Best Grappling Martial Arts for MMA and Self-defense

best grappling martial arts for mma

Grappling martial arts existed long ago, such as the Japanese jujutsu, wrestling, and others. Warriors used it as a form of self-defense to defeat their enemies. Indeed, since the inception of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), on November 12, 1993, the grappling martial arts earned more credits and value. 

So, if not surprising to see a plethora of grappling martial arts in the Olympics, MMA, and self-defense disciplines. 

Grappling is an essential element of fighting combat sports. A grappler should take his opponent to the ground and beat him using the proper techniques and submission moves. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, Judo, and Sambo are just a handful of the best grappling martial arts for MMA and self-defense that you can learn today.

Let’s study the most effective grappling martial arts for MMA and self-defense in-depth. Stay tuned!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is one of the most effective grappling martial arts anybody can learn and practice. It has several advantages, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mental health, and improving physical fitness, among other tremendous extra benefits.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu in MMA and self-defense: Nowadays, various BJJ techniques are used in self-defense and mixed martial arts competitions. Armlocks (armbar, Americana), shoulder locks (kimura, etc.), and chokes (triangled’arceguillotineanaconda) are some examples of jiu-jitsu techniques employed in ground combat.

BJJ fighters in MMA: Brazilian jiu-jitsu has found its way into the ring of battle since the birth of mixed martial arts events. Mixed martial arts competitors such as Royce Gracie, Georges St-Pierre, Demian Maia, and others are excellent ambassadors of jiu-jitsu.

Some of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters with impressive records in MMA competitions are detailed below.

Fighter’s Name MMA Record Division Most Used BJJ Techniques Jiu-Jitsu Rank
Royce Gracie

15-2 (with a record of 11 consecutive wins)


Armbars, triangle chokes, RNC.

Red/black coral belt

Demian Maia


Welterweight / middleweight Single and double-leg takedowns, RNC.

Black belt under Fabio Gurgel

Tony Ferguson

25-6 (with a record of 12 consecutive wins)

Lightweight / welterweight D’arce choke, anaconda choke, triangle choke, arm-triangle.  

Black belt under Eddie Bravo

Anderson Silva


Middleweight / light-heavyweight Triangle choke, RNC, arm-triangle.

Back belt under Antonio Rodrigo  Nogueira

Ronaldo Souza


Middleweight / light-heavyweight Armbars, kimuras, and chokes.

Black belt under Henrique Machado

Nate Diaz


Lightweight and welterweight Triangle choke, guillotine choke, d’arce choke.

Black belt under Cesar Gracie

Charles “do Bronx” Oliviera


Lightweight / featherweight Guillotine, inverted triangle armbar, RNC, anaconda, triangle choke.

Black belt under Jorge Patino

Georges St-Pierre


Welterweight Takedowns, RNC, armbar, kimura.

Black belt under Bruno Fernandes


best grappling martial arts

Wrestling is another excellent grappling fighting style employed primarily in mixed martial arts, self-defense, and other situations. Since the ancient Greeks, it has been a magnificent Olympic combat sport, making it one of the oldest combat sports still in existence.

Wrestling in MMA and self-defense: Wrestling is a fantastic sporting activity that prefers standing hand combat and does not allow striking. However, it is a well-established martial art in mixed martial arts contests and a very efficient form of self-defense. So, what does make wrestling so powerful?

Wrestlers have incredible talents in grabbing their opponents and bringing them to the ground with right throws (single/double leg takedowns). Indeed, they are ruthless warriors with ferocious strength and fitness qualities since wrestling training is usually physically demanding. In addition, MMA athletes benefit from wrestling because it helps them maintain a comfortable distance when alternating between striking and ground combat.

Wrestlers in MMA: Wrestling has made its way into the fight ring ever since mixed martial arts competitions began. Many MMA fighters, like Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez, Demetrious Johnson, Chael Sonnen, Chris Weidman, and Phil Davis, are good marketers for the wrestling sport.


list of grappling martial arts

Sambo is a fighting style created by the Soviets in the early 1920s to boost the hand fighting skills of their army. In many aspects, This combat sport involves several types of martial arts, including Judo, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and self-defense methods.

Sambo is most effective in the mixed martial arts and self-defense disciplines among the grappling martial arts. Even though, since its inception in the 1920s, it has been an underappreciated grappling sport outside of Russia. But, Sambo’s efficiency has been shown by many fighters, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, at the ultimate fighting championships (UFC) in recent years.

Sambo in MMA and self-defense: In its many forms (sport Sambo and Combat Sambo), Sambo gives its practitioners a wide range of great fighting techniques. For example, the Sambo Sport is comparable to wrestling and Judo but differs in regulations. For example, leg locks submission is available to its practitioners, but chokeholds are unavailable.

Aside from that, Combat Sambo teaches its practitioners both grappling and striking abilities, which makes it a mixed martial art. As a result, Combat Sambo combatants have a diverse arsenal of ground and standing fighting techniques at their disposal. For example, they can use punches, kicks, chokes, and other grappling submissions to defeat their opponents.

Sambo fighters in MMA: Combat Sambo has been making its way into the ring of battle since the birth of mixed martial arts events. Many mixed martial artists’ competitors, such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dennis Siver, Blagoy Ivanov, Merab Dvalishvili, and Dan Severn, are influential ambassadors of Sambo martial arts in MMA.

Final Thoughts

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has doubtless been the most effective grappling technique in mixed martial arts history. With no question, there is nothing equal to a BJJ practitioner’s ability to finish with arm locks, chokes, and other techniques.

A savage mixed martial art, on the other hand, should develop a fantastic combination of striking and grappling abilities, which makes me almost unstoppable.

I hope that this post has provided you with a clear overview of the best grappling martial arts for mixed martial arts (MMA) and self-defense.

What’s your favorite grappling martial art in MMA? Let us know what you think.