15 Examples Of Martial Arts Working In Real Life

The legitimacy of many martial arts is often questioned by people who’ve never trained in them. Some people develop a negative view of martial arts from gimmicky martial arts instructors who are more concerned with profits than training their students. 

You’ve probably seen videos of self-proclaimed grandmasters throwing their students all over the dojo with nothing more than fancy hand movements that never even make contact with anyone. They wave their hands and students on the opposite side of the room somersault to the ground. It’s cheesy, silly, and gives martial arts a bad name. Anyone intelligent enough to realize the WWE isn’t real can also see through these cheap gimmicks. 

There are also many martial artists who poorly represent the styles they’ve trained in, leading untrained people to question their effectiveness. Think of the out-of-shape guy who once trained in Karate, but hasn’t been inside a dojo in 20 years. He brags about his Karate experience to everyone he comes in contact with, but he struggles to defend himself when he finds himself in a self-defense scenario. Everyone who knows him shakes their head and thinks Karate is useless. 

Here’s the bottom line.

Most martial arts have been tested and proven to be effective over the years, like Jiu-Jitsu which was used by Samurai on battlefields. However, a bad student can make any martial art seem ineffective. A martial artist who is dedicated to their training isn’t the same as one who might have once taken their training seriously but hasn’t trained in years. 

This article will take a detailed look at real-life examples that show how effective martial arts can be in dangerous situations. 


Real-Life Examples Of The Effectiveness Of Martial Arts

Let’s take a look at some clear-cut examples of martial artists using their craft to successfully defend themselves and others:


1) Struggling MMA Fighter Fights Off Home Invaders

Mixed martial arts has emerged as a unique martial art, and it mimics real fighting better than any other combat sport. MMA allows the use of kicks, knees, punches, elbows, slams, throws, takedowns, and submissions, making its practitioners the most well-rounded martial artists on the planet. 

Joe Torrez was a struggling 1-5 MMA fighter several years ago when four home invaders broke into his home in New Mexico. One guy had a shank, while another grabbed a knife from the kitchen. However, despite two of the attackers being armed and Torrez being outnumbered four to one, Torrez was able to successfully fight them off and protect his wife and child. 

Getting assaulted by multiple attackers is one of the scariest self-defense situations for martial artists, and there’s never a guarantee you’ll emerge victorious since it’s extremely difficult to keep track of what everyone is doing as you defend yourself. Yet, Torrez’s MMA training paid off big when he needed it the most. It’s an excellent example of why you want to be well-rounded as a martial artist. Being good at only grappling or striking isn’t good enough. You want to be ready for wherever a fight takes place to optimize your odds of emerging victorious. 


2) Kevin Holland Stops A Mass Shooting

UFC veteran Kevin Holland is one of the top middleweights on the planet and he’s one of the most entertaining personalities in mixed martial arts. He’s also a part-time superhero who uses his power for good, like the time he stopped a car thief less than 24 hours away from his fight with Tim Means. 

Holland’s most significant heroic feat occurred while he was enjoying a meal with some friends in a Houston restaurant when a gunman opened fire. Holland quickly jumped into action, using his MMA skills to disarm and subdue the shooter before anyone got hurt. 


3) Muggers Run Into Renzo Gracie

Being aware of your surroundings is a significant part of being able to successfully defend yourself and Renzo Gracie has lots of it. The retired MMA fighter/decorated BJJ instructor noticed two men following him as he made his way back home at night. 

Renzo decided to live-tweet the situation as it unfolded until a physical altercation started. He managed to subdue one of his attackers, while the other ran away. In an interesting turn of events, Renzo caught up with the second mugger about 30 minutes later and gave him the same treatment. 

As funny as Renzo’s story is, we should note that your priority should always be to get away from dangerous situations. Don’t go looking for the bad guys once the altercation is over. Your only concern should be to get somewhere safe. 


4) Polyana Viana Shows Mugger Women’s MMA Is Legit

In 2019, a mugger in Brazil saw a petite woman standing by herself while waiting for an Uber and figured she would be an easy target. He couldn’t have been any more wrong as his would-be victim turned out to be MMA veteran Polyana Viana. 

The mugger tried to snatch her smartphone from her, and she responded by putting some punches and kicks together, before choking him with a rear-naked choke. The beating was so vicious, the mugger ended up looking like the victim with his face all bloodied up. The best part of this story is Viana competes in the UFC’s 115-pound strawweight division. It’s one of the best examples of a small woman using her martial arts prowess to subdue a larger attacker. 


5) Shady Bus Driver Gets Triangled In Dubai

A U.S. sailor found herself fighting for her life after visiting a shopping mall when she jumped onboard a bus she thought would take her home. Instead, the bus driver took a detour and took her to a secluded spot. 

The bus driver then attempted to sexually assault her while using a knife for compliance, but he had no clue what he was in for. The BJJ-trained sailor jumped all over him, wrestling him to the ground and knocking his knife away. She added some ground strikes for good measure before finishing him off with a triangle choke. The perp was later picked up by authorities and charged with assault, threatening to kill, and attempted rape. 


6) Car Thief Chooses The Wrong Car To Steal


Imagine trying to break into a car and the owner catches you red-handed. To make matters worse, the owner holds the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s record for most knockouts in the promotion’s history. That’s what happened in Houston, Texas a few years ago when UFC veteran Derrick Lewis noticed a guy trying to break into his car after a training session. 

There were no words exchanged. He casually knocked the guy out and called the police to pick him up. 


7) BJJ Joe Helps Struggling Cop

Anyone who’s ever trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu knows it should be a mandatory part of a police officer’s training. No martial art comes close to giving police officers the skills they need to subdue and handcuff resisting suspects. 

This was rather evident when BJJ student Mark Anthony Gonzales ran into an officer struggling with a suspect on the ground. He immediately jumped in and secured the perp’s legs. When the perp tried to go for the officer’s gun, he effortlessly pried his hand away and gave the officer instructions as they both worked on getting the guy in cuffs. 


8) Thief Learns The Importance Of Not Underestimating People

Meredith Livengood is a martial arts instructor with her own dojo. Surveillance footage of the altercation shows she was hanging out by the front door of her dojo when a man who had been lurking around the building approached her asking about the training schedule. 

His request turned out to be a distraction as he snatched her phone out of her hand and tried to escape on a bike. He didn’t get far though as she jumped on him from behind and locked in a rear-naked choke. She then pried her phone out of his hands, peppered his face with some well-deserved punches, and herded him away from her gym. 


9) Abusive Man Runs Into Taekwondo World Champion

In the video of this altercation, a man is seen arguing with a woman who seems to be trying to get away from him. He holds on to her, while she starts pushing and hitting him trying to escape. Unfortunately, her attempts to escape weren’t effective. 

Fortunately for her, a pair of women walked by and decided to intervene. One of those women turned out to be a Taekwondo World Champion. The guy must not have liked what she said to him since he switched his focus to her and approached her aggressively. She responded with a single kick to the body than left him incapacitated. The guy tries to get up to pursue the girls, but his body won’t let him. 


10) Sucker Puncher Meets BJJ


A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt went viral in 2022 when he stepped up to stop a deranged man who was going around randomly punching people. Ro Malabanan was on his way to work when he noticed a man sucker punch a construction worker. Ro asked the victim if he was okay, then went after the man who hit him and jumped on his back. 

He was able to use his grappling skills to secure the man and hold him in place for law enforcement. 


11) Child Abductor Gets Taken Down

Brian Kemsley was walking with his girlfriend when he heard a woman scream for help. It turned out some deranged guy was trying to snatch her baby’s stroller with the child in it, while she had another child in her arm. 

The perp refused to let go of the stroller until Kemsley, who has trained in Muay Thai and BJJ, stepped up and grappled the guy to the ground. Kemsley then held him in place until law enforcement showed up to arrest him. 


12) Store Clerk Shows A Robber How Guillotine Chokes Work

It was a normal day for 7-11 cashier Ebrahiam until a guy walked into his store and tried to steal the cash register. A physical altercation ensued with both men landing their share of strikes. The back and forth continue for half a minute, but Ebrahiam’s martial arts training eventually kicked in and he secured a guillotine choke as soon as an opening presented itself. He used the choke to drain the fight out of the attacker and held him down until the police showed up. 


13) High School Wrestler Hands Out Free Wrestling Clinic

Canaan Brower stumbled upon an absolute fiasco went he went to the gas station to fill up his gas tank. A man tried to kidnap three children a few minutes before his arrival, but some bystanders did their best to try to help. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t have the necessary training and ended up taking vicious beatings. However, they managed to trap the perp in the store and that’s when Brower came into the picture. 

A 16-year-old high school wrestler at the time, Brower went right after the kidnapper once he found out what was going on and tackled him to the ground. He kept the guy pinned on the ground until authorities came to arrest him. 


14) Martial Artists Interrupt A Robbery In Progress

A pair of MMA fighters who were in town for a BJJ tournament noticed a man robbing the clerk in the front office of their hotel at gunpoint. They immediately jumped into action, controlling the man’s arms and eventually disarming him. 

The police showed up soon after and arrested the suspect and confiscated his gun, while the two MMA fighters were praised as heroes.


15) Grandma Schools Intruder

67-year-old Lorenza Marruja was living in an apartment for seniors when an intruder broke into her unit. She screamed at the intruder and managed to get him to leave her unit to look for another victim. The intruder then broke into the apartment of her 87-year-old neighbor, who he punched in the neck. 

Marruja was right behind him, and she sent him to the floor with a foot sweep, bent his fingers back to force him to let go of her friend, and softened him up with some elbows to the sternum. It turned out she was a lifelong martial artist. 


Equip Yourself Today

Apart from the many benefits of martial arts, knowing self-defense is another reason why you should learn martial arts. Knowing how to properly defend in times of trouble may come in handy someday, because you’ll never know when you’ll need to defend yourself. If you’re looking to start training in martial arts, why not give it a go with our complimentary trial class with us at Evolve MMA?


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