MMA On Point:
Martial arts have a long and varied history that spans continents, cultures and even human evolution. For millennia across the globe, humans have been honing their fists, feet and other pointy extremities to cause damage or deter whatever foe may be for them. But it’s not until MMA’s recency, have we truly started to discover what works and what, well, doesn’t.
I’m Bayliun from MMA on Point and these are the 10 Worst Martial Arts for MMA.
Oh and a slight disclaimer for this one of course:
Although some martial arts on this list have some perfectly valid techniques, we are going to be focusing on those that are the least effective in the sport of MMA. I myself have been training in various striking arts and techniques for the better part of 8 years and can hopefully shed a little light on what some of these might be.
MMA On Point:
#10. Kung Fu
Kung Fu is the word used to describe the myriad of all the encompassing Chinese martial arts and there are of course many from many different regions, schools and even philosophical beliefs. There are also many UFC fighters that have listed Kung Fu as part of their martial arts backgrounds including Dan Hardy, Zabit Magomedsharipov, Weili Zhang and even Big Country Nelson, although I’m not sure we should count that one. Nonetheless, there have been several high-level MMA competitors that have studied this ancient martial art but what has made its way into the cage? Well, the answer is not a lot and yet, almost everything. Kung Fu or let’s say Chinese martial arts in general, are so old that so many martial arts have been influenced by them. A lot of standard striking techniques found in Kung Fu can also be found in other martial arts.
They have just been adapted and brought into another system. Kung Fu also contains a lot of aerial techniques, animal stances and patterns. And although fancy, we rarely see these make an impact on a fight in the cage. Although key and in some cases, the gateway to the progression of martial arts as an individual style, Kung Fu system of combat is not as effective in modern MMA as the refined and calculated systems that followed after it.
MMA On Point:
#9. Krav Maga
Krav Maga is itself made up of various mixed martial arts. It takes techniques from judo, boxing, aikido, wrestling and karate and was created as a system of combat for the Israeli defense forces. However, unlike MMA which is of course as we mentioned a sport, Krav Maga was developed from real world scenarios, street fighting and to inflict maximum pain or even death. There are more than a few parts of its methodology that just don’t sit well in MMA, including targeted attacks to the eyes, groin, throat and even fingers. It’s a system built around intense quick encounters not to be played out over the course of 15 minutes.
Krav Maga is a separate system to MMA. They might share techniques in striking, grappling and submissions but the intended use of both of them are very different. Although a Krav Maga practitioner might have the tools to compete in MMA, both the pacing rule set and the fight itself is a very different experience. Karolina Kovalevich is one of the only fighters to have represented this martial art in the UFC and did very well in her early run, even fighting for the women’s 115 pound title. A clean, striking, ferociousness and tenacity were all keys to her success but did these come from her Krav Maga training or just her spirit as the polish princess she is.
MMA On Point:
#8. Jeet Kune Do
“No way is the way” is the phrase associated with this martial art, first formalized and created in 1965 by Bruce Lee. Lee referred to Jeet Kune Do as a mirror in which to see ourselves. Essentially the style of Jeet Kune Do isn’t really a style at all but more of a philosophy that one must embrace in order to free themselves of systemized martial arts. However, there certainly was a certain style about it. Lee himself focused on the use of the southpaw stance and using the rear left straight punch as a method from which to initiate combinations. There are a lot of other interesting concepts like parrying whilst punching, low kicks, different range fighting and some throws but it is more the philosophy than any of its surviving mechanics that continue to influence MMA today.
However, we’ve yet to see any affected practitioners of Jeet Kune Do in MMA. Fast straight punches aren’t always effective or as powerful as hooks. sidekicks don’t always inflict a lot of damage and there is little to no defense against a wrestler’s double leg takedown. Jeet Kune Do might have a lot of its own effective techniques but in a sports and MMA setting, it simply can’t compete against the complete system that MMA has become.
MMA On Point:
#7. Wing Chun
Wing Chun is an interesting martial art to say the least. It is referred to as the trapping style with a focus on close range striking and risk control. And its core concept is not unlike one that might be applied to certain BJJ methodology. You are to remain relaxed enough to feel your opponent’s movements but keep enough strength to fight back, often compared to the flexible nature of bamboo.
Unfortunately, you can already see how this doesn’t translate well to MMA. Range management is such a core component of mixed martial arts and an effective striker would be able to counter or keep themselves out of reach of a Wing Chun attack.
Fighting at such close range also leaves a wing chun artist extremely vulnerable to a variety of grappling and clinch attacks. However, with a focus on fluid in the pocket movements, we do see some fighters such as Tony Ferguson finding success in these areas. Fluidly darting from elbow strikes to straight punches and using a consistent pressure style to great effect. But, everything else from its stance to its limited toolset, only plays right into an MMA fighter’s hands.
MMA On Point:
The Brazilian dancing martial art has some of the most graceful and beautiful techniques you will see in any striking system. Developed by African slaves in Brazil, as early as the 16th century, the uniqueness of this martial art is not to be understated and it truly performs in ways that no other does. Practitioners swing their lower body into powerful kicks while using their hands for stability on the ground. We’ve seen a few of these flashy techniques make their appearances in the Octagon with the likes of Michelle Pereira and even Conor McGregor adding them into their arsenal.
When they connect, they can be very effective, unpredictable and even damaging. but there are also some gaping holes when it comes to MMA. The techniques themselves are often very telegraphed and in-cage, give the opponent a lot of time to recognize an attack is coming. They require a lot of stamina to execute and often the reward is not equal the effort put forth and they are extremely high risk and missing can land you on your back out of position or even unconscious.
MMA On Point:
I’m sure you’ve all seen the videos of how effective a true Aikido master can be nigh untouchable, impossible to hit and turning their foe aside and dispatching them with the least effort imaginable. So, why don’t we see this in MMA?
A fairly modern Japanese martial art that focuses on throws and joint locks, Aikido has seen a lot of popularity over the years thanks to high-profile practitioners like Sensei Seagal. And although, risk control and throws can be effective in mixed martial arts, the way a keto is taught is completely unrealistic to an in-cage environment. The entries used in setting up many Aikido throws are scenarios that just don’t often occur in MMA. And no one is going to walk up to you and just put their hand on your shoulder for you to grab and manipulate. The stances and styles used in MMA pretty much counter Aikido’s approach in every way, as good solid fundamental striking can keep an Aikido attacker at bay. Like Judo, some of its techniques could find a home but it’s on the individual to adapt and incorporate them. And, other martial arts offer the same paths to victory in more efficient ways.
Before the UFC began, a lot of people would have thought it was a foregone conclusion that the biggest and strongest human would win a fight 9 times out of 10, and sumo contains some of the biggest and strongest martial artists in the world.
A Japanese wrestling art, Sumo fighters utilize their body weight grappling attacks and fast explosive techniques to overpower and control their opponents. and you might have thought this would translate very well into MMA, with grappling being a key component.
Well, you’d be wrong. Nearly every Sumo fighter that has graced a cage, has demonstrated the weaknesses in this martial arts system. Sumo fighters, although explosive, lack the speed to keep up with the other competitive martial arts. Due to their size and weight they tend to tire very easily and even in grappling scenarios, they have displayed an inability to maneuver and manipulate their own body on the ground, let alone their opponents. We’ve seen more than our fair share of Sumo fighters in MMA including Emmanuel Yarbrough, at Pride 3 being stopped by the 169 pound Daiju Takase. And of course, Gerard Gordeau annihilating Teila Tuli with that devastating head kick in the first UFC fight ever. If it didn’t work then, it’s probably not working now.
MMA On Point:
#3. Russian Systema
The secret arts of the Russian Systema system are shrouded in mystery and opposed intrigue. Coming out of Russia, as far as the 10th century, the martial art itself relies on a lot of fluid movements, reactions to your opponent’s attacks and using your own instincts and creative movement to repel and counter your enemies aggression.
Unfortunately, it seems the tactics also involve no defensive guard of any kind, no traditional striking techniques to set up your own offense and to instead let your opponent attack you whilst you squirm and roll yourself out of the way and put them down with a combination of slaps, pushes and trips. Unfortunately, the speed at which MMA is fought, the distance management involved, the grappling, various kicking and traditional striking techniques would give any Systema practitioner an incredibly difficult time to work their own techniques.
Perhaps some of the hand fighting and trips could be implemented, but seeing how systema is also wildly dismissed as a hoax martial art, I would be very impressed if it were.
MMA On Point:
#2. Kyusho Jitsu
Kyusho Jitsu, otherwise known as pressure point fighting, is a system of martial arts designed to do just that. Manipulate those pesky pressure points on a human body in order for your opponent to release their grip, be forced back or even be rendered unconscious. Be careful though, only a true master can harness these techniques and there are quite a few videos on YouTube of students being put to sleep under the strength of their Jitsu masters.
Aside from the bizarre moveset, and uh pressure points, there are a few trips and clinch attacks that might be viable in MMA. But the idea of choosing to manipulate a pressure point instead of, I don’t know, nailing your opponent with a right hook is pretty ridiculous.
Wouldn’t all fighters be able to escape rear naked chokes by simply attacking pressure points on the wrist?
Ryan Parker entered UFC 2 ready to unleash these techniques in the Octagon but unfortunately, was immediately taken down, controlled and submitted on the ground.
Would things go differently in today’s MMA? Somehow, I think not.
MMA On Point:
#1. Chi Martial Arts
Well, where to start with this one. If you haven’t seen the masters of the Chi perform their literal acts of magic on YouTube well, you’re in for a treat.
Chi martial arts range across various schools but are almost all entirely based on traditional Chinese martial arts. But let us not confuse them. They focus on using your inner power and force; Chi and projecting it towards your opponent as an energy and weapon. The true masters of this art can defeat a foe without even touching them. Focusing their chi into such powerful attacks they can counter blows, send men flying and even knock them unconscious.
This of course, is completely ridiculous, fake, impossible, unless you believe in some kind of magic.
Chi itself is used in many martial arts as a focus for breathing, meditation and channeling your inner strength and power and shouldn’t be dismissed as lightly. However, these practitioners of Chi martial arts that attempt to send it forth as an invisible force like a Jedi master are quite possibly insane. There are more than a few videos where a Chi master has attempted to use his techniques against an MMA practitioner or from any form of martial art for that matter, and you can only guess what follows.
I still don’t know why I find it so satisfying to watch though.
Big shout out and thank you to Max Randall for editing this video. You can follow him on twitter @max_randall. Shout out to Ben Rosett and the excellent music he provided during the intro video. His music can be found on streaming platforms everywhere there is a link in the description and follow him @BenRosett on instagram and on twitter.
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