One martial art that is commonly used in Mixed Martial Arts or MMA and is less talked about is the martial art of TaeKwondo. There are many high caliber fighters in the sport of MMA with a background in TaeKwondo and use it to their advantage in striking.
Is Taekwondo good for MMA fighting? Yes, learning Taekwondo will not only help with one with timing, speed and finding their range but there are also a variety of kicks in Taekwondo such as the sidekick and axe kick that can give one the edge over an opponent in MMA fight.
Keep reading below as we list the TaeKwondo techniques used in MMA and what advantages they have in the sport. We’ll also list notable MMA fighters that have a background in TaeKwondo.
Benefits of TaeKwondo in MMA
Mixed Martial Arts(MMA) is an ever changing hybrid martial art, where aspects of many martial arts including Taekwondo are mixed to form one style. Each fighter in the sport of MMA has created their own unique styles based on whatever disciplines they may have learned. The usual core martial arts discussed in MMA are either BJJ, Muay Thai, wrestling, and boxing.
If you watch MMA fighters that have a background in TaeKwondo, you notice a few things. You notice that they’re masters of speed, timing, precision and range. Having these three things in the striking aspect of MMA benefit a TaeKwondo fighter and make them really hard to deal with.
You’ll notice a fighter with a TaeKwondo background is always able to control the range in an MMA fight. They have wide stances and are able to move in and out against an opponent, while being very difficult to corner. These TaeKwondo fighters are able to keep opponents at the end of their punches and kicks, which makes them very frustrating opponents to deal with.
Fighters with a TaeKwondo background know the exact moment when to strike their opponent. They are very patient to wait for their opening and when it comes, they throw their strike with speed and precision.
TaeKwondo fighters in MMA are known for their speed. There is always a snapping speed with the techniques they use.
A TaeKwondo fighter is also very precise with their striking. They know exactly where they want to land their strikes and always hit their target with precision.
TaeKwondo Kicks Used In MMA
In every UFC/MMA event, you will see strikes that are taught in TaeKwondo. Specifically the kicks in TaeKwondo. Here is a list of the most used TaeKwondo kicks used in MMA.
Roundhouse/Turning Kick(Dollyo Chagi)
The roundhouse kick is the most common kick used in MMA. Usually it is the Muay Thai roundhouse, but the TaeKwondo roundhouse is also frequently used. This kick is thrown with a quick snap and for more power a jumping or 360 roundhouse is also sometimes used.
A lot of the MMA fighters with a TaeKwondo background set themselves apart from other fighters by frequent use of the sidekick. Many fighters have a base in boxing/kickboxing and have their guards high, which exposes their midsection. The sidekick is used to exploit this opening knocking them back and or making them lose their breath. Turn sidekick is also frequently used.
Crescent Kick(Inside and Outside)
Crescent kicks are very effective strikes fighters can use for their striking in MMA. They can bypass an opponent’s guards and land a kick to the side of their head.
Axe Kick(Naeryeo Chagi)
Like the crescent kick this kick is sometimes used in MMA to bypass an opponent’s. By a kick straight up and dropping your heel on top of the opponent’s head.
Front Kick(Ap Chagi)
This kick has KO’d many fighters over the years in MMA. Fighters snap front kicks up the middle landing it to the opponent’s chest and face. Push kicks are also used by usually more like Muay Thai style push kicks.
Hook Kick/Spinning Hook Kick
Some of the most devastating KOs in MMA history have been done with spinning hook kicks. Similar to crescent kicks, they go around an opponent’s guard striking the side of their head.
TaeKwondo Blocks in MMA
Many blocks in TaeKwondo have been implemented and used in MMA. Here is a list of a few.
Knife Hand Blocks
Knife hands are great for MMA and are frequently used in MMA. This opened hand style of block makes fighters ready to block a variety of strikes, while possibly confusing an opponent with the hand movements.
Palm Block(Sonbadak Naeryo Makgi)
You will normally see fighters with a TaeKwondo background using palm blocks in their fights. They usually have one arm extended testing the range with the other hand next to their face ready to block attacks.
Push Kick(Mireo Chagi)
Push kicks are frequently used in MMA to block attacks and offset an opponent’s timing. When an comes in to attack a push kick can disrupt an attack forcing an opponent to reset.
Cut kicks and sidekicks are also used as blocks in MMA. When an opponent comes in for an attack, these kicks cut off their attack.
Notable TaeKwondo Fighters in MMA
There are actually quite a few high caliber MMA fighters with backgrounds in TaeKwondo. Here is a list of the most known and successful MMA fighters with bases in TaeKwondo.
Valentina is the current UFC 125lb champion and is actually a 2nd degree black belt in TaeKwondo. She started her journey in martial arts starting with TaeKwondo when she was 5 years old and later transitioned to kickboxing and Muay Thai in her teen years. She is well known for using TaeKwondo techniques in her fights such as crescent kicks and heel kicks.
Michael “Venom” Page
Michael “Venom” Page is one of the biggest rising stars in MMA with a background in TaeKwondo and Kickboxing. Before beginning his professional combat career, Great Britain’s Olympic Taekwondo team was scouting him, but he turned down the offer. In his short career, Page has multiple highlight reel knockouts using techniques he learned in TaeKwondo.
Barboza is a TaeKwondo black belt and one of the most feared strikers in UFC’s lightweight division. His greatest knockout and arguably one of the best in UFC history was a spinning heel kick he landed flush on fighter Terry Etim.
Silva is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time and is a 5th degree TaeKwondo black belt. He frequently used TaeKwondo techniques in his fights and most notably knocking out Vitor Belfort with a front kick. Anderson actually wanted to compete for the Brazilian national team in the Olympics, but was ineligible due to being a professional athlete.
While TaeKwondo isn’t talked about much in MMA its influence is very apparent. Some of the greatest MMA fighters of all time have trained in TaeKwondo and many more fighters will continue to come from a TaeKwondo background. TaeKwondo has gradually gained respect within MMA and will gain more as time goes on.