If you want to train in MMA, the key to success is to remember that the first ‘M’ stands for ‘mixed’. The best MMA fighters have studied a wide range of styles before moving up in the sport, and are able to incorporate a huge variety of moves and techniques into their fighting styles.
For this reason, a key component of your training should be to work on your weaknesses, based on whatever discipline you have previously studied. If, for example, you are coming to MMA from a boxing background your punches and strikes will be strong but you will have little or no grappling technique. You may not be used to defending yourself against kicks. If, however, you are coming from a Judo or Jiu-Jitsu background, you will need to improve the skills you needed for fighting at arm’s length.
Ground fighting is a major part of MMA and for this reason Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become one of the most popular areas of study. This was helped by the fact that one of the first MMA champions had trained in this art and, because of this, regularly defeated larger, stronger opponents.
As well as spending time mastering technique, your MMA training should focus on three core areas:
This is generally best achieved through a combination of weight training, circuit training and road work. Body weight exercises can also be useful in helping develop balance and fluid movement. Many MMA fighters swear by plyometric exercises as a way of developing explosive power.
MMA training is best accomplished with the help of a proper coach. Search for gyms in your area and go to a few to see which one you like best. Most will allow you to join in a sample session for free to give you a proper feel for the training.
Depending on your goals, you may want to study at a gym that has produced a good crop of fighters or where the main instructor is someone who you admire. Remember that, the more prestigious the gym, the higher the caliber of fighters that are likely to attend. Although this can be great in the long run, as a beginner it may be intimidating and disheartening to be surrounded by those whose skills greatly surpass your own.
If you plan on competing, study recordings of fights to make your training is as practical as possible. Work on closing the gap between yourself and your opponent and then taking them down to the ground and applying a lock or submission hold.
Boxing training has traditionally placed an emphasis on combinations. Rather than throwing one punch at a time, boxers learn to throw two or three by instinct so that as soon as a gap appears, they are ready to strike and then follow with more strikes.
MMA training should seek to do the same, making it second nature to follow a strike with a takedown. The more automatic these movements become, the easier it will be to apply them within a fighting situation.