If you’ve been following our series on choosing the right martial art for you, you’ll know that this category is something of a departure from “classical” styles … even more so than our Krav Maga post. “MMA” stands for “Mixed Martial Arts”, and it’s something of a cross between a training method and a sport. To be clear, it is a sport; it’s been around for years, but has only fairly recently begun rising in popularity. But you needn’t necessarily compete to train in MMA.
Essentially, MMA is a mixed bag of martial arts. Athletes may use any style they want, from kung fu to shootfighting to pancrase — anything that gets the job done. Weapons are not allowed, and each particular arena — Ultimate Fighting Championship, Strikeforce, Pride, etc. — has its own set of rules, but certain aspects remain the same.
In general, modern MMA fighters tend to cross train in three martial arts: Muay Thai kickboxing for stand-up striking, wrestling for against-the-cage body control and takedowns, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu for ground fighting. Practitioners may substitute or combine their Muay Thai with boxing, or san shou, or tae kwon do, or really, anything for anything. Some fighters have no ground game at all, and some are pure grapplers. The variety of what’s available is what makes the sport such an exciting event to watch.
I’d go so far as to say that for pure fitness, you can’t beat MMA. Consider this: the entire purpose of training is to prepare the fighter to endure three five-minute rounds of non-stop combat, which means constant cardio on top of receiving numerous blows to the head and body. You can’t get much more of a workout than that. Fighters train for stamina, speed, and power, while learning skills that can be applied to any kind of real-world fight.
MMA training camps are on the rise, and many previously-traditional schools have incorporated MMA training as well. If you’re interested in this sport, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a camp in your area.