Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that combines elements of various martial arts such as boxing, kickboxing, judo, jiu-jitsu, karate, muay thai, taekwondo, and wrestling. It has gained a lot of popularity in recent years and is one of the fastest growing sports in the world today.
Benefits of Training MMA
Training MMA is an intense workout that requires a high level of physical fitness. You will build strength, endurance, speed and agility as well as improve your overall physical condition and cardiovascular health.
Let’s be real, there are no rules in street fights or no referee to save you from getting your head continually stomped on the side of the street. There are so many factors to take into consideration such as multiple attackers, weapons, surrounding environment etc.
Learning MMA will make you more aware of the situation and give you the skills and confidence to defend yourself if need be and can ultimately save your life.
Talking from personal experience, nothing feels better than walking into a room knowing you can beat everybody’s ass in there if the situation arises.
Now that doesn’t mean you walk around looking for a fight. If anything, knowing how to fight will make you avoid fights when possible as you understand the dangers and consequences of a physical altercation and that it’s simply not worth it. Knowing you have the ability to defend yourself gives you a degree of self confidence which can be carried over into all facets of life.
Continually exposing yourself to fight situations in the gym can be a physically and mentally gruelling experience which will ultimately make you a tougher individual and everything you do outside of that will seem much easier.
Martial arts as a whole instils discipline and commitment. Being constantly exposed to tough situations in the gym will fortify your mind over time. You just have to keep showing up and putting in the work, just like any other life skill of which you’d like to improve.
Now we understand the benefits of MMA training, let’s break it down further. There are obviously many styles of martial arts out there but they can be broken down into three main components.
There are many martial arts which can be included into this category such as boxing, kickboxing, karate, taekwondo etc. Striking involves attacking your opponent with a part of your body. In MMA you can strike with your fists, elbows, knees and legs.
Martial arts included in this category can be freestyle wrestling, greco roman wrestling, judo, sambo etc.
Wrestling/grappling involves taking down your opponent to the ground and controlling them or avoiding being taken down and controlled yourself.
In my opinion, one of the hardest styles physically yet the most important as whoever has the better wrestling can normally dictate where the fight goes.
Martial arts included in this category can be Brazilian jui-jitsu, Sambo etc.
Submission grappling involves using a variety of grappling techniques and systems such as chokes and joint manipulation to force your opponent to submit.
Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning (S&C) is the combination of specific exercises to improve an athletes overall physical performance. To put in simpler terms, upgrading and improving the physical capabilities of your body so you can perform better for longer. 😉
One of the main benefits of S&C training is improved overall physical performance. By increasing strength and endurance you are able to maintain a higher level of intensity which will give you a competitive edge in the gym or a fight. S&C training can also help to improve power, speed and agility which will carry over into your skills training.
In addition to improving physical performance, S&C training can also reduce your risk of injury by strengthening supportive muscle tissues, correcting muscular imbalances and improving overall conditioning. S&C will help your body to withstand the demands of training and competition .
Overall, S&C is a must have in any athletes training regimen. By improving physical performance, reducing risk of injury and overall getting you in a better physical shape, S&C will help you succeed in the gym and in the competitive world of MMA.
What equipment do you need for MMA training
Although you see cage fighters only wearing small 4oz gloves and tight booty shorts, there is a variety of equipment that is a must in order to get started in MMA training.
You’ll need, at best, two pairs of gloves for striking and MMA training. 7oz MMA gloves and 16oz boxing gloves. The smaller gloves will be used for drilling and even technical sparring while the 16oz gloves will be used for heavy sparring and bag work/pad work. If you have the extra funds you could purchase 10-12oz gloves for bag work/pad work but 16oz will be fine.
Shin guards are a must to protect not only yourself but your partner when sparring or drilling techniques. Make sure the shin guards are of the correct size and cover your feet too.
Hand wraps are used underneath gloves to protect your hands and wrists during training. They add a layer of protection to your knuckles and additional stability to your wrists.
One of the most important pieces of equipment as it is a must wear anytime you are doing live rounds in the gym, whether that be sparring, grappling or wrestling. It is well worth getting a fitted mouthguard from a trusted supplier as it will provide great protection for your teeth for years.
Head gear tends to be optional across most gyms although I’ve seen some have it as a mandatory piece of protection for sparring. Headgear helps protect vital parts of your head from impact and also reduces the risk of cuts. Note – a traditional boxing headgear which covers the nose isn’t the best idea for MMA as it does limit your vision of your opponents lower body and you won’t see kicks until it’s too late. The best option for this is to get an open face headgear.
It is worthwhile to note, spending the money on good quality equipment goes a long way as you don’t want your gloves falling apart within a week. Be sure to take care of it so that you maximize the life of your equipment.
What to look for when looking for a MMA gym
A simple google search for surrounding MMA gyms is a good start. You want to find a gym that is good at teaching beginners and genuinely cares about your progression as there tends to be many commercialized gyms out there who just care about how many students they can get to sign up. This may involve some trial and error but it is well worth the effort as you will be spending some time here and involving yourself in risky activities, so the environment must be right for you.
What does a typical MMA training session look like
One of the most overlooked parts of the session. You need to prepare and prime the body for the session. Getting blood pumping to your muscles and joints before partaking in anything strenuous reduces your chances of injury massively. The exact warm up routines will vary from gym to gym and class to class but is normally done in the first 5-10 minutes of every session.
Strength and Conditioning
Personally, i believe this should be a session on its own although some gyms do incorporate some S&C training in sessions such as sit ups, pushups, burpees etc.
Skills Training and Drilling
Generally, most of the session will be focused around skills training. The exact skills that you would be training is dependent on what class you’re doing and if it’s an MMA class you will probably be doing some drills which combine all the styles, such as a striking combination to close distance into a takedown followed by a submission.
Live Rounds and Rolling
Live sparring and rolling is crucial to your development as you learn to apply the skills you learn in a pressured environment. Be sure to remain calm as you will learn nothing going berserk. Know that it is okay to make mistakes as this is a controlled environment. Trial and error is key as you try to apply techniques. You figure out what works best for you and your style.
Cooling Down and Stretching
Another overlooked part of a session. Once you are done you need to calm the body down before you get off the mat. 5-10 minutes of static stretching at minimum to help let your body recover properly goes a long way overtime.
Overall, learning MMA can be an incredibly rewarding experience that can improve your physical and mental well-being, as well as give you the skills and confidence you need to protect yourself. Whether you’re looking to get in shape, reduce stress, or simply try something new, giving MMA a try could be a great decision