Mixed Martial Arts gives you a brutal workout, in more ways than one. Learn more about one of the fastest rising sport around.

Evolving from a "barbaric" no-holds-barred combat sport to one that is safe and organised, and governed by stringent rules over the past 20 years, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been exploding in popularity all over the world.
The Set-Up
In professional MMA tournaments, both combatants wear a mouthpiece, groin guard and a pair of padded gloves and trunks. No other gear is allowed. The competition arena comes in different shapes, depending on the country.

"In Singapore, competitive MMA combat is done in a circular cage," says Mitch "The Dragon" Chilson, Men's Health fitness advisor and MMA instructor at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts.

The Rules
In a standard MMA match, fighters compete in three rounds, each lasting five minutes. Normally, three judges decide the outcome of each round based on a 10-point scoring system, similar to that of boxing. This means the winner will receive 10 points and the loser nine or less, based on their performance. At the end of the match, the points from the three rounds would be totalled, and the fighter with the most points wins.

There are various ways to win a match, such as through a submission (when one of the fighters is caught in an inextricable lock), a technical knockout (when the losing fighter is unable to defend against his opponent or when a fighter sustains serious injuries) and a knockout (when one of the fighters is beaten unconscious).

However, there are rules to ensure the safety of combatants. A fighter can't gouge the eyes of his opponent, perform a fishhook (tug the side of the mouth), a rabbit punch (hit the back of the head) or attack the throat of an opponent. He is also banned from kneeing a grounded opponent or kicking him in the head. Each of these actions is considered a foul by the referee. Three fouls will result in automatic disqualification.

"With the introduction of these strict rules, MMA has become one of the safest combat sports in the world," Chilson says.

The Strategy
In MMA, there is no single fighting style that trumps all, although over the past 20 years, Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu and Muay Thai have proven to be the two most effective martial arts, says Chilson.

Regardless of style, though, the key to winning is showing dominance. Judges look for the fighter who sets the pace of the duel and lands more clean hits, not the one who has the flashiest kicks.

Successful MMA fighters say fierce ground combat techniques (grappling and submission), striking skills (landing hits) and ring control are essential in winning a match.

What You Need
- Mouthpiece, groin guard, trunks and 4oz gloves
- Cage arena
- An opponent

Mitch Chilson explains how Mixed Martial Arts can change your life.

1. All-Round Fitness
Muay Thai is one of the most intensive cardiovascular workouts in the world, while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trains flexibility. "Train with these two styles and you'll have a complete workout," says Chilson.

2. Confidence-Building
"We see lots of people walk in with very broken self- esteem," says Chilson. "And when they start doing MMA, you can see their self-confidence start to grow. It's really fascinating."

3. Exciting Workout
"How long can you run on a treadmill, man?" asks Chilson. "People want something new and exciting - and MMA gives it to them."