Starting Out With Mixed Martial Arts — What You Need To Know

The growing popularity of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has resulted in increased options for fans of the sport interested in trying it out for themselves. MMA studios offer classes in MMA techniques and skills to beginners and those experienced in MMA. While some people have a goal of fighting against other students or entering into competition, MMA training may also be used by people whose main goal is getting into shape.

MMA has ancient origins

The origins of MMA date back to the ancient Greeks, who included a sport called pankration in the Olympic Games.  Pankration, which meant “all powers,” combined  boxing and wrestling, but with very few rules. In the 20th century, a form of martial arts fighting called Vale Tudo (“anything goes”) became popular in Brazil. In 1993, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) brought Vale Tudo to the United States. Over the years, MMA incorporated other disciplines from around the world and added rules to make the sport safer and more appealing to mainstream audiences.

While some of the disciplines involved in MMA, such as boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling and judo, are more familiar to non-MMA audiences, others, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do and Sanshou, may be less known to those who are new to MMA.

Several different disciplines in MMA

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may be used both for combat and self-defense, since it involves using leverage and technique to enable someone to defend him or herself against someone who is bigger and stronger. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may be gi or no-gi. Gi requires a traditional uniform, which generally includes a cloth belt over the jacket to indicate rank.

In Muay Thai, eight points of contact – hands, elbows, shins and knees – are used to strike the opponent. Muay Thai is called “The Art of Eight Limbs.”  Kickboxing classes may combine traditional boxing with Muay Thai.

Jeet Kune Do was developed by the legendary Bruce Lee in 1967 as a philosophy of combat that aims at freeing practitioners from relying on styles that could restrict their options in combat.

Sanshou (also known as Sanda) is a form of hand-to-hand combat that was developed in China.

Instruction in a specific martial art generally involves emphasis on MMA techniques and skills such as strikes, takedowns and submission holds. Strikes involve the use of different body parts to hit their opponent. Takedowns are aimed at bringing an opponent to the ground. Submission holds are designed to get the opponent to surrender.

Ben Hargrove writes for a variety of sports and fitness websites.