If you’re planning to learn a martial art, you’re probably interested in securing the many physical, mental, and health-boosting benefits of martial arts training. You might also understand that mastering a martial art is a significant challenge that requires dedication, hard work, and hundreds—if not thousands—of hours of training.
If you’ve ever watched an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bout on cable TV, then you’re probably familiar with the term “mixed martial arts (MMA).” If not, we’ll start here by telling you that professional MMA is one of the fastest-growing fighting sports in the world, with more than 300 million and growing fans worldwide. This popularity is believed to be largely responsible for the huge increase in the number of martial arts studios in the U.S., which grew from just over 9,000 in 2012 to over 50,000 today.
If you primarily visualize images of striking and kicking over takedowns and submission holds when thinking about mixed martial arts (MMA), you might not be aware of the significant role grappling has played in the evolution of the sport. While fierce strikes and devastating kicks dominate highlight reels, professional MMA fighters with strong grappling skills have long secured the most victories. In fact, a 2017 study of elite-level MMA competitors determined that “grappling activity and technique accuracy are of particular importance in achieving victory.”
Many parents unfamiliar with martial arts may balk at the idea of their children participating in the activity. Common concerns among such parents are that martial arts are dangerous and might make children aggressive and more likely to get into fights. Some moms and dads also worry that the training might be too vigorous and that the discipline needed to learn and practice martial arts is too demanding of their sensitive kids.
We typically picture professional athletes when we consider our ideal for peak physical fitness. This makes sense because to stay on top of their respective games—whatever they might be—such athletes need top-level strength, power, flexibility, balance, agility, speed, reaction time, coordination, and aerobic and muscular endurance. Depending upon the sport and/or position played, some of these physical fitness components may be more crucial than others.
Most people searching for an optimal workout regimen fail to consider martial arts as viable option. Instead, many seek out traditional gyms and fitness centers, believing that they offer the most effective classes and equipment for building strength, cardio, and endurance or reaching other fitness-related goals. There can also be an inherent aversion to using martial arts training for fitness based on a mistaken belief that their primary focus is to teach fighting skills.