Hybrid Self Defense vs. MMA

I've been asked a couple of times about MMA training at Salvos. My response is fairly simple. We focus mainly on self defense, not sport. I really do enjoy the sport of MMA and have done a little myself, though way back in the day. Today’s athletes are phenomenal and they are incredibly talented in many different aspects. They are tacticians and strategists adept at recognizing and responding to various attacks and using full advantage of the rule set.

A broad generalization: Most MMA fighters would certainly be able to defend themselves in a one-on-one ego fight in a parking lot simply because they're good at striking, avoiding being hit or taken down. They've also spent countless hours in training becoming resilient and learning the limits of their bodies which can be a huge advantage. While an MMA fighter is able to fight really well within the scope of the sport, a real world environment against a determined attacker intent on seriously injuring or killing them is a different thing.

Why? In the sport there are rules (see below) and if you train to play by them, during a self defense situation you will perform within those boundaries. The "bad guy" you're dealing with will not! You also develop habits (or "your game") that when used outside of the rules will likely get you hurt or killed.

Don't believe me? The next time you train, throw the rules out and, with control and sensible force, look for and take opportunities to simulate the more brutal fighting tools. You'll find that some of your go-to techniques and positions will get your skull bashed in, eyes gouged, face bitten, balls stomped, etc, etc. Then introduce things such as multiple attackers, rocks, water puddles, bottles, sticks, knives as well as different environments like confined spaces, stairs, furniture, mud, etc.

Below are the Unified Rules of MMA with * notations (some kinda funny) added by me.


The following acts constitute fouls in a contest or exhibition of mixed martial arts and may result in penalties, at the discretion of the referee, if committed:

- Butting with the head *Use the correct part of your skull and aim for the face

- Eye gouging of any kind *If given the chance, go for it! Sometimes it's the best option.

- Biting or spitting at an opponent *Only downside to biting is the bad taste and risk of infection. Spitting is pretty useless though.... unless you have chew in your lip, then go for the eyes.

- Fish hooking (act of inserting a finger or fingers or one or both hands into the mouth or nostrils of a person, pulling away from the center-line of the body) *OK this is pretty dumb to do anytime so we'll keep this one. Not that it isn't effective, just too high risk.

- Hair pulling *Seems like a good handle to use. Where the head goes, the body follows.

- Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck * No canvas in the real world, spike the guy on the concrete and end the attack

- Strikes to the spine or the back of the head. *Good way to end an attack. Do it! But not to the back of the head with a closed fist.

- Throat strikes of any kind, and/or grabbing the trachea *The throat is a viable target, hit it! Hard!

- Fingers outstretched toward an opponent’s face/eyes *This could be dangerous to the striker, but also very effective when done properly

- Downward pointing elbow strike (12 o’clock to 6 o’clock strike) *One of my favorites and very effective

- Groin attacks of any kind *It's not Krav Maga until someone takes a shot to the balls. I'll quote Master Ken here "Always re-stomp the groin!"

- Kneeing and/or kicking the head of a grounded opponent *IF they're already down, run. If they're still in the fight, game on!

- Stomping a grounded opponent *I call this a parting gift. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Gives you more time to get away. Also, do it like you're kick starting a motorcycle.

- Holding opponent’s gloves or shorts *Uh, yeah, I'm going to use everything I can to control the bad guy. And I assume they mean while he's wearing them, otherwise, that's just weird.

- Holding or grabbing the fence or ropes with fingers or toes *Use what your environment gives you

- Small joint manipulation *This works for some grabs and holds, do it fiercely

- Throwing opponent out of ring/fighting area *N/A

- Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice or any cut or laceration of an opponent *This might be a good one, in a way. Don't place a finger there, stab it in there with gusto!

- Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh *If it happens, so much the better but not something to look for.

- Timidity (avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury) *I agree with this to a point. Avoidance is key to self defense. If you have to fight remember: To stop violence, you have to be violent. But then run away!

- Using abusive language in the fighting area *N/A

- Flagrant disregarding of the referee’s instructions *There are no refs. All the more reason to not train with the rules.

- Unsportsmanlike conduct that causes injury to an opponent *Shit, that's what we want to do

- Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat *N/A. No chance of being saved by the bell in the real world

- Attacking an opponent on or during the break *N/A You're either fighting or not, there are no breaks.

- Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee *N/A

- Interference from a mixed martial artist’s corner or seconds *You'd better be prepared for interference from the bad guys buddies. They won't follow this rule.

-Head Instructor Donny Pickard