Friday, March 27, 2009

Thoughts on Striking vs. Grappling, and MMA

My preface: I study both striking and grappling martial arts. Though I primarily teach Taekwondo (a striking martial art) I also actively train in Judo, and have trained in Jujitsu in the past. I have no bias to either.

The UFC has skyrocketed the interest in wrestling, sambo and other grappling oriented martial arts. As guys like BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, Tito Ortiz and other grapplers of renown dominate their divisions there is even talk of the superiority of grappling arts over striking arts. Phrases like, "95% of fights end up on the ground" have become popular. At the end of the day most experts will tell you that you need a mix of both.

But, since I so often hear people listing reasons to train in grappling I thought I'd list some ones to train in striking to balance them out. :) I'm not trying to knock grappling, it's important! This is just meant to be food for thought.

- 95% of fights end up on the ground, but 100% start on the feet.

- It is possible to end fights with the FIRST punch in less than 5 seconds.

- Grappling with someone immobilizes you, and even if you are choking one guy out it's impossible to avoid his buddy kicking you in the back of the head.

- You can't bite or break fingers in the UFC like you can in a real fight. Biting overcomes a lot of grappling.

- Even the best grapplers lose some technique possibilities because of size disparity between the two fighters. For example, if I'm 5' and 120lbs. I probably can't throw a 6'4" 260lbs. guy over my head. However, I can kick him, and just about anyone else in the groin.

- If you are on your feet and at a distance when someone pulls a gun or a knife it's easier to run away than if you are holding on to them or on your back.

- Taekwondo and Boxing arguably represent the best of the kicking and the best of the punching world. Both have their own established amateur and professional organizations, and both can take you to the pinnacle of athletic competition - the Olympics. These were established long before the UFC and other MMA leagues came about, so we probably have not seen nearly the highest caliber of striker enter the UFC. Picture Roy Jones Jr. or Mike Tyson in their prime, hitting a guy with 6 oz. gloves on. Not many people (even boxers) can withstand that devastating of a blow.