Mixed Martial Arts (MMA for short) has come a long way since I first started training way back in 1990.
Back in the day if you knew Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) or Wrestling you could pretty much enter and win a cage fight with relative ease.
Fast forward to 2015 and you’d be lucky to make it out of the first round with only BJJ or Wrestling.
Times have changed and the days one-style fighters are over. To be successful in 2015 you’ll need to know at least these three styles:
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
You’ll have a hard time winning fights if any of these styles are missing from your daily training regiment.
These are the main 3 styles but it doesn’t stop there. You’ve also got Judo, Karate, Sombo, Boxing, and Tae Kwon Do.
So for today’s blog I wanted to touch on the lesser known styles of Judo, Karate and Sombo. You might not hear about them as much but trust me they’re a big part of MMA.
If you know who Ronda Rousey is, chances are you’ve heard of Judo
Ronda has made Judo famous in MMA, no one can deny this. But truth be told, there’s been other good fighters who’ve come from a Judo background.
Judo is a grappling style, much like wrestling and BJJ. Judo training is done wearing a gi and focuses heavily on upper body throws using the gi (uniform) to latch onto.
Once on the ground they use a combination of submission holds like armbars and chokes plus hold downs designed to pin an opponent for a set amount of time.
Sport Judo these days is about 85% standing, and 15% on the ground. Because of this, many Judo players lack the superior ground skills you’ll see with BJJ fighters.
However, I don’t wanna “throw” (haha get it, throw) the ground skills of all Judo Players under the bus.
Some of them, including the likes of Ronda Rousey, are really good on the ground and are more then capable of going toe to toe with good BJJ Black Belts.
Other good MMA Fighters that come from Judo are:
Here at my academy in Annapolis, the MMA we teach definitely has elements of Judo interwoven to it.
I don’t consider myself to be an expert in Judo by any means. I’ve trained in Judo on and off for many years under well known instructors like Andy Ruggiero and Lou Moyerman.
I don’t like getting thrown I admit it. That and some of my worst injuries have happened while training Judo.
Still, Judo is awesome and I’m a huge fan of it. I’m on youtube all day long watching various matches in Judo.
So no I’m not a black belt in Judo but at the same time I’ve got enough training under my belt to be able to help teach students how to use Judo for MMA.
That in turn helps them to become better fighters. More well rounded fighters that too.
As time goes on and Judo gets more and more exposure I have no doubt you’ll be seeing Judo become more mainstream in the UFC and at martial arts academies worldwide.
Karate, Yes Even Karate Has a Home in Modern MMA
I wouldn’t say we really teach a whole lot of Karate techniques here at Ivy League MMA. However, that doesn’t mean fighters don’t use Karate in the UFC.
Many fighters come from a Karate background, myself included. Must people start out with Karate because they don’t know any better.
After all, no matter how you shake a stick at it, Karate is still the most well known martial arts style in the world, hands down.
Names you might recognize in the MMA world are George St Pierre, Lyoto Machida and Conor McGregor. They all come from a Karate background.
Of course for them to be successful in MMA they spend more time training in the other main styles of MMA like BJJ, Wrestling, and Kickboxing.
Still though, when you watch these guys fight you can easily spot their Karate training just by the techniques and how they use them.
These techniques run deep in their bones from years and years of training, most likely as a child. It’s not easy to rid that from your system.
If you’re interested in MMA I wouldn’t urge you to get started with the local Karate school but at the same time, it can be useful on some level in MMA or self-defense.
I’m all about useful so if it works for you, Karate or otherwise, add it in.
From Russian With Love, The Art of Sombo.
Sombo is probably the least known style in the UFC, and mainstream MMA in genaral. But let me assure you, there’s been more then a few good fighters that have benefited from the use of Sombo.
Sombo comes from Russia. It’s the Russian version of Judo in a lot of ways. They use throws, many the same as in Judo.
There’s a few differences with Sombo compared to Judo. One is the use of wrestling-style takedowns and the other is leg locks.
Unlike Judo, Sombo players aren’t limited to only upper body throws/takedowns. Sombo also uses wrestling attacks like double and single legs.
On the ground they allow leg locking techniques, something that’s been forbidden in Judo for many years. These leg locks are not only effective but also very dangerous.
Sombo fighters use a uniform like the ones worn in BJJ and Judo but the top is slightly different and they don’t wear long pants but rather shorts. (See pic below)
Well known UFC Fighters who use Sombo are:
Fedor Emelianenko (also listed for Judo)
I’ve trained in Sombo and do enjoy it a lot. Sadly in the United States there’s so few good Sombo Academies that finding a place can be very difficult.
Also I should point out that there’s two types of Sombo taught. Combat Sombo and “Sport” Sombo.
The rules are different for both and when it comes to MMA, Combat Sombo is more effective in my opinion.
I don’t have time to dive into all that stuff right now in the blog, just know there’s a difference and to look for the combat version if possible.
Modern MMA can be many things, and success is totally in your control
MMA is exactly what the name implies, a mix of different martial arts styles. How and what you mix in to make into your interpretation of MMA is up to you.
Having a good blend of many different styles of martial arts is okay but I think It’s better to pick select techniques from a few and adjust them to fit your individual needs.
Study up on the styles talked about today and try to add different bits and pieces to your game. Over time you’ll end up with skills that come in handy in clutch situations.
If it takes adding in a front snap kick from Karate, a heel hook from Sombo and a drop seoi nage from Judo to make you a better fighter or student of MMA, by all means make it happen!
The more well rounded you can become the better. That’s what I think and I’m sure you agree.
Check out the videos I posted below featuring the styles talked about on this blog. Watch, study, re-watch and learn.