Mixed martial arts competitions are becoming increasingly popular, spawning an interest in MMA training. Join a live Web chat with MMA coach Mike Van Arsdale Monday, June 20, at noon Pacific time (2 p.m. CT, 3 p.m. ET) and find out the benefits of the sport for all levels of athlete, from recreational to pro. Van Arsdale won the gold medal in World Cup freestyle wrestling and is a former UFC fighter.
In 1998 he made his mixed martial arts debut in Brazil, winning three consecutive fights in one night and the title of the International Vale Tudo Championships. He now trains such elite MMA athletes as Rashad "Suga" Evans, Jorge "Sandman" Santiago, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante.
We asked Van Arsdale what mixed martial arts training offers athletes.
"We can go to a gym and lift weights or get on the treadmill, but it's kind of mechanical," he said. "This is a fluid way of moving your body because you're changing levels, from being on the mat to going to a squat position to standing and being in a combative situation. It causes you to use your reflexes and reactions."
There's a mental component as well, he added: "Training in MMA involves a learning process. Any time you're learning something you're training your nervous system as well as your muscles, and you're training it at a higher level. And there's never an end to learning martial arts."