Why MMA is for Everyone

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the youngest and most popular sports in the world. With the UFC as the sport’s flagship promotion since its debut in the US in 1993. It’s become an incredibly popular sport. It is also one that everyone should try. People have always known that there is great personal benefit to martial arts training. MMA is the pinnacle of this. Through training and maybe even competing in MMA practitioners will walk away with greater discipline, courage, confidence, and respect for both themselves as well as others.

One of the most defining characteristics of MMA training is that it’s incredibly difficult. There is so much to learn and the actual practice of it is more grueling than even the fights themselves. Those who are undisciplined don’t last. The consequences of a lack of discipline are painful as well. If you aren’t disciplined in training then you’ll be hurt by those who are. It’s almost Darwinian: you adapt to the situation and train like you need to, or you get hurt and weeded out.

You develop courage from training in MMA. How is courage developed? Because it’s scary. An MMA gym is the very opposite of a safe space. You will be attacked, but you learn it will be okay. It can be very scary the first few times you get on the mat with people trained specifically in the various ways to hurt you, it’s through facing and overcoming the fear that the courage is formed. You can’t be courageous without giving yourself opportunity to test it.

Through the countless hours of disciplined training and facing your fears in the gym each time, confidence in yourself begins to build. My first time in my gym my coach beat the crap out of me (story for another time). The second time I went in, I was beat up by two guys who would later fight on the international stage in the WEC/UFC and on Showtime. It was scary each time, and I’d be lying if the thought of quitting hadn’t occurred to me. Having that happen, and enduring the beatings that followed, I began to carry myself taller than before. Sure I was getting the worst of it but gradually I was beginning to get the better of the newer guys and I was beginning to hang with the guys that were killing me earlier. The thought eventually dawned on me: ‘If I can survive these guys, I can survive if not flat-out beat just about anyone.’ And I was right.

Through all of this you also learn respect. It’s a strange environment. An MMA gym is where men, women, and even children all gather to become more proficient in the art of unarmed combat. To do this they frequently beat the bag out of each other. It’s violent, but it’s controlled violence and there’s a lot of trust involved. When I spar with one of the fighters I coach or train with, and when they spar with me, I’m putting my safety on the line for their benefit and they’re doing the same. You’re effectively sacrificing yourself so they can be prepared for the struggle that lies ahead: the actual fight they’re training for. There’s nothing but respect in this environment. Those who don’t have that are weeded out and don’t last long. Again it’s Darwinian. If you misbehave and try to hurt someone, then the typical protocol is generally that someone tougher and more skilled will then hurt you and you probably won’t be back. There’s also a respect that gets earned by showing the discipline it takes to hang in there and keep coming day in and day out.

These values we’ve gone over: discipline, courage, confidence, and respect are universal. Everyone needs these cultivated to live the lives they want. Keeping this in mind I will say with absolute certainty that MMA is for everyone.

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