Mixed Martial Arts, more commonly known as MMA is a combat sport that incorporates various techniques and foundations of combat sports such as Muay Thai, Wrestling, Boxing, Brazilian- Jiu-Jitsu and many more into its discipline (Mixed martial arts, n.d.). It is therefore fair to say that practitioners of MMA need to be well versed in both their striking, clinching & grappling game to fully be able to tap on the lethality and potential Mixed Martial Arts offer.
Combat sport, be it striking or grappling can be divided into 4 zones or phases (Dusil, 2015). White, Grey, Red & Black which we will be diving deeper into later. Knowing the zones you are in or supposed to be in helps to increase your tactical awareness and counter your opponent. The first of the 4 zones is the white zone. The white zone is a zone where the fighter is unable to reach the opponent with their fist or foot. Next, we have the grey zone. The grey zone is an area where fighters are close enough to hit their opponent with their limbs and arms. That being said, the boundaries of both the white and grey zones are not fixed as they are variable to the length of the fighter’s limb. Fighters with a greater reach would therefore have a larger grey zone.
The red zone on the other hand is an area where a fighter and his/her opponents are so close to each other that knees and elbows are within striking distance. The red zone is also the zone where you can deal the most damage to your opponent and vice versa in any stand-up combat. The last zone, the black zone is one that belongs to the ground and involves any action that is done in a grounded state.
It is therefore no surprise that practitioner of the various combat sports each have zones where they are comfortable in and zones where they don’t do well in. A good fighter would be one that seeks to maximise the time spend in zones where they are comfortable and well versed in while simultaneously avoiding fights in zones where they are at a disadvantage. For example, a Muay Thai practitioner fighting against a wrestler would want to take fights in the grey and red zones where they are able to use their knowledge about striking with their limbs and arms while minimizing time spend in the black zone which is the wrestler’s forte and where they would be most comfortable in.
The discipline of MMA however seeks to address this gap by emphasizing and teaching practitioner to be comfortable and competent in all 4 zones through the combination of various combat sport weaved into one and this contribute to a well-rounded and dangerous fighter (Dusil, 2015). Fighters despite being competent in all 4 zones do have their preferred area they would like to take a fight in. For example, Anderson Silva is known as a striker who prefers to take a fight standing up while Khabib Nurmagomedov is known as a grappler who prefer to take the fight to the ground where he is most effective. In fact, 19 out of Khabib victories came by the way of submission,TKO & KO.
The recurring theme and drawing point towards engaging in MMA have always been incorporating different discipline that best caters to the fighter’s preference and there are no fixed disciplines to be used for striking and grappling. For example, Conor Mcgregor uses boxing as his primary style of striking while Donald Cerrone uses Muay Thai as his primary way of striking (11 Best Muay Thai Fighters In UFC, n.d.) and this only adds to the versatility of Mixed Martial Arts knowing that there is no one fixed way to get things done.
Disciplines commonly used In MMA
Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time(Boxing - Wikipedia, n.d.). Boxing forms the basis of every other striking technique like Muay Thai and Kickboxing as both the former and latter incorporate boxing technique like hook, jab & cross into their array of moves. Boxing focuses not only on striking the opponent hard but also enhances the fighter’s head movement, footwork and defensive capabilities It therefore comes as no surprise that many fighters such as the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Stipe Miocic & Conor McGregor adopts boxing as their primary weapon(Coate, 2020)
Muay Thai, which translate to “Thai Boxing” is the national sport of Thailand. Muay Thai is commonly known as the “Art of the 8 limbs” due to the fact it leverages on the 8 points of contact to attack namely both hands, knees, elbow and legs. As a result, Muay Thai has been adopted by many MMA fighters when striking due to the all-rounded nature of the discipline and the ability to attack from just anywhere. Anderson Silva,widely regarded as the greatest striker the sport has ever seen attributes his striking success to his Muay Thai background.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an martial art whose emphasis is on submission holds,controlling the opponent through a variety of holds and choke and fighting on the ground. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was developed in 1920 by the now famous “Helio Gracie and “Gracie Family” whose name will forever be engraved into the sport. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was first seen in the first edition of UFC in 1993 with the purpose of Rorion Gracie wanting to showcase the “Gracie Jiu Jitsu” to be far superior compared to other martial arts. To drive home the point, the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner of the family,Rickson Gracie was not chosen to participate, with Rorion instead opting for Royce Gracie. Royce comprehensively and convincingly won the tournament, causing many of the world best fighters to sit up and notice this unique martial arts and eventually adopt it into their grappling arsenal. The effect Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has on MMA today is still evident with 17 of the world champions ever produced adopting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as their primary style.
Wrestling is a combat sport that ultilises grappling techniques like clinch,throws and takedown and commonly ends on the ground. Wrestling comes in many types with the most notable one being Judo, Greco-Roman & Sambo. Wrestling is considered by any to be the essential art in MMA and one can argue that it is impossible to compete in MMA without knowing some defensive wrestling techniques. For example, the champions and top fighters of each respective weight classes all possess an elite wrestling background and base with Khabib Nurmagomedov who competed in Sambo and won 2 world championship in sambo early in his career being the most prominent one. Sebastian Rivera in his study found out that 28 out of the 70 champions UFC has produced uses wrestling as their primary style which comes up to a whooping 40% of champions. (Zivanovic, 2020) thereby making wrestling one of the most popular and successful style to be using in the MMA
In conclusion, Mixed Martial Arts is an unique discipline of martial arts and as the name suggest, it combines different martial arts to form a single discipline whose fighters are well-rounded to take a fight standing up or on the ground. The beauty that mixed martial arts offer is the flexibility and ability to pick and choose techniques from various disciplines to incorporate into your fighting style and game. Over at the Jungle , we believe in offering this same kind of flexibility to our members as well with the unlimited monthly package. This package allows you to go for as many different classes as many times as many days in a month. And you would not want to miss out on some of the exciting classes we have.