An Overview of MMA

Although challenges between competitors of different fighting styles have been taking place for much longer, the first official UFC MMA (mixed martial arts) contest as we know it today was held on 12 November 1993. Mixed martial arts is a full-contact sport which, as its name suggests, allows competitors to use a combination of several types of fighting disciplines and styles.

A scene from a MMA competition

Most traditional forms of martial arts concentrate on 3 focus areas, namely Stand-up, Clinch and Ground fighting:

  • Stand-up fighting techniques train fighters to improve their stand-up strikes and include Kickboxing, Boxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Karate, Capoeira, Savate, Combat Sambo and Wushu Sanshou.
  • Clinch fighting techniques train fighters to improve throws, takedowns and clinching, and include Judo, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Freestyle, Ninjutsu, Jujutsu, Wushu Sanshou and Sambo.
  • Ground fighting techniques teach fighters to improve their ground game, i.e. position and ground control, applying submission holds and defending against them, and include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, jujutsu, Judo, Luta Livre, Catch Wrestling, Sambo and submission grappling.

Each of these disciplines need to be adapted from their traditional forms. For example: Mixed Martial Arts competitors don’t wear Gi, so the techniques used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Judo need to be adapted to “No Gi” techniques, stances used by boxers don’t do much to counter leg kicks and Muay Thai stances are no good when it comes to takedowns. You can find MMA classes Cape Town or MMA Fish Hoek by clicking the respective links.

The techniques used in Mixed Martial Arts competitions can be split into 2 categories, namely:

  • Striking Techniques, which include the use of punches, elbows, knees and kicks;
  • Grappling Techniques, which include submission holds, pinning holds, clinch holds, throws and takedowns.

While fighters train in multiple fighting styles to better their chances in the ring, the most effective combination for MMA fighters is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing, because these disciplines incorporate both the techniques and components of all the other fighting styles.

Some fighters have multiple coaches for different fighting styles, but there are places that offer MMA training, which seems to have become a fighting style in its own right. Aside from learning the various fighting techniques for MMA, there are other aspects of training that play an important role in the fighters’ training. These include strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, speed drills and a good diet.

Even though MMA has been around since 1993, it was only in 2012 that the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) was founded in Monaco. This organization is not only responsible for the management and development of this sport, it also hosts MMA competitions and establishes the procedures and rules.

It was also in this year that the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation was set up to provide international development, support and structure to MMA on a global scale. Organized in line with international federation principles, this non-profit democratic alliance ensures that MMA is awarded the same rights, representation and recognition as all other mainstream sports.

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