Is MMA Hard to Learn? What To Know

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a quickly growing martial art style with practitioners and competitions worldwide. However, MMA comes with some challenges that can give it a steep learning curve. 

Is MMA Hard to Learn?

MMA isn’t hard to learn, but it does require the fighter to learn multiple types of fighting styles. This is more difficult than other more specific fighting styles, that require the mastery of one martial art for competition. Mixed martial arts also require more strategy in both defense and offense. 

MMA isn’t the sport for everyone, but despite the difficulties associated with learning it, it’s a great option for lots of athletes. Read on to learn more about how hard it is to learn MMA. 

How Long Does It Take to Learn MMA?

When fighters talk about how difficult MMA is, the time it takes to master it is a major factor. Unlike other martial arts, which only feature one style, MMA incorporates moves from multiple martial disciplines. This means it takes longer to learn than other fighting styles. 

The amount of time it takes to learn MMA depends on several factors: 

  • Athletic ability: Fighters who are naturally athletic can often pick up MMA faster than those who are just getting started in martial arts from a lower fitness level. Having a generally high fitness level can make learning MMA easier because it increases flexibility, endurance, and strength.
  • Previous experience with martial arts: Since MMA requires fighters to know multiple fighting styles, fighters who already know one martial art style or several will be able to master MMA faster than those starting from scratch with no martial arts experience.
  • Amount of training: The amount of time it takes to learn MMA depends on how much time the fighter spends training in MMA each week. Proficiency can take anywhere from a thousand to ten thousand hours depending on the ability of the fighter, so those that spend more hours each week will pick the style up faster. 

Most fighters with previous experience can pick up the sport of MMA within two to three years with regular practice and sparring. Athletes with no previous martial arts experience can take up to five years or more to gain the foundation styles necessary to compete in MMA. (Source: Engage MMA)

Even though it takes years to master MMA or any other fighting style, most fighters can achieve basic proficiency after twenty-nine hours of practice.

For people who practice a few hours three or four times a week, this breaks down to around three or four months of practice to start getting good. 

Is Learning MMA Worth It? 

MMA is worth learning for people who are already interested in martial arts or learning to fight. These are several reasons why a person might consider MMA a worthwhile sport to pursue: 

  • MMA is very effective for self-defense. Because MMA incorporates several different moves and styles of fighting, it provides a strong foundation for someone to defend themselves against an attacker in close-quarters combat. While it is not as effective as a fighting style against weapons, it is very effective in unarmed combat.
  • MMA is good physical training. Getting trained in MMA can boost a person’s physical fitness as well as their confidence and mental fortitude. MMA can also raise a person’s resistance to physical damage since it requires learning how to get hit in the ring. MMA also increases a person’s agility and stamina.
  • MMA can add to a fighter’s versatility. Picking up MMA means learning the ins and outs of multiple styles. For MMA fighters who want to compete in multiple fighting disciplines, this means MMA training makes them eligible for a wider variety of fights. Learning MMA can make it easier to pick up additional fighting styles.
  • MMA is popular. The increase in interest in MMA competitions means that if you’re interested in getting into MMA, chances are you won’t have any problems finding a local MMA gym willing to take you on. It also means you’re likely to find multiple choices for trainers and gyms in many areas. Many areas have a thriving MMA community.   

Someone who is thinking of getting into MMA to be a career fighter should take a good long look at the odds of wealth and stardom versus the odds of getting hurt in the ring. Professional MMA fighters take injuries that can lead to weeks of disability. (Source: Bleacher Report)

MMA is a great option for anyone who wants to become a better fighter and get deeper into the hobby of martial arts. But people who have decided to train in MMA should take it up out of the love of the sport since a fighting career is not guaranteed. 

Which Martial Art Should I Learn First in MMA?

There is a lot of personal preference involved in deciding a base martial art for starting MMA, but one of the most popular choices is Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). 

A major benefit of BJJ is that jiu-jitsu makes a fighter very strong on the floor even if they aren’t in a good fighting position, allowing fighters to turn the tables on their opponents.

Once the MMA fighter manages to take his opponent down onto the ground, a solid foundation in jiu-jitsu gives them an edge against wrestlers and other types of ground fighters. (Source: Evolve Daily)

Brazilian jiu-jitsu may be one of the most popular types of fighting styles in MMA, but it isn’t the only one that has found favor among MMA champions. Here are some of the other fighting styles that are commonly found in the background of MMA fighters (Source: Vivid Seats): 

  • Karate
  • Boxing
  • Judo
  • Wrestling
  • Muay Thai
  • Kickboxing

Each of the fighting styles used as founding styles in MMA offers their own sets of benefits and drawbacks.

A Muay Thai or kickboxing MMA fighter may be stronger attacking with their feet, while a judo-based MMA fighter may be more focused on getting their opponent to the ground with a throw. 

The Difficulties of Learning MMA

While MMA can be worth learning for many fighters, there are also some challenges associated with MMA that can make it one of the more difficult fighting styles to learn. Here are some of the challenges that come with learning MMA: 

  • MMA requires strategy. Being an MMA fighter means having to counter many different kinds of fighting styles. MMA fighters are required to have strategies not just for standing close-quarters fighting, but also ground fighting as well.
  • MMA requires toughness. MMA is a full-contact sport, and MMA fighters take a major beating in the course of both training and competition. Even with protective gear, the strikes that an MMA fighter takes can be painful and slow-healing.
  • MMA requires versatility. Along with being able to defend against a wider variety of moves than a single-style martial artist, MMA fighters also have to be strong offensively in a wider variety of styles in order to be competitive.
  • MMA requires dedication. MMA requires learning more than one martial art, and getting a good foundation in just one style can take two or three years. To get really good at MMA, a fighter may have to endure thousands of hours of training more than a fighter who specializes in one style. 

MMA Is Worth The Challenge 

MMA can be hard to learn for many people, especially if they don’t have much prior martial arts experience. But for those people who are willing to put in the effort to learn, MMA can be a rewarding discipline to master in the ring. 

Interested in MMA? Check Out My Recommendations

Looking For Gear To Use When You Train?
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Best MMA Gloves
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Best Rashguard
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