Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has become a very popular sport. In truth a form of mixed martial art also known as Hybrid martial arts or even freestyle martial arts, has been around for centuries, with the mixing of different styles creating other styles and as an Olympic sport called Pankration. However the familiar form seen on our televisions made it’s official debut in the early 1990’s through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The UFC introduced a competitive arena (normally an octagonal cage) for martial artists to pit themselves against other martial arts forms. Unfortunately the UFC was banned from pay per view TV and various states in the USA during the 90’s, due too many martial arts being actually designed to take out an opponent quickly with often serious injury. In 2001 The UFC introduced rules and regulations with safety in mind to ensure it’s longevity as a recognised sport as well as to get back on TV, although some still maintain that the injury ratio is still too high.
As fighters realised that their martial arts had weak areas against other martial arts in this new competitive arena, they started to add techniques from other martial arts in order to counter these weaknesses hence the name ‘mixed martial arts’.
With it’s growing popularity, there has been many new organisations, competitions, championships and training camps cropping up in many countries. This proliferation has created many well known fighters, that can be seen regularly on US TV and Mixed Martial Arts sporting promotions.
Competitive fights are normally fought in weight classes, similar to that of boxing weight classes and also have similar timed bouts. There are also different rules for amateur, semi-pro and professional fights. Fights are won when either an opponent is knocked out, has been submitted, stopped by the referee/doctor/corner or on points when they go full distance. Amateur Mixed Martial Arts has much stricter safe guards and is governed by FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles). Women’s competitive MMA is slowly becoming more popular around the world, but still requires a lot more promoting and acceptance work.
On February 29th 2012, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation was set up to bring international structure, development and support to mixed martial arts worldwide.
Mixed Martial Arts is predominately a striking and grappling fighting system with both stand-up and ground fighting techniques. The practitioner will usually be crossed trained in several martial arts such as, Vale Tudo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, other Jiu-Jitsu, Shootfighting, Muay Thai, Sambo, Kick-Boxing, Western Boxing, various wrestling styles, Judo, Taekwondo and Karate etc or with one of the newly purpose made MMA systems that have been developed through the competitive sport, by many professional/ex-professional fighters.
Training for Mixed Martial Arts will require you to learn (depending on your level):
Stand up: Punches, elbow strikes, kicking, stomps and kneeing. Also how to clinch (hold, wrestle and even strike when holding onto an opponent standing up).
Taking down an opponent and avoiding being taken down using: Clinches, underhooks, sprawling, sweeps, throws and body position control.
Ground fighting: Ground fighting usually occurs when an opponent has been taken down, followed by either striking by the opponent who is normally on top, but not always (ground and pound) or by both the fighters trying to control the other and trying to get a submission through various holds/locks.
There are so many ways to submit your opponent, but some of the common ones include: various choke holds, most commonly the rear naked choke, triangle and guillotine, arm bars, ankle locks and other joint locks.
This style of fighting requires a great amount of physical endurance, flexibility and strength. Therefore your training will normally be split into separate sessions that concentrate on fighting skills, strength training using both weights and bodyweight exercises and endurance/cardio conditioning, which will include much bag work.
MMA Equipment/Gear Used
Clothing for training will be that of the main style being practised or if it’s a hybrid MMA style then you may wear a rash guard (spandex/nylon/polyester T-shirt), compression shorts, board shorts or other fight shorts. For competitive matches you will normally wear just spandex type shorts for pro men’s matches or board shorts and rash guard for amateur matches and shorts, sports bra and rash guard for women’s matches.
Other equipment may include (mainly for training purposes):
MMA open fingered gloves (training and competitive fights)
Speed balls (various)
Heavy bags (various)
Various exercise equipment for strength and cardio/conditioning work
Celebrity Mixed Martial Arts Practitioners
Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson
Movies featuring Mixed Martial Arts
|Never Back Down
|Blood and Bone
|The Red Canvas
|Circle of Pain
|Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown
|Here Comes the Boom