Whether your interested in self-defense or just martial arts in general, there are many lessons we can learn from watching the early UFC events.
The most famous was that in North America, up until the UFC, grappling wasn't considered to be effective when strikes were allowed.
So now we can say that grappling can be extremely effective even when striking is allowed.
The next most famous statement is that cross training is necessary to be effective.
This is actually inaccurate because people seem to think that this means you need to be well rounded.
To be successful in the UFC you need to cross train in certain specific styles, not so that you become well rounded, but so that you know how to deal with other strategies.
Case in point is that there have been many champions in the UFC that specialize in one area, yet they became champions.
If you follow my logic, you can be a Boxer, but you need to be a Boxer that can defend against take downs, kicks, submissions, the clinch, the ground, and have the ability to steer the fight to your area of specialty which is Boxing.
The next lesson is something I have found on my own trying to make sense out of everything.
There are basically three kinds of people that entered the early UFC.
From weakest to most successful.
1. Martial Artists
2. Tough Guys
A martial artist is a regular person that has martial arts skills.
A martial artist can beat a regular person that has no martial arts skills.
A tough guy will beat a martial artist because a tough guy is not a regular person, on top of that they have street fighting skills. So let's say that the street fighting skills and martial arts skills cancel each other out, all that's left is a tough guy versus a regular person. This is why the tough guy wins.
Some people will say that martial arts skills are better than street fighting skills but they are underestimating street fighting skills. Martial arts skills may encompass a larger wealth of knowledge but much of that may not directly affect the actual combat. Martial artists learn things like philosophy, history, spirituality, health, and teaching skills.
At the end of the day the athlete reigns supreme because they are tough, have skills, and have a much higher work ethic and ability to perform than the others. They are a small percentage of the population.
Now that tale doesn't end there, you have to consider what I'm about to say next. Most people can do martial arts, it was designed for the average person. Not everyone is a tough guy, not everyone can be a tough guy. Being an athlete is so difficult that most people can't be a life long athlete, or at the very keep training at a high level for many years.
So the lesson here is that you start as a regular person.
Learn martial arts and become a martial artist.
Then try to become tougher and tougher.
Then try to become as close as possible to an athlete as you can.
If you want to know how good you are, just compare yourself to what an athlete does everyday.