MMA or mixed martial arts has become the favourite martial art of choice for the new millennium. And with that comes a whole host of questions about the benefits that you will get from training in MMA?
The benefits I have personally seen training in MMA are wide and varied. Everything from improved confidence, improved sleep, overall fitness and quality of life, including interactions with other people.
Training in any sport where your fitness improves and you interacting closely with other people is all part and parcel of competing and can only be a good thing. Providing you manage not to get any major injuries. Training in MMA will give you many benefits which will in turn trickle into other parts of your life.
In a sport where aggression, athleticism and technique are all part and parcel of training and competing. MMA does attract a cross-section of society. With everyone from people who want to become professional fighters. To those who simply wish to improve their fitness or learn to protect themselves.
Why you decide you want to train in MMA is up to you. For many, there are may be any number of reasons they may never tell others such a lack of confidence, mental health issues or simply wanting to be tougher. But whatever the reason may be, read on and find out what benefits I have personally seen myself and others gain from their MMA training experience.
10: Body & Spacial Awareness
Overall body coordination and proprioception are key to maintaining a healthy body and mind. One of the first things we lose as we age is our coordination. Where I mind wants to or thinks it can do something, like when we were 20 years old, the body no longer listens and reacts as it should.
Training in MMA you learn to coordinate your entire body, what is possible and it’s limitations. From learning how to punch and kick correctly, to being on the ground in a grappling exchange and knowing exactly where all parts of your body are at any given moment is key to being successful in MMA.
Knowing distances, where your opponent is and how their body is interacting with yours. What limbs on your body are open to a submission attack means you need full and immediate control as otherwise, you may quickly find yourself in a dangerous position.
9: Problem-solving In Difficult Situations
When you are on the mats and in the heat of a full-on sparring session. You need to be able to think fast, very fast. Whether it starts on the feet or on the ground, you need to be able to think one or more steps ahead to gain an advantage over your opponent.
Having another human being in front of you whose sole purpose is to beat you can force your mind to freak out and lose focus. But as time passes and you become more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Eventually, you will learn to take these moments of great stress in your stride.
As learning MMA can be at times very overwhelming. As you progress your mind will instinctively learn to think fast, while at the same time not lose focus. It’s something that can only be learned and nurtured over time, so don’t expect any huge changes in the first few sessions. Just take your time and let things happen naturally.
8: Overall Strength and Conditioning
One of the key gains of training in mixed martial arts is that of overall strength. Within a martial art where there is only striking involved. Only those sets of muscles required for those movements would get regularly tested.
When it comes to MMA you will be using almost every muscle in your body, right down to your fingers and toes. None more so than in grappling or BJJ where grip strength is key to maintaining position or a submission hold. Strength and conditioning are absolutely essential in your arms, hands and right down to your fingers when rolling with an opponent.
You will need to be able to explode from your hips to push someone off. You will need strength and conditioning in your legs to be able to hold your opponent in your guard or pull off some submissions.
And the crazy thing about this is many of the strongest guys I have rolled with do not look overly strong. Whereas a bodybuilder is visibly strong, many grapplers have an unworldly strength from the repeated grappling sessions on the mats. And all without gaining huge amounts of muscle.
So if you want to become stronger and at the same time not gain large amounts of muscle. Learning to do MMA will offer this and many more benefits along the way.
7: Improved Fitness & Weight Loss
Some of the essential elements to training in MMA are those of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. The aerobic element of training offers you improved breathing and lung capacity so that you can deal with the immediate threat in front of you.
This aerobic training has additional health benefits to your entire body that aid in the improvement of your overall health and well being. Helping to reduce stress hormones and promote healthy lungs to push more oxygen to your muscles during your MMA training.
The anaerobic training involved in MMA will help in the building of your overall endurance and body conditioning. Building muscle and aiding in the explosive movements required in MMA.
While anaerobic won’t burn fat like the aerobic aspects of training. What it will do is improve your ability to withstand fatigue for longer periods and recuperate even faster.
Of course the overall fitness you gain from training in MMA will have the knock-on effect of you losing weight while gaining muscle. The physical benefits of MMA are unquestionable and in a time of an unprecedented health crisis in the Western world. If ever there was a time to get off your couch and improve your personal health and well being, it is now.
The Number of Deaths By Health Risk Factor in the World Up to 2017
6: Physical Toughness & Pushing Personal Limits
You know it’s true what they say, you don’t know who you are or what you are capable of until you are put in an uncompromising situation. When you begin your journey in mixed martial arts, you will have a lot of unanswered questions in your own mind.
You may never have been tested in any way, mentally or physically. You may or may not have played sports, you may be coming straight from the couch to the gym after having just watched some UFC!
But what you will quickly learn is where you are in terms of health, fitness and strength. You will also learn how mentally tough you currently are and perhaps could be. MMA has a way of stripping away many of the fantasies and daydreams of you landing that perfect KO punch or kick, like your idols inside the octagon.
When you have someone who is better than you, strong than you, fitter than you, maybe tougher than you. Only then will you know your own limits and how you can push past them so that you will learn to grow.
It’s a tough mental block to overcome as you need to be the first put in those situations to know exactly where in real terms you are. It may well be a very sobering wake-up call but is essential to your growth as a martial artist and as a human being.
5: Sleeping Better After Training
It’s not just a case of being exhausted after a hard session in the MMA gym. But many of the things you had floating around in your mind, either from work or your personal life. Gradually fade into the background when you are on the mats.
Training and drilling in MMA will cause you to focus on the current specific moment in which you find yourself. That element of danger and exhaustion all rolled into one, forces the mind to focus on what is immediately important and not those other external stresses.
And this type of in the moment laser focus can be both very rewarding and exhausting. As when the adrenaline finally stops pumping, your body will gradually wilt to the extreme workout it has just undertaken. And it will be time for you to head to bed and leave your worries for another day.
4: Anger Management
Are you a naturally aggressive or volatile person? Many people who do train have an underlying tendency to be one of the above. Of course, not all people who train in MMA do. But you can get a diverse cross-section of people who want to take up a martial art for any number of reasons.
When you train you to learn to control your anger, well most people do. These reasons include most importantly you not wanting to get beaten up by a superior fighter, who does not take kindly to you being overly aggressive. Training will teach you humility and respect, as you will learn to treat others how you wish to be treated.
It does not always work out this way, but nine times out of ten it does work pretty well. And then when you are put in a similar situation outside of training, you already know that feeling and what needs to be done. Not just conditioning the body, but also the mind.
3: Benefits of Socialising
You may or may not be a fan of the regular weights or fitness gyms. But for me, they are two completely different worlds. Where in a regular fitness gym you will have minimal verbal and almost no physical interactions.
This gets completely turned on its head in the MMA gym. Where five minutes before you did not know that person who walked in the door. And now five minutes later you know their name and are rolling around and sweating all over one another, testing each other’s will in the process.
MMA can be as much fun or as much pain as you want to make it! Certain people do find fun in being pushed to their very limits and knowing who they are in tough situations. And when this is done as a group, a strong bond of comradery can be built along the way. Helping you to make good friends who you know quite intimately, literally!
2: Confidence Boost
When you learn how to protect yourself and others, this can have a profound effect on your personal confidence and who you see yourself as in the world.
Many of those who would like to appear to be the toughest people walking our streets are really not what they or you think they are. These very same people would never dare step foot inside an MMA gym and test themselves. Because they know in their own heart what would happen.
If you bring in a tough street attitude into any gym anywhere in the world. It won’t be long before that is either beaten out of you or you are exposed for all the world to see. So many of these people live in a truly false sense of security.
For the most part, it is the more quiet and respectful people who are confident in their own skin, that you need to be aware of. These people do not feel like they need to project to the outside world, because inside they already know who they are.
And it is only in training and being pushed to and past your limits that you will find out who you too truly are. Dispelling that false sense of confidence and replacing it with a real-world lived experience and you cannot beat that.
1: Help Your Mental Health
For me personally the mental health benefits of MMA are unquestionable. From gaining fitness and getting your body into the type of condition that makes you feel better about yourself.
To gaining confidence from the training you put yourself through in order to find out who you are and what you are made of. While in the process being able to learn new skills and know how to handle yourself in tough situations.
The relief from anxiety and stress that you achieve when you are in the moment and being forced to push all that noise and nonsense you have in your mind out of the way. There are very few sports in the world which will focus your mind like MMA.
With its huge range of techniques and potential dire physical consequences of you losing. It’s about as close as you will get to the great gladiatorial fights of history. And for anyone to be pushed to their limits in this way, helps them attain a much more different view on everyday life.
I feel that I can talk about the proven benefits of training in MMA because I have seen them with my very own eyes. I have experienced them and watched while others went through the same processes.
With its rich and diverse combination of standup and ground fighting. MMA puts its competitors in positions both mentally and physically they would never find themselves in their everyday lives.
It teaches you real-world techniques you can use the help protect you and your loved ones while getting you into great physical condition. And in turn, this knowledge leads you to have a more fruitful, productive and confident life.