Mixed Martial Arts for Self Defense?

Recently I read an article from the Gothamist, entitled New Argument For Bringing MMA To NY: Self Defense!  These thoughts perpetuated by the fact that UFC-buff, Joseph Lozito (6’2, 270 lbs) was able to tackle and pin down 3 x murder suspect, Maksim Gelman.  Gelman is accused of stabbing seven individuals as well as fatally injuring a pedestrian with his car.

Lozito was commuting from the suburbs of Philadelphia to his box office job at Avery Fisher Hall.  Gelman, pretending to be a cop, began beating on the motorman’s door, then turned to Lozito and said, “You are going to die,” laughed, and lunged at him with a knife.  A short story even shorter, a transit cop (Terrence Howell) was able to restrain and subdue Gelman.  Heroic conclusion.

The Main Concern

First, Lozito is indeed brave and should be considered a hero to the people.  Without his help (and Gelman’s insanity) Gelman could have gone on to commit many more acts of violence.  My concern comes when people begin to see sport competition as a legitimate self-defense system.  Of which, it certainly is NOT.

Yes, there is some cross-over. Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong champion of the Cha-Cha (video), and believe it or not, it probably made a better martial artist.  If someone was to learn the mixed martial arts (which consist mainly of Thai boxing and Jiu-Jitsu) they undoubtedly will become better fighters, but only for sport competition.  It’s similar to American football versus rugby.  Yes, some football players might become great rugby players because they are familiar with carrying a ball, colliding with one another and running towards a particular end of the field…. but they have different rules and one is a bit more brutal than the other.  The person who trains in a true system of self-defense trains to avoid, escape and survival at-all-costs.

Avoid any confusion…MMA is a Sport.

The heroic figure in this article (Lozito) wasn’t even an athlete, he was just someone with a brief wrestling background and who spent a reasonable amount of time watching the UFC.  The fact is – Lozito outweighed his opponent by a good sum, and was prepared to fight to his death (this gave him great odds in my book).  Brave? Absolutely!  …the slightest bit “qualified” to even assume his time spent watching UFC was what saved his life?… absolutely not!  He would have likely escaped, in my opinion, if he’d spent all that time watching women’s basketball.

That brings me to my next point-

Just because you see a technique on Submissions101 or in some competition, and intellectually you understand the mechanics of the move… it absolutely does NOT mean you can replicate it.  Especially under the stress of an actual encounter.  If someone is to learn proper self-protection skills, that person MUST first understand this article’s underlining message.  And if you don’t yet understand what that message is, you’re either too young or too naïve.

(Let’s hope you’re just too young, because it’s the naïve/stupid that end up getting themselves killed.  Food for thought.)

Let’s here your thoughts Combative Readers!

23 Responses to “Mixed Martial Arts for Self Defense?”

  1. [By: Andy M- via Facebook]
    My favorite comment was hearing Mr. Lozito comment in another intrerview that “I’m still standing”. From his hospital bed.

  2. [By: T.J. K- via Facebook}
    Much respect to this man for being a good samaritan, but he could have easily been a dead samaritan.

  3. [By: Chad B- via Facebook]
    So I guess I can stop training!?! Watching sports is enough for personal protection? Haha. No environmental awareness… Tackling someone in close quarters like a subway car? He’s a very lucky man.

  4. [By: Simon W- via Facebook]
    For the record this guy did not study MMA so it might not be a good example of what an actual MMA fighter would do in a real fight.

  5. [By: Mike B- via Facebook]
    This man was extremely fortunate . . . MMA is a sport and yes aspects of it are transferable to a street environment but I would not stake my life on it. The old adage you fight like you train is quiet appropriate here . . .if you are geared for rules, exchanges etc this is what will come out when in crunch time. The lack of ability as it pertains to weaponry is the game changer . . . ask Lee Murray


  6. [By: Simon W- via Facebook]
    What kind of training should I do to prepare for fighting 4 armed opponents?

    If you know of an art that can meet such a tall order I would love to study it. I’ve been involved in the blade arts for almost ten years now, and I doubt my training would save me in such a situation.

    That’s why we say that the blade arts are generally the only area of martial arts where a beginner can defeat an expert.

    • [By: Mike B- via Facebook]
      first off it comes down to 4 on 1 you already screwed the pooch in some regard ( the tactic meter must have been low on oil if you find yourself in that situation). Having played this edged game for well over 30 years I can tell you one thing for sure..I am pulling steel…and I am using steel. This mindset isn’t prevalent with MMA guys..at least the ones I know. Same with packing heat i.e. pistol ( which i carry)..if it comes down to it it to will come out….MMA guys are tough , fit and can wreak havoc..but do they have the hutzpah to lay steel into flesh..or lead into a skull….a big difference…perhaps I’m just a sociopath because I find either way perfectly plausible for conflict resolution….lol

  7. [By: Chad B- via Facebook]
    Break it down. Use your environment. Don’t fight four guys at once. Fight one guy four times. Angle, redirect, obstruct, run like hell! LOL

  8. [By: Simon W- via Facebook]
    The problem with carrying weapons for self defense is the escalating level of violence.

    If you pull and use your weapon first, you will probably go to jail, and rightfully so.

    If you pull it only after realizing your opponent has already pulled his weapon it is likely too late.

    • [By: Andy M- via Facebook]
      “The problem with carrying weapons for self defense is the escalating level of violence.”

      It’s only a problem if YOU are the one to escalate.You need to do a search for “AOJP”.

      “If you pull and use your weapon first, you will probably go to jail, and rightfully so.”

      Not necessarily. You need to do a search on “disparity of force” and what constitutes it.

      “If you pull it only after realizing your opponent has already pull…ed his weapon it is likely too late.”

      For this, you need to search ‘Cooper Color Codes” and practice them.

      You need to do a search on

  9. [By: Mike B- via Facebook]
    here in lies the crux of the common man…damned if you do and damned if you don’t…Pray theres no witnesses and if there are hope you can bribe them..lol..keep a good attorney on retainer ( a wise tactical decision ) in the end it’s a personal decision but I will be damned if I go quietly into the night and leave my family because I didn’t pull and go to work..that will not happen. On the other hand you do some time…but your still alive and being alive is better than dead and alive means I cans till figure away out of whatever mess I may wind up in….

  10. [By: David O- via Facebook]
    I don’t care how much training you have you do NOT ever try a single leg/double leg/dump tackle/high crotch/suplex or any other head on take down against a guy with a knife. If I’m going to use something I learned watching sports, I’m going Jeff Bagwell and putting a large piece of lumber upside his head.

  11. [By: Hoshinkan Canada- via Facebook]
    Great article, Mike – and sooooo true. MMA teaches solid striking and grappling TECHNIQUES, but the TACTICS of ring fighting are fatally insufficient in most serious self-defence scenarios – esp. AMBUSHES involving weapons, multiple attackers, variable terrain, low-light conditions, etc.

  12. [By: Ben F- via Facebook]
    You are likely to get cut or stabbed in any situation where someone has intent to hurt or kill you with a kife. The difference is that you have situational awareness, which may determine whether you get stabbed in a lethal or non-lethal area. I’m a big fan of kicks when someone is armed with a knife. You’ll have good extension and power, and even if he takes a stab at you, he’ll probably only get your shoe, or at worst, your thigh. You also must attack back right away. If you just put your hands up in defense, you will repeatedly get stabbed. You must try to force the attack on the attacker

  13. [By: Mike B- via Facebook]
    I agree Ben low line kicks and stomps work extremely well . . . the only risk one runs into is the length of blade being used and the grip it is in…a mistake by the kicker in regards to this could spell doom…example an internal artery puncture or slash…a ligament cut etc….not to mention that depending on where you are, your dress etc. may not be conducive to kicking..flip flops and board spell doom…LOL

    • Sal Caradonna Says:

      If someone pulls a knife out you, use your belt, throw spare change at them, take off your jacket or shirt, scream that he has a knife. If he cheats so should you.

  14. [By: Wes D – via Facebook]
    Great discussion. Kicks are very effective to gauge distance. You need to use them (IMO) because it is your longest weapon range in your tool box unarmed. You don’t need to necessairly use your kicks to hurt the attacker but like Ben says you force the attack so that it oipens up for oyu to bridge the gap and control the weappon hand, once oyu have control you finish 😉

  15. [By: David O- via Facebook]
    I know a guy that took TKD and learned the kicking the knife from the hand defense. He used it in high school when another kid pulled a shit mail order switchblade on him. It took the knife out of the kid’s hand alright, by going through this dipshit’s calf! I still see people practicing that and I laugh hysterically.

  16. [By: Todd I. S. – via Facebook]
    I agree with Ben about the inevitability of getting hurt when someone is actually violent rather than just trying to intimidate you. I’ve seen several attacks victimizing experienced martial artists, none of them ever involved any clean disarms, and all of them involved getting cut or badly bruised. When someone is trying to hurt you they don’t wave a weapon around or hold it up for you to take it away from them, or let you drop back into stance and put a defense together, they just rush you and start stabbing stabbing stabbing stabbing or beating beating beating beating on you while you’re still mentally and physically unbalanced. Think of a hockey fight scenario, not an MMA match. You can’t think or respond with skills because they’re hurting you over and over again. If you manage to get some mental and physical space to protect yourself, you’re very lucky,and I think if you get that chance you’d be better off just turning the tables by hurting them back rather than trying to hold, lock, throw, or use covering or ranging tactics. Just my experience.

  17. Sal Caradonna Says:

    I dare anyone to start a fight with a MMA fighter. Many of these guys have self defense training, now they fight for a living. What’s the big deal with the crossover. They know how to go to the eyes, pull hair and kick to the groin. What’s the mystery?

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