What is it? Mixed Martial Arts hasn't been in this country for long, but it sure has changed a lot since the early days of the UFC. What started as a collection of fighters from strict background facing off Bloodsport-style has evolved into a mature sport with a huge following and lots of nuance.
Where you've seen it: Aside from the UFC, which will be making its way to Fox in early November, it was also given the big screen treatment in the movie Warrior starring Tom Hardy. There are also plenty of "cage fighting" scenes in movies that should be totally ignored if you don't want to sound like a jerk. What to expect: Most MMA programs consist of several parts, including a stand-up element and a grappling element. Muay Thai is common for striking and wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are extremely common for the ground aspect. Contact will be very common and you can expect to leave exhausted most nights. Is it for you? Because there are so many aspects to MMA, it usually requires a bigger time and money commitment than some other schools. But, because you're doing so much work, it usually offers a superior workout. It's not meant for self-defense, but isn't the worst since it teaches fighters to handle a lot of diverse situations. It'll also make watching the UFC a lot more exciting.
What is it? Hailing from Japan in the late 1800s, Judo concentrates on throws and chokes, almost totally lacking strikes of any kind. Other marital arts like Sambo and Jiu Jitsu are actually off-shoots of Judo.
Where you've seen it: Again, there are plenty of Judo elements in MMA. If you've ever seen the legendary Fedor Emilianenko fight, you've seen him use Judo and Sambo to dominate opponents (at least until recently). Also, like Tae Kwon Do, it's an Olympic sport. What to expect: If you want to hit people, this isn't the place to be. The only time strikes are thrown are during kata or forms, which are pre-arranged fight scenarios designed to practice defending against strikes and show off the capabilities of Judo. You can also expect to get thrown on the ground. A lot. In fact, it's likely that every session, or at least most of them, will be spent practicing falling so it'll hurt less when you get taken down. Is it for you? While it has lost some ground to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo is still extremely popular when it comes to competition. While there's no striking, there's still plenty of impact and if you're in it for self-defense purposes, it's more practical than BJJ. It's a full-body workout, but your core and your grip will get the worst of it.