Is MMA Best For Self Defense?

By Logan •  Updated: 11/01/21 •  9 min read

Everybody wants to be able to defend themselves against an attack. And unfortunately with the increase of expensive mobile technology like mobile phones and laptops, the average person is more likely to be mugged or attacked than in past decades. 

For some, this can be overwhelming and frightening. With this in mind, many people are turning to self-defense methods such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training to protect themselves.

But, is MMA best for self defense? This is what we’ll be covering in this article.

MMA consists of a variety of fighting styles including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai and judo. MMA is considered one of the most effective self defense methods available. It is best used for self defense because it teaches you how to dodge and counter different types of attacks. 

Read on to see why MMA is so good for self defense.

Is MMA Best For Self Defense?

Is MMA Best for Self Defense?

The popularity of MMA has exploded in recent years, and for good reason. For many people, MMA is the best form of self-defense because it teaches how to defend against multiple different attacks. MMA classes teach students to defend themselves in much more than just one way, including striking techniques like punches and kicks, grappling techniques like throws and take-downs, and even weapons defense.

The only drawback to learning MMA for self defense, is that it is a sport and so it has rules. If you are attacked or get into a fight then there are no rules or referee. However the tactics learnt from practicing MMA will give you a distinct advantage over your opponent (assuming they don’t know MMA).

Learning self-defense is one of the most common reasons people start MMA training, and it is probably one of the best practical and mental benefits of the sport. Knowing MMA will also give you improved confidence and self discipline, which in itself will reduce the chances of you getting into a fight.

The aspects of MMA mean that size and strength isn’t an issue in an opponent if they are untrained in MMA. The different techniques from the various martial arts that you will learn will help you defend yourself against most opponents.

Is MMA Best For Self Defense?

Why MMA Is Great For Self-Defence?

Mixed Martial Arts is a dangerous sport that requires participants to learn and employ a variety of fighting techniques. The fact that MMA fighters must be prepared for any eventuality often translates to them becoming experts in self-defense. In many situations, such as personal confrontations or home invasions, an MMA fighter will know how to fend off an attacker and get out safely.

Here are some of the best reasons why MMA is great for self-defense:

You Will Learn A Mixture Of Martial Arts

Learning MMA will give you the ability to use a wide range of martial arts to fight with, including boxing, muay thai and wrestling to name a few. Knowing a range of different techniques helps you to know what’s coming from your opponent and thus defend yourself  efficiently.

Knowing a range of different martial arts will help you when attacking too as your opponent will not be able to anticipate your next move.

You Will Learn How To Strike

One of the techniques you will learn is striking, like kicking and punching. The different striking styles from Muay Thai and boxing will help you defeat an opponent.

Everyone thinks they can throw a punch or a kick but doing it properly in a controlled manner is a skill in itself and only learned from practicing and learning from a teacher. Your opponent may think they can throw a punch but it won’t be as effective if they don’t know any martial arts.

You Will Learn How Grappling

Although it doesn’t sound as impressive, grappling is just as important as striking. Most street fights end up on the ground so knowing how to get your opponent in a submission hold could be life saving.

If you only learnt boxing then you wouldn’t know how to grapple, but with MMA you will learn an all encompassing skill set. This could be invaluable.

You Will Learn To Be Confident

Confidence is an underrated result of learning MMA, just knowing how to defend yourself will give you confidence which will show to others and make you a less likely target.

Having more confidence in everything you do will not just help with self-defense but everything you do.

You Will Learn Self Control

It’s all well and good knowing how to defend yourself if you or a loved one is attacked, but if you panik and let your emotions take control then it can all be lost. MMA teaches self control so you can remain calm and collected in a stressful situation so you can best defend yourself.

Like confidence, self control translates into every aspect of your life and is another fantastic reason to learn MMA.

Learning MMA Will Give You More Strength

Regularly doing MMA workouts will condition your body and you will become fitter and stronger as a result. 

This will give you the strength and endurance to defend yourself (or run away) as you’ll likely be fitter than your attacker.

You’ll Become More Aware Of Your Surroundings

Because MMA combines a lot of different techniques you will have to learn how to anticipate what your opponent is going to do. After a lot of training this will almost give you a sixth sense and the ability to analyse your surroundings better than a regular person.

This awareness will help you to defend yourself, and 9 times out of 10 it will prevent any direct combat from taking place at all.

Why MMA Isn’t So Good For Self Defense

Obviously we are going to sing the praises for MMA (we are called The MMA Ninja after all), but MMA does have some cons when it comes to self defense. I’ll go into more detail here.

What If There Are Multiple Attackers?

MMA fighting and training is one on one, you will not learn how to fight multiple attackers when training MMA.

If you do find yourself with more than one opponent then you will find it more difficult to defend yourself. However, this is true for pretty much any fighting style that you choose to learn.

If you have trained in MMA for a while then you will be able to assess the situation and make an informed choice, most of the time if you have more than one opponent then escaping as quickly as possible is your best choice of defense.

Is MMA Best For Self Defense

There Are No Rules In A Street Fight

MMA is a sport and has rules and regulations that you will learn and follow, in a street fight anything goes. Because you train to avoid groin strikes, fishhooking, eye gouging, biting and throat punches etc, then these moves might not be obvious to you if you are attacked.

However, being trained in MMA fighting will definitely not be a disadvantage. It’s better to know MMA than not in this situation. Just remember that in a street fight anything goes.

Is MMA Best For Self Defense

Weapons Could Be Used In A Street Fight

MMA training does not involve weapons, if you are unlucky enough to face an attacker with a knife or a gun then the safest option will probably be to run. Luckily knowing MMA will help you to stay calm and assess the situation to best defend yourself. 

Remember self-defense doesn’t always mean fighting, it’s about assessing the situation and taking the best ‘fight or flight’ response.

The Situation Can Change

You are not likely to know your opponent, and therefore not know that they have a knife or more opponents waiting to join in.

Things can escalate quickly in a street fight as anything goes, what starts out as a one on one fist fight can turn into a more dangerous situation. Always assess the situation and know when your best defense is to run.

In all the situations outlined above knowing MMA will help you, even if it helps your self control and knowing when to run away. That is a powerful skill in itself.

Why Should You Train MMA For Self-Defense

Not only is learning MMA a great workout and a way of getting better fitness and strength, but you will also get many more benefits that will help your self-defense.

Obviously learning how to fight with both striking – long and short range – and grappling is a major benefit in self-defense. You will know how to defend yourself against blows nd also take down an opponent.

I think that some of the best self-defense aspects of MMA are from the mental growth of learning the sport, like self confidence, control and discipline. These will all help you to become more aware of your surroundings and avoid danger in the first place. They will also help you stay calm and think of the best course of action to defend yourself.

Knowing when to fight and when to run away is the best way to defend yourself.

The Difference Between MMA and Street Fighting

The main difference between MMA and street fighting is that MMA is a sport and so has rules and a referee. In MMA you will learn striking and grappling techniques to defeat an opponent, but it will be in a controlled environment with protective headgear and gloves.

Instances of street fighting can happen anywhere, when two opponents square off, there is no referee to enforce the rules and keep things orderly. Street fighting is a chaotic, unorganized affair where anything goes. The winner can do whatever they want to the loser with no repercussions. 

You could also be facing an opponent who has a weapon or multiple opponents in a streetfight, so it’s important to know when to run in these situations.

Is MMA Best For Self-Defense? – Final Thoughts

Knowing MMA is going to be a great benefit for a street fight and is definitely good for self-defense. Because you will learn so many different fighting techniques through MMA training, you will have a good chance at defeating a regular opponent. 

The best thing for self-defense is knowing when to run away, the self awareness that comes with learning MMA will help you assess the situation and know when to run. 


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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