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Is MMA Best for Self Defense?

I have always been cautious about being able to defend myself in a tricky or violent situation.

I wanted to feel that if a confrontation presented itself that I could handle it. MMA training has given me a lot more confidence but is MMA best for self defense?

MMA is effective for self defense if you learn a solid base in standup and ground fighting. You also learn when to strike back with a higher level of situational awareness. But MMA is still a sport that has rules. A real fight doesn’t have any rules.

Sometimes, avoiding unnecessary confrontation is the best tactic for defending yourself. But when you have no other choice, it could be critical to be able to protect you and others if the time comes.

In my practice of MMA I’m now more confident that the sport has given me a set of tools I can use in a confrontation.

But let’s go further into some of the reasons why MMA is good for self-defense even beyond the equipment-worn sports variant of MMA. As well as a few things to keep in mind before you go picking a fight.

Why MMA is good for self defense

Don’t you quit on MMA yet, let me tell you why the beautiful mixed martial arts will give you a fighting chance.

The best of martial arts

There is a reason that the biggest competition in the world for MMA has the name of UFC: Ultimate Fighting Championship.
MMA is a unique sport that allows for each fighter to bring any mix of unique fighting style that they have. They only have to win the fight.

Barring illegal strikes each fighter can present any fighting skills they choose.

Over time, some fighting styles and martial arts have risen to the top from being the most effective. And so now, most fighters specialise in one or more of:

  • Boxing
  • Muay Thai
  • Wrestling / Grappling
  • BJJ

MMA fighters usually need to have a mixed base of all four to succeed. They focus on these four martial arts because of their track record for being so successful.

Some professional fighters that have backgrounds in other martial arts – such as Karate, Kung Fu and Krav Maga – have used these skills in the cage. But none to the success of specialists in the previous four.

Why MMA is bad for self defense

A street fight is always about being realistic. Actions create results. So it’s key to understand what could go wrong and not rely on MMA being the perfect solution for defending yourself. Let’s go into some reasons why MMA is bad for self defense.

A street fight doesn’t have rules

The sport of MMA has rules such as:

  • No eye poking
  • No groin shots
  • No hitting the back of the head

In a real street fight, there are no rules. If you find yourself in one, you are at the discretion of your opponent’s good nature.

Whilst some fights might be to settle an argument over dominance, others could be less civil. They might have a weapon.

MMA will give you a lot of fighting related skills, but there isn’t a perfect solution to avoid a low blow or to use an actual dangerous weapon if your opponent chooses it.

The situation could change fast

A street fight might start out as a simple game of fisticuffs but could escalate quick.

What is at first one opponent could become two or more and you wouldn’t spot it happening before it was too late. An extra attacker could come from behind or anywhere.

You won’t be able to control the situation when you are already too far into it and it could be difficult to escape. That’s why it can often be the most responsible to avoid it in the first place.

You might not know much about your opponent

If you get into a confrontation, it’s quite likely that it will be with a complete stranger.

You’re unlikely to know much about your attacker and whether they’ve had a history in any martial art or combat sport.

You might just have a professional boxer on your hands and you don’t know it. A boxer’s hands can be lethal weapons even on the street.

Reasons to choose MMA for self defense

Studying the mixed martial arts may not be a perfect solution for self defense. But, it will give you many skills that will help you to prevent harm to yourself and protect others.

MMA will build your confidence

Having a high confidence and belief in yourself is important in any confrontation.

With a healthy measure of testosterone and courage you will be able to show dominance over others when you need to.

If a difficult situation arises you will have the spirit to handle it. Whether that is to defuse it or to take stronger measures.
Training MMA will build your confidence. In training of mixed martial arts you have to face problems head on (and usually with your head!). Sometimes you will do this with ferocity and other times with patience, counteraction and defensive poise. Knowing the difference and when to act is what could make you a powerful force.

MMA will strengthen your mind

Confidence is a big part of what will improve for your mind when training MMA. But there is more benefits you will find in learning this sport.

Martial Arts pushes for extreme demands of your body and your mind. After training MMA for some time you’ll begin to understand what its like to push yourself further than you ever thought you could.

I have often found myself two hours deep in back-to-back training sessions, feeling dizzy and not sure which way is up. Somehow, though, I have dug deep into my spirit and demanded more of myself. This is a practice in mental strength and it does improve over time.

MMA will strengthen your body

Of course, the pressure you will put your body under will produce results in fitness (with the right rest).

Boxing is very demanding on your bodies stamina and explosive power.

Muay Thai is the same whilst challenging you to use more resource-heavy attacks like big kicks.

Muay Thai kicks can be devastating!

BJJ, Wrestling and Grappling push your mobility and being able to utilise your strength over long periods.

All these arts will develop new muscles and depths of your lung capacity that you may not have experienced before.

By having a fit, explosive and energised body you will be ahead of most people when it comes down to using it for a fight.

Become adaptable with increased situational awareness

There is nothing quite like the experience of receiving a punch to the face or a kick to the stomach. These are only two of the challenges to face when in the middle of a fight.

In Mixed Martial Arts you will have to deal with a wide variety of attacks, counters and defense. To be able to handle each situation as it changes is a lot of stress for the brain. It can take a great deal of practice to build up a natural responsiveness to what comes your way.

Training any martial art or combat sports will help you with this kind of awareness. MMA will challenge you to deal with them all at once.

Being confident in your ability to adapt is a powerful tool that will give you the upper hand over most people.

What martial arts are best for self defense?

As I talked about earlier, the four primary martial arts studied in MMA are Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ and Wrestling.

There is a lot of debate amongst students of the sport and fans about which is most important as a base for a fighter.

Some say that Wrestling is fundamental to being able to control your opponent. That is if you want the fight to be on the feet, you can. If you want the fight to be on the floor, you can. Wrestling gives a fighter the option to choose where to take the fight.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers some of the most technical control skill. Which is very effective when the fight is on the floor. These techniques can help you to control an attacker, even if they are much taller or heavier than you are.

You could expect that most fights would stay up on the feet. Most people don’t have any experience in Wrestling or BJJ and so it wouldn’t be their first instinct, unless they plan to use their weight as an advantage. If that happens, having a good level of Boxing and Muay Thai would allow you to handle someone without this experience much easier. Weaving, counters and devastating kicks to the body and legs would make them think twice.

Having experience across all these martial arts is what is going to give you the best ability in a fight.

Final Thoughts

Learning the Mixed Martial Arts is definitely going to give you a strong level of skill for a fight. Most people don’t know how to fight other than to swing hard. If you are smart enough to avoid and conter an amateur’s attack, you will have the upper hand of a fight fast.

Each of the most effective martial arts in MMA are for specific situations such as on the feet or on the ground. Knowing only one of these may give you the upper hand in some scenarios. But knowing and learning them all is what makes MMA effective for a fight.

Learning the sport in a reputable MMA gym and being able to practice often is what will give you the best preparation for a fight.

But as they say, the best way to win a fight is to avoid starting one in the first place.


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