The Difference Between MMA, Self Defense & Martial Arts


Hi, I’m Patrick Fulop, this is Effective Martial Arts. In this quick words of wisdom lesson, the
difference between MMA, self-defense, and martial arts.
I just wrote an article about this, you can check it out by clicking the link in the description below. Basically, there are a lot of things in common, between MMA, martial arts and self-defense, so people often confuse them.
So this is to clarify. First is the things they have in common. It’s
understandable that people confuse them. So, MMA and martial arts all teach some form
of self-defense. MMA schools often offer martial arts programs.
Some self-defense systems are also martial arts. And, some martial arts are combat sports. And, martial arts, MMA and self-defense teach
a lot of the same exact techniques. So what’s the difference?
Here it goes. The difference, I think, is in the MAIN OBJECTIVE
of each discipline. So basically, if we look at it:
MMA is a full-contact combat sport. The objective is to win.
Self-defense is the study of reaction to aggression, so the objective is simply to survive.
And martial arts is for self-mastery. So the objective is to improve.
Now, to understand a bit better, lets look at each concept in more detail. So first,
mixed martial arts. MMA is a term that was originated back in
1993 after the first UFC tournament, UFC 1, in 1993.
There were before that some kind of mixed discipline or inter-discipline tournaments,
but 1993 UFC 1 is really the point where the term was coined, and also when it kind of
became mainstream. So the influence on the martial arts industry
has been huge. I mean since MMA… MMA provided an arena, in which everybody could notice
what are the techniques that worked, what are the best martial arts, what techniques
don’t work. And you can’t argue, I mean if you see a guy
get knocked out, there it is. And if you see a technique working over and over again, nobody
can argue. So the effect has been a lot more cross-training
between disciplines. Before that, people mostly trained in one style, but since then, cross-training
has become much more prevalent. So people train in MMA today, most MMA fighters train
in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ for ground fighting and submissions, they train in Muay Thai for
striking, they train in Boxing for punching, they do some Wrestling for takedowns, and
sometimes Judo for projections. And other disciplines as well. And so most MMA schools
teach those different programs separately. So that’s MMA.
Now on the downside, MMA has been criticized as well.
Some traditional martial artists think that MMA has kind of corrupted the nature of martial
arts, because the code of honor, or ethics that was present in traditional martial arts
for centuries isn’t really present in MMA culture today. It is what it is.
But still, on the technical level, it has provided advancements, I think to the martial
arts field. Self-defense is a bit different. Self-defense
is really purely for survival. So they will teach any technique any principle that will
allow you to defend yourself effectively against aggression, one-on-one, multiple attackers,
defense against weapons, surprise attacks, rape prevention, child abduction, weapons,
firearms, and so on. So that’s self-defense.
Now, it’s interesting that some self-defense systems such as Krav Maga, are also a martial
art. They’re taught the same way as a martial art in a school and stuff like that. But still,
the focus is on survival, so that makes it a self-defense art.
Lastly is martial arts. So as I said in the beginning, martial arts’ focus is on self-mastery.
That means you still usually practice health and fitness, you practice self-defense, but
the goal is a bit different, the goal is not purely to win, or just to survive, to goal
is more to improve yourself. So we say, to conquer yourself, rather than your opponent.
You do learn effective self-defense in the meantime, as a tool to do that.
Another characteristic of martial arts is the belt system. Although it’s not exclusive,
because some… not all martial arts have belt systems, or curriculums, and some MMA
systems or self-defense systems do have belts. So it’s not exlusive, but it’s a general tendency,
martial arts more often have belt systems. Now there’s a downside to martial arts, because
of that, because the focus is not exclusively on self-defense abilities, survival, or on
fighting effectiveness against a trained opponent, some don’t really practice free sparring,
or they do it in a very controlled or preconceived way, which can lead to the illusion of self-defense
skills, or fighting ability. That can be even more dangerous than no self-defense training
at all. Here’s a link to a very funny and kind of sad video, very famous, about a traditional
martial artist who thinks he’s got these superpowers and whatever, he gets beat up, very severely.
That’s what can happen if you’re too focused on let’s say the fantasy world of martial
arts. Now, there’s another distinction to be made,
there’s traditional martial arts, and there’s eclectic, or hybrid martial arts. Traditional
martial arts are martial arts that are taught the same way as in previous generations, and
hybrid martial arts are the combination of two or more systems to make a new system.
Now there’s an interesting thing to think about here, so, traditional martial arts were
all once hybrid martial arts, when they were created, right. Someone had an idea about
combining different techniques, created a martial art, boom. And it became traditional
over time. And in the same way, any hybrid martial art
can become a traditional martial art if it’s taught for more than one generation… so
think about that. This brings us to the heart of the matter,
which is how this all relates to our system, Effective Martial Arts. Now, our system is
a martial art. It is not MMA. And it is not purely self-defense either. But, we do learn
from MMA, we take the most effective techniques from MMA, we do learn from self-defense, we
teach the most effective techniques from self-defense, and we put them in a structured system for
you to integrate progressively and be able to apply ultimately.
Also, Effective Martial Arts is not a traditional martial art. As I just said, it’s the result
of many years of research and development in many different disciplines, combined into
one system. Basically, our objective is to help you reach
your full potential. So, health and fitness, self-defense ability, and self-mastery. Self-mastery
is the cultivation of yourself, development of qualities, values, and the pursuit of knowledge
through goal setting and achievement to basically become a better person, and be a positive
influence on other people. That’s our objective. To help us get there, there’s a couple guiding
principles, that we have for Effective Martial Arts. First off is being pragmatic. We teach what works we don’t want to teach
you something that doesn’t work. And we constantly evaluate, we use the scientific method, basically.
If it works, if it’s been demonstrated, if it’s been proven, we teach it.
If it hasn’t, we don’t. And if we notice that something changes over time, we’ll adjust.
Two is ever-evolving. So that means that it’ll always be improved upon. It will never be
set in stone, and I think that’s one of the problems of traditional martial arts, it’s
that they stay the same and… with the telephone game, it can get even deformed. Because their
understanding of one aspect sometimes changed, sometimes one person misses a piece of the
puzzle, but teaches it the way he understands and… that can be a problem. So we always
want to be ever-evloving and we always want to re-evaluate what we teach to make sure
that it’s the most relevant thing that you can learn.
And number 3 is structure. Anything complex you need to break it down
to learn it. You won’t lean calculus before you learn multiplication or division, right?
Same thing with the martial arts, you gotta start with the basics, and that’s one of the
basic principles of our system is that it is structured. We can take anyone who has
no training what so ever, teach ’em the basics, and they can get to martial arts mastery if
they practice enough with constance and perseverance. So our 3 guiding principles: pragmatic, ever-evolving,
and structured. And there you have it.
So the difference between MMA, martial arts and self-defense. MMA is a sport, the objective
is to win, self-defense is the study of survival, and martial arts is for self-mastery. There
you go. Click like if you enjoyed this lesson, leave
a comment below if you have any questions or comments, or if you think of any other
aspects that are important to any one of those… to define those disciplines. And share this
link if you think your friends might enjoy it, if you think it might be useful to them.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more Effective Martial Arts video tutorials
as well as interesting little words of wisdom about martial arts wisdom like this one, to
help you understand a little bit better why we do what we do, and how we can do it better.
To wrap it up, I’d like to leave you with a quick quote that I like a lot… I like
quotes, it condenses meaning, it helps you think. It’s a quote by Sir Winston Churchill,
and it goes like this. He says: “To improve is to change;
To perfect is to change often.”

24 thoughts on “The Difference Between MMA, Self Defense & Martial Arts

  1. Jeet Kune Do is basically on all the above. It's all about taking what you think works and rejecting ones you don't think will work. It's all about self defense in a street fighting situation, and it's all about improving yourself.

  2. Great video Patrick. I fought as a professional MMA fighter for the majority of my adult life and have practiced BJJ and Sambo for a longer period. I agree with everything you said except one detail, MMA was not counted with UFC 1in my opinion. The first few years I competed it was mostly known as NHB, aka no holds barred. I first heard it called MMA around 2003-2004 myself.

  3. The bottom line is you need self defence first you can be a world champion and still end up beat up or dead in real life if you don't have self defence

  4. Unfortunately, MMA brought an erroneous idea of martial arts. The first, especially in women and children, fighting is not defending. The weight, the size influences the chances of defending. Real Martial Art teaches to bring the fingers to the eyes, to bite, vital points. If we look at Kathy Long, champion of Kick Boxing, in her seminars she teaches herself to stick, fingers to her eyes, break and more. The reality is different, it's good to learn to endure a hit, but defending yourself is very different from fighting.

  5. It's also interesting to notice that most self defense systems are bullshit.

    Krav maga sn't actually a martial art. Krav maga is a two week training programme in the israeli army designed to teach really baskc hand to hand combat skills and with the end hope of getting the mentality of running towards the danger installed into the soldiers. Krav maga as a martial art is an american perversion. Whether or not it was israeli instructors who brought it there or not is irrelevant, it's not a martial art and never has been and the techniques it purports in its 'self defense' are speculative crap that will only work against the most inexperienced child
    If you're lucky

  6. I saw videos of full contact fights using traditional martial arts, and violence was not inferior to MMA.
    It is not martial art, but how it is used to make the difference.

  7. Awesome job mate. Krav maga while probably isn't considered a "martial art" as such, the definition martial is "war" krav maga was created in war therefore by definition it is a "martial art".

    My personal opinion of the difference between the arts is mentality nothing more.
    Both MMA and martial arts will work in a street confrontation if the person has the right mentality. Krav maga works on "untrained" individuals that know little or nothing. That's why I'll choose jiu-jitsu, wrestling and Muay Thai over krav maga any day of the week.
    Krav maga is a course a few weeks long to instal aggression into potential soldiers which goes back to the mentality thing I spoke about.

    Amazing video brother. I'll be subscribing.

  8. I enjoy your stuff, having both seen your Kung Fu videos (last time we talked in comments, you mentioned Kung Fu and I looked you up and actually I'd seen your Kung Fu content prior to EMA back in the day). I really like how you're putting things together with what you teach, and also that you understand and differentiate between MMA, self defense and martial arts,all 3 are valid as long as you understand what you're doing and why. 🙂 Just curious have you ever fought competitively in kickboxing or MMA? It would be interesting to see, if not I hope to see some more sparring footage with your emphasis on teaching, that's very interesting content 🙂

  9. What are you going on about ? MMA IS A MARTIAL ART. Despite what the TMA crowd has been bleeting on about for the past 20 plus years. It has it's own "style" and training methodology.

  10. The reason why I mentioned that you tell the truth about the different between MMA martial art and self defence is that you are very realist in what you saying and at the same time I noticed that most of the MMA fans forgot that even an MMA champion is not excluded to get bit up in the street fight from an expert. It bothers me one thing at MMA fans that if in a sports man like Khabib gets on the tup they lifts him up in glory as if it were like unbeaten even in the street fighting. What is your opinion of what I said?

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