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
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