Warren Buffett on MMA Training and Self-Defense

A Fake Interview with Real* Quotes

Warren Buffett
Credit: Mark Hirschey

Martial Development: First of all, congratulations: a recent surge in Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price has made you the richest man in the world. $62 billion dollars, I hear. According to my estimates, you could literally buy up all the tea in China.

Warren Buffett: I drink Coca-Cola.

Martial Development: Fair enough. You know, kung fu is all about profitably investing time and effort. As one of the world’s greatest investors, I thought you might have some unique insights to share with us.

Warren Buffett: I’ve never even made a hostile acquisition! What do I know about kung fu?

Martial Development: More than you realize. For example, you have frequently advised fellow investors to master their greedy and fearful emotions. This is also a requirement for high-level kung fu.

If you would prefer to avoid the more hostile elements of martial training, and talk about the noble art of self-defense…

Warren Buffett: Certainly, I would.

Martial Development: No problem. I’d like to pick your brain regarding the self-defense value of MMA.

“I prefer to keep all my eggs in one basket and watch that basket closely.”

Warren Buffett: MMA…you mean Municipal Mortgage and Equity, LLC?

Martial Development: Mixed martial arts, actually. It’s become quite popular over the last decade. Since you seem unfamiliar with MMA, I’ll try to describe it using an investment analogy.

Traditional martial arts usually specialize in one style of attack. For example, Karate is focused on delivering punches and kicks, whereas Jujutsu uses grappling and throwing techniques. Training in these traditional styles is like buying stock in a single company, if you will.

Mixed martial arts training, in contrast, diversifies across a wide range of traditional styles…

Warren Buffett: …a mutual fund of martial arts.

Martial Development: Precisely. Now, the vast majority of investment advisors recommend diversified asset allocation, yet you speak against it. Why?

Warren Buffett: Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.*

Martial Development: Well, you seem to know what you’re doing. Your fifty-year career gives the lie to the “efficient market hypothesis”, wherein the market reflects the true value of every investment. Do you suppose that the value of traditional martial arts training is underappreciated today?

Warren Buffett: For some reason, people take their cues from price action rather than from values. What doesn’t work is when you start doing things that you don’t understand, or because they worked last week for somebody else.*

Martial Development: Interesting. Some people have written online, however, that the UFC proves…

Warren Buffett: Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote.*

Martial Development: Um, right. So, is it fair to say that you disagree with the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?”

Warren Buffett:I prefer to keep all my eggs in one basket and watch that basket closely.*

Martial Development: But following that advice, how could a traditional kung fu artist possibly deal with all the different types of attacks they might face on the street?

Warren Buffett: You only have to do a very few things right in your life, so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.*

Martial Development: Good point. Thank you for your time, Mr. Buffett.

Do you have a self-defense question for the Oracle of Omaha? Ask below.


  1. Warren Buffett responds:

    Bob Patterson,
    I am not familiar with that sound.

    Dojo Rat,
    In return for your silence, I can offer you an honorary chair on the Trilateral Commission. Talk to my secretary.

  2. Cute — but a silly and a poorly crafted analogy that demonstrates ignorance of Warren Buffet, traditional martial arts, *and* MMA all in one fell swoop.

    And I’m a fan/follower of all three of those things, by the way.

  3. About diversification:

    Wouldn’t you say it’s a little arrogant to assume that you “know what you’re doing” in a self-defense situation? Even members of the police and military, whose entire careers and livelihoods surround these kinds of situations, don’t always come out okay. Are you saying that training in traditional martial arts would give you a better knowledge than them? MMA, krav-maga, and other “hybrid” styles may not cover all the bases, but it’s getting as many as possible. All the eggs are in one basket: survival.

  4. Warren Buffett responds:

    We believe that a policy of portfolio concentration may well decrease risk if it raises, as it should, both the intensity with which an investor thinks about [their traditional style] and the comfort level he must feel with its characteristics before buying into it.*

    We don’t get paid for [mixing styles together], just for being right. As to how long we’ll wait, we’ll wait indefinitely.*

  5. Problems with the analogy:

    * Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway is heavily and highly diversified. He does certainly advocate “buy what you know” and knowing your investments and businesses well, but he is hardly “anti-diversification”.

    * “Tradition” is ultimately a misnomer (though it’s hard to avoid) as far as martial arts go. Many arts considered ‘modern’ predate many arts that are considered ‘traditional’.

    * Effective training is derived from training methods more so than styles. Training that is focused on drills and sparring and working with partners is ultimately going to yield more practical martial skills than training built on punching and kicking the air while holding a horse stance.

    I’m not down on traditional arts — I’ve trained in multiple arts for 25+ years. But there’s no reason to regard MMA training as something ‘less than’ or ‘inferior’ to traditional training.

  6. Practically, Berkshire Hathaway is diversified because their scale requires it. Philosophically, Buffett is anti-diversification; his personal statements above and elsewhere make that crystal clear.

    Humor aside, I titled this post as I did for a reason. Whether MMA is “good” or “bad” is not at issue here. The core question is whether someone with limited resources and an interest in self-defense, should start learning within a coherent framework, or attempt to assemble their own from spare parts.

  7. I don’t think I would call Buffet anti-diversification; it is true that he advocates owning fewer stocks — and being highly invested mentally and financially in those stocks — vs. widely diversifying (and less interested in) the stocks you buy.

    As for MMA — it is as coherent a framework as any traditional martial art, provided you find a good instructor.

    I would argue that good MMA instruction would *generally* offer more “bang for the buck” than traditional arts if combat/fight-effectiveness is a key concern.

    Of course, the key is finding a good instructor — and that pretty much holds true for any martial art.

  8. Its very true when he says “You only have to do a very few things right in your life, so long as you don’t do too many things wrong” In martial arts, its best to concentrate on only a few techniques and master them rather than learn lots and lots and not be proficient on them. Great post! let me know if you would like to exchange links

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