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Top 10 Mixed Martial Arts to learn for Self Defense in 2023

Top 10 Mixed Martial Arts to learn for Self Defense in 2023

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  • Post last modified:February 14, 2023
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Man kicking a heavy bag.

Mixed Martial Arts as a sport has grown in popularity in the last couple of years. With the rise of Organizations such as the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and Bellator, the sport has seen a significant increase in audience across the world. Apart from being a form of entertainment, Mixed Martial Arts promotes discipline among those who train as well as endorsing a healthy lifestyle especially in this sedentary society that we live in.

Apart from that, it is almost impossible to ignore the main reason why most people start training in any form of Mixed Martial Arts, which is Self-defense. This goes for Professional Fighters as well. A good example is Former UFC Welterweight and Middle Weight Champion George ‘Rush’ St Pierre. He has on multiple occasions stated that the reason why he stared training in Mixed Martial Arts was to defend himself against bullies. He eventually went on to become one of the best Fighters to ever walk this planet.

The Legend George St Pierre holds blackbelts is various disciplines of Mixed martial Arts such as Kyokushin Karate and Brazilian Jiu jitsu. But the big question is, where do you start. In this article, we are going to look at the Top ten Mixed Martial Arts to learn for self-defense. This list has been arranged from the least effective to the most effective.

10. Taekwondo


Taekwondo is one of the oldest forms of Martial Arts and it is originally from Korea. “Tae” means Foot or leg or Step on, “Kwon” means fist or fight and “Do” means the way or discipline. As with most Martial Arts, Taekwondo aims to promote discipline as well as promote a healthy lifestyle through training the body and mind. As much as sports are all about Physical movements, the Mind also plays a huge role in promoting mental toughness as well as a positive mindset to tackle an opponent.

Taekwondo focuses mainly on kicks. A mixed martial artist with a vast knowledge of this martial art tends to be lethal if they combine Taekwondo with Muay Thai. This combo can give rise to a very dangerous striker. One of the best examples of this is Former UFC Middle Weight Champion Anderson Silva. In the UFC, Taekwondo is not that pronounced but it has given rise to Champions such as Rose Namajunas, Anderson Silva, Anthony Pettis, and Valentina Shevchenko.

9. Karate.


Karate originates from the Okinawa region of Japan. Although Karate uses all body parts for self-defense, its main focus unlike Taekwondo is hand strikes. Karate is more of a Striking Art that uses Punches, kicks, knee strikes, elbow strikes as well as open hand techniques such as spear hands. In some modern styles of Karate, Grappling, throws, joint locks and restraints are also taught. It is one of the rarest forms of martial arts in the UFC but nonetheless, some champions used its lethal techniques to make a name for themselves. These include; Rose Namajunas, Tim Sylvia, Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Robert Whittaker, Georges St. Pierre and Pat Miletich.

8. Sambo.


Sambo is one of the toughest Mixed martial arts to learn and although it does not have a ranking system, mastering the sport can takes years of hard work and dedication. This form of martial arts incorporates various forms of wrestling, throwing techniques, striking and grappling techniques with the aim of submitting your opponent.

The acronym “SAMBO” is derived from the Russian phrase SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya which means Self-defense without weapons. Sambo was developed in USSR and was mainly used by the Elite forces and the Soviet Red Army in the early 1920’s to improve hand to hand combat. It is also worth noting that Sambo contains techniques from Judo, Kickboxing, Thai Boxing as well as boxing.

In terms of MMA, Sambo is not as prominent as other forms of martial arts but through its techniques, Sambo has managed to Produce three Champions in the UFC; Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev and Andrei Arlovski. If you haven’t noticed yet, the three fighters are all from Russia which shows how little Sambo has managed to influence the Western countries. As the famous quote by Former UFC Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov goes” If Sambo was easy, it would be called Jiu Jitsu’.



Judo is very similar to Jiu Jitsu in that both disciplines focus on ‘ground game’ The founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) was well versed with most techniques in Jiu Jitsu. As the legends go, he took the important bits of Jiu Jitsu and discarded the styles that he deemed unnecessary. Judo’s center of attention involves throwing techniques, grappling techniques and striking techniques. Although striking is still part of Judo, it is quite rare in most competitions. The first two however are heavily emphasized.

Just like Sambo, Judo is quite rare in the UFC but it has given rise to three Champions; Ronda Rousey, Carlos Newton, and Khabib Nurmagomedov.


Two men wrestling

Despite being one of the oldest sports in the world, Wrestling still continues to shine in this modern age and era. Wrestling is all about take downs, throws, holds, tilts and pinning combinations. It is no surprise that Wrestling holds the highest number of champions in the UFC in comparison to other forms of Mixed Martial Arts. The main reason for this is that a well-trained wrestler can use the techniques above to control the match in their favor. A good example of this, is the fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland in UFC 280. Despite, Kevin Holland having a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, his techniques were no match for Khamzat’s Superior wrestling. The take downs were crisp and the submission that Khamzat managed to secure in the end was just excellent; Chef’s kiss. One down side to wrestling is that no form of striking is allowed.

Here’s a list of all the 37 UFC Champions who were well trained in Wrestling; Daniel Cormier, Stipe Miocic, Carla Esparza, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg, Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Georges St. Pierre, Chris Weidman, Evan Tanner, Dave Menne, Kamaru Usman, Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks, Matt Hughes, Carlos Newton, Pat Miletich, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Jens Pulver, Alexander Volkanovski, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, and Dominick Cruz.

5. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has evolved to become one of the most recognized Martial Arts in the planet. In the UFC, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has given rise to 36 Champions and counting. Its main focus is teaching ground game which most martial arts lack. As Joe Rogan once said any ‘normal’ person can knockout a world champion but when it comes to ground game, there is no luck. It all depends on pure skill. One of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters, Charles Oliveira, holds the UFC record for the most submissions in the history of the organization. If you enter the octagon with this man without proper knowledge of ground game, you are as good as dead.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu emphasizes ground holding and submission holding techniques. It is worth noting that this martial art is a modified version of Judo and the two share various techniques. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu often goes well with Muay Thai and this combination alone has given rise to household names such as Anderson Silva, Charles Oliveira among others.

Here’s a list of UFC Champions who are masters in the Art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; Zhang Weili, Jéssica Andrade, Rose Namajunas, Carla Esparza, Nicco Montaño, Miesha Tate, Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg, Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Frank Mir, Ricco Rodriguez, Maurício Rua, Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort, Georges St. Pierre, Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Evan Tanner, Murilo Bustamante, Matt Serra, BJ Penn, Carlos Newton, Pat Miletich, Eddie Alvarez, Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, Jens Pulver, Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, and Demetrious Johnson.

4. Boxing.

Mike Tyson boxing

Boxing is one of the most recognized combat sports in the world. It is no surprise as the sport has given rise to household legends such as Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali, Floyd Mayweather among others. Boxing primarily uses hands and unlike Kickboxing, use of kicks is illegal. Boxing uses techniques such as Upper cut and half strokes to try and secure a win. Unlike most Martial Arts where ground game is allowed, Boxing prohibits hitting someone when they are down.

In the UFC, boxing has given rise to 23 champions; Stipe Miocic, Jéssica Andrade, Nicco Montaño, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Germaine de Randamie, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Tim Sylvia, Kevin Randleman, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Georges St. Pierre, Rich Franklin, Murilo Bustamante, Matt Serra, Carlos Newton, Pat Miletich, Conor McGregor, Eddie Alvarez, Frankie Edgar, Jens Pulver, and Cody Garbrandt.

MMA Boxers may opt to compete in a professional boxing bout if they choose to. A good example of this is when Conor McGregor Fought Floyd Mayweather back in 2017.



Kickboxing utilizes both your hands and legs in a fight. Unlike boxing, kickboxing uses the added advantage of legs to try and secure a knockout or a TKO. In kickboxing speed, accuracy and power play a significant role if you want to secure a win. In a kickboxing match, all you need is perfect timing. This has been proved to be true time and time again. For example, the fight between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira in UFC 281. Israel was winning the fight but in the last round he got TKO’d by his Kryptonite. Another good example is the Fight between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards in UFC 279. Kamaru was dominating Leon for four rounds but in the last round, Leon managed to Knock out the “Nigerian nightmare” using a well landed leg shot on the head. This is what makes kickboxing unique; the added advantage of using legs.

Kickboxing has managed to give rise to 15 UFC Champions; Joanna Jendrzejczyk, Holly Holm, Andrei Arlovski, Bas Rutten, Maurice Smith, Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell, Frank Shamrock, Israel Adesanya, Michael Bisping, Robbie Lawler, Anthony Pettis, Jens Pulver, Max Holloway and Leon Edwards

2. Muay Thai.

Muay Thai

As the name suggests, this form of Martial Arts originated from Thailand. Muay Thai is also known as the art of eight limbs. This is because you are allowed to use your fists, elbows, knees and shin. (Two of each = 8 limbs) The main difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing is that Kickboxing prohibits use of elbows, throws and sweeps. It turns out elbows are a pretty lethal weapon in Muay Thai and no one knows how to use his elbows in a match like the Legend himself Jon ‘Bones’ Jones.

Muay Thai has given rise to notable UFC Champions such as Zhang Weili, Jéssica Andrade, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Valentina Shevchenko, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg, Germaine de Randamie, Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones, Maurício Rua, Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, and Dave Menne.

1.Krav Maga.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a form of Martial Arts that originated from Israel. Its main focus is Self-defense. Krav Maga is the primary martial art in the Israeli Military Combat System. Unlike all the other arts mentioned above, Krav Maga stands out as there are no competitions held.

Neutralizing the opponent is the main goal behind Krav Maga. Apart from the striking and grappling techniques taught, Krav Maga also focuses on weak points on the body and rules are basically non-existent in this form of martial arts. We placed Krav Maga at the top of this list as self-defense is favored above everything else

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Lyda Dorcas

    I love karate and taekwondo, I can take classes in those

  2. Denis Muthara

    I’m I the only one who thinks that taekwondo is just fancy kicks?

  3. Nancy Wambui

    It’s the krav maga for me

  4. Carson Anekeya

    Great insight. Thanks for sharing.

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