I'm basically asking for an established MMA "curriculum". By that, I mean a way of training students for mixed martial arts that has been applied successfully by a significant number of schools. The aim of the program should be to train students for participating in amateur, later maybe professional fights.

I have over the years trained Judo, Boxing and Kickboxing. Watching and participating in MMA classes that try to practice everything (standup, grappling, groundfighting etc) combined from the very beginning seems to show me that this is a bad idea. Those who participate only in those classes, i.e. without prior experience in other arts, apparently don't have any solid skills at all. Instead they show a lot of sloppy techniques at almost anything they do.

So, does it even make sense for beginners to start with training everything or should they first acquire some skills in one art relevant to MMA, then another, and so on, and finally put it all together?

[Please bear in mind that here in Germany MMA in general is much less known and established as a sport that it probably already is in the US, Brasil or Japan. But it's definitely gaining momentumm, especially among youths]

  • It depends. What's your goal? The problem is that there's a kind of conflict of interest. MMA is Mixed Martial Arts. To some extent, I doubt that two MMA schools anywhere will have the same curriculum. Do you want to teach for competition? For self-defense? Ask yourself these questions, and hopefully you'll find the answer you're looking for.
    – Anon
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 13:50
  • Thanks for your input. Like I wrote, the (hypothetical) goal is to train students for amateur MMA competitions, not self-defense. I don't have any plans of putting this into practice, just wondering what kinds of approaches work. Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 19:31
  • In that case, since the world of MMA is new in Germany, teach them things.. Pick one thing, possibly ground fighting, that will give them an edge. You'll have to adapt your curriculum as the opponents learn your techniques, and over time, you will have fine-tuned a curriculum that matches what you want and helps your students win competitions.
    – Anon
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 3:28
  • This is really two questions: what are MMA curricula, and should people study MMA or focus on one art at a time. Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 14:16

4 Answers 4


Although I haven't trained with the Alpha MMA system, I have trained with and in the BJJ system of John Will. He is the author - the man is a legend and an amazing and inspirational teacher.


This is the only established curriculum that I know of (although I am sure there are others out there) - I can at least attest to John Will's usual teaching quality.

  • Could you describe the curriculum in addition to just providing a link? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:42
  • No - as I said in the answer, I haven't seen the program in action. I only know the creator/instructor. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 2:32

One of the strengths of MMA, and the common feeder styles (wrestling, BJJ, boxing) is the absence of a curriculum. Once you have a set curriculum, you get stuck with having to use it, and then you've got everyone training things they really shouldn't be bothering with, as better methods have been discovered.

Bruce Lee touched on this with the idea of constantly emptying and refilling the cup with water. As you discover something you've been doing isn't useful anymore, you drop it. If you find a better way of doing something, you use that instead.

That's inherrent in MMA - mixing and matching aspects from various styles. As you're introducing new elements, you find some things just don't work. You have to ditch them as a result. You still keep the core though, and the adaptations you've made still work in the original style. With boxing you would stop bobbing and weaving, but you'd still make good use of jabs, crosses and uppercuts, and you'd still work on slipping punches and working combinations. It wouldn't exactly look like orthodox boxing when you box, but it still is boxing nonetheless. With wrestling you'd eliminate going flat to your stomach when someone has your back and would instead heavily emphasise sit-outs. When you wrestle you'd be known for doing a lot of sit-outs, but it would still obviously be wrestling. In BJJ you'd have to stop relying on techniques that use gi grips, and would instead emphasise overhooks and underhooks, some of the more avant garde guards would also be ill-advised. DLR isn't a great idea when punches are allowed. Still, you'd be working closed and open full guards, half guard, butterfly guard, and bread and butter submissions like the armbar and RNC, and when you do BJJ it would still clearly be BJJ.

As a result, you can go to a boxing gym, and assuming the instructor is open minded and doesn't require you to do things only one way, you can tailor your boxing style to be suitable to MMA. If you can find a wrestling club for adults, you can change up your strategy when you wrestle, and work on standing up even if the scoring doesn't encourage that. You can go to a BJJ school and focus on what works for MMA, while still advancing. You won't be a permanent white belt because you don't like using X-Guard or DLR, and you prefer not to bother with Ezekiel chokes.

Try training Karate while refusing to chamber your hand because you want to keep it up, or advancing in Judo if you don't want to do Ippon-Seioi-Nage because it's too risky in MMA. It would have to be a really open minded instructor for that to work.

MMA is all about being the best fighter, and that requires you not to be constrained by a curriculum, so you're not spending time doing anything but whatever helps you the most. You're not going to find many MMA schools with an established curriculum as a result, and the ones you find that do have it probably aren't producing any champions.


There is no established curriculum.

Like within any single competitive arena or style, there are nearly as many methods of organizing training as there are schools. Most schools, such as Black House, focus on Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and wrestling. Backgrounds in other arts are found as well, but these are the most common.

"Feeder" Styles

There are a number of non-MMA competitive organizations that produce successful entrants into elite mixed martial arts competition. In these scenarios, a martial artist will become a world-class competitor in one form of combat sport before rounding out their game with the other skills necessary for MMA. Most notable are American wrestling (e.g. Cain Velasquez, Josh Koscheck, Dan Henderson), Olympic judo (e.g. Ronda Rousey and Rick Hawn), Brazilian jiu-jitsu (e.g. Roger Gracie, Jacare Souza, Demian Maia), knockdown styles of karate (Georges St-Pierre), kickboxing and others.

All-At-Once MMA Training

If you're not concerned with finding already-elite-level combat sportsmen and turning them into elite-level MMA fighters, training several arts at once is a fine approach. We are also seeing competitors succeed at elite levels with this approach. However, the sport is so new that there are not enough people who have been training MMA-qua-MMA since they were children, such as in wrestling or other feeder sports.


No curriculum but there are some must courses and elective courses.

Box, Muai Thai and BJJ are like must courses and very mostly these are enough. The other martial arts are like selective courses. A few moves from karate, capoeria, kick box would diverse your kicks. Wrestling and Judo muscle memory is mostly but not totally helpful. A few moves from Wing Chun and Ninjiutsu would help your body movements and reflex and also escaping strikes when necessary but never use the Wing Chun stand/guard position in your legs. You are free to choose any selectives but I repeat box, muai thai and BJJ are must.

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