In the world of martial arts and self-defense, there are plenty of styles and disciplines from all over the world and each nation has its own unique martial art which differentiates itself from all the others. As many commentators and fight analysts say: “Styles make fights” and they are totally right in that regard. When it comes to MMA, there are numerous examples of athletes implementing their styles effectively inside the cage whether it would be Freestyle Wrestling, Muay-Thai, Boxing, Sambo, BJJ or any other fighting discipline. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (karate/kickboxing) and Andre Galvao (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) are both perfect examples of traditional martial arts and self-defense techniques being utilized to their full potential in the ring. In this article, we’re going to look in-depth at some martial arts used for self-defense both from an overall effectiveness point of view in MMA, as well as their health and fitness benefits.
BOXING: Boxing is a sport as old as the ancient Olympic Games and it is based around using a multitude of different punches, defensive maneuvers, calculated movement, footwork, and distance management efficiently in order to dispatch the attacker quickly and with brutal precision. This martial art is all about the timing and gaging the distance of an opponent correctly. It is also the “bread and butter” for those who want to feel confident if it comes to an unwanted physical confrontation outside of a professional setting.
A swift left hook to the chin or the liver has never failed anyone. In MMA it’s always a pleasure to see a fighter with a clean and crisp punching technique because usually there’s not much beauty or flow in an MMA fighter’s combinations.
There are only a few fighters who have showcased the art of boxing in its full glory. Those athletes being Mark “The Machine” Hominick, BJ “The Prodigy” Penn, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, Brad “One Punch” Picket and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.
In terms of boxing to stay fit or training your cardio, there are a plethora of benefits it can provide: it improves your endurance, coordination, agility, speed, focus and most importantly, teaches you proper footwork and punching technique which is in itself, a great way to lose weight and gain lean muscle mass. In addition, like many other martial arts out there, boxing or boxer training helps in dealing with stress and anxiety which are both common problems amongst the general population.
As of late, personal trainers and a variety of different gym’s and exercise facilities have adopted boxing workout programs, and it is noted that training in this manner typically burns anywhere from 350 to 500 calories in just one hour. Training in this fashion, similar to swimming, tends to use every muscle group and improves cardiovascular efficiency and muscle endurance.
FREESTYLE WRESTLING: Freestyle wrestling, as well as Greco-Roman wrestling, are really old martial arts, maybe even older than boxing, and has been an Olympic sport since 1904. This sport implements throws, transitions in the clinch, the use of the legs for offense and defense, positional control, and a showcase of blistering speed and raw physical strength.
As many fight fans know, wrestling tends to be the best background for MMA because it’s much easier to teach a wrestler how to punch or kick then to teach a striker to grapple. Wrestling is all about imposing total control on your opponent and making them work and tire out, trying to get back up to their feet. A list of good wrestlers in MMA is huge but here are some of the elites: Yoel “The Soldier Of God” Romero, Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, Daniel “DC” Cormier, Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo and Ben Askren.
This martial art is great and all, but as far as fitness is concerned, many people might find it grueling to handle. Their training sessions are as hard as they get amongst any other fighting disciplines. They implement brutal and intensive strength and endurance exercises in order to develop that explosive power.
On average, a wrestler can burn over 400 calories in a single match. This can be roughly calculated by what is known as MET, or Metabolic Equivalent of Task. That’s a fancy way of saying how much energy a person will expend, based on what there’re doing, based on their weight etc. Wrestlers’ bodies generally look like they’re carved out of stone. Their workouts can be incredibly intense and exhausting, but like the old saying goes “No Pain, No Gain”. Look for examples of super-fit wrestlers such as Jordan Burroughs, Murad Nukhadiev or Kyle Snyder – those athletes are crazy fit.
BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU: This form of grappling was derived from various forms of Japanese martial arts and has been a descendant of many other arts such as Judo, Sambo, Aikido and the like, and is right now considered to be one of the most popular sports to do in the USA. This is a close-combat martial art that generally does not use weapons, but early in its creation during the early 1500s used daggers to counterattack weapons like spears and swords.
You’ve got to keep in mind that Royce Gracie, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 1993 by beating 3 men in one night. He defeated a journeyman boxer Art Jimmerson, wrestler and shoot fighting practitioner Ken Shamrock (a true legend and pioneer of MMA) and then, went on to defeat a Karate and Savateu practitioner Gerard Gordeau, taking his opponent to the ground and securing a “rear-naked choke”. Royce changed mixed martial arts forever and was one of those fighters, who tried to popularize it among the regular masses who by that time knew only of boxing.
BJJ is based around the ground game of combat, transitions, locks, reversals, and submissions. MMA commentators call some fighters with high-level BJJ wizards because of their ability to flow from one position into another with virtually no effort. In terms of fitness and a hobby, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is absolutely amazing and a brilliant way to lose weight. Most professional trainers do not suggest a beginner to simply dive right into training at 100% intensity, but rather start at an intensity that your body is comfortable with and increase the intensity as you move forward.
On average, a beginner can expect to shred anywhere from 300 to 500 calories an hour with a light-to intensive training session. It is also a good rule of thumb to find a school or training partner that understands the art of a good warm-up and stretching session prior to getting started.
There’s nothing like finding a teacher with great patience. People you “roll” with are 99% of the time cheerful and are always willing to help no matter who they are, a beginner white belt or a seasoned black belt with years of training and experience can be greatly beneficial. It develops your coordination, allows you to gain full control over your body’s motions and most importantly, it’s one of the most fun sports activities you can do.
So, there is a huge variety of martial arts to choose from, each of them with their own unique features, techniques, and rich history. Ultimately the more experienced practitioners will tell you that in any self-defense system, there is always a science behind it.
Whatever you pick, always remember that your abilities to defend yourself and your overall fitness level are individually the product of your own hard work and dedication inside and outside of the gym. We suggest that when getting started, always listen to your body, and never be afraid to try a little bit of every martial art. You may surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish! Stay tuned for the next article involving self-defense where we will be talking about our favorite martial art…. Wing Chun Kung Fu! Cheers!