MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, is an insanely popular combat sport that became prominent in the 1990s. Since then, it’s inspired everything from TV shows to workouts. As more people become involved in the sport, more people start to wonder what it’s all about. That’s why we’re here.
A Little Background
Mixed martial arts has roots in Ancient Greece and Rome. The version that’s close to what we know was brought to the USA from Brazil in 1993 when the Gracie family founded the UFC. Originally the sport had athletes going against each other with few rules to govern them, though in the late 1990s that changed to make things safer for competitors – and to help with mainstream acceptance. Rules currently differ between organizations.
Mixed Martial Arts as Entertainment
Organizations like the UFC make a killing off pay-per-view MMA matches and live events. UFC 129, which was held in Toronto, Canada, brought in over $12 million – setting records for the city and the sport.
To say that the industry itself makes money is a bit of an understatement.
Since UFC’s popularity exploded, so has the population of MMA-related gyms, promotions, and media. Live events are big, broadcasting on major networks and attracting crowds. Top-ranking fighters are household names. Mixed martial arts have become the subject of books, tv shows, and movies.
MMA popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
What Makes Mixed Martial Arts?
Fighters tend to use two categories of technique: grappling and striking. Strikes include punches and kicks, while grapples include pinning holds, throws, and takedowns. It’s against the rules of most major competitions to bite, gouge an opponent’s eyes, kick someone in the groin, or manipulate small joints such as fingers.
A bout consists of fighters working to force one or the other to submit. A knockout counts. Fatalities are rare, with only 7 occurring in the modern history of the sport. MMA isn’t as brutal as it’s represented in the media, and the UFC takes the safety of its fighters very seriously.
Training for MMA
Every fighter has their own specialization. Whatever your style, you can adapt it to the ring, and your techniques are bound to find use there. There are three phases of combat that you’ll train for: stand-up, clinch, and ground.
In the stand-up phase of a fight, the object is to get the opponent down on the ground so that you can move to the clinch phase. This is where strikes are important. Techniques from a boxing career, karate, and even kickboxing can be adapted. You’ll need to learn to adjust your stances so that you’re less likely to get your legs taken out from under you. For more information check out the McBryde Guide to Fitness.
The clinch phase is where you’d be using your throws and takedowns. The point is to not get taken to the ground, where a hold means game over.
Finally, the ground phase is where opponents try to force submission. Once an opponent is pinned, that’s it, they’re done.
Aside from technique, strength and flexibility training will help prevent injury in the ring as well as improve a fighter’s overall performance. Learning how to manage your energy so you’re not exhausting yourself in one phase is also important, and your stamina will improve as you work on your body.
Proper nutrition and plenty of water are sort of obvious here. Proper nutrition helps your body recover from working out, helps your muscles, and provides you with the fuel you need. Hydration keeps you healthy.
Finding a gym for yourself is simple since there are so many, and the magic of Google makes finding reviews on each gym – and learning its reputation – easy. If you find a gym isn’t suitable for you, it’s fine to move on to another.
Watch UFC’s Greg Jackson and his training tips below.
A big part of equipping yourself for training at your local MMA gym is protection. You don’t want to walk away from your training sessions with serious injuries, so you have to take care of yourself and the best MMA mats will go a long way in preventing injury.
During sparring, you want to have headgear to protect your head from harsh blows. Concussions are serious business, and the last thing you want is to wind up with one while you’re in training (or ever, but that should be obvious). A mouthpiece protects your teeth while you’re competing and training, preventing you from losing or breaking any, and also protecting your opponent from injuring themselves on your choppers.
Hey, it happens.
Although you want to have boxing gloves for working on hooks, uppercuts, jabs, and strikes in the gym, you’ll also want to get used to MMA gloves, especially if you’re doing this competitively. If competition isn’t your focus, then you don’t need to worry about those – but the boxing gloves are worthwhile. Breaking your fingers on equipment or opponents really sucks, so boxing gloves are the natural precaution.
Alternatively, hand wraps can be used to protect your hands, too, though not as effectively.
Okay, so aside from protecting your upper body, you really want to protect your lower body, too. If you have a penis, a cup is your best friend. Accidents happen. You know how much getting hit there hurts. Shin guards are helpful to protect your shins during sparring or a training session.
Generally, the gym you’re working at will have MMA grappling mats installed, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. If you’re going to start a gym, though, you’ll want to bring those in – grappling on a hard floor really sucks and is just not safe.
Other essentials to have around:
Kettlebells: these are cast iron weights that have a handle attached, and are great for conditioning your body. There are so many different ways to use them for building muscle that you’d have to be a fool not to have some around.
Jump rope: pre-training warm-ups are completely necessary, and you’ll find that you use this more often than you don’t.
Stability ball: having good balance and body control are really important in any martial art, and arguably, any sport. A stability ball helps you develop these things, and don’t worry if you’re really bad at keeping your balance at first – that’s expected. That’s what practice is for.
In most cases, you won’t have to buy this stuff yourself – except for the cup, gloves, mouthpiece, and handwraps, anyway. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to be using somebody else’s mouthpiece or cup. Seems like a really bad, really gross idea that just leads to bad things, you know?
Are your gym’s MMA grappling mats kind of lacking? Direct your gym’s owners to McBryde Mats and get that fixed right away. You’ll be saving yourself and your fellow mixed martial artists a lot of trouble down the line.
Is Used Equipment Viable?
We were recently asked if it’s wise to purchase used MMA grappling mats as opposed to buying brand new.
The short answer is, if new mats are out of your price range, you can definitely buy used. Most stores have a section dedicated to used products and MMA grappling mats aren’t any different. You’ll just have to watch out for some extra things that you wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about with new mats.
When looking for used MMA grappling mats, check the condition of what’s available. Are they damaged, and if so,
how badly? Minor wear and tear is easily managed – and should be expected. Rips, cuts, and badly beaten-up mats aren’t quite so good. A mat that’s too badly worn out isn’t going to protect you when you’re grappled, thrown, or otherwise have to hit that mat – and its job is to protect you. If it’s too worn out to do that, why are you wasting your money? Move on, or look at purchasing a new mat.
Another concern with buying used MMA grappling mats is just how far along into their lifespan they are. You don’t want to have to replace your mat within a year, so be sure to consult with the vendor to figure out the life span of the mat you’re looking for and how the used ones compare. You can usually figure out how long you’ll get out of the mat based upon its condition – a mat that’s nearly-new will last a long longer than one that’s been beaten up, no matter when that mat was purchased.
Once you’ve decided, and if you’ve purchased a used mat, make sure to clean and disinfect it thoroughly. Most vendors will have given their used mats a good, thorough cleaning, but you can never be too safe. There are some pretty awful skin infections that you can pick up off a dirty mat – it’s not worthwhile to take the risk and just use it as soon as your mat arrives!
Where to Buy Used MMA Grappling Mats
Many online wrestling mat retailers have a used section that you can purchase from. We’ve also heard of people going on eBay for used MMA grappling mats, though the price of shipping form most eBay sellers is absolutely atrocious. Sellers aren’t supposed to use the shipping cost as a way to guarantee profit, but many of them do, even though they’re aware that they’re breaking the rules. You can figure out just how accurate the shipping cost is by running the numbers through the US Postal Service’s website. Give it a try on some of the auctions – you might be horribly shocked and confused, too.
You can find a selection of used MMA grappling mats in our shop at McBrydemats.com, or you can purchase some brand new at a more affordable rate than what you’d find at any other manufacturer. This way, you’re guaranteed something that’s clean, that will last a long time, and that you can rely on.
If you’d like to get into mixed martial arts, contact local gyms. You can find them by searching for the name of your town and “MMA gym”, and you can also get some guidance by checking out MMA-related forums and websites.
Whether you choose to join in as an athlete or become a fan, you’re in for a great time.