Karate is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. But, how effective is it in MMA?

Karate is effective in MMA when combined alongside other fighting styles and techniques. Karate alone lacks grappling and submissions, which leaves Karate fighters vulnerable to some attacks. However, striking moves taken from karate can be found at high levels in MMA. 

Keep reading for an in-depth analysis of the advantages of learning karate for MMA. I will explore whether karate is effective in MMA and where its weaknesses lie. By the end of this piece, you will better understand the advantages of mastering different fight styles. 

Where Does Karate Work in MMA?

Karate is a valuable and practical fight style for mixed martial arts. However, there are limitations to its techniques and strikes when used in MMA. When is karate effective in MMA, and when will you see fighters use karate techniques? 

Karate works in MMA when the fight is taking place with the fighters on their feet. Its techniques are designed for stand-up fighting. Karate punches, kicks, and blocks are used by some MMA fighters when the fight takes place on their feet. 

Karate practitioners are experts when it comes to blocking and throwing strikes. In any situation which involves punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and blocks of these attacks, karate is an exceptional resource. However, there is more to mixed martial arts than fighting on your feet. 

When Does Karate Not Work in MMA?

Mixed Martial Arts is a fighting competition that tests athletes across various fighting styles. As a result, some martial arts can be limited when competing in MMA. You are already aware that karate is excellent for strikes. However, there are situations where karate does not help in MMA. 

Karate does not work in MMA when the fight takes place on the ground or in the clinch. Karate doesn’t teach how to deal with on-the-floor situations or when your opponent is holding on to you. As a result, karate fighters are vulnerable to martial artists with experience in grappling.

Some martial arts like wrestling, sambo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focus on submissions and grappling. A karate fighter would experience great difficulty when fighting against a martial artist who’s highly skilled in grappling. 

Karate is only effective in specific aspects of mixed martial arts. For that reason, karate fighters usually learn other fighting skills to supplement their karate techniques. For instance, a person who learned karate may also learn wrestling. This allows them to deal with challenging grappling situations while still using karate strikes throughout the fight. 

Who Are the Best MMA Fighters Who Trained Karate?

Many MMA fighters use karate techniques during fights. However, that doesn’t always mean they are trained in karate as martial artists. Here are some of the best MMA fighters who’ve also obtained a black belt in karate.

Here are some of the best MMA fighters who trained karate: 

  • Georges St. Pierre 
  • Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson
  • Lyoto Machida 

Georges St.Pierre gained his 2nd dan black belt in karate by age 12. He became one of the most successful MMA fighters of all time, winning UFC titles at two weight classes. 

Steven Thompson is another MMA fighter in the UFC that often uses various techniques and stances from Karate. Thompson unsuccessfully fought for a UFC title. 

Lyoto Machida is a UFC legend. He demonstrated how deadly effective karate can be in MMA. Lyoto won the Light Heavyweight UFC belt before losing it to all-time great Jon Jones. 

What Martial Art Is Best for MMA?

Karate can be effective in MMA. However, its effectiveness is limited against more well-rounded or grappling-focused martial arts.

It’s difficult to say which martial art is best suited for MMA. I think the best way to answer that question is by seeing which martial art has produced the most champions at the highest level of MMA. 

Wrestling is the best martial art for MMA. Wrestlers account for a large number of all-time UFC world champions. The next best martial art for MMA is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, another grappling-focused fight style.

Wrestling has proved to be extremely useful in MMA. It’s a martial art that focuses on controlling your opponent’s movements. Wrestlers can control where the fight takes place and maintain a dominant position throughout battles. This is advantageous for submissions and deciding victories.

Wrestling alone may be enough to compete at a high level in MMA. However, most fighters also train in a striking martial art along with wrestling. A prime example of this is Georges St-Pierre. He primarily wrestled during his career and struck using his karate experience to great success. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the next best martial art for MMA. The UFC is regularly home to BJJ fighters who are highly skilled and dominant in their fights. BJJ fighters typically seek to submit their opponents by twisting bones and joints until they submit or tap out. 

Is Kung Fu Effective in MMA?

Kung Fu is an ancient Chinese martial art that dates back thousands of years. Kung Fu was one of the most commonly trained martial arts decades ago. However, in recent years, its popularity has seen a steady decline. Is Kung Fu effective against other fighting styles?

Kung Fu is not effective in MMA. Some of the techniques used in Kung Fu are illegal in MMA. Kung Fu training is rarely done against another opponent at full contact. Kung Fu does not train for clinching or grappling of any kind. 

Kung Fu is a very defensive martial art. The stances and techniques trained in Kung Fu often invite strikes onto the fighter, which can then be countered. However, when competing against other skilled martial artists, this leaves the Kung Fu fighter in a vulnerable position. 

The lack of experience in full-contact fights of most Kung Fu fighters puts them at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, fighters trained in other martial arts have years of experience competing in live training. 

While Kung Fu is ineffective in MMA, some Kung Fu moves may appear in MMA. This is partly due to the fact that Kung Fu techniques appear in other martial arts like Karate and Taekwondo.

Today, Kung Fu is more of a ceremonial martial art than a competitive way of fighting. Although practicing Kung Fu requires skill and discipline, it’s usually measured in terms of demonstrations rather than effectiveness against opponents.

Which Striking Martial Art Is Most Effective in MMA?

Karate is effective in MMA, especially when paired with other martial arts training like wrestling. However, there are many other striking martial arts that can be paired with wrestling. They also appear in MMA and have proven to be highly effective—sometimes even more than Karate.

Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is the most effective striking martial art in MMA. Muay Thai has produced numerous world champions across MMA, including UFC great Anderson Silva. This style involves a range of punches, knees, elbows, and kicks, along with clinching in fights. 

Muay Thai is likely the most comprehensive striking martial art that does not include an assortment of illegal strikes. For instance, Wing Chun and Krav Maga are effective in combat, but their techniques are illegal in MMA. 

Muay Thai trains fighters for all aspects of MMA except for grappling on the floor. For this reason, many Muay Thai fighters will learn other fight skills like BJJ to assist them in MMA. However, some Muay Thai fighters succeed in MMA without further martial arts training. 

UFC legend Anderson Silva was one the first to show the world the true efficacy of Muay Thai in high-level MMA competition. Muay Thai is a brutal form of combat designed to break down your opponent physically. In Muay Thai, fighters will aim at the arms and legs to slow down opponents before seeking knockout blows. 

The result of this aggressive yet clinical approach is not only entertaining to watch, but also very effective. This is especially true when facing another striking martial artist. Muay Thai fighters also often find success against wrestlers. Wrestlers use the clinch to control opponents, but Muay Thai fighters use knees and elbows to devastate the clinch. 

Final Thoughts 

Karate is effective in MMA, especially when accompanied by other martial arts training. Karate is excellent for striking and fighting when fighters are on their feet. However, karate alone offers no training for grappling and clinching, a vital aspect of MMA. Nevertheless, karate is a good base for learning MMA. 

Wrestling is the most effective martial art in MMA, with nearly half of all UFC champions having trained wrestling. BJJ is the next best martial art in MMA and is also focused on grappling. Muay Thai is the most effective striking martial art in MMA, and it also trains fighters in clinching.