Mixed Martial Arts
A popular form of self defense and combat sport has caught the interest of a lot of fitness conscious and martial arts enthusiasts in various parts of the world – Mixed Martial Arts or MMA. This is a full contact combat sport that makes use of striking and grappling techniques from a variety of other combat sports. Such techniques may be done while standing or on the ground. While the roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Olympics where a full range unarmed combat was evident in the sport known as ‘pankration’, the same MMA has a short history as the first Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC event that took place on November 12, 1993, brought to the United States from Brazil by the Gracie family. Martial arts of various styles and different background have since evolved from the dangerous vale-tudo-style bouts of the early UFCs to the regulated form of MMA seen and used today.
MMA in the early days was all about which martial arts style was the best, thus the MMA fighters cross-train in all of the styles that have proven effective in the sport including, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Karate, Judo, Kung Fu, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Kyokushin, shootfighting, Shotokan, Russian Sambo, Tae Kwon Do, Wrestling, and Tang Soo Do.
Muay Thai, on the other hand is an ancient art of self defense that originated from Thailand which has grown in recent years into a popular and sought after combat sport within the boundaries of Thailand and in other parts of the world. This form of self defense uses all eight body weapons, hence, it was known as the “art of eight limbs”. Muay Thai uses the hands, knees, elbows, and feet and is considered to be the most effective stand up art of fighting on earth. In the past, or in Muay Boran (old style Muay Thai) the head is used as the 9th weapon. Modern day Muay Thai has eliminated the head as a weapon.
Muay Thai techniques are divided into two groups – mae mai or major techniques, and luk mai or minor techniques. Almost all Muay Thai techniques use the entire body movement – rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block. Muay Thai is often used as a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another.
Comparison between MMA and Muay Thai Fighting
MMA matches are characterized by the various martial arts styles integrated into the fighting techniques of mixed martial arts. This includes stand up fighting such as punches, clinch work, knees, kick, and elbows; throwing or takedowns, and ground fighting such as submissions, submission defense and ground control.
Muay Thai is a hard striking form of martial art where all eight limbs are used to fight and throw strikes are opponents. However, one of the many things that set Muay Thai apart from other striking styles is the use of clinching. Muay Thai, unlike other martial arts styles such as Japanese kickboxing and western boxing separate fighters when they begin to grab one another inside, welcomes this kind of fighting. Practitioners will oftentimes grab the back of their opponents’ neck in such situations and utilize knee strikes to the midsection. The use of elbow strikes is another feature that sets Muay Thai from other martial arts styles.
Basic Goals of MMA and Muay Thai
The rules of MMA combat may vary depending on the MMA organization holding the event. But regardless of the rules, MMA is a sport where combatants attempt to either defeat their opponent via stoppage or by decision which is rendered by judges and are based on the fighting criteria.
In Muay Thai competition, the basic goal is to win the fight by either knockout or by way of decision. Outside the competition, Muay Thai’s goal is to defend against an opponent as quickly and effectively as possible.
There are camps who offer training for these combat sports. Here is an example of a Muay Thai training camp in Phuket. These training camps do hone their fighters to be the best on their divisions.