The Best Martial Arts For MMA (Explained)

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a sport that values coordination, tactical thinking, and athleticism. It involves two opponents trying to either submit or knock out the other. This sport’s objective is to either score points or avoid getting scored by your opponent.

There are different types of martial arts that can be used in MMA. The best martial arts for MMA will help you become a more coordinated and athletic fighter. Motor coordination, explosive strength, and endurance are the three essential qualities of any martial art. The best martial arts for MMA will help you develop all these qualities and help you perform your best in the ring.

This article lists the top martial arts for MMA, tips on picking the right one for you, and the benefits. Check it out to learn more about each of them and which one is right for you.

Tips on how to pick the right Martial Arts for you

To pick the right martial art for MMA, you should first know what you want. Here are tips on choosing the right one for you.

  • Do you want to learn self-defense skills? If your main objective is to learn self-defense skills, you should consider taking Krav Maga or Jiu-Jitsu. These two martial arts are very effective in street fights and will give you a good foundation in MMA.
  • Do you want to compete in Mixed Martial Arts? If yes, then what weight class do you want to fight in? You need to choose a martial art suitable for your weight class and will help you get into shape quickly. Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai are great choices if your priority is competition. You can also consider boxing or wrestling if your priority is learning how to fight and not necessarily winning competitions.
  • Do You Want To Be a Professional Mixed Martial Artist? If yes, then you should consider taking Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. These are the best martial arts for MMA for beginners and give you a good foundation in the sport.
  • You want to learn how to fight in the ring? Boxing is a great choice because it teaches you how to effectively use your hands and feet against an opponent.
  • If you want to lose weight while learning self-defense skills-then, boxing is a great choice because it will burn lots of calories while developing your core strength and your arms, legs, shoulders, and back muscles.
  • If you want to learn striking techniques (kicking or punching), Muay Thai is the best choice because it has the best striking techniques.
  • If you want to learn grappling skills that you can use for long distances (throws, holds, and locks) -then Jiu-Jitsu is the best choice because it has the best grappling techniques.
  • Do You Want To Be a Professional Boxer? If yes, you should consider taking Muay Thai or Jiu-Jitsu and boxing; these are the three martial arts most commonly taught in boxing gyms today.


Grappling is an essential part of any MMA training program. It trains your body to be as limber as a gymnast’s while still letting you apply all your strength at once. It allows you to get off the ground as quickly as possible and get to the clinch or the mount position, where you can start pummeling your opponent.

When you’re in the clinch, your opponent will be trying to push your head down while you’ll push his head outwards. The same applies to the mount position. Your opponent will be pushing up with his arms and legs while you’re pushing down on him.

Helpful Tips

  • Allow your elbows close to the body when applying a choke or a lock so that an opponent can’t easily break them.
  • When applying a lock or a choke, try putting your weight on one side of the body rather than on both sides equally so that it becomes harder for the opponent to break free from it.
  • To practice grappling positions and submissions without an opponent, set up two chairs near each other and push them together; this way, you can practice without having someone else around who might get injured.
  • To practice more advanced techniques, you can use a heavy bag.

If you’re having trouble applying a submission or a lock to someone trying to break free from it, try moving around and putting your body weight on different sides of the opponent’s body. That allows you to apply the technique in different positions and against different types of resistance.

Grappling Benefits

  • Grappling allows you to become very limber.
  • Grappling trains your body to be as limber as a gymnast’s while still letting you apply all your strength at once.
  • Grappling allows you to get off the ground quickly and get to the clinch or the mount position, where you can start pummeling your opponent.
  • Grappling trains your hands and wrists so that you can punch and kick from long distances with maximum power, speed, and accuracy.

Who uses Grappling for MMA?

Grappling is the most effective method used by MMA fighters.

Anderson Silva The current UFC Middleweight champion uses a variation of Jiu-Jitsu called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a hybrid of Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

BJ Penn Known for his ground game in the first two fights of his career (against Matt Hughes and Sean Sherk), he recently lost to Nick Diaz via decision in their third fight after going to a draw with him at UFC 94.

Best Martial Arts For MMA

In short, the best martial arts for MMA are Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), and Muay Thai. Popular opinion in the MMA fighting world agrees that BJJ is the best art for submission holds, wrestling is the best art for takedowns, and Muay Thai is the best art for striking.

Now, lets drill down into the details.

Best for Takedowns

– Judo

This martial art focuses on throws and takedowns and is commonly used in MMA. These takedowns can come from throws, pinning moves, or even the clinch.

Judo grapplers train to be able to throw and take down their competition. They also learn to defend against their opponent’s takedowns and have the ability to kick and punch while on the ground.

Techniques to apply:
  • The majority of techniques in Judo are done from a standing position.
  • Judo throws take your opponent off their feet and throw them to the ground.
  • Judo pins are used to pin your opponent on their back and keep them there.
  • Judo takedowns take your opponent off their feet and bring them down.

There are many different Judo throws, pins, and takedowns that you can practice independently. Some examples include:

Uchimata (inner thigh throw), Sode-tsuri-komi-ashi (shoulder scoop drop), Kata-gatame (shoulder hold), Ouchi Gari (major inner reap), Yoko Shiho gatame (side four quarters hold), Ude garami (arm entanglement) Seoi nage (shoulder throw) Osoto gari (major outer reap) Sode tsurikomi ashi (shoulder wheel drop) Kata guruma (shoulder wheel).

Judo throws and takedowns can be practiced against a partner when you are both on the ground. The person being thrown or taken down will want to control their opponent’s body and prevent them from landing on top of them.

Judo pins can also be practiced with a partner. The person being pinned will want to control their opponent’s body and prevent them from landing on top of them. They will also try to escape the pin by turning onto their side or reaching for a leg or arm that is not trapped.

Pinning, throwing, and takedown drills can be practiced with a partner. Beware, safety should always come first when practicing judo techniques on your own.

Judo Benefits:
  • Judo is also a great way to learn how to defend against takedowns. You can use several ways to defend against a takedown, like blocking the opponent’s arms or legs with your arms or legs or kicking your opponent’s legs out from under them.
  • It is also important to learn how to attack on the ground. You can use the knife hand strike (also known as the kubotan) and the hammer fist strike (also known as the mae Geri).
  • You can also use submission holds such as arm locks and leg locks.
Who has used Judo for MMA?

Several fighters have used Judo in the cage. These fighters include Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Jens Pulver, and Wanderlei Silva.

– Wrestling

Wresting is a very common martial art that is used in MMA and it is also an Olympic sport. It is excellent for takedowns, which is such a big part of MMA. With that said, wrestling is the best takedown martial art for MMA. However, generally speaking, striking is not allowed in wrestling, which is why many MMA fighters pair wrestling with a striking martial art such as Muay Thai.


Wrestling involves takedowns, clinching, throws, holds, and pinning positions.

Who uses Wrestling for MMA?

Several UFC champions have a background in wrestling, such as TJ Dillashaw and Matt Hughes.

– Aikido

Aikido is another great martial arts for self defense. It teaches you to move your opponent so that they cannot attack you. It also teaches you how to take an opponent’s attack and launch your counterattacks. It is also good for learning how to avoid damage and even escape from an opponent’s attack.

Aikido Benefits
  • Aikido can help to build up mental and physical discipline. It teaches you to focus on the tasks at hand.
  • Aikido can help improve self-control to avoid getting frustrated by an opponent’s attacks.
  • It can also help develop self-confidence and make you more confident in yourself when fighting against an opponent.
  • It can teach you how to control the amount of pain felt when being hit.
Who uses Aikido for MMA?

Mirko Filipovic (Croatia), nicknamed “Cro Cop,” is a retired professional Croatian mixed martial artist and one of the greatest heavyweights in the sport’s history. He is a black belt in Aikido.

Rafael dos Anjos (Brazil), a Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and the current UFC Lightweight Champion, is widely considered the greatest MMA fighter ever from Brazil. He is a black belt in Aikido.

Holly Holm (USA) is an American professional boxer, mixed martial artist, and former professional kickboxer. She is a black belt in Aikido.

Best for Submissions

– Brazilian Ju-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling system that emphasizes ground techniques over stand-up techniques. This makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the best grappling martial arts, martial arts for MMA because it allows for both ground and stand-up fighting, although most fights are done on the ground.

Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Benefits
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu helps build confidence, self-discipline, and strength.
  • It is also a great way to deal with stress and anxiety.
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a very effective martial art for self-defense and competition. Many competitions use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as their primary grappling style, making it a great choice for MMA.
  • It’s an excellent choice for women looking to improve their overall fitness and self-defense skills.
  • Women tend to have shorter stature than men, which means they are naturally smaller and lighter. This means that many of the techniques in BJJ are easier for women to learn than men because they need less strength and power to execute them
  • Additionally, women tend to have more flexibility in their joints than men, making it easier for them to learn BJJ moves that require them to bend or twist at a certain point in the technique.
Who uses Brazilian Ju-Jitsu for MMA?

UFC fighter Royce Gracie, a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has been a sports pioneer. He has taught BJJ to many of the greats in MMA, including:

Royce is also a member of the Gracie family, making him one of the most successful BJJ black belts.

Best For Striking

– Muay Thai

Muay Thai is the art of kickboxing. It is full-contact and allows for stand-up fighting using strikes and grappling (Clinch). It is very popular in Thailand, so it is called the Thai art of war.

Muay Thai fighting is often used in MMA because of the extensive use of stand-up striking and grappling. Muay Thai allows for a huge range of kicks and punches, which are useful in various situations. It is commonly referred to as the best striking martial art for MMA, which is my opinion as well.


The techniques include the jab, cross, hook, uppercut, and back fist. The jab is used for range control and as a setup for other punches such as hooks or crosses. The latter is a straight punch thrown with the hand opposite the opponent’s jaw or chin.

The hook is a short punch thrown with the side of the fist, closer to the jaw. The uppercut is a punch that targets the opponent’s chin. The back fist is a punch thrown with the back of the hand.

Muay Thai Benefits
  • It is an excellent workout.
  • People who practice Muay Thai are more confident and self-assured.
  • It can help you improve your overall health and fitness.
  • It’s an entertaining sport to watch.

Muay Thai is also known as “the king of martial arts.” As such, it is the most popular form of kickboxing today.

Who uses Muay Thai?

Muay Thai is used by all ages, races, and genders. It is very popular in Thailand, where it is the national sport.

Fighters such as Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell, Conor McGregor, and Holly Holm are a few MMA/UFC stars who have used Muay Thai in their fighting styles to win world titles and are now the most famous athletes in their sports.

– Boxing

It’s a full-contact combat sport that allows for stand-up and ground fighting. It trains you to safely hit your opponent with a combination of punches and kicks. These are the two most important martial arts for mixed martial arts, so you need to focus on them to be competitive.

Certain rules in boxing limit the amount of contact that can be made, but these rules do not regulate MMA. This makes boxing a good choice for fighters who want to do MMA but are worried about being penalized by the commission.


These include the jab, teep, cross, and hook. The jab establishes a distance between opponents and creates openings to land punches. The teep is used to push opponents backward while setting them up for punches. A cross is used to hit opponents in the face or body, while a hook is a punch thrown at an opponent’s jaw or temple.

Boxing Benefits
  • Boxing is great martial art because it teaches you how to fight on the ground and while standing up. You learn to use your hands, feet, and knees to create openings for punches and kicks.
  • You also learn to defend against attacks from above when your opponent tries to grapple you.
  • Boxing is a full-contact sport, so it’s a great way for MMA fighters who want more strength in their arms and legs to gain it without increasing their risk of injury during training or fighting.
  • Another benefit of boxing is in the area of cardio and endurance. The full-contact nature of boxing means that you will have to work hard to keep up with your opponent, so you’ll need good cardio to last long in a fight.
  • Boxing also teaches you to take punches, which is important when fighting at an MMA event. You should take punches while protecting yourself and your opponent from getting punched.
  • It helps you learn how to deal with pain and stress. This can be useful if you’re going through a tough training camp or fighting in a competition like an MMA fight or boxing match.
Who uses boxing for MMA?

Boxing is also a popular form of MMA for UFC fighters. Ronda Rousey, the first and current Women’s Bantamweight Champion in the UFC, is known for her exceptional skills and knockout power.

Several other UFC fighters have also used boxing as their MMA training routines. These include;

  • Kenny Florian has trained in boxing for many years and uses it as part of his MMA training.
  • Josh Koscheck used boxing as part of his MMA training. He’s recently been training in Muay Thai and has been using this to help improve his striking skills.
  • Cody McKenzie also trains in boxing and has a background in wrestling.

– Karate

Karate is a full-contact martial art that teaches you how to defend yourself against an attack with a counter. It teaches you how to take an opponent’s attack and either block it or send it back at them.

A good karate fighter will use distance and their opponent’s momentum against them to attack their opponent. A good karate fighter will keep their hands up to protect themselves from blows and can duck away from blows.

Karate Benefits
  • Karate focuses on physical conditioning. It teaches you to work out your muscles and build stamina to stay in the ring longer and fight longer.
  • Karate also helps you learn to move quickly, especially when an opponent tries to attack you.
  • It also helps develop your physical strength and endurance to take more hits in a fight.
Who uses Karate for MMA?

Some of the best MMA fighters who have used Karate include Bas Rutten, Joe Rogan, Mirko Cro Cop, and Lyoto Machida, who is widely regarded as one of the best martial artists in the world.

– Shotokan Karate

This is a Japanese martial art that emphasizes strikes with long weapons. It teaches you how to use a staff in various ways and two-handed strikes, kicks, and open-handed attacks.

Shotokan karate fighters use distance and momentum against their opponents to create openings for attacks. This allows them to create openings for attacks and provides a way to defend against those attacks.

Shotokan Karate Benefits
  • One benefit of Shotokan karate is that it improves flexibility, balance, and coordination. It also improves strength and endurance.
  • Shotokan Karate is a good martial art for people who want to learn how to fight with weapons. It will teach them how to use a staff, two-handed strikes, kicks, and open-handed attacks against their opponents.
  • Shotokan karate fighters will use distance and momentum against their opponents to create openings for attacks. This allows them to create openings for attacks and provides a way to defend against those attacks.
Who uses Shotokan Karate in MMA?

Some of the more famous martial artists who use Shotokan Karate in MMA are Ronda Rousey, Anderson Silva, and Lyoto Machida.

Aikido is among the best Martial Arts For MMA, emphasizing using an opponent’s energy against him. It teaches you how to neutralize an opponent’s power with your power.

– Taekwondo

Taekwondo art that emphasizes kicking and punching. It allows you to do both on the feet and the ground. It also teaches you how to take an opponent’s attack and either block it or send it back at them.

A good taekwondo fighter will use their distance to attack their opponent and will be able to avoid damage easily. They will also have a wide range of kicks and punches against their opponents.

Taekwondo Benefits
  • Taekwondo you learn how to move quickly with lots of kicks and punches to use them in any situation.
  • It also teaches you how to take an attack and either block it or send it back at your opponent.
Who uses Taekwondo?

Many famous people use Taekwondo. The most famous is Bruce Lee. He used it to learn how to fight and defend himself in the street. It is also used by many famous people in the army, police, and even the military.

– Wing Chun Kung Fu

Wing Chun Kung Fu teaches you how to fight from the close-quarter tactics prevalent in street fighting. It teaches you how to use a variety of strikes, kicks, and blocks in close quarters.

Wing Chun Kung Fu fighters use every part of their body against their opponents. They will also use their environment against their opponents by using tables, chairs, rails, and walls to create openings for attacks.

Benefits of Wing Chun Kung Fu
  • Wing Chun Kung Fu teaches you to use your environment against your opponents.
  • Wing Chun Kung Fu allows you to have a good defense against attacks and gives you an opportunity for counterattacks.

This martial art uses punches, kicks, blocks, and strikes for all fighting ranges (short-range and long-range). This means that a Wing Chun fighter can fight at all ranges with the same skill.

Who uses Wing Chun Kung Fu?

Some of the notable MMA/UFC fighter names in Wing Chun Kung Fu are; Conor McGregor, Anderson Silva, Bas Rutten, Mark Caludia, Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Joe Rogan, Sean Sherrard, and Lyoto Machida. The sport was the first martial arts style ever used in the UFC. The UFC is the largest MMA organization in the world.

Choosing the best martial arts for mixed martial arts can be tricky. The best approach is to learn about different styles and pick one that best fits your needs. Doing this will help you become a more effective fighter and make it to the top of your division. Finally, pick the right martial art for you by researching and finding one right for you.

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