Thirty years ago, most people’s primary relationship with martial arts was through movies like Karate Kid, Bloodsport and Hard to Kill, but the growth of MMA means that the modern generation are more likely to emulate Anderson Silva, Jon Jones or Georges St Pierre than Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal.
Whereas the form of fighting which takes place on the big screen was never intended to be true to life MMA is as real as it gets which has motivated millions of fight fans to make the transition from watching on the sofa to training in the dojo or the gym.
For those fortunate enough to live near a city centre in the West access to MMA is likely to be relatively easy, although not necessarily cheap, but for people who live in rural areas or more obscure locations picking up the techniques they see in the Octagon is much more problematic.
This is where the internet can be a powerful tool. Many of the current crop of UFC stars, such as former middleweight champion Rich Franklin, learned the tricks of the trade by studying mail order videos and this is a form of education which is even more readily available in the internet era.
For anyone who either can’t access or afford actual MMA instruction there are a number of websites available which offer students the capacity to study the sport from the privacy of their own home, although given how rapidly the sport has grown it is still surprising how few of these there are.
By far the most comprehensive at present is Evolve University which was launched earlier this year by Singapore based entrepreneur Chatri Sityodtong. Building on the success of Evolve MMA, it features the same team of highly experienced instructors offering their expertise in high definition youtube videos.
Whereas most websites offering online learning will focus on one aspect of martial arts Evolve University covers the entire spectrum with a team of instructors who are highly accomplished and decorated in their individual fields be it wrestling, BJJ, boxing, Muay Thai or MMA.
Some of the videos currently available to view free of charge include ONE FC champion Shinya Aoki demonstrating a banana split, US Olympian Heath Sims showcasing a basic penetration shot and three weight Lumpinee champion Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn breaking down some errors beginners typically make when throwing hooks.
With numerous Muay Thai, boxing and BJJ world champions already on the payroll Evolve MMA has a reputation as being the best camp in Asia and Evolve University gives anyone with an internet connection access to the same trainers as Evolve Fight Team members Shinya Aoki and Rafael Dos Anjos for just 19.95 USD per month.
Evolve University might be the most prestigious facility offering online learning at present but it is not the only place where aspiring mixed martial artists can pick up tips. Gracie University is the brainchild of Ryron and Rener Gracie and as you would expect it focuses primarily on the grappling aspects of the MMA game.
Anyone who registers at Gracie University gets access to four free tutorials which consist of an intro class, a trap and roll escape, an Americana armlock and a positional control tutorial. The remainder of the videos are priced between 8-14 USD each with discounts available when buying in bulk.
More on the BJJ side is the Mendes Brothers Online Training Program which offers online instruction on grappling both with and without a Gi. Rafael and Guilherme Mendes are both BJJ world champions and access to their tutorial videos costs $24 USD a month.
Another BJJ world champion, Marcelo Garcia, offers online tutorials for an identical price at MG In Action, other contenders in the comparatively crowded BJJ and grappling market include Submissions 101 and Alliance Instructional while Lockflow is one of very few websites which offers both ground fighting and striking techniques.
No-one is suggesting that it is possible to prepare for a high level MMA fight relying exclusively on online tuition but the internet is a resource which remains surprisingly underutilized by aspiring fighters, particularly given how heavily the previous generation relied on mail order videos.
With people frequently complaining about the prohibitive cost of BJJ classes in particular the internet offers some much more cost effective alternatives and websites like Evolve University and Gracie University allow people from any area and almost any walk of life to learn MMA.