Should you train Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, or should you train MMA?

This is a common question I have when people join the gym. I think people join the gym for a lot of different reason's. Some people have watched the UFC and I think I would be good at that. Other people are thinking about self defense. Some people want to lose weight or get in shape. So I usually ask them a question along the lines of why are you here? What are your goals?

After they answer that question I almost always tell them to start with Jiu-Jitsu. Now if they say I have always found Muay Thai and I am very interested in the art. Then I encourage to train 2 or 3 times a week in Muay Thai. But if they say I want to train to be a MMA fighter, I say start in Jiu-Jitsu. Once you make it to advanced class start adding in Muay Thai. And then eventually start going to the MMA classes.

Now a lot of people are probably wondering why? Why would you tell them to go that direction with MMA being last. Because Jiu-Jitsu is the part of fighting that takes the longest to get good at. Jiu-Jitsu is incredibly complex. It is also the part of the equation that requires the least amount of athleticism. What I mean is some of the best guys in the world are not as good of athletes as some other sports. Jiu-Jitsu guys are not going to be the fastest or biggest guys. The best guys are the most technical.

MMA is not as technical as Jiu-Jitsu. Athleticism is incredibly important. Look at guys like GSP and some of the other champions. They are all very athletic. So I encourage guys to start training Jiu-Jitsu to work on the more technical parts of fighting.

Another reason I encourage people to train Jiu-Jitsu. Is that the group of people who train Jiu-Jitsu form a strong connection to each other. This group because it does require so long to get good at become good friends. Almost all my friends after teaching Jiu-Jitsu for the last 18 years train Jiu-Jitsu. 

Conclusion: The truth of the matter is it doesn't matter which direction you choose to train in first. The main thing is that you start training. Give a honest try to the art that you are interested in. Make sure that you do your research into the best gym in your area before you start training. A lot of people choose gyms based on price. I think that is the worst way to choose a gym. Go tour the facility and talk to the instructors ect... Also if you can try to talk to some of the other students. Do you click with them. Do you feel like they are the type of people you would like to be friends with. Because if you end up chasing your dreams these people will become your friends.

Travis Lutter