Definitively Is MMA Superior To Traditional Martial Arts

A traditional karate fighter jumping through the air.

The sport of mixed martial arts has exploded around the world and with that many wish to know if MMA is superior to traditional martial arts?

There can be little doubt that there is a time and a place for traditional martial arts. When it comes to perhaps weapons defence, or in a predetermined fight situation with rules. However, in its purest form MMA is the more superior martial art.

But MMA too has its limitations as with it you do not learn any defence against say a knife or gun. MMA is very much focused on hand to hand combat, using a combination of strikes and submissions to subdue your opponent.

Many traditional martial arts focus on a narrow set of techniques, some of which are extremely useful. But many of which are also not practical when applied in a real-world environment. Attackers won’t keep things strictly standing up. They won’t wait while you get into your stance or even allow you to gain that specific grip.

Mixed martial arts is very much an all-encompassing hybrid sport. Which takes the best elements from many of the traditional martial arts. Doing away with what is not effective in a real fight situation, only keeping what works.

Chinese MMA Fighter vs Kung Fu

Take for instance the Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong, who took it upon himself to challenge a series of Chinese traditional martial arts masters. And through a series of events, defeated each of his opponents in quick succession.

The purpose of the fights was to show people that they were being fooled by what he called “fake martial arts,” in this case King Fu. Showing that in a real fight situation those traditional movements and techniques are just not realistic.

And while they may look good in a controlled environment. When you put them up against MMA and there is simply no comparison.

The Traditional Martial Arts vs MMA

Now it’s important to be specific when we talk about traditional martial arts, as there are many. When we talk about some of the impractical disciplines I’m referring to those such as Kung Fu, Wing Chun, Tai Chi and the like.

I am not talking about many of the other arts which are of course very practical indeed. And are very much the basis of what we today call MMA. By those, I am referring to Muay Thai from Thailand or Karate from Japan.

Judo formed the foundational style for UFC champion and trailblazer Ronda Rousey. And of course Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, yet another adaptation of a traditional Japanese martial art.

All of the above have been used to create the sport of mixed martial arts. And many of the fighters in the sport, even today, have a background in these traditional disciplines. And while we do of course have competitors who train exclusively in MMA.

A traditional martial arts Judoka wearing a full white gi sitting in the dojo.
A traditional martial arts judoka holding a white belt

This has not stopped several fighters with traditional martial arts backgrounds from making it all the way to a UFC championship. With just some examples including Lyoto Machida who trained in Karate.

Georges St Pierre also had a background in Kyokushin Karate. Or Valentina Schevchenko who held world titles in Muay Thai, but to name a few.

There is no MMA with the Martial arts and to claim the sport is a stand-alone discipline would be short-sighted and incorrect. So it is important that we do pay homage to those who have come before. And given us what we now see today as one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

Why Is MMA So Popular

For many combat sports fans, MMA is popular because it cuts through much of the formal aspects of traditional disciplines. Some would say that because of this and the fact that it is so violent, it is not, in fact, a martial art.

That it lacks many of the spiritual qualities which over the centuries martial arts were built upon. Instead, focusing on the competitive aspect of combat and the often ultra-violence that this brings.

Those opinions would be technically right, as MMA is first and foremost a sport, a hybrid of many martial arts. But in terms of the spiritual qualities, it brings to its practitioners. I do feel that it does in fact still hold many of those very same elements very dear.

However, the tendency for blood and violence can and does often overshadow this. Leading to many of the more traditional martial artists shunning the relatively young sport.

Two MMA fighters wearing padding training and sparring in the gym.
Two MMA fighters on the ground in the gym sparring

There does on the surface also appear to be an element of jealousy from some. As MMA has exploded around the world, the more traditional arts have faltered. Stayed the same or even went backwards in terms of their popularity.

And with fighters such as Xu Xiaodong taking it upon themselves to what he calls “expose the fake martial arts.” There is little doubt that this has upset many people who have trained in these arts throughout their lives.

As you can well imagine someone dedicating many years of life to a specific discipline. To believe that it was indeed a worthy martial art to which they would dedicate their time. Only for it to be pulled apart and smashed by an unknown MMA fighter from China. It has got to be soul-destroying.

Is MMA Worth It

I believe that when we look at the grand scheme of things in terms of time spent learning a discipline that will add value. Then MMA is very much worth the time and effort. Of course, it depends on what you are looking for from your discipline and you should think long and hard before making that final decision.

But if you are looking for something practical when it comes to actual fighting ability, which ticks many boxes. Then mixed martial arts would be the discipline you should focus on learning. Although I would take into consideration age and overall fitness levels.

MMA offers you the best of scenarios, bringing together the best elements from the traditional martial arts that work. Mixing them into one sleek workable discipline that will pay dividends over the long term, years.

It will give you many of the very same qualities, spiritual, physical, mental which the traditionalists speak about, all be it in a more raw and dynamic.

In Conclusion

So I hope you found this information as I sought to break down the pros and cons of both mixed martial arts. Along with the traditional martial arts and what either can provide for you in terms of applicable real-world skills.

While MMA has only been around for less than thirty years. Some of the more traditional arts are with us for centuries. And while there is a time and place for all. I do honestly feel, that from my personal experiences training in both. MMA is without a doubt the superior of the two.

And as I mentioned previously, I mean that in terms of sheer practicality and application. In a given unprovoked fight situation where you need to defend yourself or your loved ones. Then MMA is hands down the discipline for you.

But don’t take my word for it. Simply look at some of the elite fighters who have made the crossover to dominate in MMA. They almost all realised there was something more, something missing in their training.

And when the UFC exploded onto the scene, it lit a fuse under the traditional arts which then exploded in the early 2000s. So train in what best suits you, but be aware that mixed martial arts are the now and the future.