Why are Chinese Martial Arts are not used in MMA?

As an MMA practitioner, I’ve always been fascinated by the variety of martial arts that are represented in the sport. From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to kickboxing, there’s a wide range of techniques and strategies that fighters can use to dominate in the cage. However,  I’ve always been curious about the Chinese martial arts. Despite the fact that China has a rich history of martial arts and a deep tradition of combat sports, I’ve never seen a fighter in the UFC or any other major MMA tournament use traditional Chinese techniques. So, I started wondering, why aren’t Chinese martial arts used in MMA?

One reason is that Chinese martial arts are generally not as well-known or well-understood in the West as other styles. While styles like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai have been popularized by high-profile fighters and competitions, Chinese martial arts have largely remained a mystery to Western audiences. 

As a result, MMA practitioners may not have been exposed to them, and may not have the opportunity to learn and train in them. 

Additionally, the Chinese martial arts that are more widely known in the west are Wushu and Kung-Fu which are more geared towards forms, acrobatics, and performances and less towards fighting, so these styles may not translate well to the cage.  Additionally, many Chinese martial arts rely on complex hand forms and intricate footwork, which may not be as effective in the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of the cage.

Another reason Chinese martial arts may not be used in MMA is that they are quite different in terms of their training methods and techniques compared to other styles. Chinese martial arts place a strong emphasis on internal power and Qi cultivation, which can take years of training to develop.  In contrast, MMA training tends to focus on developing external strength and power. 

The Chinese martial arts also rely heavily on traditional weapons like swords, staffs, and spears, which are not permitted in MMA competition. While this may not be a barrier to some fighters who are interested in adapting Chinese martial arts to MMA, it is a significant obstacle for others. It would require them to re-learn the techniques and forms that they’ve trained for years, and make them almost useless in a cage fight.

Lastly, another reason is that there are no major Chinese organizations promoting MMA. In China, where martial arts originated, the focus is more on Sanda, which is a sport that combines elements of Chinese martial arts with kickboxing. It’s a sport that is well-known within China but not very popular in the rest of the world. 

MMA competitions are often organized by western promotion companies and these companies tend to favor Western styles and fighters. As a result, Chinese martial arts have had less opportunity to gain a foothold in the sport.

As an aside, there are some techniques creeping into MMA….


In conclusion, Chinese martial arts are not used in MMA for a variety of reasons. Chinese martial arts are not as well-known or well-understood in the West as other styles, and they also require a specific training method, technique and focus that is different than other styles. Additionally, their reliance on traditional weapons is not permitted in MMA and there is a lack of representation in MMA competitions. However, that doesn’t mean Chinese martial arts are not effective or can’t be adapted to MMA. It just means that it’s a challenge that require a lot of dedication, time and training to master, and would also require the support of coaches and promotion companies who are willing to invest in fighters who use Chinese martial arts.

Personally, I think it would be exciting to see Chinese martial arts represented in MMA, as it would add a new dimension to the sport and showcase the incredible skills and techniques that these styles have to offer. If you’re an MMA practitioner who is interested in exploring Chinese martial arts, I would encourage you to seek out a reputable school or coach and start training. With dedication and hard work, you might be able to adapt these traditional styles to the cage and make a unique mark on the sport.

It’s important to remember that MMA is a constantly evolving sport, and what may not be seen as viable today may change in the future. With the growth of MMA in China and more Chinese fighters entering the international arena, we might see a larger representation of Chinese martial arts in the sport. But for now, it remains a challenge for Chinese martial artists to make a name for themselves in the MMA world.


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