Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the 21st century. To the untrained eye, Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, is often referred to as "human cockfighting," without due respect given to the highly trained athletes that have made this sport as popular as it is today. When MMA was first seen by a larger mainstream audience in the United States in the early 1990's at UFC 1, fighters represented a single discipline or martial art. This format where each fighter represented a single style of martial art soon gave way to the current trend in MMA where athletes now train multiple styles in order to give them the most well rounded skills allowing them to be successful in this multifaceted sport. While certain techniques from countless martial arts are practiced in MMA, the martial arts most commonly practiced by Mixed Martial Arts fighters are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, and Sambo. Every style is unique in its own way, and has it's own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to its application to Mixed Martial Arts fighting.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling based martial art where practitioners use various choke holds, armlocks, and leglocks to submit their opponent. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, was the first martial art that saw success in the early Ultimate Fighting Championship. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known for it's extremely technical approach to ground fighting, utilizing dominant position to win the fight. Although Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is widely practiced for its offensive submissions that can win a fight, it is also practiced because it effectively addresses how to defend and fight when the fighter has their back on the ground, allowing the fighter to actually win while being on their back. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's sophisticated use of positioning and leverage makes it an extremely versatile art used both for defensive and offensive purposes.
Western Boxing, or pugilism, is a striking art known for it's highly technical use of the hands in order to defeat ones opponent. Boxing is known for its slick punching combinations, footwork, and head movement that separate it from most other striking styles. Boxing is often referred to as "the sweet science" when explaining the amount of skill that needs to be possessed in order to be proficient at this art. Boxing is a successful style practiced in MMA competition for its use of the hands when it comes to striking, and the level of boxing continues to improve in modern day Mixed Martial Arts.
Thai Muay is a style of kickboxing known for its devastating power 's and Effectiveness. Commonly referred to as the "Art of Eight Limbs" or the "Science Of Eight Limbs," Muay Thai makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight "points of contact," while most other striking arts only use two or four. Unlike many other stand-up martial arts, Muay Thai focuses on efficient powerful strikes as opposed to fancy, flashy techniques. This has led to Muay Thai being one of the most popular striking styles practiced by MMA fighters throughout the world today.
Wrestling is a style that uses grappling techniques, throws and takedowns, in order to gain dominant position to pin your opponent. While the goal of wrestling is not to knock out or to submit your opponent with a choke or armlock, wrestling is still one of the most important arts when it comes to Mixed Martial Arts fighting. Wrestlers are known for their great balance, strength, and mental toughness which often gives them the edge over practitioners of other styles. Being a dominant wrestler also allows a MMA fighter to control where the fight takes place. The better wrestler can often keep the fight on the feet if they prefer to trade kicks and punches while it also gives them the option of taking their opponent to the ground if need be.
Judo is a Japanese martial art which is known for its powerful throws and grappling techniques. Most of Judo's takedowns are performed while maintaining an upright stance, often times not utilizing the traditional single leg or double leg takedowns that are commonly seen in wrestling. While not as widely practiced by fighters, when used correctly a strong throw can significantly change the outcome of a fight if not finish the fight in itself. Judo also consists of grappling techniques such as chokes and armlocks, but its primary focus is on taking the opponent down to the ground.
Sambo is a Russian based art that consists of takedowns as well as submission holds on the ground. Sambo standup techniques are often similar to that of Judo and Wrestling while the grappling techniques contain choke holds, armlocks, and leglocks. Sambo is most widely recognized for its devastating leg locks. Sambo's focus on leg locks is what separates it from most other grappling based martial arts, many of whom contain leg locks, but do not make it a focal point of attack.