People sometimes ask me "What's your main martial art? You know how MMA fighters usually have a martial art they started out in like kickboxing or BJJ?" Well, I don't know how to answer that question properly. The single-emphasis martial arts I did 20 years ago have very little in common with the sport I currently train for on a daily basis.
I teach the sport of mixed martial arts. Specifically, I teach game-plans and strategies to win MMA fights. MMA is a unique sport and should be approached as such.
Granted, there are many valuable techniques to be learned from other combat sports that can be used in MMA. However, training specifically for the sport of Muay Thai or jiu-jitsu in order to compete in MMA is kind of like training in baseball or soccer in order to play basketball. Sure, some of the skills will translate from one sport to the other like athleticism, agility, coordination, and teamwork- but let's be honest, isn't the best way to get good at playing basketball to play basketball? After all, you're working under a different set of rules, with a different arena, different equipment, and most importantly, different objectives.
By no means am I discouraging cross training. I cross train myself more than anyone I know. I spend several hours each day training with coaches from specific combat sports including boxing, Muay Thai, taijiquan, judo, and jiu-jitsu. Anyone who wants to sharpen specific techniques should do the same.
Even so, a common misconception about MMA is this: MMA = jiu-jitsu + Muay Thai, or MMA = boxing + wrestling, or MMA = any other combination of grappling + striking arts. I strongly disagree.
If you know how to box and wrestle, that doesn't make you good at the sport of MMA- that makes you good at boxing and wrestling. The important thing to understand is that with proper coaching from someone who really understands the sport of MMA, those skills can be incorporated seamlessly into a winning mixed martial arts game-plan.
MMA is dynamic- the range of combat constantly changes. You can't afford to compartmentalize your training. There are limitless situations, techniques, strategies, and positions that come into play in an MMA fight that are never, ever addressed in any other combat sport. Which is why I say you cannot afford to compartmentalize MMA training into a series of separate arts.
One moment, you're boxing, the next your opponent is throwing a Thai kick at your head, half a second later, you've caught the kick using a sanda leg trapping technique, secured a single leg takedown from freestyle wrestling, pinned his hip with your knee & shin to shoulder and mounted a barrage of punches (MMA specific ground & pound) forcing him to turn away exposing his back and giving up a prime opportunity for a rear naked choke (jiu-jitsu). Tap tap- fight's over in under half a minute and we've already seen techniques from 6 different combat sports.
If you break down any professional level MMA fight like that you will see dozens of different martial arts being used together seamlessly. But these professional level fighters winning all the fights aren't training in dozens of different styles in dozens of different classes at dozens of different gyms. They are training for one sport.
That's exactly what I do. That's all I ever do. I train mixed martial artists to win MMA fights. In my classes I address every range of combat and every possible transition as a flowchart. If I teach any single technique, I will also teach you at least three ways to set it up and use that technique as a transition to end the fight as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you want to learn the respective sports of boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, sanda, etc, I have loads of recommendations of excellent trainers for those specific sports.
However, if you want to learn the sport of MMA, I will unapologetically tell you I'm the best there is at what I do in this town. I have been training successful professional MMA fighters for years, in the USA and in China. I am the only professional MMA fighter with a legitimate, sanctioned, professional fight record teaching this sport in Shanghai. I have fought professionally across the world in four countries in the respective sports of MMA, American kickboxing, Muay Thai, and K-1 kickboxing. I have thousands of collective hours of experience on both sides of the cage and the ring in every facet of the sport of MMA including fighting, judging & scoring, reffing, coaching, cornering & as a cut-man, promoting, training, rehabilitation, and everything in between. I'm proud to confidently say I know the ins and the outs of this sport- but at the same time constantly humbled by the new things I learn each day about my chosen profession from my own coaches, training partners, and especially from my students.
While I constantly integrate new ideas from various martial arts into my game-plans and strategies, I believe in being consistent with the idea of teaching mixed martial arts as its own sport.