What are Mixed Martial Arts?

1st January 2020
Mixed martial arts (or MMA) combines a variety of martial art disciplines into one sport. Mixed martial arts are steadily increasing its fan base with televised matches.

Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a combat sport that takes techniques from different disciplines. In our post today, read everything you should know about this sport and how to use it for personal defense.

Origins of mixed martial arts

Some people say that mixed martial arts first started in Ancient Greece during the Olympic Games, which started in 708 AC. Pankration was an event in the earliest editions of the Olympic Games. This body-to-body combat event had minimal rules and often ended in the death of one of the competitors.

Start with pankration and professional wrestling and add on Brazilian vale tudo (everything goes) and Japanese shoot wrestling is now known today as mixed martial arts.

The year 1993 was the turning point for mixed martial arts. During this year, US Rorion Grace started the first UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) tournament and exported the sport to the entire world.

Similar to boxing, MMA has different weight classes. The weight classes range between Flyweight (56.7 kg max) to Heavyweight (120.2 kg max). As for the equipment, MMA fighters must wear gloves and shorts. Furthermore, shirts, hats, sweaters and hats are prohibited in the ring. Some fighters do, however, use wraps on their ankles or knees.

What sports meld into mixed martial arts?

This discipline is a fusion of various martial art forms and combat sports. While the fighters might be an expert in one specific area, they should train in the other forms to round off their experience. Mixed martial arts uses moves from:

1. Boxing

Boxers only use their fists to hit their opponents. MMA fighters use boxing concepts to meet the demands of the sport.

2. Jiu-Jitsu

Hailing from Brazil, jiu-jitsu is a variation of judo. It uses floor moves that can only vary from submissions, chokeholds, locks, and take-downs. Jiu-Jitsu experts will do everything and anything they can to take their opponent down to the floor.

mixed martial arts jiu jitsu

3. Muay Thai

Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, allows fighters to not only use hand punches but kicks, elbows and knees as well. Powerful low kicks are the main technique in Muay Thai.

4. Judo

The next mixed martial art form on our list is a Japanese combat sport that consists of grappling, holds, throws, and locks, especially elbow locks. Judo experts enjoy the advantage of fighting well both standing or on the floor. Judo is one of the most effective combat systems around.

5. Karate

Karate also has origins from Japan and was designed to fight against feudal warriors and samurais. It uses open-hands, fists, and feet to attack the opponent. In karate, fighters also combine punches with kicks and always fight standing.

mixed martial arts karate

6. Wrestling

Many mixed martial arts fighters specialize in wrestling. Wrestling is based on body-to-body combat and uses throws and take-downs. It’s also one of the oldest Olympic sports in history.

7. Kickboxing

Kickboxing was created by a Japanese karate master, which explains the technique that’s a fusion of karate and boxingFighters use their fists, feet and low kicks— like in Muay Thai. However, they can’t use their elbows to attack their opponents.

mixed martial arts kickboxing

8. Taekwondo: the most popular mixed martial arts form

This Olympic sport is characterized by footworkTaekwondo is the most widely-known and practiced mixed martial arts form in the world. Hailing from Korea, taekwondo also uses some attacks from karate.

MMA fighters usually train with Muay Thai, which offers the best workout for the upper body. In addition, they train with jiu-jitsu for its floor techniques. Complementing these two disciplines, they can add any other study such as boxing or judo.

Lastly, fighters might also study San da (China), Sambo (Russia), Daido Juku Kudo (Japan), Hapkido (Korea) and Capoeira (Brazil). As you can see, mixed martial arts covers vast studies and is powered by passion.

  • Seidenberg, P. H. (2013). Mixed Martial Arts. Current Sports Medicine Reports. https://doi.org/10.1249/jsr.0b013e31821cc952