MUAY THAI AND BJJ COMBO
Combat sports has been a part of history for thousands of years, and every individual form of Martial Arts has its own unique aspects. Styles like Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Sambo, and judo for bjj are all highly effective combative art forms. Over the years each Martial Art heavily debated over which style was the best, and bragging rights were essential in promoting each individual art.
What this article covers:
- The Origin of Muay Thai
- The Origin of BJJ
- Combining Striking and Grappling
- Can BJJ and Muay Thai Be Trained at the Same Time
- Which Artform Is Harder to Learn
- The Importance of Strength, Mobility, and Flexibility
The Gracie family believed in this concept, and this is why they hosted open challenges to anyone that could defeat their style. There is a difference between being confident, and having an ego, and confidence has always been high amongst Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters.
In the 1990’s the Gracie family promoted their art after Royce Gracie dominated the early UFC, and because of this event, Mixed Martial Arts was born. Each style of Martial Art soon realised how important it was to have an all round game style, and incorporating more than one style of Martial Arts became pivotal. The success of athletes that began fighting in the cage, started depending on various styles within each different aspect of the game. Combining Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with various striking arts became crucial, as Boxing, and Kickboxing highlighted on the world stage. Over time the muay thai and jiu jitsu combination, along with elements of Wrestling, and Judo started to become the clear advantage in all forms of the combat sport.
THE ORIGIN OF MUAY THAI
Muay Thai, or otherwise known as Thai Boxing, is the national sport of Thailand, and a comprehensive striking Martial Art known for its brutality. This art form originated back to the ancient battlefield of the Siamese Army in Thailand. The rich history of the art saw its evolution from armed combat called Krabi Krabong, which was the use of short and long weapons. The armed forces would organise unarmed bouts between their officers called Muay Boran, which had no time limits, no weight classes, and only a limited ruleset. These bouts became extremely popular so they were televised nationwide, and this led to further development of the sport, which included time limits, boxing gloves, and a traditional style of uniform.
Later in the twentieth century, Thai Boxing was introduced to many countries around the world, and is now practiced by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The World Thai Boxing Association is the oldest, and the biggest Muay Thai organisation across the globe, and in 1968 the combative sport was founded by Ajarn Surachai Sirisute. The development of this combat sport has seen the brutal nature of the Thai clinch, as competitors will use knees, elbows, punches, and kicks to defeat their opponents. Thai Boxers are well known for their devastating power, and their ability to take punishment during their bouts. The sport is also known for its extreme conditioning that all of the athletes go through, as well as the Thai spirit, which is well noted as beyond the normal range of competitive athletes. Muay Thai has become the premier full contact Martial Art that goes hand and hand with other styles like Brazilian Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts.
THE ORIGIN OF BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created in the early twentieth century, and at that time all Martial Arts were separated by their own claims. A young Carlos Gracie learnt Judo techniques from a Japanese legend, and pioneer of Martial Arts, named Mitsuyo Maeda, and after training extensively for six years he became Mitsuyo's most gifted student. Carlos would then pass on the technical skills of Judo to his younger brothers, and after realising the struggles that his youngest brother Helio faced, due to his smaller stature, the pair created an extensive ground combat system. This Martial Art was designed for the smaller, and the weaker person to defeat the bigger, and the stronger opponent. Helio's system included innovative ways to take an opponent down, how to neutralise them and control the position, and a strategic form of submission maneuvers like joint locks, and choke holds.
This was the beginning of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and as they began to spread their art, other rival forces conspired around them. The rivalry between Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and Luta Livre was an escalating form of violence that flooded the streets of Brazil. From dojo storms, to organised car park fights, to coordinated and weaponised attacks, the sport of Vale Tudo was epic, but completely dangerous. Both factions competed for bragging rights, with Gracie Jiu Jitsu taking the honours on most occasions. Vale Tudo was a combination of grappling, and striking, which was the early basis for Mixed Martial Arts. As the escalation of violence rose, many members from each side were under constant attack, and before too long the Brazilian government decided on a nationwide ban, forcing the sport of Vale Tudo to cease. This led to the Gracie family taking their art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to America.
Once the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu reached the shores of the United States of America, the Gracie family stamped their authority on a global scale. In a statement to the world the Gracie family entered their weakest competitor into the inaugural UFC event, which became what we know as Mixed Martial Arts today. After Royce Gracie decimated his competitors, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was well and truly in the limelight. Many athletes from all disciplines of Martial Arts would begin to take notice, and look to implement their own form of grappling into their arsenal. Most combative arts are predominantly striking based, and until the Gracie family brought their ground fighting combat into the forefront, the concept of taking an opponent to the ground, and choking them unconscious was non existent. Nowadays Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the most popular, and mainstream Martial Arts in the world.
COMBINING STRIKING AND GRAPPLING
The combination of striking and grappling for platforms like Mixed Martial Arts is crucial for the development of all competitive athletes. Most MMA fighters will major in a certain type of combat, and will work extensively on all of the other attributes necessary. All athletes in MMA need to have a good ability to strike, so they can exchange blows, and land knock out shots. They also need an advanced knowledge of submission skills, and submission defensive skills, and they need comprehensive skills in Wrestling, so they can neutralise an opponent, and control each dominant position. The trick is trying to combine all of these elements into one decisive game plan. This is why combining Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is instrumental in becoming an all round fighter.
Muay Thai uses the eight limb principle attack, which is their fists, their elbows, their knees, and their feet, and this is pivotal in MMA, due to the ground and pound factor. This is why Mixed Martial Artists use Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to control and set up an opponent, before landing knees to the body, or elbows to the head. Combining these two elements together is highly underrated, and are almost symbiotic with each other inside the cage. Using the clinch in the stand up game is important in MMA, and can lead to easy takedowns, which can open the door to using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu transitions like passing the guard, sweeping opponents, controlling the position, escaping from positions, and securing different submissions like choke holds, and joint locks.
CAN BJJ AND MUAY THAI BE TRAINED AT THE SAME TIME
There are many different combinations that can work in MMA, or self defense. Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are definitely complementary towards each other, as they both utilise similar aspects. Setting up clinch work, and then moving into BJJ transitions or submissions is highly achievable in MMA. Both of these arts can be trained at the same time, but all athletes should be cautious, so they can avoid significant injuries. Becoming good at any Martial Art equals time on the mat, and in the case of two at the same time it can be done, but it just takes longer. Focusing on one art will help an athlete master every aspect, but having two to learn is like learning two different languages at the same time. Developing the right learning processes is vital to successfully retaining all of the information, and is also important for staying mobile, and in the right head space. Training in two full contact combat sports at the same time can be really hard on an athlete's body, so it is imperative that training is taken seriously, and proper injury prevention methods are used.
HOW TO EFFECTIVELY TRAIN IN BOTH MARTIAL ARTS
Both of these Martial Arts need specific training drills, and to become effective at both styles, then an athlete needs to divide their time appropriately. This means to split their time between grappling, striking, mobility, strength and conditioning, and rest periods. To become functional at the professional level will take time, and all athletes will need to make sure they do not overtrain, otherwise they will burn out physically, and mentally. Although it is important to train extensively in each Martial Art separately, so the athlete can build up a comprehensive skill set, it is even more vital that the athlete practises the combination of both. In MMA, or in a real life conflict the two arts will coincide at the same time, so doing this in training is paramount.
It is hard to put in three or four hours of training in one day, let alone for four days a week, and this is because the average person has work, and has family commitments. This is why the professionals seem to be miles above the rest, because they are putting in twenty plus hours per week of training. An athlete should try to train in both arts on the same day, with Muay Thai first so they can be sharp with their striking, which builds a good muscle memory. This will allow them to hit Jiu Jitsu a little more fatigued, so they can simulate real rounds in MMA. This leaves strength and conditioning, and mobility, to build up the core, and prevent the muscles and joints from injuries.
WHICH ARTFORM IS HARDER TO LEARN
All Martial Arts have elements of complexity within their training regimes. Most striking arts are not too complex, and this is because there are only so many striking transitions that can be practiced. Once an athlete has developed their own striking game style they can learn defensive structures, and different timing methods for movements like side stepping, ducking, feinting, and baiting opponents. However, the conditioning side of striking can be quite brutal on an athlete's body, especially with a Martial Art like Muay Thai. It takes considerable effort, dedication to the sport, and consistency on the mat to elevate an athlete's striking ability to the professional level.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is a highly complex form of Martial Arts that incorporates a wide range of strategic elements. Takedown maneuvers are important in BJJ, and that is only to get the fight to the mat. Jiu Jitsu is predominantly a ground fighting art, and incorporates highly complex systems of passing the guard, sweeping an opponent, executing submissions, defending and escaping from positions and submissions, as well as positional control. But within all of these elements there are literally thousands of techniques that athletes can learn, and developing their own pathway can take an extremely long time. In comparison it can take ten to fifteen years to become highly proficient in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, compared to roughly two to five years to become proficient in Muay Thai Kickboxing.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STRENGTH, MOBILITY, AND FLEXIBILITY
Combining Muay Thai with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for MMA, can be an extremely difficult task. This is why all athletes need to be considerably strong, and the importance of strengthening up the muscles, the bones, and the joints is crucial for any kind of success inside of the cage. Athletes can add in some weightlifting like dumbbells or kettlebells for strength training, they can kick heavy bags, bamboo, or roll circular wood over their shins for conditioning their bones. Becoming stronger, and more conditioned to fight is a vital part of all training structures in combat sports. Stronger bones doesn't just mean harder strikes, it also represents a better chance of surviving a fight without any serious injuries.
Mobility is one of the most important factors, and this is so an athlete can prevent injuries from happening. Most athletes have sore spots, or joints that lack the complete freedom to move, this is why mobility exercises are very important. Mobility is responsible for strengthening the joints, and increasing its overall range of movement, and this is highly beneficial to a combat athlete. This is why a lot of combat athletes will train in yoga and bjj on the same days, and so this can help the athlete to increase their mobility range, and their longevity in the sport. Flexibility is equally as important, and this is because both arts use high energy, and a deep series of movements. All athletes must warm up their bodies, before stretching all of the important, and functional muscles for combat sports.
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