Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), aka “the fastest growing sport in the world,” is rapidly gaining mainstream popularity in the Philippines. Not only do legions of fans tune in to watch matches, but many have also chosen to give MMA training a try themselves.
This comes as no surprise as the workout is a fun and and functional way of getting those muscles moving. If you want to get into mixed martial arts, be it for fitness, as a hobby, or you want to follow in the footsteps of Conor McGregor, here are some things to keep in mind.
As great as MMA training is in challenging your body, not everyone is into the physical contact or the notion of getting punched in the face. Fortunately, there are ways to get the built of a mixed martial artist less the bruises. Many gyms like Ultimate Fitness Metrowalk, Flyweight in GC, BAMF in Paranaque, and the soon to open UFC GYM, all offer programs that utilize fight movements without you actually having to hurt and be hurt by anybody.
What you’ll need: Basic sports attire will do—shorts, shirt, and rubber shoes (preferably not running shoes since they aren’t designed for lateral movements, which could leave you with a sprained ankle). Always bring a change of clothes and lots of water; last thing you want is to get sick after training.
Frame of mind: MMA isn’t just about fighting; it’s about getting in shape by virtue of an unorthodox approach. You don’t need a fitness or martial arts background to enjoy the sport, so why not give it a shot?
As a hobby
You’re the type who wants to experience what the fighters go through but has no intention of going pro. Lucky for you, most local MMA facilities can cater to your needs.
What you’ll need: You’ll probably have to invest in your own gear if you intend to do this more often. Shops like K-1 Extreme and Toby’s Sports sell boxing gear, like gloves and handwraps, and jiu-jitsu kimonos as well. A quick search on Google would also help you find Filipino-made gear. Some gyms sell equipment at the front desk.
Frame of mind: Whether you’re enrolled in MMA, jiu-jitsu, or muay thai classes, it’s important to look for a place that you can really grow in. Good instructors, co-members you jive with, and a safe and healthy environment will help you sustain this hobby. If one day you decide to get serious and compete, you’ll be glad you invested your time and money in a quality facility.
As a career
So, you want to be a fighter? No need to dye your hair yellow and wear shorts with flame print. If you’re starting from ground zero with no fighting experience, then you could start by picking your base martial art—BJJ, muay thai, boxing, wrestling, judo, etc.—then work your way from there, slowly adding more techniques to your arsenal.
What you’ll need: You can start at a gym that offers a specialized skill, but for the long term, it’s best to find a team or gym that regularly produces pro fighters and has an actual MMA program. It’s best you also have a manager—often times, the gym’s coaches double as your managers, but having a separate one who works hand-in-hand with your coaches won’t hurt. The manager would help you find sponsors and fight opportunities, and ensure you get paid your due. Additionally, you’ll need a GAB (Games and Amusement Board) license to fight as a pro, ideally, after some amateur competition experience.
Frame of mind: There’s plenty of work and consideration that go into fighting as a career, but there’s no stopping you if this is truly what you want to do. Just remember that the life of a fighter is very difficult, especially in the Philippines where no one makes anything near Conor McGregor money. But if you put in the work and get the right pieces in place and the right people around you, then who knows: you might be the MMA superstar the Philippines has been waiting for.