaner, another says it's to create a character, others maybe think of a life path, of affection, of family, of religion, race or birthplace, but in my opinion you have to understand the story a little bit before you can talk about real reasons.
First things first ... It is believed that the word tattoo originated from the Samoan word tatau. This suggests that tattoos in Samoa must be ancient, the first explorers only described them in 1722 but their tradition of adorning their bodies with lines and figures dates back 2000 years! Then you should know that in ancient Egypt some female Mummies (supposed priestesses) had tattoos, as well as in ancient Greece, Rome, pre-Columbian cultures but especially among barbarian tribes, and all these people used them for the purpose of marking slaves, criminals, for social status, religious/shamanic status or warriors.
It could be assumed that today's Fighters are referring to the ancient warriors, some famous examples of tattooed warrior tribes are for instance the "Picts" the ancient Scottish warriors who made Rome tremble, defeating them several times without ever being conquered. Tattooed blue according to their rank, the Romans gave them their name, which in ancient Latin means "painted people". The Kurgan Warriors were priestesses and fighters adorned with tattoos who, up to the age of 20, represented 1/5 of the Scythian army, often archers on horseback. How not to mention the Maori Warriors, the mythical New Zealanders who challenged the British Empire. They use the Moko (traditional tattoo) to tell their story: each mark indicates a different event in their personal history. Women wear the traditional mark on their chin to indicate that they are related to a Maori warrior.
The art form inking the skin would become a threat to the church in the 4th century when the first Christian emperor of Rome Constantine had banned the tattooing of the faces of slaves and prisoners, and later Pope Hadrian in the year 787 banned all forms of tattooing. More measure would have been used and, in fact, a passage in the Bible would have made this ancient custom of tattooing now considered a sin; as seen in Leviticus 19:28
But the oldest evidence of tattoos on human skin to date can be found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dated between 3370 and 3100 BC. This mummy was found in the Italian Alps in 1991... 5300 years of ink and he had more than 60 different tattoos!
No doubt one of the reasons why some of us are attracted to tattoos is because of past life memories that are really just "déjà vu". Déjà vu is a French word meaning "already seen or seen before". Plato had said that déjà vu is a real memory of events that took place in a past life. Therefore, I believe that the art of tattooing, for which we have this "inner attraction", is really an ancestral element and a memory of past lives, simply because the art of putting ink on one's skin is one of the oldest customs known to man.
Personally, I love tattoos and mine describe my values and the experiences that have marked my life, the things I believe in, my belonging. Living in Sicily I can say that when I started to get tattoos about 25 years ago it was considered a rebellion more because of the strong presence of catholic culture, while in other parts of the world like Thailand it is religious and "sak yant" tattoos are religious and impressed by monks at the temple, or by tattoo masters who know this ancient art.
Have they helped me in my career as a trainer in MMA?
I have to admit that they have given me a boost and a recognition outside of the choir, a curiosity from the public, the media and partners but without an adequate technical competence, they would have been useless!
The MMA show is certainly based on the entertainment and then returning to our Fighters a tattoo together with a look and an attitude forms a character, the tattoo becomes an identifier of that character and many people identify with it, in a geographical way, sacred or simply for the look,
In fact, in this sport you don't just need talent you also need visibility, followers, to attract the highest number of fans to yourself, both to sell your merchandise, arena tickets and especially pay per view, but of course there are many fighters who don't use this practice, and they are just as successful and famous, so it becomes a matter of personal choice to be tattooed or not.