MMA against multiple opponents, Part Four

Before I explain, it’s easier if you read MMA against multiple opponents, part three first.

And also the two previous entries in this series.

People have misunderstood and misquoted me on these posts for a long time. It almost seems like you’re not allowed to have a nuanced discussion anymore. Newsflash: the world is not black and white. Neither is fighting. So to be clear: MMA against multiple opponents isn’t worthless. But it’s also not the perfect solution for the problem. Shades of grey, not black and white.

Personally, I love MMA. I think it’s an awesome sport and if I were 18 right now, that’s what I’d be competing in. Those days are over for me so I can’t but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the sport. On the contrary. But that also doesn’t mean I drank the Kool-Aid and think MMA is the most awesomeness-fighting-zystum-EVEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!

I’m 38 as I write this. I started training when I was 13. That means I just missed the kung fu craze, enjoyed the ninjutsu craze when it hit, was there when silat was picked up and also saw MMA rise and come into the spotlight. That’s just the way the MA world works: every ten years or so, something “new” comes along and the audience thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. This is not just in MA’s by the way. You see it in any field and with all products.

Case in point:

My father once gave me his old mystery story magazines from the 40s and 50s. In those, you saw adverts for… Spa treatments with radioactive material…

I am not kidding. Today, we all know now that radioactivity is not all that great for your health but back then, it was the new thing and was promoted as a being dipped in awesome-sauce, times fifty-thousand.

Do you remember when this one came out and it was the height of cool? I do...

Today, we have MMA being touted as the one-stop shop for all your martial needs. Sports? Self Defense? Conditioning? Fat-loss? Penile-dysfunction? MMA solves it all (though I’m not sure about the last one…)

The thing to consider is how much money is involved in what has become the MMA industry. It’s billions and billions of $. That wasn’t the case 15 years ago when it was looked upon as barbaric brawling. I was there then, I remember.

Looking for self defense against multiple opponents? Try this video here.

But the UFC cleaned up it’s act by installing rounds, weight-categories and many rules to make the sport more mainstream. Nothing wrong with that, ti’s what all sports do. But in doing so, it has strayed from the no-rules, anything goes fighting from UFC1. And even then you weren’t allowed to bring your buddies or stab your opponent when he wasn’t looking…

One of the most lucrative ways of doing business in the Martial Arts today is mixing the two latest trends: MMA and RBSD. I think some of these programs are really good. Others are a sure way to suicide, but that’s irrelevant right now. People found out there’s money to be made by combining these and that’s what they’re doing. As a result, it’s perfect for them if the public thinks MMA is the default way violence occurs and they do their best to promote this agenda.

If you say otherwise, you’re a traditionalist who’s out of touch in reality and MMA fighters would eat you up…  I’m only slightly joking here. I was confronted once again with this mindset just now on my blog. Here’s both the comment and my reply.

Anon said:

I disagree with your analogy of this video. I believe it illustrates the necessity of grappling training for real life.

Neither of these combatants were trained in anything. This is painfully obvious, and extremely relevant. But lets pretend for a second that the guy in the white jacket was in two following scenarios. Both will be trained in either striking or grappling only. Keep in mind most BJJ guys and all MMA fighters cross train to an equal amount in both stand-up and grappling styles these days.

Scenario 1: Guy in the black jacket(BJ) is untrained but the gentleman in the white jacket(WJ) is trained in only a striking art(Karate, Boxing, Wing Chun, etc…). The fight starts and WJ starts by beating on BJ in pristine striking fashion, but is unable to avoid the clinch due to the tight space. WJ is also unable to put BJ down with strikes. Now they’re in a clinching match and they go over the railing, get back up and continue wrestling. BJ takes down WJ just like in the video because WJ being primarily a striker doesn’t consistently train clinching and takedown defense. Now they are both on the ground as shown in the video, and evenly matched since neither actively trains ground fighting significantly. BJ is still able to restrain WJ, and BJ’s friend is still able to kick him in the head 15 times. Why? Because even though WJ is an student of striking he was ill prepared to be on the ground. In ignoring this stage of combat, he essentially wrote his own death sentence. Just because he didn’t address ground combat, didn’t mean he would never wind up there.

Scenario 2: Guy in the black jacket(BJ) is untrained, but this time the gentleman in the white jacket(WJ) is trained in only a grappling art(Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling, etc…). Fight starts off as we see in the video as neither has trained striking skills to speak off. They clinch and fall over the railing still, as that would catch even the best strikers or grapplers. However they get back up as in the video and stay in the clinch. Now BJ attempts his weak takedown attempt and WJ, seeing BJ’s friend, is able to keep BJ’s takedown from being successful. Due to the takedown defense he regularly practices in his grappling art.

For arguments sake though lets say the fight still goes to the ground. Maybe WJ didn’t see BJ’s freind and took him down, maybe he got taken down and decided to stay there. We could even say they didn’t get up after they tripped over the rail, as this is a major danger in any street fight, and can happen to the best fighter on the planet. Now WJ sees BJ’s friend coming, and knows the ground is a terrible place to be when confronted by more than 1 person. Since he trains grappling however he is able to use his superior ground skills to reverse BJ and get back to his feet to escape. Because he knew how to fight on the ground he was able to keep from getting pinned under BJ and escape. Something neither the real WJ nor WJ striker in scenario 1 was unable to do.

Remember you can ignore something as hard as you want. But that doesn’t mean you won’t come face to face with it one day. If you don’t actively train grappling, you run a risk of being taken to the ground and pinned there. Your striking skills wont help you on the ground if you lack ground experience. Essentially you become just as inexperienced as the guy who took you there, and his friends can still kick the snot out of you. Only now your inexperience makes you helpless to get back to your feet and escape.

Its like a grappler saying he didn’t need to worry about getting punched because he doesn’t train striking.

My reply:


You’re making things a wee bit too easy by hand picking your scenarios. There are an endless amount of of different scenarios we can extrapolate from this video. You pick two that suit your bias but that doesn’t make them valid in this discussion. Nor does it disqualify all other possibilities, including the ones where an MMA trained fighter gets stomped by the second guy, gets his eyes gouged out, a knife stuck in his kidneys, etc ad nauseam. I know of many real life situations where exactly this happened, and worse.

These are realities of fighting in a real life conflict, outside of the sports arena. In your words: ignore them if you will but it won’t make them go away. Training for a UFC match doesn’t really prepare you for that, regardless of how hard the training is.

Also, your assumptions are faulty:

Just because somebody doesn’t study MMA, doesn’t mean they don’t study ground fighting or grappling. Grappling arts like Western wrestling or Shuai Jiao are thousands of years old. So it’s safe to assume men have fought in the clinch or on the ground for a long, long time. Long before there even existed a UFC.

MMA clearly admits to taking from such arts and adapts the techniques for the cage. That’s perfectly fine. But it doesn’t invalidate those arts at all.

Nor does it mean that practitioners of these (and many,many other) arts don’t train to defend against being taken down or learn how to fight on the ground. Or that their techniques and strategies are somehow inferior to MMA’s.

MMA is first and foremost a sport. However rough a sport it may be. That means that many things that are crucial on the street are of no consequence in the octagon. As a result, they aren’t trained. Again, differences and similarities… That said, an MMA trained athlete who learns all the UFC prohibited techniques and has a street-savvy mind set will be hell on wheels to fight. But he would not be welcome in the UFC anymore. And he’d also look a lot more like what many non-MMA arts are doing.

Just two more things:

  1. Please read #3. The Army is tossing out the Gracie JJ curriculum. This should give you pause…
  2. Please talk to big city cops, soldiers on active duty in a war zone, Swat members, bouncers in rough bars (not the fancy clubs) and ask them what they prefer: training to fight on their feet or training to go to the ground and slap a triangle choke on somebody? It should also give you pause.

To help start the ball rolling, please read the interview I did with Mark Mireles.

He’s LA’s most decorated cop, has tons of real-world experience and is a MMA specialist to boot. If you think he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he says:

“Ground fighting is important, but is not the absolute system for the reality of street violence. There is a place in real fighting for grappling, but most of it is for worse case scenarios, not a primary systems.” then we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

If he’s not a credible source for you, then I don’t know who is. My own experience and that of all my friends from the group of people I summed up above is in accord.



I’m not having a go at Anon here. I just wanted to point out a mindset that is very prevalent in today’s MMA circles.All I can say is: to each his own. It’s your life, your training, not mine. Live and let live and feel free to disagree with me.

The whole thing got me thinking about doing an instructional video on how to adapt MMA training for the street. Showing the similarities and then how to train for the differences. What do you think?

UPDATE: I think this video is applicable to the discussion at hand. I also think it’s pretty damn funny… :-)



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  1. I think that Self Defense training incorporating adapted MMA knowledge would make for an interesting syllabus- however- I would also incorporate the ‘banned’ elements from competitive MMA to increase the skillset and ramp up the real world effectiveness. After all; no rules, no rounds, no ref right?

    Anything to help you get off the ground quicker and back to stand up (to facilitate an escape) makes sense to me.
    I shudder to think of the opponent’s mates/random thugs playing football with my head on the deck!!

  2. I think that Self Defense training incorporating adapted MMA knowledge would make for an interesting syllabus- however- I would also incorporate the ‘banned’ elements from competitive MMA to increase the skillset and ramp up the real world effectiveness. After all; no rules, no rounds, no ref right?

    Anything to help you get off the ground quicker and back to stand up (to facilitate an escape) makes sense to me.
    I shudder to think of the opponent’s mates/random thugs playing football with my head on the deck!!

  3. considering bruce lee was perhaps the first no-holds-barred mma fighter, what sort of ground fighting is incorporated in JKD? also, what about reality based systems like krav maga? i don’t know because i haven’t thoroughly studied either art, but they are primarily striking arts

    • I’m no JKD expert so I can’t really comment much besides from what I’ve seen and read. IIRC, in tao of JKD, there’s a short section on ground fighting. Again, your best bet is to go to a JKD school and see what their curriculum is. From what I’ve seen, some JKD schools don’t have much on the ground where as others incorporate an extensive ground curriculum. So it’ll depend on where you go.

  4. Hi Samuel,

    Bruce Lee was by no means a MMA fighter. to the best of my knowledge, he never competed in anything resembling a MA competition. If he did, I’d love to hear more information about it as that would be news to me. So I don’t think the comparison is valid.

    As for other systems, your best bet is to go straight to a school close to you and ask what they do on the ground. Not all RBSD are the same, nor is every KM school. The curriculum of one school can vary wildly from that of another, so there’s no easy answer. Just go take a look and see if you like it.

    • sorry, i didn’t mean literally an mma fighter so much as a mixed martial artist who synthesized a variety of arts with a philosophy of reality based fighting into jeet kune do

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