What is Mixed Martial Arts?
While a variety of distinct martial arts have been practiced all over the globe for many thousands of years, mixed martial arts (MMA) – the subject of this blog – has recently grown in popularity.
Many personal trainers will have clients interested in mixed martial arts – and some may practise MMA themselves.
What does MMA involve?
A combat sport involving full contact, MMA combines several different martial art techniques. In competition, striking and grappling is allowed but specific rules must be followed.
What is the appeal of MMA?
Personal trainers and their clients are mostly likely to take part in MMA for one or more of the following reasons:
- Physical fitness
- Self defence
Incorporating several different styles of martial arts and offering all-round exercise, MMA is a sport that trains everything from strength, power and endurance to anaerobic energy systems, flexibility and motor skills.
It’s therefore useful for a personal trainer to know about and understand the different martial arts practiced by a client. This will help the fitness instructor to devise a training programme that is best suited to that client and to create positive adaptations of the relevant areas of fitness in order to bring about performance benefits.
Beyond the physical activity involved in martial arts and MMA, many people are attracted to the spiritual and lifestyle elements of these pursuits, such as the discipline and well-being aspects.
A little history
The word martial is related to Mars, the Roman god of war – and modern sporting activities related to combat have their roots in a variety of global styles, for example judo, karate, sumo wrestling and jujitsu in Japan.
The inclusion of boxing and wresting in the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece is believed to have helped its rise to prominence in Europe, while age-old styles of martial arts in China range have led to the development of kung fu, Shaolin boxing and t’ai chi. Many modern martial arts have also been influence by traditional Indian combat styles.
The development and styles of MMA
Mixed martial arts contests of various kinds have taken place in Europe and the Far East for around 200 years, long before MMA became a modern competitive activity and a training system used by personal trainers.
From the 1920s, a sporting bout called vale tudo (anything goes) developed in Brazilian circuses and was later shown on TV. An unarmed form of combat with many different martial arts styles and few rules, it inspired the Ultimate Fighting Championship contest popular in the US from the 1990s onwards, and is seen as a precursor of modern MMA.
The name MMA was first used in 1993 by the US TV critic Howard Rosenberg. As competitors came up against opponents with different skills, they came to appreciate the benefits of having all-round abilities in a variety of disciplines, and MMA today incorporates, Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling, muay thai, karate and more. More stringent rules have been introduced to make it safer and attract a more mainstream audience.
What equipment is needed for MMA?
Mixed martial arts training can be carried out in standard gym clothes, although some many want to invest in specialist clothes such as fight or MMA shorts and Rashguard long- or short-sleeved T-shirts. Many outlets also sell MMA fashion T-shirts.
Training equipment includes items such as jump ropes and focus mitts, and competitors often use specialised protective and combat equipment such as shin pads, head guards, contact gloves and foot grips.