Which martial art is the best is an age-old question that has caused countless debates.
There are many disciplines that have existed throughout human history, most of them focusing on the best ways to defend yourself or incapacitate opponents with ease.
It’s only in recent years that the world has become globally connected enough to see what happens when these different disciplines interact with one another, and we’re beginning to understand what works and what does not.
The question of whether the ancient practice of Taekwondo or the newer practice of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is superior to one another is something we’re beginning to understand.
Professional Sports Leagues such as the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), have allowed us to see firsthand what happens when different disciplines match off against each other with a limited ruleset. But still, the question remains.
In this article we’re going to be taking you through everything there is to know about MMA and Taekwondo: how they match up, their strengths and weaknesses, and which would be the better discipline to learn.
What Is Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is a form of martial arts that originates from Korea. It is a style of fighting easily recognizable by its reliance on side-stances, kicks, and fast punches.
Taekwondo has been around since the 1940s, developed from more traditional forms of karate and other Korean martial arts traditions
Taekwondo is one of the most popular martial arts in the world, and there are competitions ranging from small tournaments with strict rulesets for kids, to more full-contact competitions and even a slot and the Olympics.
Main Pros of Taekwondo
- Distance and Form – The main pros of Taekwondo for a martial artist to learn come from its kicking form and understanding of range and distance.
Taekwondo teaches you a lot about range and the perfect way to kick. Many of the most popular kicking techniques in the world come from Taekwondo.
- Traditional Aspects and Belt System – Taekwondo is an old martial art and because of this follows a lot of the more traditional procedures around respect that are commonplace in Asia.
If you were to introduce a child to a class, they would be quickly taught to bow, and show respect to their coach and to others. Taekwondo also has an extensive belt system, with belts being awarded based on dedication and skill.
There’s a lot more we could discuss concerning Taekwondo here, but those are some of the basics so that we can compare it to the much newer discipline of MMA.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)
Often, when people think of MMA they think of two men fighting in a cage. This is a true image of what it’s like to compete at the highest level of the sport, but it doesn’t give the full picture.
Although what we think of as the modern form of MMA started in the 1990s with the advent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed bouts have been going on for much of the 20th century.
In short, MMA is a sport that combines techniques from almost all hand-to-hand forms of martial arts.
A fledgling MMA fighter will be taught how to box, how to kick, how to wrestle, and grapple.
It is a holistic martial art that combines techniques from everywhere to create a system that has every base covered (and yes, it even takes techniques from Taekwondo).
Because MMA is such a new sport and form, many things are still being worked out, and depending on the gym you go to you will be taught very different techniques.
There are however some fundamentals that all MMA fighters will learn – including how to strike, how to grapple, and how to combine these two.
Even though MMA will incorporate some Taekwondo techniques, the general stance of an MMA fighter is much different, as they have to be ready to defend takedowns and also strikes at the same time.
MMA has much looser rules when it comes to sparring and competition, and many strikes that are completely illegal in Taekwondo are used often – for example, elbows and knees.
Pros of MMA
- Holistic Approach: MMA will teach you every single facet of martial arts so that you can have a complete understanding of combat.
- Physical Challenge: MMA fighters need to not only be fast and agile but also strong and have intense endurance. A professional MMA fight can last for up to 25 minutes.
Which Is Better?
This is an open-ended question, so we’re going to break it down into a few categories
1. In A No-holds-barred Fight
The clear winner here is MMA, mostly due to their understanding of grappling. It is very easy for an experienced grappler to take somebody with no knowledge down and submit or control them.
A Taekwondo practitioner isn’t likely to have an understanding of grappling.MMA fighters are also taught to defend themselves and strike standing up, which means they’d likely be able to stay safe and control where the fight takes place.
There’s a reason why there are no pure Taekwondo fighters competing in the UFC – and that’s because it’s not as effective as learning all the other additional skills.
That said, MMA fighters are likely to lose when competing in purely Taekwondo sparring situations. They are different disciplines, after all.
2. To Learn
This is a much more subjective aspect that is hard to answer. Both disciplines will offer you integral skills that will help with confidence, body health, and self-defense.
Whilst MMA might be more effective in a real-life fight situation, it misses out on some of the more traditional aspects of martial arts.
It’s also worth noting that an MMA training environment is often more intense than Taekwondo, so if you’re picking something as a casual hobby then it might be better to choose Taekwondo.
So to finish up our comparison – MMA is a better discipline for fighting, but Taekwondo might be a better option if you’re looking for a more traditional form of martial arts.
We hope that this article has defined the two of them well and that you now understand the main differences and benefits of both.
Picking up any martial art is going to be a great benefit for your life, but it’s important to explore different options to make sure you find the one that fits you best!