Brazilian Martial Arts & MMA : Match Made In Heaven

MMA lends a great deal of heritage from Brazilian martial arts.

There are many fighting styles originating in Brazil which have become integral to success as a mixed martial artist. Grappling in both an upright position and on the ground is almost always the decider of the outcome of the fight.

Brazilian fighting styles teach a range of techniques which will improve any fighter’s skill, working synergistically with any existing martial arts participated in.

Most MMA fighters tend to begin their journey by focusing on kicking and punching. However, once a true grappling style such as Jiu-Jitsu or Luta Livre is grasped, all aspect of the athlete’s game will improve.

Here we are taking a look at which Brazilian martial arts are best for the modern MMA fighter and how each is best integrated into existing MMA workouts.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has had the largest impact on MMA out of all Brazilian martial arts. This fighting style went from being relatively unknown to international acclaim in little to no time.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, Extreme Fighting, the World Combat Championship and Martial Arts Reality are all ruled by fighters with a solid background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The core concept of this martial art is to persevere; to position yourself in a place which gives you the highest degree of control over your opponent.

This in turn translates to the highest possible damage output with minimal exposure to taking damage. There are a plethora of techniques taught which bring about this goal.

The Advantages of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Since Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trains one to be a capable grappler, it is imperative that you have a training partner.

This fighting style trains you for success in actual combat, not just competition.

With no katas, a flexible grading system and development of both positioning and submission skills, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is perfect for MMA cross training. This art teaches the importance of learning new ways to maintain an advantage while using any known techniques.

As your opponent’s ability to counter your technique becomes better, new innovations are needed to complete the move with success. Thus skills learned from other fighting disciplines become a valuable part of capitalizing on your position.

Brilliant Brazilian MMA Takedowns

Integrating Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

There is no one fighting style which is as fundamental to MMA as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It will help you gain control your of clinch fighting, ground grappling and teach you the true value of strategy.

For the mixed martial artist, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu needs to be combined with a fighting style which develops your striking ability. The combination of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu working extremely well from the guard position, the superior control in your ground game and equal training in an upright fighting style is deadly.

Mixed martial artists would do well to devote half their time to this form of fighting, and the other 50% distributed between styles that teach you how to strike.

Luta Livre


Luta Livre is a form of Brazilian martial arts with a fixed-focus on grappling. This fighting style also trains one to become aware of their opponent’s strategy.

This includes awareness of leverage, positioning, timing, momentum, grips and control points used to stifle your opponent’s technique.

It aims to make your own attacks completely unexpected by instilling a system which does not rely on systematic repetition. You train to grapple using the entire body, a methodology which correlates perfectly with the maximum efficiency principal of Judo.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Luta Livre are very similar however Luta Livre is a no gi fighting style, where Jiu-Jitsu teaches both gi and no-gi grappling.

The Advantages of Luta Livre

As one becomes more and more familiar with the techniques and fighting style of Luta Livre it becomes easier and easier to avoid situations of force completely.

This is an art which keeps you moving while always being in control of the space that you are fighting.

Superior positioning and intelligent use of the body to block is what keeps you in control.

Any MMA fighter who is well-versed in Lute Livre is far less susceptible to being setup, or falling into a trap. Strategic moves within the cage are also far easier for one trained in this form of Brazilian martial arts.

Integrating Luta Livre

Luta Livre is great for cross-training. It does not train you for competition specifically.

Rather it teaches you to gain control of your position and your opponents movement. It is a true fighting style that is meant for real combat.

As is the case with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Luta Livre is a great foundation for the rest of your fighting styles.

The takedowns, strategy, grappling, clinch fighting and control of motion works synergistically with many other martial arts. Styles which teach striking such as boxing, karate and Muay Thai pair extremely well with this form of Brazilian martial arts.



The three main styles of dance, movement and momentum-focused form of Brazilian martial arts are Angola, Regional and Contemporary.

Angola is a slow style with little actual combat. It is more of a game. You do however develop great footwork, good reflexes and a great deal of agility.

Regional is the faster style of Capoeira which most train in. Excessive force is never used, yet just enough is encouraged to motivate skills development.

Contemporary Capoeira is a blend between the two and is difficult to define due to the various training routines of each teacher and the influence of their particular personal style.

The term is also used to refer to any fighter who uses any style of Capoeira in conjunction with another martial art, as is the case for MMA fighters.

The Advantages of Capoeira

Capoeira does not emphasize knocking down or wearing down your opponent. It is rather a game of skill.

Most attacks are slowed down before hitting the opponent. This is seen as a means of showing superiority.

The more aggressive bouts between highly-skilled capoeiristas and typically never seen by the public. When practicing Capoeira you can expect to develop your evasion, elbow and knee strikes, and a range of acrobatic maneuvers.

Balance is a core of this form of Brazilian martial arts, as is the ability to strategically choreograph combinations of attacks, defense and mobility.

Integrating Capoeira

Capoeira’s stance is termed the “ginga” and this rocking motion translates to a very versatile stance to build from when in the cage.

The constant motion prevents you from being an easy target while also serving as a basis for superior strategies, such as feints and fakes.

This martial art aims to make you a proficient fighter even when outnumbered or at a technical disadvantage.

It is not the easier form of Brazilian martial arts to apply to MMA but the dexterity, flexibility, speed and devastating kicks alone are very useful to a dedicated athlete.

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