Epic superhero action as the masked menace clashes with the dynamic duo, in a full contact kickboxing bout. Will Spidey’s crisp technique and lightning reflexes triumph over Batman’s power and determination?
Common disciplines in MMA
Most ‘traditional’ martial arts have a specific focus and these arts may be trained to improve in that area. Popular disciplines of each type include:
- Striking: Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Kyokushin Karate, Taekwondo, Combat Sambo and Sanshou are trained to improve stand-up striking.
- Clinch: Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Judo, Sambo, Sanshou and Jujutsu are trained to improve clinching, takedowns and throws, while Muay Thai is trained to improve the striking aspect of the clinch.
- Ground: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, Submission wrestling and other arts are trained to improve ground control and position, as well as to achieve submission holds, and defend against them.
Most styles have been adapted from their traditional form, such as boxing stances which lack effective counters to leg kicks and the muay thai stance which is poor for defending against takedowns due to the static nature, or Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, techniques which must be adapted for No Gi competition. It is common for a fighter to train with multiple coaches of different styles or an organized fight team to improve various aspects of their game at once. Cardiovascular conditioning, speed drills, strength training andflexibility are also important aspects of a fighter’s training. Some schools advertise their styles as simply “mixed martial arts”, which has become a style in itself, but the training will still often be split into different sections.
While mixed martial arts was initially practiced almost exclusively by competitive fighters, this is no longer the case. As the sport has become more mainstream and more widely taught, it has become accessible to wider range of practitioners of all ages. Proponents of this sort of training argue that it is safe for anyone, of any age, with varying levels of competitiveness and fitness.
Boxing is a combat form that is widely used in MMA and is one of the primary striking bases for many fighters. Boxing punches account for the vast majority of strikes during the stand up portion of a bout and also account for the largest number of significant strikes, knock downs and KOs in MMA matches.
Several aspects of boxing are extremely valuable such as footwork, use of combinations, and defensive techniques like slips, stance (to include chin protection and keeping hands up) commonly known as Guard position, and head movement. Boxing based fighters have also been shown to throw and land a higher volume of strikes compared to other striking bases at a rate of 3.88 per minute with 9.64 per minute thrown (compared to muay thai at 3.46 and 7.50, respectively).
Some fighters that are known for using boxing are Cain Velasquez, Nick Diaz,Junior dos Santos, B.J. Penn, Dan Hardy and Shane Carwin.
Muay Thai, along with boxing, is recognized as a foundation for striking in mixed martial arts and is widely practiced and taught. One of the primary benefits of training in Muay Thai for MMA is its versatility. Techniques include long, middle and short range with everything from kicks to clinch holds and throws. It originated in Thailand, and is known as the “art of eight limbs” which refers to the use of the legs, knees, elbows and fists.
Kickboxing is a striking discipline which uses elbows and knees, in addition to punches. The training is physically demanding and includes bone-conditioning.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the early 1990s, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourthUltimate Fighting Championships, which at the time were single elimination martial arts tournaments. Royce fought against often much larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing,Wrestling, Amateur Wrestling (including Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and American Folkstyle), shoot-fighting, karate and tae kwon do. It has since become a staple art and key component for many MMA fighters. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is largely credited for bringing widespread attention to the importance of ground fighting. It is primarily considered a ground-based fighting style, with emphasis on positioning, chokes and joint locks.
Using their knowledge of ne-waza/ground grappling and tachi-waza/standing-grappling, several judo practitioners have also competed in mixed martial arts matches.
Anderson Silva, who is the top ranked fighter in the world maintains a black belt in judo, former Russian national judo championship Bronze medallist Fedor Emelianenko, famousUFC fighter Karo Parisyan, Jim Wallhead, Rick Hawn, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Olympic medallists Hidehiko Yoshida (Gold, 1992), rising contender Dong Hyun Kim is a 4th degree judo black belt, and Ronda Rousey (Bronze, 2008) now Strikeforce and one time Ultimate Fighting Championship Women’s Bantamweight Champion as well as Hector Lombard, who has been highly ranked in both middleweight and welterweight classes, is a fourth degree black belt in judo and former Olympic judo competitor.
Paulo Filho, a former WEC middleweight champion has credited judo for his success in an interview.
Amateur wrestling (including Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and American Folkstyle) gained tremendous respect due to its effectiveness in mixed martial arts competitions. Wrestling is widely studied by mixed martial artists.
Wrestling is also credited for conferring an emphasis on conditioning for explosive movement and stamina, both of which are critical in competitive mixed martial arts. It is known for excellent takedowns, particularly against the legs. Notable fighters include Chael Sonnen, Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar and Olympians Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson.
Karl Gotch was a catch wrestler and a student of Billy Riley’s Snake Pit in Whelley, Wigan. In the film Catch: the hold not taken, some of those who trained with Gotch in Wigan talk of his fascination with the traditional Lancashire style of wrestling and how he was inspired to stay and train at Billy Riley’s after experiencing its effects first hand during a professional show in Manchester, England. After leaving Wigan, he later went on to teach catch wrestling to Japanese professional wrestlers in the 1970s to students includingAntonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Hiro Matsuda, Osamu Kido, Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask) and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Starting from 1976, one of these professional wrestlers, Inoki, hosted a series of mixed martial arts bouts against the champions of other disciplines. This resulted in popularity of the clash-of-styles bouts in Japan. His matches showcased catch wrestling moves like the sleeper hold, cross arm breaker, seated armbar, Indian deathlock and keylock.
Karl Gotch’s students formed the original Universal Wrestling Federation (Japan) in 1984 which gave rise to shoot-style matches. The UWF movement was led by catch wrestlers and gave rise to the mixed martial arts boom in Japan. Wigan stand-out Billy Robinson soon thereafter began training MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba. Catch wrestling forms the base of Japan’s martial art of shoot wrestling. Japanese professional wrestling and a majority of the Japanese fighters from Pancrase, Shooto and the now defunct RINGS bear links to catch wrestling.
The term no holds barred was used originally to describe the wrestling method prevalent in catch wrestling tournaments during the late 19th century wherein no wrestling holds were banned from the competition, regardless of how dangerous they might be. The term was applied to mixed martial arts matches, especially at the advent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Karate, especially Kyokushin and Full Contact, has proved to be effective in the sport as it is one of the core foundations of kickboxing, and specializes in striking techniques.
Various styles of karate are practiced by some MMA fighters, notably Chuck Liddell, Bas Rutten, Lyoto Machida, Stephen Thompson, John Makdessi, Uriah Hall, Ryan Jimmo, Georges St-Pierre, Kyoji Horiguchi, and Louis Gaudinot. Liddell is known to have an extensive striking background in Kenpō with Fabio Martella whereasLyoto Machida practices Shotokan Ryu, and St-Pierre practices Kyokushin.
Several accomplished MMA fighters have an extensive background in Taekwondo. Some of fighters that use TKD techniques in MMA are former UFC Lightweight Champion and WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, who is 3rd dan black belt as well as an instructor, former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, who is 5th dan black belt and still competes in TKD, a former UFC Lightweight Champion and WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson who is a black belt, a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le, who is a blackbelt, Dan Hardy, who is a black belt, a UFC Heavyweight Champion, a three-time King of Pancrase world champion Bas Rutten, who is a 2nd dan black belt, a former 2006 Pride World Grand Prix Open-Weight Champion Mirko Filipović, who is a black belt, a UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar, who is a blackbelt,Dennis Siver, who is a black belt etc.
Anderson SIlva in his instructional book admitted the influence of TKD in formation of his style in the beginning of his career. In each of my fights, I tried to utilize techniques from all the various styles I had studied. I threw Tae Kwon Do kicks. I threw Muay Thai knees and elbows, and I used my knowledge of Brazilian jiu-jitsu on the ground. Also Anthony Pettis has said that he is definitely a traditional martial artist first and a mixed martial artist second. as well as My style of attacking is different [because of] Taekwondo background.
Chinese martial arts have also been utilized in MMA by several fighters, being highly effective in competition thanks to its novel mixture of striking and stand up takedowns, achieved through a condensation of traditional Chinese Martial Arts techniques.
Most prominent and chief amongst these fighters is Cung Le, who is most notable for his TKO and KO victories over former UFC champions Frank Shamrock (in Strikeforce) and Rich Franklin (at UFC Macau). Other Sanshou based fighters who have entered MMA includeKJ Noons, Pat Barry, Zhang Tiequan. and Muslim Salihov. Fighters in the Runik Ultimate Fighting Champion Federation also typically come from a Wushu, hence Sanshou background.