“MMA” is all over the place these days, and for those involved with the sport, the components of combat are innate. Multiple fighting worlds combine in a beautiful yet unpredictable manner, interchangeable at a second’s notice as a fight dictates. For those outside of the MMA world looking in, the complex interaction of multiple fighting disciplines can be confusing at times. Mixed martial arts is a great activity for getting into shape, developing your confidence and making you a more skilled fighter in all essential areas which are applicable both in and out of the ring. Is it right for you? Let’s break down the three “arts” which make up martial arts and analyze their components and origins. Maybe you’ll find one – or all – of them are right for you.
Two wrestling styles are used by MMA fighters: Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Many of the top MMA fighters of today were star high school, college, and even Olympic level wrestlers before finding MMA fame. Wrestling is essentially about controlling your opponent and forcing him to the ground for a pin, and at time, a submission. Wrestling is a discipline often started by athletes at the elementary school level. The ability to control ones own body at the wrestling level is the foundation for mixed martial arts ‘ground game’ and is a hugely important skill for future MMA fighters to develop. If you’re interested in MMA, it’s time to get serious about wrestling!
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a discipline which uses leg locks, chokes, and arm locks in an effort to get your opponent to ‘submit’ or surrender. Catch or Submission wrestling are also integral parts of the submission realm. Submissions can be highly dangerous and their origin goes back centuries. Intense study of the human body and the effects of pressure and positioning goes into a well balanced and skilled MMA fighter. The generation that grew up seeing “Tap Out” everywhere is already aware of the submission motion, whether they know it or not.
Perhaps the most painful and obvious part of mixed martial arts fighting is striking – the use of legs, knees, hands and elbows to throw strikes at your opponent. Fighters from the worlds of boxing, Karate, Muay Thai and Kickboxing all funnel into the sport of MMA. There can be overlap at times, as the rules of some offer allowances using certain strikes. In MMA, they can all be used, in unpredictable and always exciting ways. Discipline, time, and practice make one a good striker.
If you’re thinking about MMA, jump into wrestling, boxing, or karate. Learn a discipline and develop your skill and work ethic. Then, start with some cross-training across multiple areas. Most MMA fighters wish they had spent more time grappling, so young potential fighters are often advised to start with wrestling. Give it time. Try the various worlds of wrestling, submission and striking. Remember that MMA isn’t life – MMA is a tool which should be used to enrich your life.