Best MMA Self-Defense Techniques

Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson March 26, 2014 07:20

Best MMA Self-Defense Techniques

Best MMA Self-Defense Techniques

Most people agree that MMA self-defense techniques are the closest one can get to a street fight or a fight for survival. There is a reason why the Army, the FBI, the CIA, the Police do it. You can learn the (very) basic mma self-defense techniques very easy only by reading this article.

When I first stepped into a MMA training room, I had 235 lbs. and never had practiced a submission in my entire life. At my first lesson I submitted my first opponent (not very experienced) with an arm-bar. My trainer was surprised and asked me if I had a Jiu Jitsu background and I said no. Then it crossed my mind that having watched UFC for almost 4 years finally paid off. This is what I’m telling you too: you don’t have to practice the moves often or even at all to apply them. Of course you won’t stand a chance against someone who practices every day, but you can use them in most survival fights. I will show you only the easiest maneuvers to protect yourself. If you want to better apply them, you should practice.

MMA Self-Defense Techniques – First Things First

Mastering MMA Self-Defense Techniques may help you win a fight, but not in any circumstances. In the last two years I’ve lost 44 lbs. and thankfully I look much better now. More so, I am more confident and better prepared. First of all this is what I recommend you:

  • STAY FIT! What means to be fit? Being full of muscles and die of exhaustion trying to catch a bus? Finishing the marathon but cannot hold a suitcase? Being fit is the combination of the physical qualities of a gymnast, an 800 m runner and a football player. This is why you don’t get to see any bodybuilders on UFC charts;
  • It’s never too late! This means anything: losing weight, achieving your career goals, starting MMA or another sport trainings, preparing for a SHTF situation, etc. ANYTHING!
  • Knowledge is Power! Even if you are aggressed try to find anything you can about your opponent. Try to predict what he will do before the situation gets out of hand. Try to avoid the fight if possible. If not, at least be the first who acts!

Street fights don’t last for 30 minutes, but usually less than one minute. Mixed Martial Arts tactics changed radically the way we fight in the last 15 years. Competitions such as the UFC and Pride showed us that it’s important to master strikes and ground fighting.

1. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Self-Defense Techniques

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, known as BJJ, is a martial art and a contact sport that uses joint and strangulation techniques to defeat the aggressor. On the street you need maximum efficiency with minimum harm!

The style was created in the early 20th century and became famous after Royce Gracie’s domination in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The best part of Brazilian jiu jitsu self-defense techniques is that you don’t need to have exceptional physical attributes (weight, power, adapter, flexibility and so on) to submit an opponent. A BJJ practitioner can win in a fight against a much stronger man. Remember that most fights between a striker and a BJJ practitioner are won by the last one.

After the UFC took the world by storm in 1993, people all over the world realized that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was the only system that would give someone a realistic chance against a larger, more athletic opponent. The US Army was among the first to recognize the effectiveness of MMA survival techniques. In 1994, they contacted Rorion Gracie and asked him to develop an intensive course based on the most effective techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which would give soldiers maximum hand-to-hand combat effectiveness. Since the inception of the Gracie Combatives course, Gracie have taught the techniques to special operations forces including US Army Special Forces, US Army Rangers, US Navy SEALs, the CIA, and conventional units in the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, US Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard. In January 2002, the US Army officially adopted Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as the foundation for its Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) designed by Rorion Gracie.

Here are the most common Brazilian Jiu Jitsu self-defense techniques from guard (trained by the Army in Gracie Combatives intensive course):

Self Defense Arm-Bar (by BJ Penn)

All MMA self-defense techniques presented here can be performed from different positions, but I will show you the ones starting from guard because if you are attacked it’s likely you are the one who falls first.

In order to achieve an armbar from the closed guard position, you must first, of course, achieve the closed guard position. In simplified form, by wrapping your legs around the person who is above. Armlocks are the most common joint locks used as submission holds. In training, the method of executing an armlock is generally slow and controlled to give the opponent time to submit prior to any infliction of injury. However, in self-defense applications, or when applied improperly or with excessive force, armlocks can cause muscle, tendon and ligament damage, dislocation or even bone fractures.

Self-Defense Kimura

In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu the Kimura lock is named after Masahiko Kimura, who is widely regarded as the greatest Judo player of all time. While on tour in Brazil in 1952, Kimura fought a famous challenge match with Helio Gracie. Helio first had to defeat Kato, a judoka in Kimura’s entourage, to get the opportunity to fight Kimura himself. After choking Kato unconscious, Helio was now allowed to face Kimura. This match lasted 13 minutes and ended when Kimura caught Helio Gracie in an arm lock, causing Carlos Gracie to throw in the towel, signaling surrender.

Self-Defense Guillotine

How to land a guillotine from guard? This is a high percentage submission and will work against guys who are much bigger than you are. The guillotine restricts the circulation of blood to the brain as a result of pressure being applied around the neck (jugular artery). If applied correctly the opponent will faint.

Of course there are many more MMA self-defense techniques (from guard)  like triangle choke, omoplata, anaconda, peruviana, gogoplata but these take longer time to learn and practice to really submit your opponent. Plus if I show you 20 bjj survival techniques, probably you won’t remember one.
Keep in minds that if you’re facing more opponents never get to the ground.

The most prominent figures with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu background in UFC are: Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Demian Maia, Antonio Nogueira, BJ Penn, Nick Diaz

2. Wrestling, Judo Self-Defense Techniques

Along with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes, wrestlers dominate modern MMA. Lack of thrilling of this sport didn’t earn wrestlers the gratitude they deserve among the most effective MMA survival techniques in the world. Efficiency has been proven by numerous champions that MMA has had to Matt Hughes, Randy Couture, Johny Hendricks, Cain Ramirez VelasquezChris Weidman or Jon Jones.

Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling Self-Defence Techniques

ultimate-mma-200x200The name “Greco-Roman” was applied to this style of wrestling as a way of purporting it to be similar to the wrestling formerly found in the ancient civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It is speculated that many styles of European folk wrestling may have spurred the origins of Greco-Roman wrestling. According to FILA, a Napoleonic soldier named Jean Exbrayat first developed the style.
Freestyle wrestling, like collegiate wrestling, has its greatest origins in catch wrestling; in both styles, the ultimate goal is to throw and pin your opponent to the mat, which results in an immediate win. Freestyle and collegiate wrestling, unlike Greco-Roman, allow the use of opponent’s legs in offense and defense. Freestyle wrestling is the most complete style of standup wrestling and brings together traditional wrestling, judo, and sambo techniques.

Self-Defense against Legs Techniques

First you have to learn how to protect yourself against these take-downs. If you watch UFC fights like I do you know that most take-downs are made by grabbing your adversary leg or legs. It’s very easy and once you master this skill you will end up in a better position than your aggressor. All you have to do is to throw back your legs and lean on the initiator.


A BJJ specialist probably would go for a guillotine if the Leg Sprawl it’s not done correctly. Also from your ending position you can go for a lot of other BJJ techniques like peruviana, anaconga or guillotine.

If you feel more confident, you can go from this position to grabbing your adversary and throw him to the ground. Try this only if your suppressor it’s not a “sumo wrestler” and you are not a “featherweight”:

Self-Defense against Headlock Throws Techniques

There is a chance your opponent would try to throw you over his hip. There are several ways to counter this. One of them is to lean back and to try to improve your position, but if you want to transform his initiation into your advantage you can make a step to the side of your aggressor and lift him from there:

Judo Self-Defense Techniques

Judo (meaning “gentle way”) is a martial art and Olympic sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano  The objective of a judoka is to throw an opponent to the ground, immobilize or subdue him. Judo differs from wrestling mostly because all the techniques are rather based on speed and perfect execution than force and the fact that the gi helps you when trying to throw somebody. Opposed to what people think Judo is in a way more appropriate than wrestling for a street fight. First, people wear clothes so you should use this in your advantage. Second, if you fight against a much larger opponent it’s better to use your speed to throw him to the ground rather than your straights. I showed you how to defend against a throw using wrestling skills now I’ll show you how to throw a suppressor using a judo technique.
The most prominent UFC judoka are Ronda Rousey, Chan Sung Jung (The Korean Zombie who almost defeated Jose Aldo) and Yoshihiro Akiyama.

Juji Gatame (Judo armbar) – Self-Defense Technique

You can subdue your adversary using almost no force at all. This method is very easy to put into practice and it doesn’t need a lot of process to do it correctly. You are actually using your opponent inertial force to finish him with an armbar.

 O Soto Gari – Judo Self-Defense Technique

O Soto Gari is one of the original 40 throws of Judo and also doesn’t need a lot of practice to throw a non-prepared opponent. In a classical right-handed osotogari, you have to steps next to the aggressor with your left leg and reap his right leg with your right leg. If O Soto Gari doesn’t work the first time your attacker usually remains unbalanced and it will work perfectly if you try it one more time.

 Seoi nage – Judo Self-Defense Technique

Seoi nage is a shoulder throw and one of the highest-scoring techniques in Judo. Probably you’ve seen movies in which the hero throws the bad guy over his back by grabbing one of his hands. Well, watch the video bellow and you’ll learn how to do it step by step. Also you’ll be able to do it in real life with a normal person.

If you have a friend to practice a bit of what you’ve seen in this videos then you’ll improve your executions a lot faster. Just be careful how and where to fall. There is a slight chance to damage one of your arms if you don’t know how to fall properly. The first thing they teach you in Judo and BJJ is how to fall.  If you don’t have a friend to practice with then try to make the exact movements with an imaginary adversary.

3. Kick boxing, Muay Thai, Boxing, Taekwondo, and Karate Self-Defense Techniques

In a real life combat you can face more adversaries. If you master one of these sports you have better chances to knockout even 3 or 4 guys. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and believe me it can be done. But to achieve that you need a lot on practice and a lot of guts. I’ll focus in this guide on how to defend against one aggressor.

Self –Defense Techniques Against Punches

Boxing and kickboxing punch techniques are very different from what you are used to see on UFC fights. First, take into consideration that the blocking and the guard are being done by raising your fists to the head. In a real life situation or in UFC fights you don’t have big boxing gloves to protect yourself. The best way to defend is to evade being hit. Unlike boxing where the player ducks some blows, don’t lean forward because you may end up with a front knee right into your face. Always dodge punches by leaning to your left, right or back. It’s very common to make a few steps backwards if the attacker is very aggressive. Let him consume his energy.

You don’t have to throw a lot of punches. Use your energy carefully. If you’ve never practiced one of these sports, you should be aware that you’ll probably be exhausted after 3-5 minutes. Try to hit the jaw and the back of his ear. Using no gloves makes your punches even more powerful.
If you really have to block your head then you should do it with your elbows while keeping your chin into the chest. Your hands have to protect the ears:

Self –Defense Techniques from Kicks

There are several ways to avoid being kicked or to parry kicks. A perfect kick is aiming to hit the opponent with the middle of the tibia no matter if it’s a low, middle or high kick. If you want to dodge the kick don’t make half a step back, because you’ll get hit by his foot. Make a full step back if you have the time or step into your aggressor. The second way will get you kicked but with a lower intensity. You’ll have the advantage of being the one who makes the next move. By stepping in you’ll be able in most cases to grab his leg and take the fight to the ground starting from a superior position:

If you need to parry high kicks you have to use both of your hands. Middle kicks can be blocked like high kicks or (better) by leaning in the direction of the kick with your arm close to the body. Your elbow will protect your side and your fist the head. Low kicks are less common in street fights, but it’s good to know that raising the leg that will be hit your thigh won’t be harmed.

Self-defense kicks are very effective if you want to keep your adversary away from you. Maybe not all of you can do a high kick but I’m pretty sure all of you can hit a knee (oblique kick). If you’ve seen Jon Jones fighting you knows he kicks his opponent knees. More so, in real life you wear shoes which make the strike even more powerful:

Self –Defense from Knees and Elbows

Just like defending against kicks you have to use both hands. Be careful to rapidly block all punches immediately after blocking the knees. If you are more confident you can take a knee to the body and grab his leg, take him to the ground.

Elbows can tear the skin from your body and produce heavy bleedings. There isn’t much to say about defending against elbows. All you need to do is to step back.

A very, very, very powerful self-defense technique that I learned on my own skin it’s a knee to the balls. If it’s a life threatening situation, just do it. As hard as you can! Believe me, no matter how tough one man is, he will crawl back to his mamma in no time. Another tip is to use your knees against low kicks: the former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Siva broke his left leg when kicking Chris Weidman in his knee on Dec. 28.2013 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Best known fighters with striking background: José Aldo (Muay Thai), Anthony Pettis (Taekwondo and boxing), Lyoto Machida (Karate)

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Claude Nelson
By Claude Nelson March 26, 2014 07:20
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  1. Dr. Evil June 9, 12:17

    As a 2 time Pan Am BJJ gold medalist, I can say that the techniques you glaze over here take years to master. I hope people don’t get the impression that you can quickly go out and learn these techniques and use them effectively in real life.

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  2. xiao9ping September 21, 08:16


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  3. espionner snapchat October 25, 23:28

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this great content on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

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  4. DH March 9, 17:19

    It’s not the thousand kicks you practiced I fear it’s the kick you practiced a thousand times.

    Reply to this comment
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