Adapting of Traditional Martial Arts Techniques to MMA



MMA bouts begin with both opponents standing and for that reason benefits mma fighters who use striking techniques including punching, kicking, elbowing and kneeing.

traditional martial arts


Striking Techniques frequently employed include:

  • Boxing and punching techniques.
  • Roundhouse kicking techniques to the knee.
  • Kicking techniques to the body and head.
  • Kicking techniques from the ground.

MMA is among the few martial arts to permit kicks both to the upper knee and to an adversary whilst they are on the floor including elbowing and kneeing techniques for example:

Practice on the heavybag

  • Elbow strike to the head.
  • Knee strike to the upper thigh.

However, standing fighting can easily become stand-up grappling or clinching. Striking techniques may also be utilized from all of these positions.

Once the fight is taken to the ground, a number of ground grappling strategies can be utilised including choke holds, arm bars, leg bars or pinning techniques. These techniques can also be coupled with striking techniques.

In MMA there are a number of hold-down chokes, arm locks, leg locks and wrist locks. When applied, the opponent has got the choice to concede by tapping out.

MMA ground fighting methods differ to other ground fighting martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu since striking is permitted when on the ground.

Boxing and kicking methods have also been modified for the Mixed martial arts arena as the stances would otherwise be too upright and the lead foot too far forward, leaving the mma fighter open to takedowns and kicks to the knee and thighs.

  • A kick to the upper knee executed at a 45-degree angle, makes it harder to defend against.
  • Kicking techniques executed improperly can lead to a takedown.

Techniques and skills employed and the concept behind them

The idea of MMA is much like that regarding Jeet Kune Do (JKD), which encourages using just those strategies that are valuable and suited to each individual fighter, thus creating different but intelligent fighting styles. However, it is also recommended to train to improve any weak points. JKD was created by Bruce Lee in 1967.

The techniques covered by MMA fighters are:

Stand-up: Taken from boxing, kick-boxing, Thai boxing and other alike styles since they enhance footwork due to the variety of striking techniques such as punching, kicking, kneeing and elbowing.

Clinching: Taken from wrestling, judo and other alike styles since they enhance clinching, takedowns and throws.

Ground fighting: Obtained from Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, judo and similar styles since they strengthen submission holds, defence against submission holds, and also increase power over an adversary on to the ground.

All of the above abilities are required to become a well-rounded fighter in MMA. However, the techniques need to be changed to be successful in this arena.

Why is MMA unique and different to other martial arts?

MMA is different from other fighting methods since practitioners have to be open-minded about the various techniques available. A strategy from an alternative martial art can be modified and included with their current fighting portfolio.

MMA therefore becomes distinctive to each practitioner though, as stated before, the idea is very similar to Jeet Kune Do.

The attraction of MMA lies in its range of techniques and fighting skills including kicking, punching, kneeing and elbowing strikes. Practitioners also have to be good at clinching, wrestling and groundwork. Any weaknesses shown in these areas will quickly be taken advantage of by an adversary. Fitness is vital as well, as is a strong and agile mind that can formulate and execute a highly effective tactic to defeat the opponent while competing.

The primary emphasis of Mixed martial arts is the exploitation of your opponent’s weak points coupled with the imposition of one’s own strengths. A powerful mma fighter is one who can adapt in this way, but who also minimises their own weak points whilst maximising their strengths. The fighter’s choice to fight standing or on the ground will probably be determined by the opponent’s background.

The idea of mixing fighting styles was initially developed by Bruce Lee. He thought that mixing additional styles into his concept and philosophy, which he called Jeet Kune Do, would offer the fighter an edge. He also felt that a good fighter should be able to adjust to the opponent’s fighting style, which is also true for Mixed Martial Arts. Bruce Lee’s concept was recognised by UFC president Dana White, who referred to Bruce Lee ‘the father of Mixed Martial Arts’.

In the first MMA competitions various styles competed against each other to be able to see which in fact had the advantage in a realistic confrontation, and it was not uncommon to see boxers fighting judo or karate martial artists. As the sport continued to develop, most MMA fighters trained in a wide range of styles. Today the successful MMA fighter understands the importance of being experienced in different disciplines.

MMA fighters often train in elements of boxing, kick-boxing and Thai boxing to enhance their punching, kneeing, elbowing and kicking skills. The takedown, clinching and throwing techniques are gained by training in sambo, judo and wrestling. To gain skills in submission holds and ground work, fighters use Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, sambo, pankration and wrestling.

Although modern MMA fighters train in a variety of styles and strategies, they often have a preference for what has proved successful for them in competitions.

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