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MMA fighting styles explained: Which approach is best?

Profile Picture: Danny Howard

November 16th, 2020

Mixed martial arts is not a style in of itself, but a melting pot of varying disciplines and techniques. Let’s take a look at the more common styles seen in the octagon and discuss what makes them effective.

The styles we don’t see

MMA is a combination of many martial arts, it isn’t a brawl-for-all. The rules and regulations of the sport present a barrier for certain disciplines, mainly because they focus on joint manipulation and other tactics that would be considered illegal.

Styles like Hapkido, Krav Maga, and Sambo are seldom seen in the octagon. Other martial arts are not optimal for these settings.

Karate: The art of tradition

There are many schools of karate, but the most common in MMA is Kyokushin.

One of the strong points of karate is the emphasis on straight, powerful strikes. Karate practitioners in the past have produced stunning stoppages that came from out of nowhere.

Because karate isn’t traditionally taught in a competitive environment, the sport doesn’t have a large pool of karate users.

Boxing: King of the ring

The basis of boxing is head movement, footwork, and proper punching technique. A skilled boxer can be the most dangerous person in the room, because they know how to create distance and set traps to land momentum-changing blows.

A boxer can land devastating blows from any range. They are their deadliest when they can transition from defense to offense with a perfectly timed counter punch.

Which MMA style do you enjoy watching most?

Kickboxing: All-purpose striking

Whether it be Muay Thai or traditional kickboxing, this style is versatile. A good kickboxer can deliver explosive strikes to the body and legs.

Some of the most brutal stoppages in the history of the sport have come from kickboxers who landed a signature kick or a nauseating knee strike.

Wrestling: The art of the takedown

There is nothing more taxing on a fighter than trying to stave off a competent wrestler.

Wrestling, at its core, is about using a fighter’s weight and positioning to restrict movement to overwhelm their opponent. A great wrestler will specialize in takedowns and ground control, which can be doom for under-prepared foes.

While wrestling is a vaunted style, it pales in comparison to the best fighting style in the octagon.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the undisputed best

It is common knowledge that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the best style in the cage. BJJ combines takedowns with submissions, as well as the applicable defenses for each. Any kind of mat-based style can only substitute part of what BJJ can offer.

A level of mastery is almost required, but BJJ is the Swiss Army Knife of MMA. Wrestling comes close, but the lack of submissions means even the most competent wrestlers can get tapped out by sloppy BJJ.

There is no more dangerous fighter in the sport than a prodigious BJJ practitioner.


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