Friday, May 16, 2008

Learning Mixed Martial Arts - Combat Phases

Mixed martial arts, often referred to as MMA, is currently a growing phenomenon in the United States, though the sport has been popular in many other countries for decades. MMA brings together a diverse array of fighting disciplines into one competitive arena hence the sport's name. Regulated to ensure fighter safety, MMA now allows us to view a much richer human combat experience, pitting disciplines from around the globe against each other in the ultimate one on one competition. Often compared and contrasted to boxing, MMA offers dimensions not found in boxing such as take downs, kicks and submission holds. While there are many obscure disciplines and sub-styles, this article will outline the three broad combat situations that fighters find themselves in when competing in mixed martial arts.

When most people think of a fight, striking from a standing position is what immediately comes to mind. Indeed striking is a huge part of the sport of MMA, namely punches, kicks, knees and elbows. Most MMA organizations have restrictions on where fighters may strike an opponent and in what situation a strike is legal to apply. For instance, some organizations do not allow strikes to the back of the head or spine and disallow kicks to the head of a downed opponent. Rules such as these are helping the sport become more accepted by not only mainstream viewers, but state athletic commissions as well. Kickboxing, Boxing and Muay Thai are fighting disciplines that place heavy emphasis on striking, particularly from a standing position.

Some disciplines, in particular Muay Thai, rely on utilizing a standing position called "the clinch" to control and ultimately defeat an adversary. The clinch involves gripping an opponent behind the neck or head, usually with fingers interlaced, and pulling forward and downward. From this position, fighters can utilize knees to the body or head and dictate the positioning of the opponent.

Another huge aspect of mixed martial arts is ground fighting. It is very common for a fight to end up on the ground at some point during the competition. Wrestlers usually favor attempting to get their foe to the ground so that submissions can be attempted. Taking a fight to the ground also nullifies much of an opponent's striking options and is usually a fighter's strategy when facing a superior striker. Once grounded and in a dominate position, strikes can be used (also known as "ground and pound") or submissions can be applied.

Mixed martial arts incorporates so many unique fighting disciplines and strategies that mastering one could be a life long endeavor. Often, fighters will become familiar with other styles not necessarily so that they can utilize them, but so that they can defend against them. For instance, it isn't uncommon for strikers to learn submissions even if they never plan to use them. This enables the fighters to recognize and defend against holds that an opponent may be setting up or attempting.

For years, people have debated which fighting discipline is superior and MMA seems to be as close to a true proving ground as there is. So much depends on mastery and execution of the discipline by the individual fighter however, not simply the discipline itself, as is evidenced by the diverse fighters that have found success in this incredibly exciting sport.

Eric Pratt has been following different MMA promotions over the years and runs a free web community geared specifically towards the UFC. Visit to discuss MMA, read the latest MMA news, watch free UFC video clips and vote to predict fight outcomes for the chance to win free prizes.


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SenseiMattKlein said...

Excellent treatment of the subject William. It's interesting how level the playing field has become because of "it isn't uncommon for strikers to learn submissions even if they never plan to use them. This enables the fighters to recognize and defend against holds that an opponent may be setting up or attempting". So true.

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