MMA Vs Kickboxing (The Differences Explained)

Simply, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and kickboxing share some similarities but they’re inherently different forms of martial arts. Kickboxing is a very specific system of training and self-defense that predominantly involves stand-up fighting. On the other hand, MMA is a system of self-defense that combines techniques from a variety of martial arts disciplines. While both teach physical and mental discipline as well as self-defense skills, the principles, rules, and techniques vary between MMA and kickboxing.

Furthermore, while MMA employs some of the same moves that are used in kickboxing, MMA also incorporates techniques from other disciplines such as jiu-jitsu, karate, and wrestling. Although kickboxing is taxing and requires great skill, MMA’s well-rounded approach to martial arts is superior. If you’re faced with choosing between the two styles, you may be wondering how they match up against one another. Herein, you can take a look at some of the measurable ways MMA stacks up against kickboxing.

MMA Vs Kickboxing: A look at the differences in techniques

Two of the most popular sects of martial arts, both MMA and kickboxing are noteworthy in their own rights. Both draw children and adults who wish to improve their physical prowess, self-discipline, and self-defense skills. However, the two martial arts forms have techniques, skills, and movements that differ from one another.

Kickboxing Moves

Kickboxing is performed from a standing position and requires fighters to adhere to seven basic principles. In fact, all kickboxing tactics adhere to the following fundamentals: distancing oneself from his or her opponent, defending oneself, feinting movements meant to distract one’s opponent, thoughtfully timing attacks, harnessing one’s power, improving one’s endurance, and sparring.

By adhering to these principles while using particular techniques of defending and sparring, kickboxers can gain the upper hand over opponents. Of note, kickboxing is a simple martial arts form that relies on a few basic moves. To begin, kickboxers can use the following strike types in a match: jab, cross, uppercut, hook, hammer punch, elbow, and knee. While the elbow and knee strikes employ the arm and leg bones, each of the other strike types involves the fighter’s hands or fists making connections with his or her opponent.

In addition to strikes, kickboxing, as its name suggests, involves kicking too. The main kick types in this form of martial arts include: push kick, side kick, back kick, crescent kick, and, the most popular kick, the roundhouse kick. Each of these kicks involves different motions, however, they’re all effective at neutralizing an opponent.

Lastly, as with any form of martial arts, kickboxing teaches the importance of defensive maneuvers. Kickboxing defensive moves include parrying, giving the slip, and proper defensive stance. Of the three defensive moves, the slip is the most surefire way to avoid receiving a strike. The slip is when you spin your body with impeccable timing to avoid receiving a blow; the opponent’s strike essentially slips right past you. Equally important is parrying which is a movement that redirects an opponent’s strike and defensive stance which physically readies your body to fight.

Moreover, beyond these basic striking, kicking, and defensive moves, there are a few advanced moves such as the flying knee, the spinning back kicks, the snap kick, and flying kicks. Although these moves are flashy, they’re less important to your success as a fighter than the previously mentioned basic maneuvers.

Lastly, there are many sequences of moves that combine particular strikes and kicks; these classic combinations make it easier for a fighter to gain an advantage over an opponent. Some common combos include jab-cross-hook-uppercut and jab-cross-hook-kick to name a few.

MMA Moves

Although each of the moves attributed to kickboxing, from striking to kicking and defensive stances to combinations, are also attributed to MMA, there are other significant moves involved. As mentioned earlier, MMA draws from other martial arts forms as well as techniques it has in common with kickboxing.

In addition to striking opponents and defending oneself, MMA also involves grappling and submission. Essentially, MMA involves winning through knocking one’s opponent out or achieving submission. In MMA striking refers to assaulting an opponent with your own body while grappling deals with the art of taking down an opponent through close-contact gripping as well as imposing one’s own body on an opponent; grappling is the most effective technique to use when you’ve been taken to the ground by your adversary.

What’s more, MMA involves using wrestling moves as well as striking and grappling techniques. In fact, five important wrestling moves are essential to MMA. For starters, MMA fighters are taught the single-leg and double-leg takedowns; both of these moves involve, you guessed it, incapacitating your opponent’s leg or legs. This move gives you the advantage of controlling your opponent.

Additionally, the head-and-arm-throw is a wrestling move that allows you to fling an opponent back using one of his or her arms as well as their head. Two final wrestling moves that are key moves in MMA are the arm drag and sprawl. The latter is used to control an opponent by placing one’s body weight on the opponent’s back while he or she tries to take you down, while the former involves using the opponent’s own momentum to control him or her from the elbow, reversing them away from attacking you.

Other important techniques unique to MMA include escape moves that allow you to free yourself from being pinned, learning to transition from striking to distancing, escaping mounts, and getting up off the floor if you’re under your opponent.

Notably, both kickboxing and MMA are reputable martial arts styles. However, MMA gives you the advantage of a greater wheelhouse of moves to access. In other words, you’re more limited in kickboxing whereas in MMA you draw from several disciplines that give you more defensive moves to choose from when fighting.

Equipment and weapons used in MMA vs. kickboxing

While both styles of martial arts require some investment in equipment, neither style employs the use of weaponry. In both kickboxing and MMA, each fighter is said to be equipped with four weapons: two arms and two legs. Fighters in both styles are considered the weapon and neither permits the use of weapons outside of your body.

Although weapons are not used in either martial arts form, both styles require protective gear, appropriate clothing, and training equipment. In kickboxing, padded gloves are worn to protect both your hands and your opponent. Mouthguards, groin guards, chest protection, shin pads, and footpads are also utilized. Equipment used in MMA fights includes gloves, groin guards, mouth guards, shin pads, headgear, and sometimes a rash guard. Clearly, there are many similarities in the gear required for both martial arts styles.

In addition to protective gear, there is training equipment, used to enhance a fighter’s strength and endurance, which are common in both MMA and kickboxing. Jump ropes for endurance, kettlebells for strength, and punching bags and focus mitts for skill drills, are all commonly used to train in both styles. Furthermore, both types of martial artists typically weight and cardio train to improve overall fitness; doing so inherently improves your ability to perform as a fighter in either style.

How do the rules of MMA and kickboxing stack up?

In both MMA and kickboxing there are several rules that govern the moves fighters can use, the length of a fight, equipment that’s permitted, what fighters can and can’t wear, and so much more. In MMA fights, rounds are five minutes in length, while in kickboxing, rounds are between two and three minutes.

During a round of MMA or a bout of kickboxing, there are rules about moves that are disallowed. For instance, in kickboxing fighters can use strikes and kicks but aren’t allowed to use elbows and knees. Meanwhile, in MMA, strikes, kicks, elbows, and knees are all permitted. Clinch fighting, throws, and sweeps are not permitted in kickboxing while these practices are commonplace in MMA. Moreover, the object of a kickboxing bout is to knock out your opponent, incite the referee to end the fight, or win the majority of the judge’s points. In MMA, the object is to win by knockout or submission.

As far as what fighters are required to wear during a kickboxing bout, shorts for all and a padded sports bra for women, as well as a mouthguard, regulation boxing gloves, footpads, and a groin guard are all standard fare. MMA fighters also wear shorts, mouthguards, groin guards, and open-fingered gloves. Additionally, women wear protective chest gear and MMA is done barefoot.

MMA Reigns Supreme

Surely, both martial arts styles are admirable in their own right. Kickboxing and MMA both instill fundamentals of self-discipline, self-improvement, physical prowess, self-defense, agility, and beyond. Likewise, both styles empower you to feel more confident, focused, and goal-oriented. Undoubtedly, MMA and kickboxing, among other styles of martial arts, improve coordination, fitness, socialization, gross motor skills, and respect for self and others. However, in the grand scheme of martial arts, the benefits of training in MMA far outweigh the benefits of training in kickboxing.

As you can see from this side-by-side overview of MMA versus kickboxing, MMA certainly is a more well-rounded martial arts form. By incorporating practices and moves from a variety of disciplines, MMA better equips fighters with a diverse arsenal of self-defense moves. Kickboxing is undoubtedly great for improving one’s fitness and it does have some useful fighting applications but it limits a fighter’s level of expertise. Therefore, fighters trained in MMA have an edge over those trained in kickboxing.

At the end of the day, kickboxing and MMA both teach important fundamentals while enhancing one’s fitness. But MMA ekes out in front of kickboxing when it comes to a form of self-defense. Because of its sheer diversity, MMA fighters almost always have the advantage over kickboxing fighters in either a street fight or match. While both MMA and kickboxing are fun and energetic martial arts styles to learn for recreation, MMA is conclusively a more reliable form of self-defense. As such, if you’re faced with choosing between the two styles, MMA is the superior option.

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