MMA is such a great art because it combines so many different fighting techniques into one. You might be wondering if karate fits into that mix. Karate has been looked to for years as an effective fighting technique because it uses balance over strength in many regards. How does this translate into the discipline of MMA?

When combined with other fighting techniques, karate can prove very effective for an MMA fighter. Karate works well together with many other martial arts, particularly wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many fighters at the pinnacle of MMA have made great use of their karate skills when fighting.

Making use of karate within MMA requires a practical approach and solid discipline. It is important to know when it is appropriate to use karate and when another fighting technique would be more useful. Please continue reading to discover some of the finer principles of karate as they relate to the fighting art of MMA.

Are Karate Experts Becoming MMA Fighters?

Fighters who are proficient in karate are finding a home in the MMA. Karate has long been one of the most popular mixed martial art disciplines in the world. This means that many people who got their start with karate are finding that many of those same fighting principles can help them immensely in the cage.

Over the years, more and more people who got their start with karate are becoming MMA fighters. Some of these same individuals have done quite well within the sport, with several of them becoming MMA champions. These include Guy Mezger, Robert Whittaker, and Bas Rutten.

I still remember when I watched Lyoto Machida knock out Randy Couture. This was my first time seeing Machida, or anyone clearly show they know karate for that matter. You constantly hear that karate isn’t good enough to hold up in a fight, but it’s definitely on display if you look for it so there’s definitely a reason why people keep training with it.

How Is Karate Different Than Other Mixed Martial Arts?

Karate fighters make use of several different stances that are not used in other fighting techniques. You will often see karate experts standing in a sideway motion only to then switch their stance quickly. This has translated well into MMA because it catches other fighters off guard because of the unique stance.

Not everyone can benefit from the unique stance that karate brings to MMA. In other words, not every fighter will be proficient in using karate in the cage. It is up to the individual fighter and how they can use the various karate techniques to ultimately be beneficial in MMA.

The unique karate stance enables the fighter to throw a long-range kick quickly. This is done with the lead leg and can best be illustrated by front and sidekicks. When proper spacing is achieved in the cage, karate fighters can also use a combination of spinning elbows, kicks, and back fists in quick succession to gain an advantage over their opponents.

If a karate fighter can effectively mix their stance with the stellar footwork and movement associated with other mixed martial art disciplines, they can be quite effective.

However, karate fighters tend to stand sideways a majority of the time. This can have its limitations when fighting MMA. To begin, the lead leg in karate tends to remain open. This is necessary to practice leg kicks and single-leg takedowns. To compensate, karate fighters need to use quick footwork in order to stay outside the range of their opponent.

Does Karate Footwork Differ from Other Mixed Martial Arts?

The footwork used by karate fighters does differ from the ones used by boxers of Muay Thai experts. For example, karate fighters are typically seen using a bouncing motion with their feet. This allows them to move in all directions easily. They can just as easily bounce side to side as they can backward and forwards.

The ability to bounce is what allows karate fighters to move towards and away from their opponents faster than other fighting techniques might allow. The best karate fighters can catch their opponents transitioning before they are able to put up their defenses. This is how they can be so effective when making a move to MMA.

What Do Karate Fighters Need to Keep in Mind as they Fight MMA?

Karate is a point-based system where the fighter is rewarded simply by touching the opponent in certain places. Once the touch is made, the fighters reset and start again. MMA has no such reset mode, so karate fighters must be ready to jump back and put up their defenses as soon as they have landed a hit.

The constant fighting action associated with MMA might at first be a limitation for karate fighters. However, with proper discipline and practice, karate fighters will find that their techniques work very well in MMA combined with other fighting techniques.

How Can Karate Fighters Transfer to MMA?

Karate fighters can transfer to MMA if they are willing to constantly be on the move. They can utilize the side-to-side motion of karate, followed by throwing many punches and kicks. Karate fighters will want to focus on giving quite a few different looks to their opponent, so they always have the advantage.

When the opponent is left wondering when karate techniques will be utilized, they will constantly be on their toes wondering what is going to come next. This results in an opponent that is constantly struggling in their attempt to cut off the other fighter. Karate fighters can often win this cat and mouse race against the clock because they have more patience.

Karate fighters have a blitz mentality instilled in them. They know when to attack quickly and go for the win. This transfers well to MMA. It is hard to defend a karate fighter who has gained the upper hand and enters a blitz fighting mode. The fight can be over quickly when this transpires.


Now that you understand how effective karate can be within MMA, it is time to start testing this art. Start by learning how to use karate within the scope of other mixed martial arts that you might be familiar with. This is how you will become a more disciplined and effective MMA fighter over time, using karate along the way.