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An Introduction Into Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts was introduced to the world by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It had however been taking place for many years inside the stadiums of Brazil. Vale Tudo (Portuguese for “anything goes”) events took place with limited rules. Bare-knuckle and often lasting for 30 minutes in a single round, competitors were free to use almost any technique.
As it gained a following throughout the United States (and the world), most notably through the UFC rules were put into place to make it more presentable to a wider, more general public.
Licensed now throughout the majority US states, and throughout the world mixed martial arts tournaments are now a regular feature on many popular TV networks.
MMA Training And Techniques
Mixed Martial Arts by its very nature encompasses a wide range of training techniques and styles, but during training they are broken down into three separate areas.
Like most sports clubs you will begin by warming up. This is most commonly running around the matted area, followed by some press ups and sit ups to get the heart pumping and blood circulating.
Other warm-up techniques are more combat orientated. Brazilian Ju-Jitsu hip escapes, shadow-boxing and light bag work can often be done. Once your warm enough some stretching can be done to prepare the body for the dynamic movements that take place during sparring.
Most mixed martial arts classes follow a regular pattern of beginning the class with some form of technique study. Moves are practiced slowly and with control so they can be leaned using fully correct technique. These are repeated in an attempt to create the movements in muscle memory. Your training partner will provide little resistance to begin with, then as you both become familiar with the movements resistance can be slowly incrementally.
When you begin training remember to show respect for your training partners by maintaining a high level of cleanliness, keeping your nails trimmed short and having some plasters or bandages in your bag in case you get cut. No one likes getting blood on them, even if it is just on the clothes.
Remember when you’re sparring that this isn’t the UFC. Always take great care not to injure yourself or your training partners. Receiving an injury can put you out of training for many months so always try to remain conscious of what’s going off around you.
Mixed martial arts fighters use the striking techniques from many stand-up based combat sports.
Boxing, Thai Boxing, Karate and Tae Kwon Do, amongst others have techniques which you can use as part of your stand-up MMA game.
Punches, elbows, kicks and knees are all allowed in an MMA fight, so the choice of techniques is wide.
The main danger for the stand-up fighter is the wrestler or BJJ fighter who will try to take them down onto the mat, so if you prefer the stand-up game then developing a good takedown defense will be a top priority.
Being able to keep the fight standing has allowed many top stand-up fighters to win quickly through a KO, or over five round battles with dozens of Muay Thai leg kicks been landed to slowdown and eventually pick off their opponent.
The clinch, or “clinch work” is the range between stand-up striking and grappling on the floor. Of all mixed martial artists, it is those with a wrestling background which tend to dominate this area. Freestyle, Greco Roman and Catch Wrestling techniques are you all used inside the MMA arena.
Don’t forget however Muay Thai, which also includes clinch techniques which can be extremely effective. The Thai Clinch is a great position from which to use the famous Muay Thai weapons of the knee and elbow. Thai boxing does include some throwing techniques in it’s traditional form, but wrestling methods have proven dominant overtime, as they offer better ways of controlling your opponent if they are trying to take you down onto the mat.
Fighting On The Ground
When the fight hits the mats it is predominantly the techniques of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu which are used.
Wrestling techniques are also used, but only in the top position. Wrestling rules dictate that the winner is the person who can keep their opponent pinned down on their back, but when this position occurs in MMA the fight is far from over, especially for those practiced in be BJJ.
The main weapon of the ground fighter is his or her’s submission techniques. By pulling off a submission your opponent is forced to give up (known as “tapping out”) in order to signify defeat.
Submissions fall into two categories, the first is by choking out your opponent, cutting off blood supply to the brain rendering the opponent unconscious. The second is by way of submission, applying a joint lock forcing the opponent to tap out to avoid having their arm or leg joints hyper-extended.
Mixed Martial Arts Training Equipment
The equipment you need to get started (as a minimum) includes the following:
- MMA style training shorts
- A t-shirt
It isn’t much is it?! Martial arts are one of the cheapest sports to participate in. Fighters wear little when competing, and this is also the case during training. Fighting this way prevents you and your opponent from grabbing a hold of one another as easily.
MMA however does comprise of many different, more traditional types of martial arts remember.
Training will be typically broken down into separate stand-up and ground fighting training sessions. During these extra equipment may be needed to train.
Stand-up fighting equipment most commonly includes sparring gloves (either 16 ounce boxing gloves, or MMA style gloves), kickboxing style padded shin-pads and often a padded head guard.
Ground fighting (Brazilian jujitsu and Judo) style training requires the use of a Gi.
Prices of equipment can vary quite a bit, especially when going for the more well-known high-end brands. This though shouldn’t put anyone off, as long as your equipment meets the minimum specifications you’re good to go.
The second, more regular expense is the classes. Classes can often be paid on a per visit basis, or by a monthly subscription. Those who can train once or twice a week, if example they are working Monday to Friday can often find it cheaper to pay on a per visit basis, especially if other commitments may have to take priority sometimes to, such as children or holidays.
For children or adults who can go training after school/work 3+ times a week it will probably be better to pay monthly, this amount training is enough for you to learn the basics of MMA quite quickly, so for those who want to be really good this is without doubt the best way to go.
Don’t feel the need to rush into things, it will take time for your body to get used to the rough and tumble of MMA training.
Entering A Mixed Martial Arts Competition
If you have been training regularly and are able to show a good solid understanding of the fundamentals when standing, inside of the clinch and on the ground then you may like the idea of entering a competition.
Not all ”MMA” competitions follow the same rules as the UFC, most entry-level ones disallow the use of knees and elbows, and also require the wearing of protective gear such as head-guards and shin-pads.
There are also non-MMA type competitions which you can enter, yet still be used to develop your all-around MMA game. No-gi submission wrestling tournaments and kickboxing tournaments are the most common type, all of which will help you gain real-life competition experience, making your gradual step into full MMA less of a big jump.
Three Of The Greatest MMA Fighters Of All Time
Bruce Lee – Considered by many to be the first true mixed martial artist, Bruce Lee was one of the first to adopt the “no way as a way” method of fighting. His style of Jeet Kune Do took techniques from many of the traditional martial arts which he himself combined together into his own fighting style of JKD.
Royce Gracie – Brazilian Ju-Jitsu was first developed by Carlos Gracie Senior and his younger brother Helio Gracie. Both Carlos and Helio taught their art to their sons, the majority of which became famous Vale Tudo fighters throughout Brazil, and whose fights were even watched by the president himself.
It was older son of Helio, Rorion Gracie who first thought about bringing the style to the United States, by putting on a “no holds barred” event in the US to gain the media’s attention.
Younger brother Royce Gracie went on to dominate the first UFC tournaments and became a star throughout the world. Despite his normal looking appearance he was able to take down and submit fighters up to 100 pounds heavier than himself using the techniques taught to him by his father and older brother’s.
Wanderlei – “The Axe Murderer” Silva – Famous for his aggressive, knockout style of fighting Wanderlei Silva from Brazil was one of the biggest stars in Japan as the PrideFC Middleweight Champion. A huge hit with the fans Wanderlei had wins over both Kazushi “Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba and twice beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in devastating style.
Following the closing of PrideFC Wanderlei made the move to the USA (and a return to the UFC) in 2007. Fans had for a long time wanted to see him fight UFC champion Chuck Liddell and the fight finally took place in late December of that year. Chuck “The Icemand” Brazil won the fight via unanimous decision, but Wanderlei, a legend to many went on to fight for the UFC until 2013.
Mixed Martial Arts Organizations
The Ultimate Fighting Championship – The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the premier mixed martial arts organization. First taking place in 1993 it is now home to the world’s best MMA fighters and the UFC regularly holds events around the world.
PrideFC – The Pride Fighting Championships, based in Japan held its first event in October 1997. Broadcast in over 40 countries worldwide PrideFC events regularly had audiences in excess of 50,000 people. Following some internal problems Pride was sold to the owners of the UFC in 2007, and following its collapse many of the fighters made their way into the UFC.
StrikeForce – Strikeforce was a mixed martial arts and kickboxing organization based inside the United States. Running from 1985 until 2013 it featured many up-and-coming MMA fighters which eventually went on to fight for the UFC or PrideFC. Closing in 2013 Strikeforce was the first well-known mixed martial arts tournament to allow women to compete, most notably of which was Ronda “Rowsey” Rousey.