MMA Vs Karate: Which Is More Effective?

When deciding which martial art to practice, it’s important to consider what it involves. MMA is known as a better self-defense system and is quite versatile. Karate involves precise techniques and light contact to defeat an opponent. The following will delve into these combat styles in depth.

An Intro to MMA and Karate

It’s strange to say that MMA is a better self-defense fighting system than karate.

The fighting style looks brutal; it doesn’t seem like the kind of style meant for self defense. In fact, it looks like it’s used to attack someone. While this style is quite brutal and versatile, it’s also erratic. It’s fast paced and sometimes requires more strength than technique.

In a pinch, MMA can get you of a pickle. Still, people should only use it when absolutely necessary since many of the moves work best when you’re on the ground. That’s not a good position to be in when you’re attacked. If you are on the ground when you’re attacked, it’s time to bust out your MMA training.

Karate relies on technique. It relies on you mastering different strikes, like elbow and knee strikes. The light contact you have to master doesn’t take much out of you, but it causes considerable damage to your opponent. Since it involves light strikes, it can be helpful, no matter how strong or weak you think you are.

The following will help you understand these styles a bit more. This will help you make a decision on which to choose.


This combat form emerged in the 14th century. It happened on the present-day island of Okinawa called the Ryukyu Kingdom. The kingdom was annexed many years later. When this happened, many moved to the mainland and taught karate to interested people. Karate became a mainstream martial art form shortly after.

Karate is more popular than MMA. You will find people practicing the martial art around the world. This fighting style is in films and TV shows and has evolved into different forms.

The following are some popular karate forms:

  • Goju-Ryu
  • Kyokushin
  • Shotokan
  • Shito-Ryu


The first thing you should know is what it stands for. It happens to stand for ‘mixed martial arts.’ It’s so simple, yet many don’t know this.

With this martial art, the artist uses limbs to fight. These fighters have to learn various skills to become all-around good fighters. Many martial art techniques are used, such as the following.

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is a grappling art
  • Muay Thai which involves clinches
  • Wrestling, which focuses on taking others to the ground
  • Boxing which is popular standing fighting style

MMA dates back to ancient Greece. In that time, the sport was called “Pankration.” Many of the martial art techniques included in today’s MMA weren’t used back in those days. One thing that is similar to today’s MMA is that they fight in a cage.

Addressing Strength

MMA and karate are similar regarding strength.

The only difference is that MMA fighting requires that you also have the strength to grapple. This isn’t required when learning karate.

For both fighting styles, you need enough strength to strike. Having this sort of strength isn’t easy; it’s not something you can do overnight. You’ll have to train until your strikes are strong enough to cause some damage.

When you see an MMA fighter, you’ll notice that their muscle mass is big compared to a karate fighter. While karate fighters need to develop some strength, it’s only some. They have to deliver massive power in short periods. During those times, it’s imperative that you land your blows.

Both styles need high aerobic power. You need to sustain this high energy throughout the fight. A wrestler doesn’t put out the type of energy these fighters put out.

Both combat systems require high aerobic power, but people learning karate need something extra. Those learning karate have to engage their alactic energy systems because of the high intensity of the matches.

How Does Each Work for Self-Defense?

MMA is very versatile, as mentioned earlier. It helps you learn all sorts of fighting techniques. This could be quite helpful in a self-defense scenario.

The problem with MMA is that bigger muscle mass is needed. The moves you need to master your opponent take place on the ground. You know that being on the ground isn’t a great thing when you’re trying to fend off an attacker. Your goal is to run away during an attack.

Karate can be a better fighting technique since you mostly stand up when using it. The problem is that karate is limiting when you’re attacked.

It doesn’t require much power, so that means anyone can learn the fighting style. It means anyone could fend off an attack. If the attacker is particularly aggressive or can overpower you, then karate fails you. At this point, karate becomes less effective.

You can see that both fighting styles have their pros and cons when talking about self defense or street fighting.

The truth is that it’s better to learn every fighting style you can. If your main concern is self defense, you don’t know which fighting style could come in handy.

Those who want to train to become one of these fighters will have to give it they’re all. No matter which of these you choose, you’re going to push your body to its limits.

Both combat arts are cardio intense. They force you to develop stronger strikes. You’re going to have to roll on the ground without any issues and without hurting yourself. In essence, you have to be certain that you’re ready to commit to whichever fighting style you want to master.

One thing to know is that there is a street version of karate. If this is the fighting style you want to learn, you need to talk to the instructor. Talk to him or her about going beyond what you might learn in class. Be upfront about this, and tell them you’re worried about being attacked on the streets.

Usually, when you’re taught karate in schools, most teachers teach as if you’re going to respect the rules. They also assume your attacker will respect the rules, too. Those who want to use karate beyond regulated competitions have to speak up.

Hopefully, they’ll teach you how to use karate on the streets, where fighting rules won’t be observed.

Which is Easier to Learn?

MMA and karate are challenging in their own way, but if you want to compare the two, MMA is more challenging than the other.

It sort of makes sense that this is the case, right? MMA requires that you learn a couple of fighting techniques to be an MMA fighter. You also know that mastering MMA requires that you build more strength than when you master karate.

It can take about two to three years to develop enough skills to be a good MMA fighter. Those who want to master MMA may need about 10 years of non-stop training.

Karate can be learned much faster. A person can get a black belt in as little as three years, though some learn it in about five years. The black belt is the highest level you can reach.

Granted, there’s always a little more to learn, and if you continue to train, your karate expertise increases. Most martial artists will tell you that no one ever stops improving their martial arts skills. If people continue to train, they’ll continue to improve.

Now, you know a little more about both fighting styles and which one might work best for you. Try to examine each as closely as possible. Look at some videos, or visit local classes to get a feel for each. Hopefully, what you’ve learned here and what you learn on your own can make your choice clear.

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