Best self defense system

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We are counting down the 7 top martial-arts styles for self-defense in Anyone can learn martial arts and benefit from its teachings. If nothing else, martial-arts allow people to stay active and healthy well into old age because it promotes a healthy lifestyle. However, there is another reason people are drawn to learn martial-arts.

Many people seek to do more than just stay healthy, but also to sharpen their own skills and learn powerful self-defense techniques. Some even believe that with enough training in any martial-arts, the human body can become a very dangerous weapon. Which of the martial-arts is the best for pure self-defensive capabilities? Read on to learn more about each style and decide which one you think is best, you might be surprised by what you learn!


If you consider raw striking speed and power, boxing can be a very effective means of self-defense. Focusing mainly on single strikes and throwing punches, combined with fast and constant movement and footwork. Those things used properly in unison are quite the pair. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.


This sport requires great strength and skill to practice, and injuries do occur often. As far as its usefulness in real-world situations, anyone who’s ever been a victim to a wrestling slam or choked out by a grapple hold will tell you, it really works.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Many fighting styles teach to stay above your enemy at all costs and throw them to the ground while you stay standing. This is a style that prepares the user for any attack and teaches defense even from the ground. Quick decisive moves decide the outcome for users of any Jiu-Jitsu.

Muay Thai

Thailand gave us Muay Thai fighting style that focuses on using shins, knees, elbows, and fists as hard striking weapons. Users must harden their body and sharpen their mind to use this stle to its full potential. However, this style of fighting has been proven a very successful means of self-defense.


The point of the Judo sport in Japan is to throw down or subdue the opponent. Pins, joint locks, chokes, and even weapons defense are all employed when one learns the fighting style known as Judo.

Krav Maga

An Israel military developed style, Krav Maga actually focuses on real-world situations, so it can really help when you need to employ some self-defense. Taking influences from a mixture of styles, Krav Maga emphasizes efficient threat neutralization, brutal life-ending counter-attacks.

Mixed Martial Arts

This is most likely the answer to which you seek. The best style of them all is not one style, with all its limits and graces, but a combination of perhaps all the styles. Mixed Martial Arts will use the best parts of many styles to understand and attain the goal. To master your own fighting style, is to continue learning and using martial arts in every way and in all parts of your life.

To read more about these styles and to watch them used in action check out the original article here!


The 17 Best Martial Arts for Self Defence

What are the best Martial Arts for self-defence?

Well, in this post I will walk you through the most effective Martial Arts and why I believe these this to be true.

Now while I have listed these arts in a number fashion that is not because I am ranking them in any particular order.

Everyone's needs are different and as such what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

However these are the most effective martial arts out there for self defence purposes, and you can't really go wrong with any of them.


Let's dive in.


Savate is a French Martial Art that focuses on punches and kicks. 

It does look a lot like Kickboxing, however there are subtle differences. For example, in Savate, you only strike with the foot. Where as other kickboxing styles use the shin.

The style is actually called La Boxe Francaise and originated in the streets of Paris.  The sport is practiced widely within France and has been around since the early 19th century. 

Is it any good for self-defence?

Well, yes, it certainly is. However there is a huge, issue with the heavy focus on the kicks. In self-defence, kicking to the head is a risky move. Think about it. To kick someone in the head, you need to be on one leg. This means you can easily be pushed off balance.

However, thankfully the art involves using the hands to punch, as such this makes Savate a much better style all round. 

Savate isn't widely taught globally so, you might struggle to find a school, but if this stylish looking art appeals to you, you could seek out online instruction.

The best martial arts for self defence

Combatives or Reality-Based Self-Defence (RBSD) as it is also known, is a self-defence style or system where realistic and often very brutal combat techniques are used to defend yourself.

The core issue with combatives and self-defence is that it actually has no real system.

One teacher of combatives or RBSD will teach what they think are great techniques, others could, in theory, teach a totally different syllabus.

This means that there is a growing abundance of people that use combatives and RBSD as a way to teach self-defence with little training and experience

So, if you choose to train in these styles or systems I suggest that you do your research, look for reviews and also ask about the instructor's background and experience.

That being said, combatives/ RBSD can be the best type of self-defence training you can receive.

So, let's give a little bit of background to this broad style.

The Father of Combatives and Modern Self-Defence

A great deal of self-defence training owes it's existence to one man, William Fairburn.

Fairburn was a cop in the tough town of Shangai in

A former soldier that had developed ferocious combat skills and seen real battle, yet Shangai was a dangerous place where he would engage in over violent encounters.

After years of testing his skills and learning others, he formed his Martial Art known as Defendu and was later involved in training commandos who would go into battle during WW2.

Defendu is still around albeit, with no significant organisation, brand assets or even structured syllabus, the art has been pulled apart, stolen by many and even had entire business models built around it.

However, Defendu has formed the base for most combative training for years.

What Is The Difference Between Combatives And Reality-Based Self Defence?

In simple terms, combatives is the style of self-defence taught to soldiers, however as it is a fashionable term, people have largely stolen its name to use as an umbrella term for the self-defence tactics they teach.

So, you will find Combatives being used to describe a style of self-defence that draws from Fairburn's work, but is not a direct manifestation of it.

Reality-Based self-defence  (RBSD) can be whatever it likes. I have seen RBSD instructors completely deviate from Faiburn's work.

Much of RBSD is a mixture of many Martial Arts, you could say 'the best bits' of various Martial Arts.

This means that one RBSD class can be very different from someone else's class.

What Techniques Are Taught In Reality Based Self Defence/ Combatives?

While there might be a wide variety of styles of Combatives/ RBSD classes, most follow a similar route.

Students will be taught about concepts such as 'The Fence', avoidance, awareness, pre-emptive strikes, hammer fists, elbow strikes, kicks, knee strikes, eye gouges, punches, grappling, weapons use, weapons disarms and the law.

In many ways, these techniques are the essentials that have been pulled out of the arts, the differences in how these techniques are taught will largely depend on the experience and views of the instructor.

Is RBSD or Combatives Effective For Self-Defence?

RBSD/ Combatives is the fastest route to self-defence expertise.

It removes the 'fluff' from many Martial Arts and teaches you the essentials.

However, choosing an instructor with a solid background is essential to ensure you are taught well.

Most RBSD or Combatives instructors are independent self-defence instructors with a background in the military, law enforcement or professional security.

So, if you can find a good instructor, RBSD or Combatives instruction is an effective Martial Arts style for self-defence. For children's self defence you will struggle to find a combative school that caters for them.

effective martial arts for self defense

What happens if you set out to make a combat system for the military that soldiers can use as a sport?

Well, the end result is Russian Sambo.

And it is perhaps one of the scariest Martial Arts on the planet.

Sambo is a Russian Martial Art and was virtually unknown outside of Russia until the 's when the USSR started to dominate the world Judo scene with their unorthodox grips and technique variations.

After this, people started to learn more about the origins of the Soviet fighters unique skills, and the answer was Sambo.

What is Russian Sambo and Why is it Effective For Self-Defence?

Sambo could be described as a combat sport and a self-defence system rolled into one.

Sambo athletes train to use punches, kicks, grappling and arm and leg locks to deal with their opponents.

Check the videos out to see what I mean.

Whilst very similar Sambo has a more combat orientated approach and as such, I recommend it over Judo for self-defence, sadly there is a lack of Sambo instructors in the world so you might be able to find a Judo club far easier.

I have trained in both Sambo and Judo and love them both

What Does Sambo Mean?

The word “sambo” stands for “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” and the word can be translated in English to “self-defence without weapons.” 

What Sambo Techniques Are Great For Street Self-Defence?

There are essentially 3 forms of Sambo.

The grappling version, the Combat sports version and the pure combative military version.

The grappling version has no strikes of any kind and the rules are orientated towards combat. So, for example, if you are in what people refer to as the 'guard' in BJJ, you are actually pinning the opponent.

 Also, to get a win, you score points but the maximum score and win are if you throw the opponent and you remain standing. 

This is like an Ippon in Judo or a KO in boxing.

Combat Sambo has the same rules expect strikes are allowed, so it is a lot like MMA, and they don't use chokes in either version.

I expect for the grapplers/ BJJ and MMA people reading this, it won't make sense.

But think about the battlefield. If you were fighting an enemy soldier in the middle of battle, what is better?

Taking their back and getting your hooks in for the rear-naked choke, placing your body in close range to be stabbed with a blade they have on their belt?

Or taking a leg or arm of the enemy, which places your vital organs further away while you break the limb and leave them where they are.

This view is often explained by the fact that if you break a leg of the enemy, it takes 2 soldiers to carry them off the battlefield.

The military version of Sambo includes weapons training, fighting in water and resembles combatives.

But even with the .differences, the core techniques in Sambo are their devastating throws, arm locks and leg locks. Even an experienced BJJ grappler will not rejoice at the thought of grappling with a Sambo fighter.

Aikido has one of the worst reputations in Martial Arts for self defence and this is something I am hoping to change a little with this ranking.

It is true that Aikido is next to useless against anyone that has decent Martial Arts skills, so while it features on this list, I also need to be clearit is not an art I would rush to do if I needed a self-defence system.

So why have I included it?

Well, because Aikido is incredibly useful for people who have to control aggressive and unskilled people 'all the time'.

Police officers, security officers, prison officers are people who in my opinion would benefit from Aikido as it focuses on control of the arms/ redirection of energy and has a heavy use of wrist locks. 

As we will see, there are numerous arts out there that will teach you how to knock out an attacker, but professionals in security can't do this, they would have broken knuckles and have videos of them going viral.

So Aikido does have some excellent usage for professionals.

Origins of  Aikido

Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba who combined his experiences in several Martial Arts to create a system of self defence that is every bit a spiritual system as it is a self protection one. 

The physical techniques draw heavily from swordsmanship which can be seen as the Aikido specialist looks to grab the wrists of the attacker.

Aikido For Self Defence: Why Is It Good?

I am not going to lie, Aikido is a mixed bag. 

On one hand, you have some incredible wrist lock techniques and throws that are similar to those seen in Judo.

Yet when faced with anyone with decent striking and or grappling skills the Aikidoist will be destroyed. 

That being said I have worked as a police officer with some highly skilled Aikido experts and they tossed people around like rag dolls and hand their wrists locked up at lightning speed.

However as stated if you are involved in professional security I feel it has some good applications because it is a low impact system for dealing with aggresive and unskilled people. 

People who you would come across a lot in your duties and just need some techniques to deal with those.

So my advice really would be to only study Aikido if you already have Martial Arts experience in another art (one of those on this list). 

Check out this video to see some highl level Aikido on display: 

If you want to learn more about this art, check out our ultimate guide to Aikido

Silat is a Martial Art that will feature as an influence in many of the systems of Martial Arts or self-defence on this list.

The reason behind this is because Silat is such an effective Martial Art for self-defence. 

The dance-like motions of Silat proivide the base for an explosive style of fighting that features super fast strikes and manipulation of balance and destruction of limbs.

Origins of  Silat

Silat is a Martial Art from South East Asia and is practised in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. 

There are a number of origin stories around Silat but it is not known which is accurate.

Silat For Self Defence: Why Is It Good?

Silat is system of self defence that covers a wide range of fighting aspects. Weapons, ground work and even grappling are all featured making it incredibly dangerous.

However the speed of application of these techniques in often both spell binding and overwhelming.

Anyone that attacks a Silat expert will find themselves on the receiving end of strikes and limb destructions that would make anyone run for cover.

Check out this video below that showcases some stunning power strikes of Silat.

It gives me great pleasure to place The Approach on our list of most effective Martial Arts for self-defence.

The Approach isn't a Martial Art but a system of striking that is drawing attention from law enforcement agencies globally.

It can be learned in hours yet can help people to deliver the most fearsome strikes.

I have personally seen Eddie teach these strikes and it has blown me away and also been on the pads for one of his instructors. Let me be clear, the power displayed is chilling!

Origins of The Approach

I won't pretend to know the true origins of The Approach but I believe it was created as a result of the founder Eddie Quinn's journey through Silat.

However also behind the system is Eddie's true life experience of being a victim of a stabbing. Eddie is lucky to be alive and this experience has shaped his life and his system.

The Approach For Self Defence: Why is it Good?

The issue with Self-Defence is that you can be defeated by someone who hits harder than you.

It doesn't matter if you are a boxer or a top striker, if you meet someone who can outpunch you then your options are limited.

The answer is to be able to destroy them with strikes and this is what The Approach does. It allows you to strike with incredible power no matter what size or age you are.

I personally think The Approach is so powerful it could change Self-Defence forever. Check it out below or click here.

Grab your copy of the Approach online training course today by clicking here.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai deserves a place in any list of Martial Arts for self-defence

Muay Thai or Thai boxing as it is largely known is a devastating  system of kicking, punching, elbows and knee strikes.

Thai boxing is known for delivering some of the most powerful leg kicks in Martial Arts and has been a go to source of training for MMA fighters but it is equally superb for street self-defence.

Origins of Muay Thai

Muay Thai was developed several hundred years ago and many believe that it developed as  a result of tribes migrating from China before settling in Thailand.

Due to the close proximity of neighbouring countries the art was in regular use during battles.

Needless to say Muay Thai has proven itself both in the battlefield and the sporting arena.

Muay Thai For Self Defence: Why is it Good?

Muay Thai is a tough Martial Art to train in but it is one that uses all the skills you need in the street.

From elbows that cut the skin of the opponents and can cause terrifying KO's to punches and clinch work that is similar to wrestling.

The big issue with Muay Thai is the lack of ground fighting which was badly exposed by grapplers in the early UFC tournaments.

But we know that going to the ground is the worst idea in a street fight situation so while this area is lacking you could consider cross training with MMA, wrestling, BJJ or Judo to give you a more rounded skill set. 

Either way Muay Thai is an excellent system to learn from and would make you a serious threat to anyone who attacks you!

To see Muay Thai in action check out this video below:

karate for self defence


It may come as no surprise that I have included Karate as one of the top martial arts for self-defence.  The reason behind this is due to the sheer solid nature that the system has. Kicks, punches, blocks and even grappling are all parts of the Karate syllabus. 

Low cost to start, the student of Karate will develop very strong strikes both in punching and also kicking. I did Karate for a very short while in my younger days and have nothing but respect for it however on a personal note I do think that it lacks the defences and smoothness of other martial arts. The straight strikes and power kicks of Karate steal the show. 

As a youngster, I was heavily influenced by the Karate Kid film. Who didn't want Mr Myagi to be their teacher?? Karate is a solid system, and one that I believe has great self-defence applications. 

Origins of Karate

The exact origins of Karate are unknown however it is generally considered that it was created and developed on an Island called Okinawa and due to various bans on weapon use in the Islands history it was originally an empty hand style although further refinements were made over the years.

Karate For Self Defence: Why is it Good?

I have been around the martial arts for many years, and one thing that I know is that Karate is a very solid style of martial art. Almost everyone I have ever met who trained in Karate can hit hard and kick even harder. Karateka are also very fit, that speaks volumes for the fitness applications of the art. 

The downside of Karate for me was the overuse of blocks, as I am of a boxing background I have always felt that Karate was quite 'stiff'. However that is not always a bad thing, and we have seen MMA fighters such as Lyota Machida do very well in the cage using Karate as a base. 

Overall, with great fitness, powerful punches and kicks Karate is an excellent martial art for self defence.

  • Karate In Action Video
  • Karate In Action Video 2

Andy and Buste Reeves - Batman Stunt Double

I have reviewedbefore on this there is no doubt that it is still one of the best systems around.

Created by 2 men, Justo and Andy Norman it can be described as a Spanish street fighting style which was inspired by Justo's time in Spanish mines as a child. It is a gritty and dynamic style that is designed for  a person who is attacked by multiple opponents. It was even featured in several films most notably Batman Begins. 

Sadly the two creators of this system split company a few years ago and Justo went onto create Keysi by Justo and Andy Norman created Defence Lab.However, Keysi is still a very solid self defence system and is highly recommended. The two video tabs below show the various keysi styles in action

  • Video 1  Keysi in  Batman
  • VIDEO 2 Keysi By  Justo
wing chun self defence

Martial arts training in Wing Chun Kung Fu style on a wooden dummy in the training gym or dojo

Wing Chun is a style of Kung Fu that has gained huge popularity in recent years, largely due to the success of the Ip Man movies starring Donnie Yen. 

The actual origins of Wing Chun are open to debate but according to 

"The most popularized story of Wing Chun’s origin is that of the Buddhist Nun, Ng Mui. It is said that she was one of Five Elders of the Shaolin Temple that managed to escape prior to its destruction. With her high level of Shaolin martial arts, she created a form of self-defense which could transcend size, weight and gender. She drew her inspiration for Wing Chun from the movement of animals, primarily the crane. When applied to the human form, these delicate but natural movements required little force to block and strike effectively and efficiently.

Ng Mui’s first student of the yet unnamed form was a beautiful young girl named Yim Wing Chun who was being pressured by a bandit warlord into marriage. After mastering the art so as to defend herself and eventually drive off the bandit, Yim Wing Chun would have the form named after her as the first student of Ng Mui. This is how the lineage of Wing Chun began according to popular legend."

Wing Chun For Self Defence

With zero sporting applications, Wing Chun needs to be able to deliver solid self-defence skills, and I am pleased to say for the most part it does. Yes, as with any art there are going to be good and bad instructors but it is a very solid and practical close range self-defence system.

There are of course many people that would disagree, however having met a few Wing Chun instructors I have really had my views changed over the years, as I too failed to see the structure behind the art.  The power of Wing Chun lies within its direct approach. In the art, the practitioner becomes very strong and has almost laser targeted strikes to the face, a bit like being hit with a pole, repeatedly. 

Wing Chun for self defence is rarely captured on film however this amazing 'challenge match was captured on camera which shows a Karate student against a Wing Chun person, why would they do this? Who knows. The point is, you get to see the beauty of the technique of Wing Chun in action:

My personal view is that Wing Chun is one of those arts that is excellent for , it is unlikely that you will ever get to see it in action, and as such a lot of people will disagree. Solid straight punching is the hallmark of great skill and this is what Wing Chun delivers. 

Would you like to read more on Wing Chun? Check out my complete guide to Wing Chun for Self Defence.

jeet kune do self defence

Jeet Kune Do is translated into The Way of the Intercepting Fist, and it is one of the most well practised martial arts in the world. However essentially there a lot of confusions about what exactly Jeet Kune Do really is. 

Created by the legendary film actor and martial artist Bruce Lee, the art is often described by many as a philosophical journey for the martial artist and not actually a system of martial arts. 

Bruce Lee was himself skilled in Wing Chun having learned directly from Ip Man himself, however after years of exposure and study of different systems and experience in real fights, Bruce developed Jeet Kune Do or JKD as it is known. 

I do not claim to be an expert of JKD but as Bruce died so tragically at a young age, we will never truly know what JKD would have ended up as. However for now, we can easily say that JKD is the embodiment of martial arts ethics and study. A good JKD school will often have instructors that are highly skilled in numerous arts.

Jeet Kune Do For Self Defence: Is It any Good?

If you take the time to read Bruce Lee's books on Jeet Kune Do you will see pure genius on paper. Every technical improvement is backed up with sound reasoning such as placing your strong side towards the attacker, and a range of other strategies.

As a result, JKD offers a really detailed look into the physical applications of martial arts with a variety of options. It is likely that no two JKD schools will be the same however all are based on solid fundamentals.  JKD is a great martial art for self-defence, it has huge depth and variety, and I highly recommend it.   Take a Look at some Jeet Kune Do instruction below

Judo for self defence

 The sport of Judo is perhaps one of the most well known martial arts due to its inclusion in the Olympic Games. Judo is free to watch and is broadcast live across the world on YouTube. So what makes this sport so great for self-defence?

Judo For Self Defence

Judo has a rich history dating back to the samurai. However today it is a modern grappling sport with very strict rules.

Since there have been even more rule changes that have shocked the Judo world by taking away leg grabs from the competitive side of Judo.

Despite this, the sport is bigger than ever and for self-defence, it offers a unique journey.

If you train Judo you will do zero self-defence training, it is all about learning to throw, pin, choke and armlock an opponent. There are zero blocks and zero strikes (unless you look deep into the art).

For that reason, you would think Judo as being very poor as a self-defence system.

The thing that makes Judo so good for self-defence is its single-minded approach to throwing people on the floor. A throw on a thick Judo mat can take the wind out of your sails yet a throw onto concrete will cause serious injury.

Judoka spend almost 80% of their time learning how to throw people who don't actually want to be thrown, so how do you think a non-Judoka will do against the Judo player.

Simply put, if a Judo player gets their hands onto you then you will be hitting the ground with serious force.

What Judo Techniques Are Good For Self-Defence?

While Judo does not train specific self-defence techniques, many of the techniques are great for self-defence.

However, some more than others and in the video below you will see some great examples of Judo for self-defence.


I started learning boxing at an early age and the skills I learned are perhaps the ones that have allowed me to do well in other arts, the main reason I chose boxing though was simply that I wanted to learn how to punch. 

And boxing does this really well.

On the surface boxing is  simple, no grappling,  no kicking, just a few types of punches. Yet it takes years to master boxing but only months to grasp its fundamentals. 

It is this simplicity that makes boxing such a great art or self-defence. Like Judo is focused on just one thing boxing has become a specialist at punching.

It would be impossible to describe boxers as 'complete' in their training when their focus is on such a narrow field, however, they often possess amazing footwork, defence and fast powerful combination punches. 

Boxers train on the heavy bag and pads using heavy bag gloves and use other gloves for sparring.  This allows boxers to train by striking with full power, increasing skill, fitness and power quickly.

Other great aspects of boxing are the fitness drills

The conditioning in boxing is one of the most strict and most punishing regimes in martial arts. Skipping, press ups, burpees and much more will make up a boxing session along with sparring and bag work.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an art that needs to be mentioned. On a one on one situation, BJJ is pretty amazing as a system of self-defence. It does however have weaknesses when it comes down to weapon defence and group attacks. 

The art is the offspring of Judo and is focused almost completely on the ground and it became world famous when it was the style used by so many to win in the early days of MMA. 

The system is well known for its  locks and chokes and as we can see from the footage of a street fight below it is a very capable style.  

BJJ does not focus on sefl defence these days and has become more of a sport. Guard passing, mount  and other postitions earn points for the player in competition. 

BJJ  is a great art to train in for fitness, fun and sport and yes it does have some great self-defence applications, however it also areas that are weak such as striking, knife defence a vulnerability to group attacks.

Read my indepth guide on BJJ for Self-defence.

3. MMA Mixed Martial Arts

The sport of MMA has become a global phenomenon and for good reason, explosive takedowns, striking, chokes and leg and arm locks. The sport of  MMA has created the modern gladiators proving ground. 

The downside of MMA is the training is seriously hard on the body. I did it for a long time and suffered more from MMA than I  ever did in Judo or boxing. 

An average MMA class will be very testing on your fitness levels. You will perform grappling, striking, and a lot of sparring along with avariety of specilaised MMA drills for fitness.

The plus side of MMA is that your skills levels increase very quickly in all areas. As such you soon become a very skilled opponent for any attacker. The downside of this is of course that you are focused on sport and not self defence. There is zero knife defence and no multiple opponent training however your individual unarmed ability becomes very impressive. 

P.S. If you want to get fit, why not check out our huge guide packed with MMA Workouts.

krav maga self defense

Krav Maga is perhaps the most well know of any self defence system in the world.   The word Krav Maga in Hebrew means "contact fighting" and it is the official self defence system of the Israeli Defense Forces,

It was created by Imi Side-Or (Lichtefield) and it is totally self defense orientated. 

Sadly today's Krav Maga differs in standard across the globe. We have hard core self defense versions and far softer ones that appear as if they were kick boxercise classes. 

However despite these differences Krav Maga is one of the best martial arts for self defense. You will learn both  gun and knife defense along with striking, grappling and much more. You just need to  ensure your instructor is qualified. T

defence lab

Defence Lab is a Martial Art that few know of but definitely deserves a place on this list.

Created by Andy Norman after he left the Keysi Fighting Method, it heavily features aspects of the training that made KFM so popular.

Defence Lab, however, has evolved the KFM model and taken it even further.

DL is now a brand of Martial Arts with several aspects to it.

From a fitness system, a self-defence system, a children's Martial Arts system, a Krav Maga programme and a combat sports system.

This broad group of programmes means that a DL instructor tends to have a background in many Martial Arts and can run a variety of classes, much like any MMA school.

However, it is the core Defence Lab self-defence syllabus of which I have experience.

Defence Lab's self-defence element is focused completely on self-defence situations that are both armed and unarmed, group attacks and also it now covers MMA style opponents with its growing technique range.

However, it is most known for it's unusual approach to group self-defence situations.

What Techniques Does Defence Lab Teach?

The students of Defence Lab are taught to simultaneously attack while defending their heads.

This has brought about the creation of a headcover system that they call shapes.

These shapes, all the students of Defence Lab to protect their heads, avoid strikes with body movement and then return strikes, while still protected.

The goal of always keeping your head protected is the core of Defence Lab and comes from their extensive study of groups self-defence situations.

But that is just one aspect.

Defence Lab's tactical focus is one which is often referred to as 'smash then enter'.

The idea behind this concept is that a DL student will move into the attacker, reducing their striking power, and allowing them to strike at close range and use their 'shape' system to good effect.

As for techniques, DL covers a wide variety.

They use hammer fist strikes, forearms shots, punches, low leg kicks, stomps and elbow strikes.

Both standing and groundwork situations are covered.

Is Defence Lab Any Good For Self-Defence?

Defence Lab is a superb system for people who want to learn how to protect themselves, yet do not want to engage in sports martial arts.

The techniques are solid and based on sound principles, in addition, most of their instructors come from a background in Martial Arts or professional security.

So, yes, Defence Lab is a practical system for self-defence and I have no issues in recommending as one of the most effective Martial Arts for self-defence

Want to learn more? Check out our review on Defence Lab.


So there you have it,the best martial arts for self defence.

So what are your thoughts?

Comment below and let me know.

And if your are looking beyond self defence reasons to study Martial Arts.

Then check out our guide covering 'Which Martial Art Should I learn'.

This article was written by Andrew Holland

Andrew is a UK SEO Expert and Copywriter as well as being a former Police Officer and Judo Black Belt

“Hi there, I am sure you will love any products or recommendations on this page, but just to let you know, if you click on a link or advert we may get some revenue. ”


best martial arts

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Martial arts training is one of those hobbies which won’t only improve your fighting skills. Training them will enhance your life in many areas, like discipline, physical health, or humility. As a result, they see a worldwide increase in popularity to this very day. 

One of the critical components of martial arts and the reason they were created is self-defense. With the rise of modern MMA competitions like the UFC or Bellator, we can now view almost all martial arts in a quasi-realistic yet still safe environment, pressure-tested. This gave us new and improved insight into their actual effectiveness. 

Based on:

  • effectiveness,
  • duration and steepness of the learning curve,
  • availability of individual martial arts and combat systems

I have come up with a comprehensive list of the best martial arts for self-defense, ranked from least useful to most effective. 

Worth noticing is that martial art can be really effective, but if it is not that available in most parts of the world, I might have ranked it lower than some other martial art that is less effective but more available.

If you are interested in the topic or are trying to choose one to train, this article will help you make an educated and practical decision. It will help you choose the art that is right for you specifically and that you can use the most effective in potential street altercations. If you are interested in learning more, read on!


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art founded by Choi Hong Hi and a couple of army officials and martial artists. It was developed during and after the second world war to solidify the Korean martial arts scene. 

The art is based on Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power. This is a set of observations and theories based on rational thinking and Newtonian physics, which he used to describe a martial art that is more effective than any other. 

For example, a central observation of his was that a strike’s power increases quadratically with speed and only linearly with the moving object’s mass, which made him realize that the muscle mass behind the strike isn’t as critical as speed. 

This led to the development of an art based mostly on kicks since our legs can deliver faster strikes and heavier ones than our arms. 

Though this makes TKD unique, effective, and special, it is also what causes it to be less effective than the other arts on this list. When it comes to self-defense, a hypothetical martial art that is to deliver the most potent strikes known is unrealistic. A good jab is more useful in a street fight than the strongest roundhouse kick you can imagine. 

Why is that? Well, there are multiple reasons. The largest of which is that you very often won’t have enough space to do kicks. I don’t only mean a wall blocking your right side off or people walking around. I also mean range-wise. Your average drunkard or mugger will not stand at a reasonable distance away from you so you can kick them. 

This will lead you to be on a constant retreat so you can evade their knife, hands, or clinch, just so you can deliver a solid kick. There are shorter and closer-range kicks in TKD, but they aren’t used frequently, and they also aren’t pressure tested in training circumstances. 

Aside from the range-mismatch that is very likely to occur, TKD isn’t, as mentioned, pressure tested rigorously enough. TKD competitions are about points, which results in practitioners kicking powerfully or confidently, but much rather tapping the opponent here or there with their legs to score a point. 

Also, TKD relies way too much on only kicking, which is a mistake, since, in fights, you cannot rely on knowing only one thing. It can quickly get on to become a grappling or boxing match, and then all your knowledge flies out the window. 

Aside from all the things making TKD a lower-effectiveness art for the street compared to many others, it is still amazing. You will still be able to defend yourself against the majority of people who you ever come across, and you will develop insane flexibility, agility, and power. But that still doesn’t mean it is as effective as many arts. 

Many extremely successful martial artists like Bas Rutten or Valentina Schevchenko started by training Taekwondo, so it is an excellent basis, but it isn’t really effective on its own.

Availability is also a big reason TKD is low on the list. Though it is one of the most popular martial arts on the planet and is available in almost all major cities, the large majority of people will not be able to access proper dojos. 

Combat Sambo

The next martial art on today’s list is Sambo. Sambo is a Russian martial art, developed around the s in the USSR to improve the Russian military’s hand-to-hand combat skills. Much akin to modern MMA, it features a combination of strikes, kicks, clinches, throws, grappling, wrestling, and more. 

However, there are a couple of problems with Sambo. One of the main issues is that, as very many people in the international sphere of martial arts conversation agree, it is probably not Sambo but the Russian people who make Sambo so special. 

To elaborate, I will start with the obvious: one of the strongest militaries in the world, the Russian military, has Sambo as their official combat system. This already gives it an insanely good reputation. Besides that, most people training in Sambo are Russians, Kazakhstani people, or people from that general area. 

It is not racist or bigoted to say that quite simply, it matters whether the martial artist is from Russia or not. The country’s socio-economic status, which has been plaguing it for more than a century, has made it completely normal and almost necessary for people to be a lot tougher than people from more comfortable, Western countries. 

Their toughness and hardness translate into extreme discipline and determination in the gym and the ring, which is why Sambo is seen as such fantastic art. This is not to say it isn’t, it is in the top 10 after all, but it is not necessarily because of the art itself. 

Sambo is somewhat like militarized MMA. It takes bits from boxing, wrestling, grappling, and molds them into one art. However, it isn’t as deep in all of them as would be ideal. This is one of the things that puts Sambo so far back on the list, though it isn’t the most important reason. 

The most important reason is actually surprising, and it doesn’t have much to do with the art itself, and not even with the Russian mentality debate. It has to do with availability. Out of all the martial arts on this list, Sambo is probably the worst when it comes to availability. 

There are very few schools in most of the world, and the same is true for even the U.S. There are perhaps no more than a dozen or two functioning schools in the entire country, though exact numbers on this are hard to find. It is very rare to find reputable and successful schools, which makes it a terrible first option to choose. 

If you were given a chance to train Combat Sambo in a Moscow training center for a couple of months or years, you would walk out of there as a person who can most surely defend themselves in a variety of scenarios, even perhaps from other martial artists. However, due to its meager availability, it falls behind many other arts on this list. 

If you would like to learn Combat Sambo, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Ivan Vasylchuk, former Sambo World Champion:

combat sambo course

9. Karate

The next martial art on our list today is the world-famous Karate. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t Japanese, but rather Okinawan. Though it is a part of Japan today, Okinawa was actually an independent country and is the home for most of what we now know of as Japanese martial arts. 

Though an extensive history of Okinawan Karate is hard to come by, it is estimated that the roots of Karate stem back thousands of years and into the Chinese kingdom and possibly the Philippines. Nevertheless, Gichin Funakoshi is considered the “founder” of the art since he pioneered the popularization and created the most popular style know today, Shotokan. 

Karate is an umbrella term used to describe a large amount of smaller styles and branches, the most prominent of which are Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-Ryu, and more. This is important to mention because the specific school and branch has quite a large impact on the quality of the training and its effectiveness on the street. 

Shotokan Karate is a very tough and effective martial art and has also evolved to try to combat Western Boxing, but it hasn’t managed. Regardless of its general failure against most Western arts, Shotokan is still a martial art that can provide a solid basis for self-defense for anyone learning. 

It is full of powerful, linear strikes, blocks, and kicks. This linear nature is also what it gets quite a lot of criticism for. It isn’t very natural and also somewhat unrealistic due to its overly formal and linear nature. Nevertheless, it is very useful if trained in a good dojo and with determination. 

However, though it is the most popular branch, Shotokan isn’t the most effective of Karate styles for self-defense. That title is much more often accredited to Kyokushin and less frequently to Goju-Ryu. 

Kyokushin Karate is viewed as the tank of all Karate styles. It isn’t fancy, it doesn’t have very large movements, but it focuses heavily on full-contact sparring, competitions, and body conditioning, making Kyokuhshin fighters “living tanks”. 

Though it is also somewhat unrealistic compared to some Western arts, Kyokushin, just like Shotokan is more than enough to defend you on the street from most people of ill will, it is far from being the most effective one out there if you want to become really good at fighting/self-defense. 

One of the major reasons why Karate is so far behind on the list is quite simple: the popularity of the art gave space to a vast number of so-called McDojos, which are superficial, ineffective, and watered-down Karate schools that exist to earn money and dish out belts as if they were free. 

However, if you do find a good Karate school near you, and chances are you can, do not hesitate to sign up, since it will give you a great basis for fighting should you need it. 

If you would like to learn Karate, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Lyoto Machida, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion:

karate course

8. Judo

The next martial art on the list is Judo. It is one of the most popular martial arts in the world and been known to be the martial art of choice for a wide variety of people, whether they are MMA fighters or even the president of Russia. 

Judo was developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano and is also considered to be among the first organized, official martial arts in the country. Jigoro Kano’s name is huge in the martial arts world exactly due to this. He founded and helped found many formal martial arts teaching centers and helped Judo reach international fame. 

This grappling-based martial art is comprised of primarily throws, locks, sweeps, and everything that has to do with grappling. Strikes are incredibly rare and are often only used as feigns, not as actual strikes. Many tournaments ban striking since that isn’t the point of Judo. 

In this unidimensionality lies Judo’s biggest asset and biggest mistake. Grappling is an innately human way of fighting; our arms and hands evolved to grasp and hold, not to strike, which makes it more natural. Doubling down on this aspect of humans will undoubtedly create an effective martial art, like Judo and various other arts have proven. 

However, doubling down strictly on one aspect of the human fighting ability is a mistake. The lack of any type of striking makes Judo an imbalanced art, which is why it doesn’t rank any higher. In sweeping and throwing people to the floor, locking their joints, and holding them down, Judo is really near the top in the world, but that doesn’t make it the best out there. 

Even though it is imbalanced, Judo will always be one of the most effective martial arts, for two specific reasons: availability and realistic effectiveness. 

Judo schools can be found everywhere. In larger cities, there are usually multiple Judo schools, and even smaller and medium-sized cities tend to have training opportunities. If you choose to train Judo, it is very likely that you will find a school near you. 

Under realistic effectiveness, I mean a simple idea: the opponents are resisting. Even though the combat is not balanced due to the focus on grappling, the grappling that is being done is against a fully resistant opponent, who is trying to do their best to perform the same or similar techniques on you. 

This means that Judo is pressure tested and is practiced with nearly full realistic force. This type of training is the one that can prepare you to face actual attackers in real life, not point-sparring as is often the case in Karate and many other martial arts. 

Judo, though it does have its faults, is highly effective since very many street fights end up becoming grappling wars. Yes, a couple of punches and kicks are thrown but in seconds, someone will close the distance and from then on, it is grappling time, in which case the Judoka will absolutely dominate in 99% of cases unless the opponent is also trained in some art. 

If you would like to learn Judo, or just improve your existing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Jimmy Pedro and Travis Stevens:

judo course

7. Boxing

Boxing deserves a high placement in any self-defense article and is often not given its due respect. Western Boxing has origins that can be traced back thousands and thousands of years to ancient civilizations, and there was never a specific moment in time when boxing became mainstream.

It is one of the most “natural” aka instinctive ways for humans to fight, as they have done for millennia. Movies like Rocky sparked immense popularity among younger people towards boxing, but it never really suffered from a lack of spectators or fighters. 

Boxing, as most people know, is a punching-only martial art. Even the punching is limited to a given belt-line, which is usually somewhere around the middle-lower part of one’s abdomen. 

Again, what makes boxing incredibly effective is also its major setback: it is unidimensional. It focuses on striking to such an incredible extent, that it creates art around it, but in the process, also forgets about all the other parts and functions of the human body. 

Boxing is effective for self-defense since you learn a myriad of different skills to a very deep level, which will give you a general understanding of how fighting works and also how to knock someone out if need be. 

You don’t only practice punching bags and speed bags. Much of boxing is about footwork, which is arguably one of the hardest parts of it to master. It is what enables you to keep proper range, to switch stances, to “dance around your opponent” like Muhammad Ali. This footwork will make you incredibly agile and, well, quick on your feet (wonder where that saying came from…). 

Hand-eye-coordination, general fitness, cardiovascular health, and more are just a couple of the benefits you can get by training boxing, all of which can come in handy in self-defense scenarios. 

Another really important aspect of boxing is that it is quite stunning. Say, you get attacked by multiple attackers. You take on the first one, since you see no other way out, and realizing that they are completely untrained, you knock the first attacker out cold or perhaps just neutralize them with a strong hook. 

The rest of the attackers will definitely be more cautious in approaching you. This might not really be the case with grappling-based arts, since going to the ground might just be the last thing you want in a fight, and definitely so in multiple-attacker scenarios. 

The reason boxing isn’t higher up on the list is that it doesn’t use the legs, grappling, wrestling, takedowns, ground-and-pound, or basically anything aside from striking. However useful and effective that is, it is still not the absolute best option, exactly due to its one-dimensional approach. 

Nevertheless, if you train in boxing, you will be confident about your skills in 6 months to a year, and what is even better, it is probably the most widespread art in the Western world. You will struggle to find a more common art than boxing. 

Learning boxing is relatively easy at the basic levels, so the learning curve isn’t too steep, at least not until the professional level, which is more than enough for you to defend yourself. 

If you would like to learn the fundamentals of boxing, or just improve your existing boxing skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Teddy Atlas, one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time:

boxing course

6. Wrestling

Western wrestling, often referred to as Greco-Roman Wrestling or French Wrestling, is a sport that dates back to perhaps more than years ago. It is a form of combat that has been depicted in cave drawings, suggesting that it might be as old as humans themselves. 

Many very famous and successful UFC fighters have had their beginnings in wrestling, like for example Daniel Cormier, one of the best heavyweights of all time. 

Wrestling, though it is a category of its own, is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on disrupting the balance of the opponent in any given way (footwork, throws, sweeps, etc.) to put them on the ground and hold them there. 

What makes wrestling highly effective is the speed at which takedowns are possible. There are no strikes in wrestling, but it makes up for that with all the types of takedowns practiced in any regular wrestling gym. 

In a self-defense scenario, which usually happens in places like a darker street or some bar or disco, attackers tend to try to show their “dominance” by posing up for a fistfight, by kicking or trying to knock their opponent out. 

This is where wrestling comes into play. Shooting for a double-leg takedown can happen in the blink of an eye and completely catch the opponent off guard and surprise them. Aside from that, a person not trained in wrestling or other ground- and grappling-based martial arts will have no clue what to do on the ground, so you can decide what happens from then onwards. 

It is also a highly accessible martial art, available in most cities in the Western hemisphere, and in most schools in the U.S. as an extracurricular activity. 

The one aspect of wrestling which forces it behind a couple of other martial arts is that it happens on the ground or very close to it. Though on a one-on-one situation, this is probably the easiest place to subdue an opponent for a skilled fighter, it might not be optimal in actual self-defense scenarios. 

You can never know whether your attacker has some friends around, and if they do, you won’t have luck on the ground. 

Nevertheless, wrestling is one of the most effective martial arts one can train for self-defense, since aside from all the practical and useful skills and techniques, it improves confidence, physical strength, and stability. All of these combined can help anyone overcome a large majority of untrained people. 

If you would like to learn wrestling, or just improve your existing wrestling skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Henry Cejudo, former Olympic Gold medalist and two-division UFC Champion:

wrestling course

5. Muay Thai (and Kickboxing)

The next martial art/s on the list is Muay Thai. Though there are some relatively significant differences, I consider Kickboxing to be as effective as Muay Thai and definitely in the same league, which is why all that I will write in this section represents both of these incredible martial arts. 

Muay Thai, also called Thai kickboxing or Thai boxing, is a martial art with roots dating back hundreds or thousands of years. It is a traditional way of using the entire body to fight in close-quarters combat, developed by the Thai people of Thailand in Eastern Asia.  

Kickboxing, also known as American Kickboxing, actually dates back to around the s, as that was the time it was developed as a combination of several martial arts. It does, however, get its roots from Muay Thai, which is why it is fair to rate them similarly, and why I will consider them to be the same for the sake of the review. 

Muay Thai is also called the art of 8 limbs, which represents the idea of using elbows and knees just as much as fists and feet/shins to strike. This is what makes Muay Thai so deadly and also versatile, and what gives it a really good ranking in terms of self-defense. 

The conditioning of bones together with the rigorous training of the most effective striking strategies of arguably any martial art, Muay Thai is to stand-up fighting what Jiu-Jitsu is to grappling. It is the number one, undisputed striking art. 

Aside from the aforementioned factors, the versatility of the art is also what makes it incredibly effective in a self-defense scenario. Be it a long roundhouse kick or a short elbow strike to the chin, or perhaps a medium-distance jab, Muay Thai has got all ranges covered. 

Muay Thai also works a lot on the clinch, which is the shortest-range stand-up fighting that exists. The opponents are holding each other by their arms, head, and shoulders to try to secure some close-range elbows and knees. Muay Thai is arguably the best stand-up clinch art. 

This versatility, which allows you to fight in any rage without having to resort to getting on the ground is fantastically effective. With throws also implemented, you can really develop a well-rounded understanding of self-defense in all situations. 

There are two factors that stop it from reaching higher rankings on this list: availability and the learning curve. 

Muay Thai, though increasing in popularity by the day, is still relatively uncommon. Every city or town has a boxing or wrestling gym, but Muay Thai gyms are quite difficult to come by. 

Also, the learning curve is quite steep and difficult. There is a lot of pain and conditioning often involved with the traditional Muay Thai path, so the ones who make it to the top need a lot of determination and perseverance. 

If you would like to learn the basics of striking, or just improve your existing striking skills, the course I highly recommend is the one by Anderson Silva, one of the greatest strikers in MMA history:

striking course

4. Jiu-Jitsu

At the 4th place on today’s list, we have the favorite martial arts of some of the most popular commentators and practitioners in the world of martial arts and combat sports like Jocko WIllink and Joe Rogan. Jiu-Jitsu is arguably the martial art with the steepest rise to fame, seeing as some of the main founders have just passed away a couple of decades ago. 

At the end of the 20th century, a Brazilian man by the name of Carlos Gracie met Mitsuyo Maeda, a world-renowned Judo champion and practitioner. This is the beginning of what we now know as BJJ or Jiu-Jitsu in most of the English-speaking world. 

After mastering all he could from Judo, Carlos Gracie, with the help of his brothers, developed this modern art, which is the epitome of all grappling arts. It is the pinnacle of ground fighting performance and skill and is very often regarded as the best martial artists of our time. 

Jiu-Jitsu is a highly effective martial art for self-defense since it doesn’t rely on chance, luck, and physical power, but much rather calculated technique and skill. 

In many conversations, Joe Rogan, an advocate of Jiu-Jitsu and also one of the most popular podcasters on the planet, points out that though even the most inexperienced fighter could knock out a champion with one stray hand landing in the right place with the right power. However, on the ground, there is no element of luck to it, it is pure skill. 

The only part that Jiu-Jitsu lacks is stand-up fighting, but that is made up for by the extensive emphasis placed on takedowns. Once an experienced Jiu-Jitsu practitioner gets hold of their opponent, standing up or on the ground, it is very likely game over for the opponent. 

Also, in a strict self-defense context, as Jocko WIllink puts it on multiple occasions: you can run away from a boxer. Maybe you won’t outrun the person, yes, but when somebody squares off on you to fight, you can choose to move away in some way. However, once they grab a hold of you, you have nothing left but to fight your way out. 

This is why he believes it should be the first art everyone should learn, since it is great with handling situations that cannot be avoided in any way, only solved through combat. 

If you would like to learn the fundamentals of BJJ, the course I highly recommend is the one by Bernardo Faria, 5x Black Belt World Champion:

bjj course

3. Krav Maga

The bronze-medal goes to Krav Maga, a military combat system designed to prepare people in the toughest of places to be able to neutralize threats as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It is also the fighting system taught to the Israeli military, which is partly what gives it its good reputation. 

Developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian martial artist living in Czechoslovakia, Krav Maga was meant to be a system that is intuitive and which can help individuals survive the tough atmosphere of pre-World War Eastern Europe. 

What puts Krav Maga so high on this list is, surprisingly, not the depth and expertise one can achieve with the system. Actually, the lack thereof is one of its main cons. Its intuitiveness and realistic approach to self-defense scenario are what gives it its edge. 

Whichever martial art you train in, you will encounter rules. No eye-poking, no groin strikes, no throat strikes, etc. Krav Maga, seeing as it was created with a life-or-death situation in mind, is the opposite. In Krav, these weak points are exactly the parts of the body that are most heavily attacked, in order to neutralize the opponent as quickly as possible. 

This makes Krav Maga one of the best martial art systems to train with self-defense in mind. It is easy and intuitive to learn, with most estimates stating that around 6 months are enough for a person to feel reasonably safe in most street-altercations. This won’t make someone an expert, but they won’t necessarily be in fear when walking home at night. 

Also, Krav schools often focus on verbal de-escalation techniques and a bunch of other survival skills which might be used in order to avoid a physical altercation. Nevertheless, if the soft skills don’t work, a Krav Maga practitioner will certainly take care of any threat. 

The only downsides to Krav Maga are that it cannot be deepened too much, and more importantly, there is no sparring. It provides a surface-level knowledge in the martial arts, which, though enough for 99% of self-defense scenarios, might not be what some individuals are looking for. 

Also, the lack of pressure-testing (aka sparring) is a big issue, since it won’t prepare you for fighting with a fully resisting opponent, which can, in turn, make you falsely confident and can get you in a lot of trouble. 

If you would like to learn Krav Maga, the course I highly recommend is the one by Frass Azab:

krav maga course

2. MMA

On our second spot is arguably the most popular martial art of our times, MMA. MMA is what gave rise to organizations like the UFC and Bellator, and is also what has proven to be the best way to pressure-test different arts. 

MMA, or mixed martial arts, isn’t a singular entity. It is basically a process, within which the given individual tries their best to become the best all-around fighter. This means placing a large emphasis on striking, wrestling, grappling, and more; virtually all the areas of fighting that humans have come up with to date. 

The reason why MMA is the second-best is exactly this well-roundedness. With many martial arts, like boxing or wrestling, I have even mentioned that their one drawback is their unidimensionality. Well, that is simply not the case with MMA, since it clearly focuses on filling all the gaps in one’s fighting knowledge. 

There is literally no area in which MMA is weak. Of course, this means that an MMA fighter will not be the best in a singular area, but that isn’t even the goal of fighting for competition, and especially not for self-defense. 

In self-defense scenarios, you need to know how to handle stand-up fighting and grappling as well. MMA provides the basis for a rock-solid self-defense skillset that is virtually undefeatable in the street by any singular art. If a highly skilled boxer attacks you, you get a takedown and submit them on the ground, and vice-versa. This is the strength of MMA. 

MMA is also available in many places, seeing as the rise of the UFC and other competitions have had people searching for this sort of fighting practice en masse. The learning curve can be customizable and is always adapted to the individual’s needs, which makes MMA all the better. 

If you would like to learn MMA for self-defense, the course I highly recommend is the one by Greg Jackson, the head coach of UFC great Jon Jones:

mma course

1. Krav Maga + MMA

What could possibly come after MMA, you ask? Well, combining it with Krav Maga. Though an MMA fighter will likely beat any single-discipline fighter out there, a fighter who also knows how to use illegal moves and is also an MMA fighter will be an absolute beast. 

What MMA lacks, and it is the only thing it lacks, is illegal moves. In a self-defense scenario, you won’t care for the attacker’s eyeballs or groin area, your goal is to get out of there and save your life and the lives of those around you.

MMA will give you the confidence to handle almost anyone on the street, but if it really does come to a life or death scenario, Krav Maga might just help you out with all the moves which are illegal in MMA. This combination is hands-down the most effective one if your primary goal is to defend yourself or the people around you. 

What Next?

Having in mind that you have searched for the best martial arts for self-defense and stumbled upon this article, I would say that you are probably considering getting into martial arts.

That said, I have written an article about which martial art should you start with. I highly suggest you take a look at it, so you get an even deeper picture of some things that are important when choosing a martial art to start with.


With the popularity of MMA rising, more and more people are beginning to discover how useful Martial Arts can be for self-defense situations. Although I&#;ve talked about this topic a lot, I still continually get questioned on which Martial Art is the best for Self-defense. I believe all Martial Arts are great for building character, especially in young children, however, not all of them are useful for self-defense.

There are many useful martial arts that train self-defense techniques, even MMA is very useful for self-defense techniques. We&#;ll talk about the differences between MMA and Martial arts in this article, we&#;ll also talk about the best martial arts for self-defense. It&#;s important to realize that while many martial arts such as Karate and Taekwondo are great for character building in children, they aren&#;t too useful for self-defense situations.

If you&#;re looking for Martial Art training to become a well-rounded fighter, I highly suggest looking at &#;Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?&#;

What&#;s the Difference between MMA and Martial Arts?

Martial Arts are modified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense. The various styles of Martial arts include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Tae-kwon-do, Aikido, and much more. MMA is the combination of all martial arts and the act of using all of these various techniques for competition or self-defense situations.

Many skills and techniques that MMA fighters learn are very useful for self-defense, however, all the training in the world can&#;t predict the things that can happen in a street fight. To understand more about which Martial Art is the best for self-defense, you must understand that cage fighting and self-defense are two completely different things. The techniques that MMA fighters learn are ones that are allowed to be performed in the octagon, however, there are no rules in the street which means you need to be prepared with a self-defense mindset.

MMA is great for self-defense because the specific martial arts practiced for cage fighting are primarily learned for dismantling fighters in the octagon. Let&#;s hope you won&#;t be defending yourself on the street against a trained fighter. However, if you find yourself in a situation that brings danger to you or your loved ones it&#;s important to understand useful skills for unarmed combat.

It&#;s important to understand the difference between self-defense for unarmed combat and self-defense for armed combat. Martial arts are useful for self-defense in unarmed combat situations and even in some armed combat situations, however, it&#;s important to realize the dangers of armed situations that can&#;t always be resolved with martial arts training.

The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

best martial art for self defenseMMA is an abbreviation for “Mixed Martial Arts”, and has risen in popularity as of late. MMA isn&#;t just about fighting in the UFC, it actually has many practical self-defense techniques because it takes the best of every martial art technique and blends them together. This type of training gives the fighter a wide array of styles and techniques that they can use in a fighting style competition. MMA is great for self-defense situations because you learn all forms of fighting. In MMA you&#;ll train standup fighting, ground-and-pound, grappling, and more.

I personally train MMA and absolutely love it, I believe it&#;s made me much more confident in my real-life relationships as well. I don&#;t fear any man, however, I also don&#;t go around starting problems. A true martial artist doesn&#;t have any hate in their heart. MMA is the best of both worlds, an awesome workout and a great self-defense skill.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

best martial art for self defenseBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a ground-based grappling technique that involves the use of joint locks and chokeholds. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) promotes the concept that a smaller person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, and heavier assailant by using proper technique and leverage. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best martial arts for self-defense because it teaches you how to use your body as leverage to properly defend against a bigger opponent.

I have been training BJJ for years and it&#;s taken my MMA game so much further, it&#;s a great compliment to wrestling. It&#;s also very useful in real-life situations, the rear-naked choke can end any fight against a larger opponent. BJJ can be practiced either with the traditional Gi, or No-Gi (in shorts and a rash guard).

Muay Thai (Kickboxing)

best martial art for self defenseMuay Thai (Kickboxing) is a great first martial art to learn and is also a great martial art for self-defense. Muay Thai is a kickboxing style sport that started in Thailand. People call Muay Thai the “Art of eight limbs”, which include, punches, elbows, kicks, and knees. Muay Thai also focuses on the clinch technique which is useful for many other martial arts such as judo and wrestling. If you plan on trying out Muay Thai, you should know what to expect from your first Muay Thai class.

If you&#;re someone who is thinking about participating in Cardio Kickboxing primarily for self-defense, you should instead consider learning Muay Thai. Cardio Kickboxing is more so for &#;fitness&#; and losing weight. I recommend Cardio Kickboxing if you are looking to get in shape and learn some self-defense techniques.


best martial art for self defenseBoxing, or better known as the sweet science, is a great form of self-defense. Believe it or not, Boxing is one of the original &#;martial arts&#;. Not only is Boxing great for self-defense, but it&#;s also highly effective in MMA as well, teaching fighters head movement and footwork technique. Boxing and Muay Thai are great for self-defense because all fights start standing up. Training Boxing allows to you get much more proficient in self-defense in the short term (such as 6 months training time) and all you need is hand wraps and a set of gloves.

Although boxing is great for self-defense, I personally would prefer Muay Thai training as you would know more about the clinch and have a longer striking range. I compared the pros and cons of Boxing and Muay Thai, however, both are useful martial arts for self-defense.

Krav Maga

best martial art for self defenseThe literal Hebrew translation of Krav Maga is “battle contact”, and that’s as good of a description you’re going to get for Krav Maga from me. It was developed by the Israeli Defense Force to be used in real-life combat situations, so basically, this was developed to be a deadly martial art for the military. In addition to punches, kicks, and throws, Krav Maga teaches real-life scenarios like how to disarm an attacker. Rubber knives and guns will make appearances in your training sessions.

Krav Maga training sessions aren&#;t for the faint of heart however, I recommend checking out &#;which martial art should I learn first&#; and reading more about Krav Maga before you join.

Which Martial Art Should I Learn for Self Defense?

All of the martial arts listed above would be great for training self-defense techniques. It&#;s now up for you to decide which martial art (or a combination of martial arts) would be best for your specific goals. If your goal is to become a professional MMA fighter, then you&#;ll probably want to learn a mixture of BJJ, Boxing, Muay Thai, and Wrestling.

If you can&#;t decide yet that&#;s fine! Remember, it&#;s okay to try a few things out at first, most MMA/BJJ gyms have trial periods. I first started training Muay Thai years ago and I eventually branched out to other martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Now I train whatever martial arts make me happiest, this includes MMA. I now enjoy life knowing that I can defend myself in all types of unarmed combat situations.


Defense best system self

The Most Effective Martial Art for Self-Defence on the Street

It has been two years since my last post regarding martial arts. In these two years, I have had the privilege to practice an extremely wide range of martial arts aimed at self-defence, bringing my count to 15 different martial arts in total.

Although some of them, in my opinion, would never work in a hostile atmosphere and would probably get you killed, there are others that I studied that will send the assailants in the opposite direction. I also picked up some practical experience on the way when I was attacked by a guy with a knife, so I can say which martial art I instinctively chose given the situation; it worked.

In my article, I will highlight the five best martial arts for self-defence, in my opinion.

I would also like to state that if self-defence is your only aim and you are not looking for an oriental lifestyle as well, I would stay away from traditional martial arts like karate or taekwondo or aikido. These arts take years to master before you can dare to take on muggers on the street, and even with years of practice, they won't guarantee your safety largely due to outdated training methods that don't prepare you for street fighting. I would like to state that there are exceptions to the norm, though, as with all things in life, but that's an article of its own.

I based my choice mostly on:

  • The effectiveness of the techniques
  • The speed and simplicity of the arts

These are the most effective arts of self-defence I have practiced and the reasoning behind my choices:

5.Fillipino Martial Arts in the Form of Kali and Eskrima

These arts have originated from the very wide scope of fighting traditions practiced by traders traveling through the Philippines, as the locals always kept an open mind to effective ways of fighting. The resulting art focused on stick and knife fighting.

Although Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) has a tight learning curve, especially regarding the sticks, it's definitely one of the most potent arts I have ever practiced. The knife fighting is ever developing since new ways to cut and defend with a knife are constantly incorporated into the syllabus. They even have legal live knife fights to the death in the Philippines.

FMA's hand-to-hand fighting follows the principle that the same stick techniques can be applied without the stick since the stick is only an extension of the body. Although the resulting techniques are not too bad, I have seen better.

The main focus of this art is the sticks and knives, and since a person can find some form of a stick or carry a knife around almost anywhere, this martial art is suited for self-defence on the street.

4.Pencak Silat

Pencak Silat is a term used for a collection of Indonesian martial arts that were developed to combat the Dutch. It has a wide variety of forms, and picking the correct one is crucial for effective self-defence.

The techniques I studied were similar to Muay Thai with the addition of knife and gun techniques. The reason I picked this art as one of my top five was its marginal simplicity, being a bit easier to master than the grappling forms of self-defence. It involves a lot of strikes rather than grabs making it easier to apply, since the area where the technique can be applied is much bigger than in grappling. I found almost all the techniques functional for a street situation. However, a few moves were exceptions and wouldn't be so effective if common external factors, such as the attacker reacting in a resistant manner, kicked in. All in all, though, this art will teach you how to defend your life if necessary, even if your attacker is wielding a knife or a gun.

3.Commando Krav Maga/Combat Survival

This is a grappling martial art developed by Moni Aizik based on Judo. It was specifically created for the purpose of self-defence in real-life situations of today, where guns and knives are usually present.

This, however, is not Krav Maga as created by Imi Lichtenfield, and one should not be confused by the two. I personally think Moni just incorporated the word Krav Maga as a sales gimmick to attract people. Nonetheless, it is an effective martial art, and all of the moves and techniques are applicable in real life. I actually found a lot of similarities between Combat Krav Maga (CKM) and Combat Sambo, probably because both arts have roots in Jiu Jitsu.

Since it is a grappling art, it also has a bit of a learning curve, and practice is required before you could apply the techniques in a life-threatening situation. The striking in CKM has its roots in Muay Thai, but not a lot of attention is given to this aspect. Although the techniques are quite simple, fast reflexes are needed to properly execute the moves taught. Its gun and knife defences are effective, but I still prefer Krav Maga's approach, which will be discussed next. Again there's no reason not to consider this as your primary form of self-defence; you will not be disappointed.

2.Combat Sambo

This is a Russian martial art based mostly on grappling.

Take note that there are three forms of Sambo, and although they mostly contain the same moves, the application and purpose of the techniques are completely different. There is:

  • Sport Sambo, aimed at competition fighting
  • Self-Defence Sambo, aimed self-defence and inflicting minimum damage to the attacker
  • Combat Sambo, which basically is the military fighting form created to inflict serious damage

Combat Sambo is the form, in my opinion, that is the most effective for the street, although Self-Defence Sambo also carries some weight. Since it is a grappling art, you have to train your reflexes, and practice is an absolute necessity before applying the techniques in a life-threatening situation. Once mastered, the techniques taught are effective, since the whole art is based on real-life situations in the military. But as I said, dedicated practice is required. Their gun defence is also very tricky to master, and doing it improperly by just a bit will get you killed. It took me two months of hard practice before I was able to apply one of the defensive techniques. Their striking is very similar to Muay Thai, following a lot of the same principles, but with such effective grappling techniques you will rarely be required to strike an opponent. The biggest challenge for the practitioner is mastering the proper reflexes to apply the art.

1.Krav Maga

The first time I heard about Krav Maga, I was skeptical, partly due to the fact that I thought it was a marketing machine, an expensive art that couldn't teach me anything I didn't know. However, it was on the list of self-defence arts, so I decided to have a look.

Krav Maga is mostly a striking Israeli martial art created by Imi Lichtenfield for the IDF and originally had its roots in boxing, karate, and wrestling. Today, the art has been modified to include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and various other arts. To put it simply, it's militarized MMA.

In all my life, I had never seen such a simplistic yet effective form of fighting. It is so simplistic, I almost felt insulted while learning it. As I am a MMA fighter, I knew 80% of the techniques already, and mastering the gun and knife defences was a breeze. At the same time, I was truly impressed.

The gun defence is so effective that proper application will always leave you with the gun in one second, whether or not you are smaller than your opponent. There is nothing the attacker can do once the technique is initiated except running as fast as he can in the opposite direction. The knife defence is basically Muay Thai blocks with extremely basic jiu jitsu to disarm the knife, also incredibly effective. It also incorporates ground fighting, which is actually just the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu syllabus.

Krav Maga can thus actually be seen not as one art, but as a combination of the most effective techniques for any given situation from any art: thus, militarized MMA. Since it is so basic, it also makes it possible to learn Krav Maga through a book or dvd series. I did the basic course then bought the book and dvds to master the rest. So even if you are a master in various martial arts, take the time to learn Krav Maga, it's truly a noteworthy addition. To beginners, if you are looking for self-defence, I would recommend this as my number one art.

There are a few other reasons I like Krav Maga so much. The whole Krav Maga system is based around natural reactions of the body in certain situations, and the techniques are then developed around this concept. Thus you could almost say Krav Maga will be the natural reaction of the body. This is important for one reason: Once you are in a life-threatening situation, adrenalin starts pumping into your system, and your brain loses its finer motor functions. Meaning if you are not extremely well trained in an art, you won't be able to apply techniques that require steps (which might play a role in the other self-defence arts). Since Krav Maga is based around natural reactions, even a person not so well-trained in martial arts will be able to execute its techniques under stress with relative ease. Krav Maga classes have a tendency to be extremely expensive where I live, though, and classes advance at a very slow pace, so if this might also be your problem, get the book and dvds and start practicing. If you are already a MMA or traditional MA practitioner where sparring is involved, in my opinion, don't even bother with classes, the book and especially the dvd series will be sufficient. That is just my opinion, though.

My Experience Fending off a Knife Mugger

When I was attacked by a knife mugger, I was actually curious about how my body would react and with what art I studied it would defend. It was indeed Krav Maga, but most probably because it was the most natural reaction.

But all of the above self-defence arts are effective, and with proper dedicated training, each one of these arts will make you a serious force to be reckoned with on the street or anywhere. If you truly have the time/years and really want to learn a traditional art such as karate, it is an option since most karate forms will include sparring, which in turn will sharpen your reflexes.

I cannot emphasize reflexes enough, because in the end that is the factor that will determine how good your self-defence will be. Having the knowledge of all these arts will help nothing if you do not have the reflexes to apply it. So actually studying any art that develops reflexes will be a step in the right direction.

One should also take note that striking arts require substantially less refined reflexes than grappling arts since the application of a grappling art requires more accuracy.

If you do decide on a traditional martial art, take my advice and do a Krav Maga course in between classes. The knowledge you will gain will always be with you even if the art you study fails. The choice is yours.

Since the world is a big place, I have probably missed many martial arts that are also aimed at self-defence (or at least can be used for that purpose). This article is also based on my personal opinion so it&#x;s not written in stone. So once again, speak your mind.

The list of martial arts that I practiced and considered for this list is as follows: Aikido, Jiu Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, CKM, Combat Sambo, FMA, Pencak Silat, Taekwondo, Karate, Ninjitsu, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Pancration, Systema, Keysi Fighting Methodand Krav Maga.


Martial Artist (author) on May 30,

Greetings Marty, thanks for the input. To be fair this specific list is not so much about originality as it is about effectiveness. Krav Maga is not original by any means and they are quite transparent about that. It's a combination of boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Judo. Basically the most effective martial arts tried and tested in military warfare. You should read up about its history, very interesting read. All the best

Marty Holloway Sensei on April 15,

Real life experence. I believe Chinese Kungfu and Japanese grappling is where Krav Maga ideas came from to begine with. Over forty street fights and almost died few times and I that beleivs qualify me. Who has done this?

Martial Artist (author) on March 11,

Greetings Marty, I respect your views as a traditionalist although I do not agree with them. I based my opinion on real life experience. If you disagree and have been in similar confrontations where you needed to defend yourself against armed assailants feel free to share, would love to hear about them. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on March 11,

Greetings Frank CHEADLE, you will have to Google to find a club. You can have a look at Seems like a good club. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on March 11,

Thank you Brad Frank. Appreciate the gesture! All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on March 11,

Good day Bob, depending on the rules, MMA can beat Krav Maga, since I don't think eye gouging are allowed in their competition rules. Krav Maga is more effective in no rules fighting. All the best

Marty on March 10,

Here comes the Krav Maga number one nonsense again.that they advertise all the time and make up crap.

Marty Holloway on February 04,

To say Krave Maga is the best is nonsense. Most of these moves are Chinese and Japanese rip offs. Ive seen what Krav Maga can do and its a joke in the martial art community. This comes from a holder of several belts in Japanese Jujutsu, Hapkido and Kempo Karate. To me Krav Maga is a bridge between a pilate and real martial arts.

Marty Holloway Sensei on January 12,

You think Karate, Hapkido etc. Dont train you for the street is complete nonsense.

Frank CHEADLE on November 19,

Is there a school in the Kansas City MO. Areas

Chris on November 14,

Try Systema. Martin wheeler is an instructor. Beverly Hills Academy in Beverly Hills CA. I challenge you to put Systema to the test, i used it in a real life situation and I'll take it over every other "self defense" system out there.

RJ on November 13,

I have studied for over 35 years and there is a big difference between Street Fighting and fighting. In Street Fighting there is a big chance your going to get serious hurt. Most Street Fighters have no training and no restriction on what they do. Krav Maga is a most effective style. I am not putting down other styles just respecting the street way of life.

David Kelly on November 09,

The best way to learn to defend yourself on the street muay thai, wrestling boxing bjj. However, not just learning actually sparring in which one gets hit and hits. Its called fighting. If you want to become a good fighter which in turn will make you good at defending yourself. There is no easy way. If you want to be a good runner you run. If you want to be a good fighter you fight

RAaymond Rankin on October 21,

I still need more time to find the right martial art for me to learn thank you for your time.

Brad Frank on September 30,

Excellent article. I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but have thought about Krav Mara for years. I really appreciate your opinion and will do as you suggest. Thank you for your help!

Bob on September 29,

You know that carlos newton went to israel and beat many krav maga guys badly enough that they wanted carlos to train them. Krav maga overated

Fighter on July 21,

Chris LOL CKM and KM is not the same art, maybe read the article before posting a comment

Chris Hall on July 09,

you have KM on here twice, it is the same style . and the name jkd is dead.

Mark Streator on July 08,

You will learn most about fighting and defending yourself by boxing and getting punched in the face and body. Thai boxing and taking hard damaging kicks to the legs body and arms. Ju Jitsu and feeling and applying chokes and various joint locks and submissions. Without feeling these pains, absorbing and surviving these attacks and stressors, you have no idea how you'll react when violently attacked.

Martial Artist (author) on April 22,

Good day Guille30,

Thanks for the comment. In regards to your questions:

1. Boxing will sharpen your reflexes yes

2. Depends on your intent. If you only want to learn self defence - Krav Maga, if you are also looking for a new sport - MMA.

3. Depends on the fighter and the amount you train. Generally if you attend all the training 6 months to a year would allow you to defend yourself based on the situation you find yourself in.

4. MMA delves deeper into more techniques which is not necessarily taught on Krav Maga as Krav Maga only focuses on self defence against non-professional fighter while MMA teaches you to win against other fighters that also has professional training.

5. MMA do fill in most of the gaps in Krav Maga in my opinion

All the best!

OJIISAN on April 08,

I have practice Martial arts for over 50 YEARS KENJUTSURYU KARATE, AIKIDO, SHAOLIN GUNG FU. I have realized the martial arts is not the way of fighting but rather is the way of living and thinking. DOMO ARIGATO

Guille30 on March 11,

Hi, I really like your post. I´ve reading all your comments and hope you can answer some questions. In my small city I saw one Krav Maga global and one MMA.

My main goal is to do self defense and to become a effective fighter in case I need it. I´ve just started boxing to get in shape.

1-Do you think I can sharpen my reflexes sparring with box?

2-After box do you think I should go with Krav maga directly?or MMA first?

3-You said it takes 6 months to know the basic in Krav maga. How long it takes to get really good in it and survive in the streets?

4-You said Krav Maga and MMA is a good combo for a great fighter. What is it that good that MMA add to Krav Maga? I mean both have Muai thai and BJJ. Maybe MMA go deep in those both and add another useffull martial arts to the game. How do you go with this? You get good with Krav Maga and later add only some things of MMA or just go for alll MMA even more of muai thai and BJJ?

5-You also said that Krav maga is lacking a bit in stand grapping. Do MMA fill the gaps or is necesarry adding some techniques of another martial arts like yudo?

Thaks for all.

Mtco on November 04,

I've trained in a number of martial arts and self defense tactics systems over the years. These arts are Boxing, BJJ, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, PPCT and verbal deescalation. My training has come from civilian training and from law enforcement. I've have had real life combat applications of these arts and techniques ranging from real life self-defense, defense as an officer in a prison, controlled use of forces and sparring.

Things I have learned:

1.) The majority of people do not know how to fight nor have they ever trained, therefore if you have some form of training you have the upper hand. This assumes that you anticipate or know an attack is coming; such as, squaring up.

2.) Situational awareness is key! If you arent aware of your surroundings and make calculated decisions, you make yourself vulnerable.

Now on to the defense systems and tactics:

Verbal Self Defense:

Every mutual fight is avoidable. Over the years, verbal judo has saved me from a great deal of verbal confrontations and physical confrontations. You can pick the book up on Amazon for a few dollars. It is widely used by law enforcement and for good reason. It has even helped to de escalate personal life situations. This is why I rank it first. Avoiding the fight is the surest way of winning. However, remember its not full proof!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ):

I didn't get into BJJ until my mid-twenties and that is unfortunate. I've found it to be the most effective martial art after the first 10 seconds of any fight. Typically, untrained people flail their arms and wrap up. From a law enforcement stand point, people dont usually become violent or try to flee until after the officer has made physical contact. BJJ has done wonders for me in both personal self-defense and as a correctional officer.

Boxing: I rate second because of its simplicity. Essentially, boxing teaches you to maintain distance and your two weapons are your fist. On top of this you also learn movements to avoid being hit

Muay Thai-

The fighting stance is a bit different than that of Western boxing. At first, I found this uncomfortable, however, as time went on I understood its reasoning and its benefits over boxing. It offers more tools to strike with and I would have rated it second if not for simplicity.

Krav Maga:

I perceive to be the most over-hyped defensive tactics system there is. I'm not saying it isn't effective but you could learn a grappling and striking art and still have a well rounded self-defense strategy.


Of all places I learned this was at the law enforcement academy. I don't even think its called ppct anymore. Anyway with the exception of a few strikes which are borrowed from Muay Thai I find it to be junk. It's crap and is a great way to get your ass kicked.

Dries on October 03,

I do agree and disagree that traditional martial arts are not so effictive. In my opinion almost every martial art is effictive if you got talent for the martial art and If you really hard trained and also do or did in competition form. Traditional martial arts have to be very hard and very long trained. If you actually look on time I do agree sambo combat is very good. But my experience is that you are best in the street when you are well trained in englisch boxing combinated with the low kicks and not clinching knee work, you can say the K1 rules system if you well learned in that stand up fighting

system you have to drill yourself in BJJ or Sambo combat, Judo also good but to fair for me, In my openion you have to stayed up from the ground as long as possible because a head kick is very quit given from a second opponent when your on the ground fighting you never know is your opponent is alone its ok to fight on the ground but for how long? you never can say it it can turn out that 3 person kick your head non stop while you are grappling you dont going to make it, with the stand up system you can use the enviroment for example standing with a wall after you or standing in a corner so you make a change when the opponent is not alone, I do not underestimate the efficiense of ground fighting it is actually better than stand up fighting but it is less dangerous. In my openion when you build your body up to more than 90kg wheight and when you have a height of minimum 1m75 if you are well trained in the K1 system you actually good for streetfighting if you have a natural snap punch or kick who are hard if they dont end the fight they actually at least seriously distord, making dizy or are very painfull that takes a lot of self confidence and courage to go on if you are several times hitted for dont stop the fight and walk or run away.

I did traditional karate for 9 years after I go for englisch boxing, after that I went to gym were they actually learned me to fight with the combination in training of muay thai, kickboxing and Sambo combat I think this is better than krav Maga because I real street fighter do not let it easily happen that you hit him in the balls or in the eyes you have to carefully and fast reaction with an attacking system of fighting I do not much believe in the counter techniques training of possible attacks only when you are very drilled in all types of attacking

Truema on September 14,

I disagree with your comment that traditional martial arts is ineffective and takes years to master while doing the forms correctly with every meticulous move may take years to master that does not mean you cannot effectively defend yourself by kicking or punching or knee striking or elbow striking most problems with rational martial arts these days is they have not been practiced as they should and have been watered down much like the telephone game we played as kids however I have been a Taekwondo instructor for over 26 years I can find hapkido jiu-jitsu boxing into my program and my students are very well-rounded I have a female student who just shared a story where a male grabbed her arm she didn't inside block strike knocked his arm off her arm and pushed him back up against the wall to escape. Like anyting take out the bed and keep the good but there's a wave the state's traditional martial arts is a waste of time and ineffective I disagree

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Good day A small guy,

I would recommend BJJ as in my personal experience, the smaller the fighter, the better. BJJ works a lot on technique, speed and skill rather than strength and size. In my own club it is usually the smaller fighters that defeat their bigger counterparts when grappling so it will be ideal for your body type. It is also not too intensive on the body so injuries will be minimal to none. When you become comfortable in martial arts, you will find that you will want to try out Krav Maga as well. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Good day Epaminondas,

Pankration is the Greek version of MMA and shares a lot of the fundamental principles of MMA as well. Modern clubs incorporate Muay Thai and BJJ into their syllabus now a days and therefore not a bad choice. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Good day Michael K,

If you are already well versed in MMA, Muay Thai and BJJ, Yoshinkan Aikido is not a bad choice, as your other arts will compensate for its weak points, there are many practical and fundamental aspects that will assist in your self defence. If you have never done KM though, its not a bad idea to do a short course and add that to your arsenal as well. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Good day [email protected],

I can not say that I have ever heard of it. Rather stick to the tried and test in my opinion though. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Good day streetwise,

I would actually recommend BJJ as most of the techniques becomes muscle memory and although it looks like an intensive art on the body, it actually impacts the body a lot less. There are quite a few 80+ year olds still practicing the art and defeating their opponents, due to the way BJJ works. Proper technique will almost always defeat strength. Therefore as you grow older you learn to fight smarter and not harder. For the time being though it is not a bad idea to incorporate some Krav Maga as well, as they go hand in hand. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Good day Usman,

I would recommend BJJ as not only is it safer than a lot of other martial arts to start with, it is also very effective and will teach your child discipline, perseverance and reflex development. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21,

Thank you for your positive feedback Shane.P

A small guy on November 19,

Hello I'm at high school and for a male am relatively on the small side. I do not do any kind of sports and thus is quite out of shape. I'm considering taking a martial arts lesson for self defense, but is hesitant because I'd be starting quite late, and also I don't possess an athletic body. I was wondering what style you think is effective for a small person who will most likely fight people much larger than him, but is also not too brutal so as to deter someone who is not physically fit from practicing at all.

Thanks, and I hope you reply soon!

Epaminondas on October 04,

I'm trying to find the best self defense system for my daughters and your article helped me a lot.

Here in Greece, TKD is very popular but to tell the truth, its (good) kicks may not be the answer.

I just wonder, have you ever practiced the greek Pangration? It seems to me as a form of MMA.


Michael K on September 04,


I have experience in muay thai and brazilian jiu jitsue as well as other arts. I look to commit to a martial art so that I dont simply keep skipping from one to another and actually get in depth into the art.

I am considering krav maga but I do like the martial art aspect of aikido, as an already experienced martial artist, do you think Yoshinkan Aikido would be an effective path to take? Or should I just not waste my time in it and commit to krav?

Thank you,


[email protected] on September 03,

Loved the coverage, I'm an old black in , stopped all practice. My father in law says in karate, Judi jitsu or other MA is a title of Knight Walker I can't find it. On the web is there such a thing?

DEFENCE on August 04,

Defence is the correct spelling in British/Canadian/Australian English, although defense is how it's spelled in American English.

Anonimo on August 03,

No Muay Thai? Mhhhh

DEFENSE on July 20,

It's spelled with an "S". There is no "C" in the word DEFENSE.

streetwise on July 06,

Hi author.

Informative article and amazing that you are still answering/helping others in this thread after 7yrs.

Ive dabbled in various MA since a teen Ninjitsu, Boxing, Mauy Thai, Wing Chun, Taiji and others, to give you an idea of where i am coming from.

Im now around 50yo and want a "simple" MA that i can train now to keep in my skillset till im in my 90s. So needs to be simple to remember and not physically hard on a body when im older. This is why i leaned toward Wing Chun & Taiji in recent years. Yet found them complex to learn and be competant with them and may not be as useful in a street scenario as others as u have suggested. What do u recomend? KM? I assume Mauy Thai be too hard on the body as one gets older? Especially shin blocks. And BJJ may be not suitable when i get to 90yo or so. There is a guy who teaches KM in my area but this is not his main teaching. And there is also Mauy Thai and Bjj. Ive recently dropped out of the Taiji/TaiChi which although is spose to ve one of the deadliest MAs, is also very long at forms then another for the grandmaster style. I wasnt born in the east so dont have the time or patience to fully learn a complex MA such as TaiChi. Any thoughts for others out there who may already be elderly but wanting to defend themselves in needed??

Kichu on June 12,

It is really an amazing article..what you said is absolutely true..bring us more of your valuable information.

Usman on June 11,

Dear Sir

My 6 year old son started BJJ one year ago. Unfortunately the instructor moved. Ultimately I would want him to learn KM, however most clubs don't start until age In the interim, I want him to learn a martial art which is useful for self defence and above all improve balance, reflexes and coordination. Is copiera the best option, or finding another BJJ school? I would be open to other suggestions also. I do however think at this age, body control, movement, reflexes and balance are the most important. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

arpan sharma on June 03,

i feel that in my life tai chi is best i see that this is the best martial arts in the world & learn kyokushin-kan karate.

Shane P. on May 28,

Great article. I appreciate how you included knife and gun techniquest to compile a practical and realistic self defense art list.

I have been considering taking Krav Maga. I studied Hwarangdo for 3 years and loved every minute of it. It's a very effective and comprehensive combat art, and I found that even as a yellow belt, I could hold my own sparring and grappling against higher belts from other arts.

I stopped training in Hwarangdo when the teacher turned his dojang into an MMA cage fighting school, and there are no other schools in my area. I'm not interested in cage fighting, but I would really like to get back into training an art that is effective for street self defense.

Also, thank you for making the distinction between CKM and KM. I am familiar with Moni, but I was not aware his techniques were not traditional KM. It seems like Krav Maga is the art I should check out, as there is a school here in the Reno area. Thanks again.

Martial Artist (author) on May 27,

Greetings Parent,

At this stage she needs to develop a love for martial arts and Capoeira is a good starting place. It will help with muscle development and reflexes but Jujitsu is a better choice for practical purposes and self defence. But as she is still very young Capoeira should be sufficient for now. All the best!

Parent on May 25,

My daughter is almost 5. She has started taking Capoeira classes. She could also attend combat jujitsu near our house. Kraal Maga she must be 14 so she will take that when she is eligible. I think the Capoeira is more appealing to her at this point because of the music and acrobatic elements. Would this be a good way to develop good reflexes? I do appreciate the music/dance aspect for a younger kid. The jujitsu is cheaper and closer to the house though. I am thinking of doing the capoeira until about age then the combat jujitsu then the Krav Maga at What is your opinion?

Martial Artist (author) on March 24,

Greetings Tarannum Rana,

If you have no prior experience with martial arts it might be a very difficult task to learn on just video and net material as some principles has to be taught in a class environment to prevent learning bad technique that might just get you hurt. I say difficult however and not impossible as some has learned it that way and was successful. I recommend finding a muay thai class if possible even if it is only for a free class or 2 to just give you an oversight, there is a bunch of good muay thai beginner courses on YouTube, you can just search for it. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on March 24,

Good day Searcher,

InDefence is alligned with KMG and will be a good source for your training. They follow the correct form, all the best

Tarannum Rana on March 22,

Hi! Nice article, thanks a lot for it!

I am a 22 year old girl anf want to take up some martial art. My purpose for doing it is basically self defence, but I want to make a life long routine out it. What martial art do you suggest, considering that I have no experience? Also, thanks to genetics, I have decent muscle strength, so I woudn't mind training in grappeling too. Also, I am from Delhi, India, and most of MA classes here are either a hoax or are way out of my budget. So I will be relying heavily on net for the lessons. So could you please refer some good websites or youtube channels that you follow?

Kindly reply. I am looking forward to start my practice as soon as I can!

Me on October 11,

Tae Kwon do is a martial art that I have done and it works well. I had a bully and once he saw what I could do he decided to do it now he is been taught discipline and has become more calm.

Angels on September 16,

What about kung fu?

Martial Artist (author) on September 16,

Greetings dunno wat dat means,

I mean it is rather difficult to learn for practical purposes, but effective once you have mastered the basics. All the best

Martial Artist (author)

Most Painful Self Defence Techniques Tip - COMMANDO FITNESS CLUB

The Five Best Martial Art Styles for Home Defense

There are hundreds upon hundreds of martial arts styles. Most of them can be used for self-defense, but some are more practical than others. These five martial arts styles are ideal for teaching you what you need to know if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.

#1 BJJ for Self Defense

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, is great for self-defense because size doesn’t matter. One of the founders of the system had medical issues, thus he was weak and small. Jealous of his brothers’ ability to fight, he developed fighting and defensive techniques that use leverage instead of pure strength.

Don’t be fooled by the traditional Gis worn by BJJ practitioners- this isn’t one of those martial arts that was meant to stay in the gym. It’s a combat sport, and very useful when it comes to fighting on the street. Although it focuses on ground techniques, you learn how to take an opponent to the ground using throws and trips.

More importantly, you learn what to do if you end up on the ground. This is important because it is where most fights end up. Knowing how to handle yourself on the ground can come in handy in a dangerous situation. You learn a variety of submissions. Arm bars, chokes, and ankle-locks are only a few of the submissions taught to students. In training, you stop when your opponent taps. In real life, you could end up cutting off their air supply or breaking bones.

You also learn how to get out of bad situations by using sweeps. Through physics, you can turn a bad position into an advantage. Trapping the legs and arms of an opponent can put them off balance and move you from being pinned on the floor to being on top and in charge.

To practice techniques, you roll. Rolling is like sparring, and more like a real-world situation. It lets you experience what it would be like to be in a fight, but it is much safer. Instead of being injured, you tap when you (or your opponent) is caught in a painful position. Rolling makes it easy to apply BJJ techniques for self-defense.

#2 Muay Thai

Another combat martial art, Muay Thai, is known as “The Art of Eight Limbs.” Using elbows, knees, fists, and legs, students learn how to strike an opponent. Unlike BJJ, it focuses more on standing techniques than ground techniques.

The striking techniques taught in Muay Thai are devastatingly powerful. All strikes start at the ground- even punches use power from the hips to generate more power. The round kick is regarded as one of the most powerful kicks in martial arts- you can use it to take out the legs of an attacker without letting him get too close.

Although Muay Thai is mostly about striking, you do learn how to use some trips and throws to knock an attacker to the ground. With the Thai clinch, you hold an opponent close and land loaded knees and elbows. You can control his movement, even if he’s bigger than you.

Sparring is one of the ways you can practice your skills, and it prepares you for what could happen on the street. You learn what it feels like to have someone coming at you, and even learn how to take a punch. Injuries don’t happen too frequently, because students are taught to spar controlled and not to go at full intensity.

Muay Thai is less intimidating to train because there is no formal uniform and (usually) no belt system. You can just show up and start learning. In addition to useful techniques, you also get a sense of confidence – and that goes a long way.

#3 Filipino Martial Arts

Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) isn’t a single martial art. It’s a collection of military martial arts from the Philippines developed to help the country protect itself from soldiers.

Hand-to-hand combat skills are the main strength of FMA. You learn weapons first. In addition to learning how to use them, you also learn how to defend against them. The list of weapons taught to FMA students is very long, and most of the techniques can be applied to weapons used today.

Once weapons are mastered, you learn striking techniques and some grappling. What you learn depends on the type of FMA school you attend. Some teach a variety of grappling techniques, while other schools teach none.

#4 Krav Maga

When it comes to fighting, Israel means business. That’s why you shouldn’t take Krav Maga lightly – it was developed specifically for the Israeli military. The founder of this form of combat based it upon many other martial arts. He borrowed techniques from jiu-jitsu, boxing, and other effective combat martial arts.

Krav Maga is ideal for self-defense situations because it’s made for precisely that purpose. You’re taught to go for the vulnerable parts of an attacker. Eye gouging, foot stomps, and kicks to the groin are all practiced (and effective) techniques. Unlike some martial arts that spend time teaching students how to get points in competitions, the only goal of Krav Maga is to defend yourself.

Weapons training is part of Krav Maga. You learn how to use anything in your environment as a weapon and how to defend against knives, guns, and other weapons. If you’re ever stuck in a bad situation, Krav Maga can help.

#5 for Self Defense MMA

MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts – it’s a combination of many martial arts styles all combined to form one tough sport. It’s great if you want to learn a little about everything. You can learn how to defend yourself on the ground, standing up, and you get practical experience.

Most MMA gyms focus on BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, and Taekwondo. And though it borrows from other arts, it is its own sport as these borrowed techniques come together as one.

In MMA you’ll learn techniques for taking down an opponent, standing up and striking, and submitting them on the ground. You never know where a struggle will take place, and this prepares you for anything. Training involves sparring, so you learn how to use the techniques in a more realistic situation.

The only thing missing from MMA for self-defense is weapons training. Even without that, MMA is very useful for self-defense.



Similar news:

If you are interested in taking up a martial arts discipline for its self-defense techniques, it’s crucial to understand that they are not cut from the same cloth. In other words, some martial arts disciplines are definitely more effective than others in fending off violent physical attacks.

On this post, we’re sharing a list of the top 10 most effective martial arts disciplines (in no particular order) for self-defense and survival. As a bonus, we’ve included short anecdotes of those who have experienced and/or witnessed the effectiveness of martial arts practice in real life situations. We hope that their insights will help you to decide on which discipline you ought to pursue. Read on!





There’s a simple yet really good reason that this official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is dubbed as ‘The Art of Staying Alive’ – it works.  Though it may appear complex, its techniques are designed by its creator, Imi Lichtenfeld, to be simple and easily executed. Hence, its moves are generally based on instinct/ reflex making it much easier for the practitioner to learn and put to use during an attack. For this reason, practically anyone regardless of size, strength or level of fitness can take it up.

Translated as ‘Contact Combat’ Krav Maga combines moves from various other martial arts style such as punches from Western Boxing, Karate kicks & knees, BJJ’s ground fighting as well as ‘bursting’ that has been adapted from the ancient Chinese martial arts, Wing Chun.

What makes Krav Maga so effective when it comes to self-defense is its emphasis on reality based training where the main goal is to neutralize the attacker(s) as fast as possible. There are no set rules or routines in Krav Maga. And unlike many other disciplines, you are encouraged to execute defensive and offensive moves simultaneously in order to protect yourself from harm. 


Krav Maga is one of the most effective martial arts to be used in the streets

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“I used a Krav Maga hammer strike on my attacker's nose, and he quickly gave up and ran. It was instinctual; I didn't even have to stop and think about itthank God my training saw me through!” – Unknown (Sourced from a Reddit forum).




The ‘youngest’ of all martial arts disciplines on this list, Keysi Fighting Method (KFM) was created by Justo Dieguez and Andy Norman. If you are impressed with Batman’s fighting style in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Night’ trilogies, you have these two fighters to thank.

Basing the techniques on moves used on Dieguez’s personal street brawl experiences back in Spain, it focuses on moves that can effectively fend off multiple attackers. On an interview with, Justo explained KFM is a pure blood born street fighting method that was conceived on the street and born in the fight.

Similar to Muay Thai, it emphasizes on using the body as a weapon. With the understanding that many street attacks occur in close-quarters, what makes this style unique is that it consists of no kicks. Rather, it is designed to attack with sharp elbow strikes, head butts and hammer fists which often can be more lethal than kicks or punches in real life situations.


Keysi Fighting Method demo clip from ‘Batman Begins’. Video credit: ChaosEntRETURNS YouTube Account


If a person wants to hurt you they are likely to do so with a crowd or with others. This is basic pack mentality and it is a successful ploy to use. So KFM does what no other martial art has done. It places this at the center of its training, "Ok.We are surrounded by a group now lets see how we can survive". This mentality produces a great set of tools and training drills.

One thing that I do feel that is underestimated in the KFM training and hard to put into words is that there training cultivates 'fighting spirit'. They call this the predator/ prey mentality and their drills develop this attitude to get you to press the 'switch' in your mind that stops you thinking that you will become a victim and turns you into a ball of energy that is ready to fight.” – Andrew Holland of




Created by the Gracie family, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ first came into ‘fame’ due to the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competition where Royce Gracie was able to successfully defeated his opponents by only using BJJ techniques.

Fast forward to today, BJJ is still the most popular martial arts discipline amongst Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters. 

This martial arts discipline focuses on teaching its practitioners to effectively defend themselves against a larger sized opponent using leverage and proper technique. Hence, it is as lethal when practiced by females as it is for males.

By combining modified moves found in Judo and Japanese JuJutsu, the key to this martial arts style is to gain control and positioning over the adversary so that its devastating chokes, holds, locks and joint manipulations can be applied. 


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uses moves that consist of chokes, hold, locks and joint manipulations

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“Recently, an altercation led to a man running full bore at me (I'm 6'6'' , he's probably 6'1''-6'2'' ), in an attempt to tackle me. I'm not a great wrestler, but I have learned a bit about it from grappling. I ducked in for a double leg takedown, and though I couldn't quite grasp my hand to secure the takedown, I still managed to get a good enough grasp to set up a nice trip.

I landed in side control and quickly moved into mount (completely on top of someone). And I proceeded to wrap him up/neutralize any offense from him until I was able to verbally calm him until I could get off. So, in this case, it worked well.”  - Unknown (sourced from a Reddit forum)





Founded by Jigoro Kano in Japan, Judo is known for its prominent feature of throws and takedowns. It emphasizes on throwing or taking down the opponent to the ground.

A part of the Olympic games since , during a competition, a Judoka’s (a Judo practitioner) main objective is to immobilize or subdue the adversary with a pin, joint lock or a choke.

Thanks to its effective grappling techniques, it is also widely used amongst MMA fighters. Though it has some limitations when it comes to striking techniques, its focus on tug-of-war type drills with partners has proven to aid its practitioners to succeed in real life altercations.

As Thom Sakata of explains “Striking techniques are more hindered by attire, and expose the executor to a higher degree of self-inflicted injury than grappling techniques.

By contrast judo's nage (throwing) and katame (grappling) wazas are less affected by physical attire and safeguard the body's limbs, allowing the judoka to "fight another day."


Master Judo Moves: Human Weapon. Video credit: deusAXEmachina YouTube Channel


“I had been studying Judo all throughout high school.During my senior year, I went to a concert at a large outdoor amphitheater.  There was a guy next to me who kept slamming into me because he was trying to get a mosh pit going. The third time it happened, I gently grabbed his shoulder to get his attention.

I went back to trying to watch the show when I caught him moving towards me quick in my peripheral vision. Right as he approached I took a step backward and blocked his ankle as he went past. He fell to the grass in a flailing heap.When he got up he was pissed and threw a wild punch.

I blocked the punch with my left forearm as I stepped in with my left foot, grabbed his shirt at his left shoulder with my right hand then stepped around his right leg with my right leg and threw him to the ground using O Soto Gari.

I grabbed onto his right wrist with my left hand during the throw for two reasons:

First, I could pull up on his arm so he didn't hit the ground full force after the throw. I also had him on the ground with his wrist in my hand so I could control him with it so he couldn't come at me again.I applied pressure to his wrist to make him realize his situation andasked him to let me enjoy the show.He finally got the picture and agreed to leave me alone.”  – Unknown (Sourced from a Quora forum)



This celebrated national combat sport of Thailand is a dauntingly ruthless martial arts discipline that work effectively when used as a self-defense system. Commonly found within MMA training, with precise moves using knees, elbows, shins, and hands to deliver bone-crushing strikes, it is all about using our own body parts as weapons.

Reportedly to be originated in the 14th century in Siem, Thailand, Muay Thai is referred to as "The Art of Eight Limbs" as it focuses on eight points of contact, as opposed to "two points" (fists) in boxing and "four points" (hands and feet) used in kickboxing.

In terms of self-defense, This discipline emphasizes on teaching its practitioners how to effectively injure/ attack an opponent to make room for a quick getaway. Muay Thai moves are not restricted to uses of fists and feet as it also includes elbow and knee strikes that can devastate an adversary when executed. 


Muay Thai is often referred to as the "Art of Eight Limbs" for its use of the body as a weapon


I use the Muay Thai stance whenever I’m in need of self-defense. To meit has a TON of advantages. First off, you in more of a defensive posture, about 60/40 or 70/30 weight on your back leg. Also, your hands are open in a Muay Thai fighting stance.

This does two things: 1. open hands are FAR more brutal that closed fists, and it offers a wider range of techniques. 

2. This stance, with hands open, gives the appearance, to an untrained attacker that you are scared or trying to back away. Its great for the passive-aggressive fighter.” – Unknown (Sourced from a Reddit forum).




Recognized as an official Olympic sport since , Taekwondo is a Korean martial arts discipline that combined many different martial arts styles which existed in Korea as well as some martial arts practices from neighboring countries. Some examples include but not limited to T’ang-su, Tae Kwon, Judo, Karate and Kung Fu. 

Taekwondo is currently one of the world’s most practiced martial arts with over 25 million practitioners spread across countries. Despite its popularity, due to its ‘flashy’ showmanship, Taekwondo is often criticized as less than practical when it comes to self-defense.

That said, many of its practitioners would quickly refute this criticism. One reason is that more so that many other martial arts, it emphasizes kicking – more specifically high kicking. This move can be useful in a physical fight. If the practitioner can train their legs to be stronger and as fast as their arms, the kick can enable them to neutralize the opponent quickly and effectively end the attack.


Taekwondo kicks can come in handy during street altercations

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In self-defense, I think, one of the most effective technique is the middle front kick. Of course, this means kick in the groin. This is the easiest kicking technique.

And with those great variations of practicing method of kicking in Taekwondo, make it even easier to release the attack even under assault.” – Ryujin Takayuki (Sourced from a Quora forum)




Though it’s currently ‘losing’ in terms of popularity to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), you’d be interested to know that BJJ along with other martial arts styles such as Judo and Aikido are actually derivatives of this ancient Japanese discipline.

Originally developed as one of the foundations of samurai fighting techniques, JuJutsu is a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent where the practitioner uses no weapon or a short weapon. As it’s futile to attack an adversary who is armored, it focuses on using the opponent’s energy  & momentum against him.

Most of JuJutsu’s techniques consist of throws and joint locks. The combination of these two moves makes it a lethal and effective discipline for self-defense. 


Jujutsu is a traditional martial arts discipline originating in Japan

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“Traditional Japanese Jujutsu descended from the arts the Samurai used effectively in life or death battles. Other than the possible use of a gun, fights today are basically as they were hundreds of years ago. It’s still a good method of self-defense

I have been practicing Japanese Jujitsu long before it became popular in the public and it has been effective for me in several street confrontations.” – Doris (Sourced from a Yahoo! Answers forum)




Though this martial arts discipline is arguably less popular than many others on this list, Aikido is considered one of the most effective martial arts to use when one is looking to learn self-defense and survival moves.

A modern Japanese martial arts style created by Morihei Ueshiba, it does not focus on punching or kicking the adversary. Instead, it focuses on techniques that enable you to use your opponent’s energy and aggressiveness to gain control of them or ‘throw’ them away from you.


An Aikido practitioner demonstrates the arm twist that can be effective in neutralizing an opponet

Image credit: Aikido Auckland Seishinkan


“I have a story that comes from a self-defense class that I teach. We were doing a simple version of kote-gaeshi , with myself as the "goon", who would attack the women in the class, so that they get a feel for doing things for real. Well, one of the students had learned it a lot faster than I thought and applied it a lot harder and faster than you usually see in regular Aikido classes (where I study, we usually "ease up" at the end, to allow our partner a chance to fall cleanly).

She, of course, didn't ease up, because I had never thought to tell her she should. I managed to get about halfway into a break fall when I hit the ground, which just so happened to position the shoulder of the arm being twisted directly under the rest of my body. My entire weight came down on it, very hard. It ended up that I couldn't use that arm effectively for 2 to 3 weeks afterward.

I can only assume something similar would occur in real life, if you were to execute the technique at full speed, with the clear intention of ending the fight right there. Had it been for real, I'm pretty sure I would've chosen that moment for a strategic retreat. If she let me go, that is!” – David Green (Sourced from



Although those who are not too familiar with boxing would argue that boxing is not a martial arts discipline, its practitioners would beg to differ. There is much more to boxing than punching each other’s face until someone decides to give up.

In Boxing, you’ll learn to deliver a variety of punches from different ranges with precision as well as how to effectively block or evade an attack. Unlike many other combat disciplines, it also emphasizes body conditioning through sparring, preparing the body for combat.

Additionally, Boxing training helps to sharpen awareness. This enables boxers to be able to react quickly, make fast decisions and choose the right moves to execute during a fight. These are definitely skills that not only come in handy in the ring but also in the streets.


Boxing tactics for self-defense. Video credit: Chuck Johnson YouTube Channel


I am an American boxer. Years ago, I was walking down the street one night in college and two guys walking toward me block my path and tell me to give my wallet. One is about 6'2", the other about 5'9" (I am 5'7"). I told them to leave me alone and tried to walk around the big one. He pushed me back.

At this point, I backed up and moved laterally, putting the big one between me and the little one. (I only wanted to deal with one threat at a time and biggest came first) so without wasting any time I threw a tight right hook to his head, which put him on his knees.

I threw a right shovel hook to his lowered head and knocked him unconscious. Now his smaller friend, in a panic, fell back on the ground. He started to hit me in the back of the head, which from his position just felt like raindrops I postured up and locked my right arm against his left shoulder before dropping my left forearm directly on his jaw, also leaving him unconscious. – Unknown (Sourced from a Reddit forum).




Developed in Ryukyu Islands (now known as Okinawa), Karate was brought to mainland Japan in the 20th century. After World War II, Okinawa became one of the most important US military bases and became popular among American soldiers. This martial arts discipline has since been widely practiced around the globe.

Recently, it was also announced to be included in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics summer games.

Translated as ‘empty hand’ in English, Karate is a predominantly striking art that makes use of punching, kicking, knee & elbow strikes as well as open hand techniques such as palm-heel strikes and spear hands. It emphasizes using the practitioner’s hands and legs as main forms of defense, making it one of the most effective to use for self-defense. 


Karatekas practicing self-defense moves

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Michael Miller of Millers Dojo and a 5th Degree Black Belt Karateka shares his story:

“For five years I worked as a bouncer at a sports bar on weekends. One night, I grabbed a guy who started a fight by putting my right arm around his neck into a rear naked choke position. It broke his balance by putting my left hand in the small of his back and applied some pressure. By breaking his balance I was able to escort him to the door and get him outside.

Just after I let him go I saw someone in the corner of my eye throw a haymaker punch at me so I ducked under it, grabbed the guy, slammed him up against the building and put my forearm in his throat.

Since I had stopped his attack, I let him go. He was no longer a threat. Just as I did, he grabbed me by my upper arms and tried to swing me around and throw me to the ground. I ended up hitting him with six different rapid hand strikes – in both shoulders, both biceps, and both forearms which got him to let go of me, and I finished with a rear leg front kick to his groin which ended the attack.

Michael also adds that should you decide to train in Karate, the most important aspect of your self-defense practice is to get as good as you can at the basics. Seek to master Karate’s fundamentals (stances, blocks, kicks, punches, hand strikes, etc.). Train them hard and often.

Want to learn self-defense and survival skills from the comfort of your home? There’s no better way than to join an online martial arts training!


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