Top Martial Arts for MMA

Mixed martial arts began with style vs. style competitions and based off that, we got to witness first hand what happens when a karate guy fought a BJJ guy; or what happens when a Kung Fu fighter was pit against a champion kick-boxer. What I liked most about the early UFC’s was the hype videos before the fights. They’d show the fighter practicing his art – many times in obviously choreographed fight situations. Then, in the real fight, they’d get completely owned.Mixed martial arts has now evolved and the fighters have adapted. A mixed martial artist trains to prepare himself for any fight-related situation. On the feet, in the clinch, against the cage, on the ground – it shouldn’t matter. So what are the top martial arts that prepare a fighter for these situations? Well, I believe that the following martial art combination is ideal (keep in mind that these are just my personal opinions and if you disagree, feel free to post your comments below the article).

Top Martial Arts for Stand-up

Muay Thai is without a doubt the most complete stand-up fighting style. It’s known as the science of 8 limbs as the boxers use their hands, elbows, knees and feet/shins to both attack and defend. If you can only learn 1 stand-up fighting style, Muay Thai should be your top choice.

That being said, Muay Thai in itself isn’t perfect and if you implement select techniques from other fighting styles to your Thai boxing base, you can take your striking to a whole new level.

Taekwondo on it’s own is no match for Muay Thai. However, the art does have some effective techniques that can be borrowed and implemented into your Muay Thai arsenal. Check out this fight to see what I mean. Spinning back kick anyone?

His name is Cyrus Washington and I believe he is currently training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand at the moment.

Traditional boxing, whether it be Russian or western, also makes for a good addition to your Muay Thai base. Not that I necessarily agree with it, but Thai boxers are often criticized for their lack of head movement and weak punching ability. Regardless, it never hurts to focus additional time solely on your hand speed and punching power.

Top Martial Arts for Grappling

If you had to choose a grappling art to base your fighting style around, I’d recommend wrestling. The reasoning is simple – a good wrestler has the ability to dictate where the fight will take place. They can easily take you down and if they want to keep the fight standing, they can keep the fight on the feet. Getting a good wrestler to the mat is no easy task.

That being said, wrestling is far from being a complete grappling art. Wrestlers typically lack submission knowledge and are unable to effectively fight off their backs. Can’t really blame them as in typical wrestling competition, the match is stopped once they get pinned.

A perfect supplement to the wrestling style is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an incredible ground system that emphasis all sorts of chokes and joint locks – many of which can be performed off your back. A common criticism of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that the practitioners often times have poor takedown ability so combining it with wrestling would certainly solve that problem. The two styles seem to compliment each other very well.

If you didn’t want to go the Wrestling/BJJ route, you could always go with grappling arts such as Sambo, Judo or Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) – if you’re lucky enough to find a school in your area.

Judo has much stronger takedowns and throws than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (even though BJJ stems from Judo). A lot of the takedowns in Judo and Sambo (Sambo is also based off of Judo) are initiated from a body clinch so they’re upper body takedowns rather than wrestling “shots”.

Whatever you decide, just ensure that your style combination is well rounded.



  1. I agree with a lot of the points commented in this article.

    One point which I feel slightly different about is the choice of grappling technique. I feel that BJJ and Wrestling should change in priorities to a person wanting to choose a grappling technique.

    BJJ covers techniques in both top and bottom positions quite thoroughly, involving both offensive (submissions) and defensive (sweeps, reversals, submissions) strategies.

    It is quite evident from MMA fighters coming from both schools that, as mentioned in the article, BJJ fighters are able to adapt more effectively when in an offensive or defensive situation, while wrestlers seem to be out of their place when on their backs.

  2. I agree with this Article. As a fan of MMA I have noticed that the Wrestlers seem to be the most well rounded fighters. They have a good center and most have added BJJ to allow for the finishes. I am seeing a lot more fights not on the ground lately, this makes for an exciting fight, I believe this is because the fighters ar focusing on takedown defense more, I also agree with your synopsis for the striking game 100%

  3. actually the best stand up fighting style is KICKBOXING…they have the perfect hand skills of boxers and some kicks from karate and muay thai…that s the perfect style…muay thai lacks of punches although their feet are good

    KICKBOXING rules

  4. Well i agree with you that muay thai is a very good striking game. Though tae kwon do has kicks that are very similar to muay thai, it just has a lot more. The thing about tae kwon do, its that it can be used in real life situations as well. So if you want mma definately muay thai, but if you want a good slef defense. Muay thai is the way to go.

    The grappling, should be a healthy mix of wrestling and BJJ, but do not overlook judo, and hapkido, and other submission martial arts, they are very useful, and give you more options, from a position that could indeed be much more illusive, that a BJJ submission.

    just my opinion, i love all of it. lol

  5. dude congrats on an amazing article. I liked the grappling wrestling/bjj part. Im a green belt in bjj but i wanna get into mma. A friend of mine sujested doing freestyle wrestling during off season months at my school, it starts in school in bout 2 weeks so im really excited as for striking i think boxing/muay thai is best combo

  6. hey what about hapkido? i dont hear much about it in mma but i cant understand why?