To Attack or to Defend?

Some successful UFC fighters attack ferociously like UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn. They explode with aggression and seek to dominate their opponents. Yet other successful UFC fighters tend to dance away like UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida and UFC Middleweight Champion Andersen Silva. The same goes for the Muay Thai world and the BJJ world - there are aggressors and there are defenders.

So, is it better to attack or to defend? Is there a right way or a wrong way?

Interestingly, the answers lie within you. Humans are all wired with a "fight or flight" instinct when faced with danger. Some of us are hard-coded to fight all the time. And yet, some of us are hard-coded to avoid danger at all costs. This natural tendency is what you should follow as a martial artist. The key to success as a martial artist is to do what is natural for you and what you love to do. The same analogy can be applied to striking versus grappling. Some of us love to swim while others hate the water. Martial arts is a journey of the self. It is about unleashing your potential physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Martial arts simply gives you the tools to protect yourself. It is up to you to learn how best to apply those tools for your personal situation. At Evolve Mixed Martial Arts, our motto is "Achieve Greatness Within" because each personal journey is different. Yet, the goal is the same - to become the best version that you can be of yourself - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

So, is it better to attack or to defend?

In general, there is no correct answer. It is with what you are most comfortable. If in a sparring session, you find yourself as the aggressor all the time, the answer is that you should focus on developing an offense-based game. Do what comes naturally to yourself and learn to maximize your strengths. Of course, the idea is to use controlled offense in order to win. It is very rare for reckless offense to work, especially at the higher levels of Muay Thai, BJJ, and MMA. On the flip side, if in a sparring session, you find yourself dancing away all the time, the answer is that you should focus on developing a defense-based game. You should try to focus on turning your defensive instincts into a strength. Of course, if you are early in your martial arts learning, you should experiment with both offense and defense to find your comfort zone.

Is there a right or wrong way?

As you can see by the various approaches of the UFC World Champions, there is no right or wrong way. If you look closely at each fighter mentioned above, you will see some commonalities. For offensive fighters like Brock Lesnar and BJ Penn, the key to success is to learn to reign in their aggressive tendencies and use controlled aggression and technique to win. For defensive fighters like Andersen Silva and Lyoto Machida, the key to success is to learn to when to explode into offense at the right moments. In other words, if you are an aggressive fighter, you have to learn to be patient and use intelligence to time your attacks. Likewise, if you are a defensive fighter, you have to learn to recognize when you must attack with intelligence. As you can see, both fighting styles require patience, timing, technique, and intelligence.

To become phenomenal, you must have incredible offense and incredible defense. For example, Heavyweight Boxing Legend Mike Tyson had one of the best offensive games in history with monster knockout power and lightning speed. However, what really set him apart was that he also had unbelievable defense. His opponents were often 10-40 pounds heavier and 5-8 inches taller. They often had a reach advantage. Yet, Tyson was unhittable, especially early in his career as he rose through the ranks and became World Champion. People don't realize that Tyson practiced endless hours on how not to get hit. He had crazy head movement and phenomenal footwork. Most of the time, Tyson was the aggressor in his fights and he would march forward. However, his defense was what allowed him to enter his opponent's space so that he could unleash his attack without getting hit. Mike Tyson is truly a rare fighter. He had unbelievable power and speed. He had superior offense and an even better defense. He never took much damage as he unleashed his offense. Of course, as time wore on, Mike Tyson lost his discipline and stopped using his defense. Towards the end of his career, he simply used aggression and power to try to stop his opponents. He threw out his defense and paid the price as a result. Nevertheless, in his prime, Mike Tyson was perhaps the greatest heavyweight boxer in history.

Another great story is Samart Payakaroon, the greatest Muay Thai fighter in history. Samart is famously known for having the smallest heart of any fighter at the Sityodtong Gym. His natural tendency was always to run away from a fight. As a child, Samart would often quit if he got hurt in a sparring session. He hated getting hit and his pain tolerance was quite low. He had a soft chin too. He simply was not cut out to be a warrior - or so it seemed. On the flip side, Samart had unbelievable talent. He didn't possess raw knockout power, but he had the reflexes and the balance of a cat. His eyes were always sharp and he could see things happen before they actually did. Samart could float around the ring as if he were riding a magic carpet. So Kru Yodtong, Thailand's greatest Muay Thai teacher, developed a game around Samart's strengths and natural defensive tendencies. Kru Yodtong made Samart practice the push kick every day and forced him to do all defensive maneuveurs 2x more than the other fighters. Over time, because Samart practiced his defense and push kick so much, he became unhittable. After Samart became a master of defense, it was then when his career really skyrocketed. Fight after fight, all these great warriors could not touch Samart with clean shots. He push kicked and danced his way to victories. His confidence soared and he began to develop a defense-based attacking style. Soon, Samart was able to play an offensive game at will and he could always use his defensive game as his bread and butter. On top of that, Samart learned to fight in both right-handed stance (orthodox) and left-handed stance (southpaw). The remarkable thing about Samart was that he could turn into an aggressive attacking machine or he could turn into a dancing defensive machine - and he could do it as a right-handed fighter and as a left-handed fighter.

So is there a right way or a wrong way? No, there is only YOUR WAY. Do what you feel is most natural. Learn to maximize your strengths - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Learn to improve your weaknesses - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. At Evolve Mixed Martial Arts, you will receive some of the best instruction in the world for Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and MMA. It is up to you to take the tools that Evolve teaches and to incorporate them into your game.

Ultimately, you will learn how to Achieve Greatness Within and become the best version of yourself possible - in and out of the ring!

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. It ranks among the best academies in the world for Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and MMA.