Can You Start MMA with No Experience?


You might wonder if you can start training in MMA without experience. Mixed Martial Arts is one of the most popular combat sports out there. Many fans of MMA promotions, such as UFC, ONE Championship, and Bellator, have begun to take an interest in training MMA ever since the first MMA fight aired in 1993. But can you just pick up the sport, cold.

Can You Start MMA with No Experience?

You can start training MMA without any prior MMA experience, just as you would any other sport. Many MMA gyms have experienced instructors that will provide you with the basics and fundamentals you need as a beginner. Like any other sport, a professional was a beginner, who had to start somewhere.

We’ll give you a quick introduction to MMA as a beginner. You’ll also learn what age is the best to learn MMA and if teaching yourself MMA, instead of going to an MMA gym, is possible.

Is MMA Good for Beginners?

In any sport, you will likely come across a good number of people starting with little to no experience. This is also true for Mixed Martial Arts. Even if you lack the physical attributes and the fighting experience, you can still start MMA. The essentials that you must have, which are way more important than good arms or past fight experience, are discipline and hard work!

Although many can begin training MMA with no prior experience, every bit of previous knowledge and understanding of martial art as well as physical fitness helps. Having a strong athletic attribute, such as cardio, strength, power, and flexibility, will help you progress in MMA. You will only need to pick up the techniques of MMA.

This goes the same with previous fighting experience outside of MMA, such as:

  • Kickboxing
  • Boxing
  • Karate
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Wrestling
  • Brazilian Jiujitsu
  • Sambo
  • Judo

If you have any experiences above, especially several fighting competition experiences, it will surely help you progress in MMA.

Best Age to Start Training MMA

There is no specific age in starting MMA training. One thing about passion and discipline is that they can prevail at any age. Experts suggest that the ideal age to start training MMA is between the ages of 13 to 16, when the body is beginning to grow to adulthood. Children tend to train MMA at their parents’ request. Adolescents, however, tend to explore different disciplines, including MMA, out of their interest.

However, there are countless examples of children as early as five training MMA, as well as other martial arts. In Thailand, you can find kids around the age of 5 – 7 competing in Muay Thai fights as the sport is a significant part of Thailand’s tradition and culture. Throughout the globe, kids are also beginning to compete in Brazilian Jujitsu.

Outside of the physical aspect, MMA provides numerous life-lesson benefits to people, both young and old, such as:

  • Discipline
  • Respect
  • Setbacks
  • Hard work
  • Teamwork
  • ETC.

However young or old, there are always lessons to learn or be reminded of.

Is MMA Training Worth It?

Wherever you are in life, profession, gender, or age, MMA training is one of those skillsets that is incredibly worth it. However, it is only worth it if you put in the required amount of dedication and discipline, accompanied by patience, as MMA training is a hard and difficult journey. 

One of the benefits MMA has is introducing you to several forms of martial arts; that is why it is called Mixed Martial Arts. The most common forms of martial arts you’ll come across in an MMA gym are:

  • Muay Thai/kickboxing
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Brazilian Jiujitsu

Learning MMA means going into mastering several forms of martial arts as opposed to just one.

Joining an MMA gym usually also means joining a community group. MMA communities are usually known to be very tight-knit, family-like communities. The guys and girls you train with are going to be the ones that will watch your back, help you improve, and at the same time test your limits and push past them.

Is MMA Dangerous?

Like any sports, MMA has inherited risks, especially since it’s a combat sport. A combat sport usually involves a lot of fight drills and sparring. For the most part, if you, the gym, and everyone around you, are sparring and drilling without the intent to hurt one another (which is the proper way to do it), then you are, for the most part, going to be fine.

It needs to be emphasized that joining the gym doesn’t have to mean:

  • Black eyes
  • Bruises
  • Dislocated shoulders

The primary purpose of an MMA gym is to teach the general public that the sport is not to cause harm. On the contrary, the gym wants to teach the public about a healthy lifestyle, self-defense, and healthy competition.

However, if you are an individual who wants to make a career out of MMA, be prepare for the risks. If you train smart and listen to the coach, most likely, you will come out of most sessions injury-free. But it is still a combat sport. Especially in competitions, your opponent will have the intent to harm you, either by:

  • Choking
  • Tapping you out
  • Knocking you out cold

You could end up on the mat floor.

Can You Teach Yourself MMA

Here is what most guys and girls from the gym would say about learning MMA by teaching yourself. It is highly not recommended.

Training MMA consists more of techniques rather than physical fitness. Yes, physical fitness can be trained alone, and you can learn how to become physically fit from several resources, which exist in books and the internet. However, learning MMA techniques is time-consuming and will require a second pair of eyes to observe you and make sure you are doing the techniques properly. You also need to have someone to spar and drill with.

Learning techniques in MMA could include pad works and technique drills that you repeat over and over again. For the most part, it’s a scenario-based exercise. 

For example, if person A is throwing a jab and a low kick, Person B would counter, so on and so forth. If you have no one to train with, it would be incredibly difficult, especially if you are a beginner.

Sparring is also a key ingredient in training MMA. 

One can only progress significantly if you learn to implement your drills in real-life scenarios. This is what sparring is, maybe 20% – 30% less. Some go through hard sparring, where you push your physical and mental capabilities to the limit. Again, you will learn quickly when you are forced to use your technique live. 

Now there are several cases where you can “teach yourself MMA”. Max Holloway, a native Hawaiian and one of the most prominent fighters in the UFC, had to train for a fight by himself (with the supervision of his coaches through online apps) in his house during COVID lockdown. 

However, Max Holloway is a highly-trained and professional fighter who has more than a decade of fighting experience. If anyone can learn new tricks, drills, and techniques all by their lonesome, it will be an individual like Max Holloway.

Conclusion – Don’t Overthink, Just Train!

MMA is a combat sport fit for all ages, gender, and experience. Although if you have previous experience in physical training, or even better, any other type of combat sport that will help immensely; it is not mandatory. Just like any other sport, there is always a beginner. 

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