Mixed martial artists generally learn two different forms of martial arts. The first centers around punching and kicking, generally under the banner of striking disciplines. The second is for grappling, throwing and submissions, also known as mat work. What’s true is that these techniques have been developed for one on one competition and are very effective for that purpose. What’s also true is that they’re effective means for self-defense. But for those that aren’t interested in martial arts for competition are they worth learning?
That of course, depends entirely on your philosophy toward martial arts. In this sense, martial arts can be divided into two categories. Martial arts that are meant to be purely marital, and martial arts that are more than purely martial. The latter category has been popularized in movies like the Karate Kid and TV series like Kung Fu with David Carradine. In these instances, the spiritual element cannot be understated. Additionally, there is more to the training than simply self-defense. Learning breathing techniques, philosophical ideas, and meditation is integral to the process of learning the martial art. Martial arts that still employ this practice are Aikido and Tai Chi, which contrary to popular belief, is a martial art. Both of these martial arts are ideal for those that want to learn self-defense, but you wouldn’t want to take either of them into cage fight.
For MMA competition, the most popular forms of martial arts are those that focus on the ground game and powerful striking attacks. Disciplines like Muay Thai, Taekwondo, boxing, kickboxing, and Jeet Kune Do are all excellent for learning strikes. Taekwondo focuses on high knockout kicks, while Muay Thai employs the knees and elbows alongside the feet and hands. Grappling disciplines like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and wrestling are employed when the opponent is on the ground. Together, these disciplines form the heart of the training for MMA competitions.
What’s important to realize is that in and of themselves, none of these martial arts may be particularly well suited to self-defense. In the case of Aikido and Tai Chi, you are learning more than important site simply a martial art, but a means of avoiding conflict, disciplining your mind and body, and of course, you will learn a handful of martial arts. For those that are training check it out for competition, you are learning techniques that will be employed in that environment. Of course the best way to defend one’s self is to avoid such situations.
Beyond that, there are many health benefits to studying any kind of martial art. It simply depends on what it is you’re looking for in the process. For those that want to fight MMA, there are a number of martial arts well suited to competition. For those looking for health benefits and a social outlet, there are others.
“Martial arts classes have several benefits beyond learning self-defense and how to handle yourself in a fight,” says one martial arts instructor from Milpitas. “With taekwondo, you can improve your mobility, agility, and athleticism. If you’re looking for health benefits, avoiding fights is a good place to start.”