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Why mixed martial arts is more than just cage fighting

Martial arts have been around for thousands of years, and many different parts of the world have their own respective martial art of origin. For example, Brazilian jiu jitsu originated in Brazil, and the discipline of muay thai can be traced back to Thailand.

Those who train in mixed martial arts seek to learn, combine and master each discipline that is practiced. This is so when competing, they are able to fight effectively.

Now, you may ask yourself, “how do people get into fighting?” More often than not, people will respond with similar answers. For most picking up the sport is first and foremost a form of exercise, and exercise is incredibly important in everyday life.

Alliya King, freshman construction management major at CSU, practicing a rear-naked choke on her training partner. Photo credit: Ian Fuster

Anyone who trains in MMA can tell you that it is one of the most intense workouts you can get. It not only works your muscles and your cardio, but the training you experience teaches you to push yourself. The more work you put into the sport, the more success you will get out it. For those who actually fight, they must learn how to properly fuel their bodies so they can perform at an optimal level.

If you look at some of the stars of the UFC, mixed martial arts biggest sport franchise, they are some of the leanest and most physically capable athletes on the planet. Not only do they have some of the most intense training regimens of any sport, but they also must learn how to keep a balanced diet so that they have enough energy to reach peak performance.

Mixed martial arts is named for obvious reasons, athletes mix together various types of combat disciplines while fighting. The stand up game, the types of combat that involve striking, can vary from boxing to kickboxing, muay thai to capoeira, karate to krav maga and so on.

The grappling game, on the other hand, involve techniques from sports like wrestling, jiu jitsu and judo along with others. Different fighters come from different training backgrounds, so it is interesting to see the different types of martial arts incorporated when fighting.

Alliya King, freshman construction management major at Colorado State University, hits the heavy bag with a roundhouse kick. Photo credit: Ian Fuster

In a way, fighting allows for different cultural martial arts to be shared with the world.

Not all people start martial arts just for the exercise. For many, training in martial arts is a way to escape the pressures or everyday life. I interviewed Alliya King, a freshman construction management major at Colorado State University, to ask her why she began to train in MMA.

King told me that, prior to coming to college, her life “was actually in a downward spiral,” because of personal, family reasons. She continued to say that she had always used fitness as a way to cope with the problems she had been facing. When starting school at CSU, King noticed that the recreational center’s mat room was very nice, and she decided to pick up boxing.

“I met some friends who trained at a local gym here in Fort Collins, and they invited me to come train with them,” King told me, ever since trying that one class, she has “been in love ever since.” I then asked King to explain to me what MMA meant to her, and she told me that “it means everything” to her and that she “cannot even picture her life without it anymore.”