I’ve been teaching Mat Pilates Body classes in MMA – Mixed Martial Arts Club in London for more then 2 years now. The MMA and Fitness club Urban Kings offers a wide range of different mixed martial arts such as Boxing, Thai Boxing, BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), and many other fitness and holistic classes like Pilates Body, Yoga, and Sports Conditioning. Pilates principles can be used in our daily lives as well as in any athletic activity. You must have heard of that Pilates is good for getting good posture and developing a strong core but did you know that training Pilates regularly can take you to the next level in your mixed martial arts training?
But what is Pilates and what are the benefits to practising it alongside MMA training? Pilates is an innovative and safe system of mind-body exercise using a floor mat or a variety of equipment. Pilates teaches body awareness, good posture and easy, graceful movement. It was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Hubertus Pilates who was born in Germany but lived in England where he was working as a boxer and self defence instructor. He began to develop Pilates technique during the First World War by teaching his fellow internees at an internment camp.
- Core training: having a strong core provides many advantages for a martial artist. Having a strong core means a higher level of agility, more speed, better reflexes and even helps you to get back to your feet quickly. In addition, improving your core training leads to a faster development of stronger and bigger muscles.
- Flexibility: if you aren’t naturally very flexible you’ve probably discovered how difficult and sometimes painful it can be to work on your flexibility. Good flexibility will give you better range of movement, reduced muscle imbalances and prevent you from potential injuries from MMA training. Being flexible will lead to increased stamina, explosive power, superior conditioning and quick recovery after training.
- Balance: how good do you think is your balance? If you’re not sure try this simple test: how long can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed? If it’s under 20 seconds, you need to work on improving your balance. Do you have problems standing up and putting on your socks or shoes without falling over? If so, you can take this as another sign that your balance needs some work. In both everyday scenarios and in MMA fights, balance plays a very important role. Pilates exercises are great for increasing your balance, and in a regular Pilates Class you will be asked to stand on one leg, flex the torso and bend the spine onto the other side without falling over – a great test of balance!
- Decreasing muscle imbalances: Every human body has some kind of imbalance. There are however imbalances that can improve performance in some sports, for example a right handed boxer should have a dominant side in order to succeed. Aside from these unique situations, the majority of imbalances can cause injury. Those bad imbalances interfere normal, functional ability, change normal gait and locomotive patterns (walking, running, skipping), restrict normal joint ranges of motion, and ultimately cause pain. Pilates can help with all the bad imbalances as all the movements are designed to re-balance the body.