Over the last two decades, mixed-martial arts has boomed as one of the world’s fastest growing sports in the world. Once an underground, guilty pleasure, MMA has blasted into mainstream acceptance with an improvement in facilities and an effort to break down mischaracterizations. The burgeoning success can be summed up by the sale of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport’s largest and most recognized promotion, for $4 billion US last year. As MMA blossomed generally, another trend was playing out as women began to stake a claim in the male-dominated realm of combat sport.
Source: Gina Carano via Facebook
The pioneers of WMMA tend to fall into a specific category: women who can fight as fierce as men yet still maintain their femininity. First to fit that archetype was Gina Carano who trained in Muay Thai before crossing over to other disciplines. Carano was the original poster child for WMMA and inspired other women and girls to get involved in martial arts while also turning her success into a legitimate acting career. After Carano’s retirement in 2009, WMMA stagnated and didn’t get the attention it deserved until two years later when Ronda Rousey took the sport by storm. Another knockout inside and outside of the cage, it was Rousey’s talents that convinced UFC boss Dana White to introduce women’s divisions into that promotion. Rousey ended up being the most dominant and marketable fighter in the UFC from 2013 to 2016 and, like Carano, has enjoyed crossover success in TV and movies.
Martial arts have always held some fascination in the public psyche. From the old gladiators of Rome to boxing in the 20th Century. Martial arts have crossed over to TV – Kung Fu in the 70s and Kingdom today – and movies like Rocky or the chop-socky films of Bruce Lee. In more recent times, martial arts have been the basis for video games like Double Dragon and Street Fighter and even online casino games like Fisticuffs, a slot featured on Bitcasino’s main site. The latter page, which was the first bitcoin-licenced casino, also has a martial arts themed slot game called The Ninja, among tens of others.
Source: Ronda Rousey via Facebook
There are two main reasons women are getting into MMA. One is self-defence. Women can learn a variety of striking techniques from disciplines like boxing and Muay Thai as well as grappling skills for in-close combat from wrestling, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. These skills can help women defend themselves from attackers who are armed or unarmed. The variety provided by MMA is also appealing because it doesn’t limit your participation. Most MMA gyms have a myriad of training equipment that matches the best circuit training set-ups. Free weights, cardio machines, punching and kicking bags are all available.
Learning the actual disciplines can be as light or as intense as you want – especially if you’re intimidated by the thought of sparring – and activities like Brazilian jiu-jitsu offer immediate rewards in skill acquisition, are low impact and require little or no previous athletic experience (although stretchy yoga practitioners will have a slight head start!). Best of all, there are experienced trainers to guide you throughout the whole process and to customize a fitness program to your abilities and needs.