It’s weird how the most important things in life consists of 4 elements. The 4 Elements of Life: Earth, Water, Fire, Air. The 4 Elements of Hip-Hop: DJ, MC, B-Boy, Graffiti. And now, The 4 Elements of MMA: Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu…Or is it?

Before we get into the REAL 4 Specific Skill Areas of MMA, first let’s understand the basics of practicing…ANYthing…(this is VIP info AKA: Very Important Principle)

First Things First (FTF): How Do We Master Something?

Let’s talk about the way we should look at the concept of “Mastery”. I’m not talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule to mastery either. I’m talking about the DEVELOPMENT OF one’s practice and the steps to take in order to “master it,” or at least try to. Since, no one is truly a master of anything. Truth is, that thing we try to master is more likely our master in many ways. Conor McGregor’s Movement teacher, Ido Portal, has his own specific formula to Mastery.

For the lack of a better understanding, look at this as if you were to look at numbers.

Isolation is 1, 2, 3…

Integration is 1+2+3 = 6

Improvisation is 1+2+3+4+5 = 100

He believes that if you intend to master some stuff one should move up that ladder. You can apply this to any practice in life. In this case, let’s look at it from the perspective sport of MMA.

HOLD UP! But what about the The Basic Elements of MMA??? Don’t trip, we’ll get there…

Developing An MMA Fighter: What You Need to Focus On

ISOLATION is for starters.

In your isolated skill practice you’ll concentrate on the 2 Main Components of MMA:

  • Striking
  • Grappling

In it’s essence, every martial art derive from either grappling skills, or striking skills. Punching, kicking, knees, elbows; that’s all part of striking. Takedowns, throws, clinching, submitting, that’s all grappling. In MMA you need to cover both striking and grappling skills. Because there are so many martial arts to choose from we’ll go with the Core Component Martial Arts that make up MMA: Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, and I’d even add Kickboxing to that equation as well.

You’ll be learning and refining technique in those core martial arts. Along with having a great grasp of principles, like timing, distance and positioning, body mechanics, and many others.

INTEGRATION is for intermediates.

After you’ve reached a sufficient amount of skill in the isolated principles and techniques, then you can integrate them. So now the question is, how do we integrate striking skills with grappling skills? I’ve talked about the importance of integration in MMA from my last post. But now, let’s get into the real nitty gritty of it. Once again, we’ll share John Danaher’s insight on this.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTT’S TIIIIIIIIIIIIMMME!!!: The 4 Basic Fundamental Elements of MMA

  1. Shoot boxing – integration of striking and takedowns
  2. Clinch boxing – integration of clinching skills with striking
  3. Fence boxing – essentially clinch boxing done upon a fence, which significantly changes the dynamic of the match to the point where it has to be separated from regular clinch fighting.
  4. Grapple boxing – integration of grappling moves with striking on the ground.

So when you fight you integrate all of these things. If you see MMA as those 4 elements blended together in one then you’ll start to create fighters who’ll do a better job of integrating skills. As I pointed out before, it’s the integration of skills that are more important than the isolation of skills in the sport of MMA.

IMPROVISATION is for experts.

Then you take it a step further into what Ido calls, the highest form of practice…Improvisation. THIS is a personal thing. What this means to you depends on the individualized movements you’ve developed for what works best for you. As Bruce Lee said, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” These are where the Muhammad Alis are made, the Anderson Silvas, the Conor McGregors. They all have their own style of fighting. They all perfected their own craft. Everyone fights differently.

“The paradigm shift must start from our focus on being the best at this or that, versus being the best YOU – with your unique mixture and variety.” “Nobody can compete with me, in being me.”Ido Portal

In Ido’s words, “The process of getting to improvisation should be: enjoyable, planned and demanding. It’s a puzzle. One worth dedicating one’s life to.”

Definitely planned – for example in Ido’s case of his Movement Practice – “what you see was years in the making, I set out to acquire these abilities, atoms, movements and then integrated them only to later improvise using it all. Does it mean I had every detail in the grand plan from the start? of course not, but every few months I would re-evaluate and make corrections to my plan. I definitely PLANNED this, I didn’t stumble upon it or let it fall on me from the heavens, believe it or not.”

Here’s a clip of Showtime Pettis explaining just that.

Read The Fine Print:

The devil is in the details.

Turns out that the Basic Elements of MMA are not the only things you should be focusing on. It’s about the isolation of techniques (Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing). The integration of techniques (Shoot boxing, Clinch boxing, Fence boxing, and Grapple Boxing). And the improvisation of one’s own style. In other words, take what works from certain martial arts. Mix them. And do what works for you. THIS is the road to mastery. Remember this concept and apply it to your practice. The road ain’t easy, but it’s a path worth taking.


Now, before you get into the training we’ll first talk about a few things that can help you Become a Fast Learner.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the important tips you should keep in mind if you want to train MMA–the right way.

Categories: Fighting Basics


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