Women MMA Combat Disciplines

Women’s mixed martial arts (similar to men’s MMA) was originally practiced as a competitive sport only. But as time progressed, this viewpoint slowly faded. Today, Canadian women’s MMA is practiced for health, fitness, fun, and recreation as much as it is for competition and self-defence. And as Canadian women’s MMA continues to grow in popularity, understanding the sport’s main disciplines is crucial.

Even though women’s mixed martial arts is (as its name suggests) a mixture of different fighting disciplines, some disciplines are more favoured than others. And each one is based on a specific fighting style. But to better understand the fighting discipline, it’s helpful to know the style that’s associated with it.

Fighting Styles of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts

Every fighting discipline in women’s MMA is linked to a specific style. These styles are as follows:


The standing fighting style is associated with disciplines such as Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Karate, etc. These martial arts disciplines aim to improve strikes and kicks from the standing position.


The most well-known martial art associated with ground fighting is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, other martial arts, such as Sambo and Submission Wrestling, also fall into this category and provide similar ground advantages.


Clinch fighting is a standing fighting style. It differs from traditional standing martial arts like Kickboxing and Muay Thai with its emphasis on eliminating the opponent’s use of kicks, punches, etc. Typical martial arts associated with clinch fighting include Judo and Wrestling.

Canadian Women’s MMA Combat Disciplines

Once you’re familiar with the basic fighting styles, you’ll have a deeper understanding (and appreciation) of the various fighting disciplines.

1. Wrestling

As one of the most in-demand skills in women’s mixed martial arts, a strong wrestling ability is a highly valuable asset. The one to win the wrestling bout is the one who will determine the pace and direction of the fight. A good wrestler possesses the uncanny ability to put their opponents in compromising positions. And what’s more, they have the skills to ensure they remain there. 

Wrestling is among the oldest combat sports, dating back to ancient civilizations. This martial art became significant in women’s MMA because of its focus on strength, control, and strategy. Emphasis on such qualities offered female fighters an opportunity to dictate where the fight occurs—standing or on the ground. 

2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gained notoriety in the 1990s. Since then, it has become one of the most popular martial arts in the world. A grappling discipline, BJJ is based on groundwork focused on submitting opponents through a myriad of:

  1. Chokes
  2. Submission holds
  3. Joint locks
  4. Leg attacks
  5. Takedowns

The Gracie family brought BJJ into the spotlight in the early 20th century. BJJ’s effectiveness was showcased in the early days of UFC, where Royce Gracie won numerous fights with the martial developed by his family. Also, BJJ became popular in women’s MMA due to its heavy focus on technique, which made it effective for fighters of all sizes. 

3. Muay Thai

One of the best (and most dangerous) techniques for striking in women’s mixed martial arts is mixing Boxing with Muay Thai. Because of its use of elbows and knees and its distinct combination of kicks and punches, Muay Thai is very effective in MMA. As a result, this discipline has earned its rank as the best striking martial art, not just for Canadian women’s mixed martial arts, but in general. Known as the "Art of Eight Limbs," Muay Thai originated in Thailand and became popular worldwide for its extensive use of:

  • Knees
  • Elbows
  • Fists
  • Shins
  • Striking
  • Throws

Muay Thai was blended into MMA as fighters wanted to diversify their striking skills. Moreover, Muay Thai has brought a strong base for striking to women’s MMA and, as a result, has made fights more exciting and dynamic. Case and point? Champions like Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Valentina Shevchenko both retain strong Muay Thai backgrounds, having shown the power and precision this martial art can bring to the MMA cage.

4. Boxing

Boxing is a popular combat sport in women’s mixed martial arts. Most of the punches in stand-up fights are boxing strikes. Boxing punches make up the majority of MMA competition knockouts and knockdowns. Additionally, boxing kicks, blocks, and combination techniques are highly coveted in Canadian women’s MMA. 

This sport has origins dating back to ancient times but was modernized in the 18th century. It became a component of MMA due to its strong focus on:

  • Footwork
  • Punching technique
  • Defensive maneuvers
  • Rhythmic movement (bobbing, weaving, clinching)
  • Counter attacks
  • Feint combinations, etc.

In women's MMA, boxing offered a direct, powerful, and effective way to out-strike opponents. For example, fighters like Holly Holm, a former professional boxing champion, used her excellent boxing skills to become a UFC Bantamweight Champion, demonstrating the effectiveness of boxing in MMA.

5. Karate

As a stand-alone weapon, Karate will not fare well against an MMA practitioner. However, this martial art is more effective when combined with other disciplines Wrestling or BJJ. It uses the foundational attacks of striking and kickboxing. And as a result, it is an outstanding addition to the mixed martial artist’s arsenal. Originating from the Ryukyu Kingdom, now Okinawa, Japan, Karate focuses on striking techniques using punches, knee strikes, kicks, and open-hand techniques. 

The inclusion of Karate in MMA brings a variety of striking techniques and a different approach to the fight, based on precision, timing, and discipline. Athletes like Lyoto Machida and Stephen Thompson have popularized Karate-based striking in women’s MMA. 

Understanding Canadian Women’s MMA

MMA is a complex martial art with many components. However, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Once all these fighting disciplines are combined, they create an incredible (and deadly) force that incorporates every part of the human body in a choreographed manner. This aspect of women’s mixed martial arts makes it a highly regarded sport. 

At Pallas Athena Women’s Fighting Championship, we are the #1 all-women MMA league in North America. Our mission is to create a platform that displays the best professional MMA fighters in Western Canada and around the world. So fill out our registration form today if you feel you have what it takes.