A guide to combat sports

Combat sports are more popular than ever and the latest craze is combat sports training for fitness. Boxing training in particular has exploded around the world, and it’s because it’s such a great all over body work out without getting punched!

But other martial arts are also very popular and the growth of mixed martial arts, spurred on by the UFC, have be enormous.

Now let’s take a look at the most popular combat sports:


Irish Light Heavyweight boxer Tony Browne

We’ve written a lot about boxing over the years, the first look into boxing and fitness was when we analysed which sport has the fittest athletes, and sure enough boxing was one of the 7 fittest sports.

Boxing may be the ultimate test of physical and mental stamina in sport. They rely on incredibly quick footwork, the ability to throw accurate, powerful punches for 12 three-minute rounds while also trying to avoid punches from an opponent intent on knocking them out.

As a combat sport boxing is the most popular and is very popular to compete in, just beware that it involves a lot of blows to the head. If you don’t fancy this just do boxing training. Boxing is also one of the best sports for weight loss

Mixed Martial Arts

Combat Sport MMA

MMA is one of the most physically demanding sports out there is a full-contact combat sport that allows basically anything from boxing, kick boxing, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and grappling. The multi discipling sport is done both standing and on the ground, using techniques from various combat sports and martial arts all at once. To get the full back round in MMA you need to look back at the history of the UFC

Muay Thai

Developed in Thailand in the 18th century and still the national sport of the country, Muay Thai is a combat system designed with heavy emphasis on stand-up strikes, kicking, and clinching. It’s similar enough in style to kickboxing but much more hardcore as you use everything from fists, knees, elbows, and shins.

Workouts for Muay Thai are rigorous and sparring even more intense. There is a high level of flexibility and balance that goes into many of the movements which leads to strength and core improvements as well as better stamina.


Combat Sport Judo
Tom Reed – Judo U81kg for Great Britain in 2015

Judo is another Japanese sport from the late 1800’s, which later evolved into a combat and Olympic sport. The objective is to either throw or take down an opponent to the ground, immobilise or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ, is a martial art and conbat sport with a stroing emphasis of ground fighting and grappling. Since 95% of street fights end up on the ground, this style teaches you how to take your opponent down and keep them there.

BJJ is founded on the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, heavier opponent by using technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground, and then applying joint locks and chokeholds to defeat the opponent.

Along with Aikido it’s a great sport to learn for self defence.


Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art also known as “the way of harmony of spirit”. It is very much a defensive sport that teaches not to treat violence with violence, and instead turn an attacker’s aggressive force is turned against themselves, using an opponent’s momentum.

Aikido practices techniques against a variety of attacks such as kicks, punches, strikes, single-hand or two-hand grabs from the front or rear, chokes, multiple person attacks, and attacks with weapons. The attackers momentum id meet with joint locks and throws.

Krav Maga

Krav is a military self-defence and fighting system developed in Israel, derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate, along with realistic fight training.

Krav Maga concentrates on skills for defending yourself while simultaneously attacking vulnerable areas such as eyes, nose, neck, and groin. There are no Krav Maga competition, its very much a self defence and strike to neutralise martial art.

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Kick Boxing

Combat Sport Kickboxing
Aston Cook

Kickboxing pretty much as it sounds! A stand-up sports based on kicking and punching, It evolved from karate mixed with boxing. Kickboxing is a competition sport with different weight classes etc. It’s boxing it’s also widely practiced for general fitness, and also self defence.


Combat Sport - Karate
Karate champion Amelia Harvey

This very popular martial art is heavily influenced by Kung Fu and is predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes and open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands and palm-heel strikes.  Karate is a competition sport and will debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it’s also heavily taught for self defence.

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