Fight on! Mixed martial arts— or MMA, as it is affectionately known— welcomes all fighting disciplines to participate in today’s most popular full-contact sport Determining the prevalence and assessing the severity of injuries in mixed martial arts athletes.Rainey, C.E. Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2009 Nov;4(4):190-9.. But just don’t forget to come prepared to this Grobby (Greatist lingo for hobby): aside from some super-hip TapouT swag, gloves and mouth guards are important in any MMA enthusiast's arsenal.

THE MAIN EVENT — THE NEED-TO-KNOW

Originating in ancient Greece, mixed martial arts— or what the Greeks originally called “pankration”— combined boxing and wrestling to create a no-holds-barred, often deadly Olympic event. After experiencing a revival in Brazil and being popularized in the United States by the Gracie Family, MMA quickly became a Pay-Per-View hit when it was introduced as the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993.

Modern MMA blends fighting disciplines including wrestling, boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, judo, kickboxing, and Muay Thai. To survive in MMA's Octagon-shaped ring, mixed martial artists train in a wide variety of striking and grappling skills. In prepping for the normally three-round bouts— each a fast-paced, exhaustive test of willpower, skill, and stamina— fighters work to boost cardiovascular endurance, strength, and speed to outlast and out grapple their opponents. Talk about a hard day at the office.

Taking It To The Ring — Your Action Plan

Luckily for the pacifists amongst us, MMA has expanded and evolved to include fitness-based classes for all skill levels, so it’s not necessary to go head-to-head with Tito Ortiz to get in a solid workout. Many MMA classes even forgo full-contact sparring and instead focus on cardiovascular endurance, speed, flexibility, and functional weight training.

A typical MMA fitness class might include a dynamic warmup, drills and skill work related to a particular combat method (throwing techniques used in judo, for instance), MMA-specific movements (chokes, leg-locks, and arm-bars), and transitional techniques (punching to a takedown), as well as a cooldown. Some gyms incorporate a range of strength-building exercises including TRX, resistance bands, kettlebells, battle ropes, and Olympic lifts to build explosiveness.

Of course, due to the physical nature of the sport, MMA is associated with a variety of injury risks, with blunt force injuries to the head resulting in almost 30% of professional match stoppages Determining the prevalence and assessing the severity of injuries in mixed martial arts athletes.Rainey, C.E. Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2009 Nov;4(4):190-9. No holds barred sport fighting: a 10 year review of mixed martial arts competiton.Buse, G.J. Cannon USAF Clinics, Aerospace/Preventive Medicine, Clovis, NM. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006 Feb; 40(2):169-72... Before committing to classes, be sure to clearly identify specific goals with the trainer, as some gyms emphasize the fitness aspects of MMA whereas others are more geared to fight preparation. Most facilities welcome visitors and may even offer free introductory classes. Participating in a free training session is a great way to check out the facility, the instructor, and the grueling (but rewarding!) workout known as MMA.

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