The sport of mixed martial arts (also known as MMA) is experiencing explosive growth around the world. Live fights can be seen on pay-per-view, cable, and even network television.
Much has changed since the first MMA event held in the US in November 1993. The original event, Ultimate Fighting Championships (later known as UFC 1) was originally promoted as a contest to determine which martial art was most effective. .
The 8-man tournament featured representatives from different fighting styles, including Kickboxing, Karate, Sumo, Shootfighting, Boxing, Savate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Wrestling. There was no weight limit and very few rules.
The winner of the tournament was a little man named Royce Gracie. He fought with a unique ground fighting style that emphasized submissions through chokes and joint locks that few outside of Brazil had seen. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) saw a surge in popularity as Americans who traditionally trained in martial arts focused on foot striking techniques quickly realized that they needed to learn ground fighting techniques to stay relevant on the scene. rapidly evolving martial arts. .
Modern MMA fights rarely pit one style against another. Although fighters can be stronger in a fighting style, all serious competitors train in the 3 main aspects of MMA:
Surprising – Over the years, many martial arts have faded from MMA competition, while others have grown stronger. In particular, karate, kung fu, and taekwando have proven ineffective in the cage against other styles of attack. American boxing, kickboxing, and especially Muay Thai, with its emphasis on elbows, kicks, and knees, have proven to be the most effective hitting art in mixed martial arts.
Struggle – The ability to knock an opponent down on the mat and the ability to defend against knockdowns is crucial in MMA. Fighters with a dominant fighting background often knock down their opponents and punish them with punches while preventing them from getting back up. This style is known as Ground ‘N Pound.
Shipments – BJJ’s initial success in MMA was largely due to the fact that most opponents had no knowledge of submission defense. Now, strikers and wrestlers train a basic submission defense to avoid being choked or blocked in their arm.
While many traditional martial arts have been shown to be ineffective in cage fighting, there are some exceptions. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida puzzles his opponents with his unorthodox stance heavily influenced by karate. However, his striking style is not pure karate and incorporates some range, footwork, and punch theory from boxing.
The best fighters in the world are complete in all 3 aspects of MMA. BJ Penn, the best lightweight MMA fighter in the world, is known for his advanced submission skills, but he also has incredible takedown defense, an incredible jab, and some of the best fighters in the UFC. Former light heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer Chuck Lidell was known for his incredible knockout power. Although he is primarily known as a forward, his extensive experience in wrestling helped him earn his reputation as an expert in takedown defense. Even the best UFC fighters had a hard time taking him down and keeping him down.
Any athlete interested in mixed martial arts training or competition should ensure that their MMA gym offers instruction in all three styles mentioned above.