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.