Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is gaining popularity and moving from the realm of enthusiastic fans to the mainstream thanks in part to its raw power, advanced techniques, and fascinating fighting skills. Between the agility, fitness, and quickness with which you can inflict pain on the opponent, the sport appeals to many people looking for a way to stay in good shape. But far from getting you into a combative mood and promoting violence and aggression, the artistic aspects of the sports help release stress and tension while building inner strength and self-confidence. And while a lot of people are attracted to MMA, not many know where to start, what to expect, or what to focus on. This guide will walk you through the basics as you start your MMA journey.

Skills for Life

If you ever watched two MMA fighters competing you might be wondering how they got to be so quick on their feet and with so many tricks and moves under their belt. The answer, of course, is training. When you train in MMA you learn skills that will stay with you for life. You learn how to fight, how to avoid bad situations, and how to get out of a fight that you know you can’t win. In other words, you learn to defend yourself and convince the bad guys not to get into a fight with you.

You also learn to be mentally tough. You know what they say about how the size of the dog in the fight isn’t as important as the size of the fight in the dog. MMA gives you the mental toughness that will see you safely through many thorny situations in life.

A Comprehensive System

What sets MMA apart from other disciplines is that it incorporates many techniques that help build you physically, mentally, and psychologically. As a beginner, you would normally want to focus on the striking skills before you move on to grappling. To develop those striking skills the best way is to train in boxing and kickboxing. They both help you master your combating techniques more than other disciplines such as Karate or Muay Tai for example. Once you’re confident with your striking skills it’s time to hone your wrestling skills.

Since you fall to the ground a lot you’ll need to be able to fight your way out of these positions. The best disciplines to get you started are Judo, Jujitsu and Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling. Not only will they strengthen you physically, but you’ll learn how to throw your opponent. Taking down an enemy might have to do with your nimble feet more than the strength of your blows.

Your Gear

Because of the various risks involved in MMA, you’ll need to invest in some protective gear. So you’ll need to get a mouthguard to protect your teeth, an athletic cup for the groin area, hand wraps to protect your wrists during striking and sparring, and knee pads to absorb the shock of rolling on the ground or delivering a knee strike. Other gear is an essential part of whatever discipline you choose. For boxing and Muay Tai, a pair of boxing gloves are needed whether you’re sparring or striking. For apparel, you’ll need fighting shorts. They’re geared toward mobility which you’ll need during your fighting sessions.

If you’re going with Brazilian JuJitsu, then a high-quality Gi is something you can’t do without. And whether you’re going for boxing, kickboxing, or any other combative sport, you’ll need headgear. If you forget any equipment during your training, your headgear is the one thing you can’t get in a session without. A head injury is not something you should take lightly.

Your Expectations

MMA is something that will stay with your for years. As you get past the first few sessions and the achy muscles that every MMA fighter knows only too well, you’ll develop a passion for the sport. That passion, hopefully, will accompany your journey and keep you motivated. But one of the things you should learn how to manage, besides your emotions, are your expectations. After a few weeks getting your head and body around the basics of the discipline you might feel a little frustrated you’re not progressing fast enough.

The Martial arts techniques might seem hard to master and you still haven’t won a single fight in the gym yet. That is all normal. It takes months of intensive training to master the skills and moves and get the eye-brain coordination needed to deliver them. But don’t let any of that discourage you. Know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re taking your first steps on a long journey. So be patient and keep at it until you get the results you so desire.

Diet and Nutrition

Your diet can help make or break your MMA training. It is that important. Because of the intensity of the training and the amount of strain you put on your muscles you’ll need to consume a lot of calories and anti-inflammatory foods. Those will help your torn muscles heal quickly and ease the aching and pain that you experience after each training session. Carbohydrates should also be an important part of your diet since they provide a lot of energy. Also, focus on fresh vegetables and fruits to keep your body healthy and prevent long-lasting damage to your joints.

MMA is a wholesome discipline that works on your body, builds your mental toughness and teaches you how to defend yourself. It’s a sport that helps you become the better version of yourself and teaches you the kind of skills you’ll need in your life journey.