Get “Athlete” Fit with Mixed Martial Arts

boxing glovesIn an article from the New York Times, health columnist Joe Brescia, explained how professional athletes are incorporating mixed martial arts into their work out regimens as a way to increase their mental and physical performance. However “new-age” this training routine may seem, the art of mixed martial arts is hardly “new-age;” in fact this cultural practice even dates back to ancient Greece.

During this era, Olympians would train using a similar combat sport called, “pankration.” Through out history various cultures’ combat sports melded together until the earliest form of modern mixed martial arts, “merikan,” was formed during the early 1900’s. “Merikan” incorporates both European and Japanese styles of fighting.

Fast forward to today, professional baseball players and football players claim that training with mixed martial arts is creating a competitive edge over their colleagues.  So much so, athletes like Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox, Brad Penny of the Detroit Tigers, Russell Martin of the Yankees, and the entire Atlanta Falcons’ team are keeping their routines under wraps as if they were part of their playbooks.

So how does it work? The MMA (mixed martial arts) trainers put together sequences that mimic how athletes play. For example, in order to throw a pitch, a pitcher’s movement involves lifting the knee, throwing the arm forward, and swinging the opposite back leg. In order to strengthen the muscles that control these movements, the trainer mirrors a pitcher’s sequence by having them raise the knee, forward punch, and end with a back kick.

One could argue promotional fitness accessories, like tracking monitors and punching bags could encourage any individual to improve their overall performance; but these teams and players are “drinking the kool-aid.” With this “new” training routine in place, some players even claim it’s improving their mental game, too.

Lauren Cohen

Multimedia Coordinator

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