The 5 best martial arts for self defense and why | legal martial arts (2023)

The 5 best martial arts for self defense and why | legal martial arts (1)

With so many different martial arts in the world, how do you know which ones are best for self defense? Let's break it down and see which ones are the best and why.

The best self-defense martial arts are those that offer hands-on training experience and are proven to work in martial arts such as MMA. For example, professional MMA athletes use Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai (kickboxing), judo, wrestling and boxing and are also better for self defense.

Notice: Not all martial arts are good for self defense.

It is important that you choose a martial art that works in real self-defense situations.

This way, you won't find out the hard way (when it's too late) that your chosen martial art won't withstand a full-power attack.

(Believe me, I made the mistake and paid the price)

This article aims to help youunderstand what qualifies a martial art as a good form of self-defense. So you can make the right decision and be safe if you have to defend yourself one day.

first let's goTake a look at each of the top 5 martial artsfor self-defence. Second, you will learnhow to question what makes a martial art good for self defenseSo you can choose the right one for you to study.

Three of the most popular martial arts for self defense areboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Ymixed martial arts. If these are also your top 3, read my article to get acomplete instructions What to learn: Boxing or Jiu-Jitsu or MMA.

The 5 best martial arts for self defense

It is important to say right away that the best form of self-defense is to defend yourself.Avoid the fight at all costs.Although,This is not always possibleSo your two best options are:

  • Learn a mix of hitting and grappling - or
  • Learn a single subject (as listed below)

Punch and mixed martial arts fighting

In order to be fully prepared for self-defense and how to fight in any scenario where the fight may end, it is best to learn a combination of punches and grappling.

  • You must know how to use punches.including kicks, punches, knees and elbows, how to use head movement to avoid punches, and how to raise your hands to protect your chin.
  • You need to know how to holdwhen someone grabs you and takes you down, how to use takedowns, sweeps and throws, and how to use joint blocks and chokes to finish the fight.

Learn more about strikes and retentions - check out my article:

mixed martial arts(MMA) is the discipline of learning a combination of martial arts and their most effective techniques. A learning mix isTo die better preparation for self-defense.

Individual martial arts discipline.

Learning a single discipline means learning a martial art that is offeredeffective workoutand hasproved his worth(More on this in the "Why" section below.)

The 5 best martial arts for self defense:

  • Brazilian jiu jitsu
  • muay thai (kickboxing)
  • Judo
  • The ring
  • boxing

However, these martial arts have their limitations. For example:

  • Judo teaches some of themost effective bidsof all martial arts
  • Wrestling teaches some of the most effective andsolide Body-Lock-Takedowns
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches thethe most complete ground combat system

But all threeNeglecting striking techniques.

  • Boxing effectively teachesfootwork, head movement and punches
  • Muay Thai (kickboxing) teaches more effectivelyElbow, knee and kick techniques

But none of them teachesground combatopresentations.

Brazilian jiu jitsu

  • Style:grabbed
  • Main focus:Ground wrestling and submissions

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) teaches you how to reduce the distance between you and your opponent and how to use fighting techniques to defeat your opponent. This includes takedowns, ground fights, joint blocks and chokes.

For more information on Jiu-Jitsu, check out my articles:

  • Jiu-Jitsu for self defense: good or bad
  • Does Jiu-Jitsu teach you how to hit?

muay thai (kickboxing)

  • Style:incredible
  • Main focus:Punches, elbows, knees, kicks and fights

Muay Thai and kickboxing are technically different martial arts, but they both teach you how to use a variety of boxing techniques and kicks to defeat an attacker.

Learn more about the amazing world of muay thai (kickboxing) - check out our articles:

  • Kickboxing vs Muay Thai: 5 main differences
  • Muay Thai for self defense: 7 main benefits
  • Muay Thai: what does it teach you?


  • Style:grabbed
  • Main focus:Stand-up throws and takedowns (with some ground fighting and submissions)

The main focus of judo is how to throw the opponent to the ground on their feet; including hip thrust, trips and sweeps. And it has a limited focus on ground fighting techniques and presentations.

The ring

  • Style:grabbed
  • Main focus:Body-Locks, Takedowns & Slams

While there are many wrestling styles, they are all extremely effective in teaching you how to close the gap between you and your opponent before securing a solid body lock and ending with a takedown or slam.

For more information on grappling attacks and self defense, check out our article:

(Video) What's the Best Martial Arts Style or School for You?


  • Style:incredible
  • Main focus:print out; both attack and defense

Boxing teaches you how to punch your opponent's body and head and how to use footwork and head movement to move around and avoid punches.

For more information on boxing, check out my other articles:

  • Boxing Fitness: What to Expect (Complete Guide)

Which martial art is cheaper to learn?See my other article:The cost of learning martial arts (with the cheapest).

What makes a martial art good for self defense (why)?

When trying to determine what constitutes a good self-defense martial art, there are a fewthree main questionsyou have to ask yourself:

  • Does the training provide hands-on experience at all levels?
  • Are you being tested against increasing resistance?
  • Has this martial art been shown to work in high-level full-contact competition?

to understand whyThese questions are important to ask., let's take a look at each of them.

1. Does the training provide hands-on experience at all levels?

When you begin to learn any marital art, it is important that you first understand the theory of what you are learning. then continue from therehands-on practical training.Some martial arts require less theoretical understanding; however, others require a lotboth are important.

"The problem is that some martial arts neglect practical training"

Theory: In most martial arts classes, you first learn the principles behind the martial arts and their techniques by performing the movements of each technique at a slow, controlled pace.

This type of training is designed to learn the theory of each technique and should teach:

  • Asthe technology works
  • Whythe technology works
  • AsThis can be used
  • EThis can be used

This training can be done in a number of ways, including:

  • treasure chests
  • Kata forms (a series of movements that are rehearsed and performed in a predetermined order)

This type of training is like saying: "In theory, so that this martial art (and its techniques) can be applied in real life."

I practice it: Here you build the theory of what you have learned and put into practice the real application and application of martial arts theories and techniques in the form of practical training.

Practical training can be:

  • To knock cushionsor a bag
  • piercewith your training partner (one by one, alternating)
  • combatwith your training partners

The problem is that some martial arts spenda long timein theory and neglect practical training. Some martial arts even require years of theoretical trainingbefore it is allowedfor practical training.

This means thatin some martial arts:

  • You may be asked to do so.earn a black belt firstbefore the “real training” begins
  • you could spend yearsno practical training
  • maybe neverreally learning how to fight and defend

This does not prepare you for self-defense.— and it's dangerous for freshmen.

Think back to when we learned to drive - in almost every country in the worldYou have to pass a theory test and a practical test.Why? Why theoretical learningonly partially prepared Of To success.

Hands-on experience is essential for true learning– especially in the martial arts!The sooner you can get hands-on training in the real world,the sooner you are prepared for self-defense. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a black belt.martial artsTraining must provide hands-on training.For all students, at all levels, as quickly as possible.

The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense (as listed above)Do not neglect practical training.

“Knowledge without practice is useless. Practicing without knowledge is dangerous.”


2. Is it being tested against increasing resistance?

Learning the theory of a martial art and being able to gain hands-on experience from day one is a good start. But what if you have to use it against one?aggressive, Totally resilient striker who doesn't deliver?

  • Has your training prepared you for this level of intensity and aggression?
  • Will your martial art still work?

To counteract this problem, it is important that the martial art you choose offersalternating your training partner's levels of resistance and compliance.Two important factors for your training:

  • Resistance:The level of strength your training partner is fighting you with, making you work harder to overcome them.
  • Observance:The level at which your training partner works with you and lets you get things done – how much you go with the flow.

This can be divided into three levels of intensity:

Lowno training partnerno resistance
Half With training partnertough but compliant
hoch With training partnerFully resistant and non-compliant

low intensity

If you are just starting out as a beginner and learning the techniques of your martial arts, self-training without resistance gives you the space to practice without anyone trying to stop you.

No resistance training includes:

(Video) Best Martial Art for Self Defense | Joe Rogan and Lex Fridman

  • treasure chests
  • Kata forms (movement sequence rehearsal)

Here you learn the theory of your martial arts and techniques independently without a training partner.

medium intensity

Once you've practiced the basics and executed the techniques correctly, it's time to add some resistance to your workout.

Resistance training includes:

  • hitting pads or a bag
  • Individual drilling with a training partner
  • Fließrollen (Grappling)
  • combat touch (blow)

during such trainingIt is important that your training partners offer some resistance to your techniques that you must overcome.

but they arestays supported so you can complete your moves and techniques(go with the flow, we're just learning).

high intensity

At this point, the workout can be as realistic as you like, with maximum resistance and non-compliance from your workout partner.

Total resistance training can include:

  • Free wheel live (fight)
  • full contact combat (punch)
  • competition training

With this type of trainingYour training partner won't make it easy for you., if you are not effective with your techniques and your skills are not enough, you will soon find out.

That's itmore like in real lifeand therefore thebetter preparation for self-defense.

The 5 best martial arts for self defense and why | legal martial arts (2)

  • Training doesn't always have to be high intensity.
  • You can increase or decrease the intensity with your training partners as needed.
  • Sometimes it works maybe with just 50-60% effort

However, in order for you to be armed with the basics of self-defense,Your training must get more and more intense to prepare you for real life.

In case you really need to use your martial arts.

3. Has this martial art been shown to work in competition?

If self-defense is your primary goal when learning a martial art, then you don't want to find out first what the martial art you're learning is actually about.proved itself in real conditionsoutside the classroom?

Happily,Competitions give us a great idea of ​​how effectively a martial art and its techniques work.when under the pressure of real combat conditions.

You might be thinking, "Surely all martial arts work in a real fight", but as mentioned above,Not all martial arts are effective forms of self-defense.

fake martial arts

Throughout history, various martial arts have developed in all corners of the earth out of the need to defend against attackers.

Unfortunately, there have long been some suspicious-looking ones."cult"There are also martial arts.

These false forms of martial arts were irresponsibly manufactured simply to trick people into believing a lie andpart of your money.

For example, when your teacher is demonstrating how to knock someone down with an invisible force.without even touching your opponent(we've all seen it) - so this is a good indication that martial arts definitely won't work in real life - and should be avoided.

YouTube has many examples of these fake martial arts exposed.Competition tested in real combat conditions.

MMA reveals what works and what doesn't

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) showed which martial arts work best in real combat conditions, i.e.MMA also showed us the most effective self-defense ways to learn.

MMA grew out of the age-old debate: "Which martial art is the best?"

For example:

  • karate vs kickboxing
  • Judo gegen Jiu-Jitsu
  • Strike against grappling

For more information on Striking Vs Grappling, check out our other article:

Since then, MMA has become popular, evolving into its own form of fighting..

Nowadays,MMA athletes use a combination of martial arts all mixed together.

(Video) Best Martial Art for Self Defense: Striking or Grappling? | Eli Knight vs. Ryan Hoover

Although MMA is strictly regulated by sports rules and commissions, in martial arts theMMA is as real as it gets.

Meaning,MMA gives us the perfect idea of ​​which martial arts work in a real fight and which don't.

and we can use thisMeasure the effectiveness of each martial art for self-defense in real life.

Imagine a professional MMA fighter who dedicates his life to training and becoming an effective martial artist to compete at the highest level.

why should they focussome of your energywhen learningIneffective martial art?

you couldn't.

you will only focus on itthe most effective ways and techniques of fighting.

The martial arts and techniques that areproven to work.

Because those are the tools of their trade that will help them win and rise through the ranks..

for these athletesAny time spent learning ineffective martial arts would be wasted and dangerous.

Just as a builder must master many different trades to do his job properly, an MMA fighter only needs to master the essentials.the most effective forms of martial arts.

If you want to learn self defense but are thinking about a martial art that has no place in MMA,doesn't mean it's completely useless.

However, it might be worth asking:Why isn't there a place?

Individual discipline competitions vs. Self-defense

Single discipline competitions are competitions in which only one discipline takes place.(a martial art and its techniques)They are allowed.

These competitions have been around for centuries.

We even see them at the Olympics.

However, with each individual discipline competition comes aunique set of rules governing combat.

Some rule sets for individual disciplines allow the use of techniques used in other disciplines.I would disqualify you immediately.

For example, most things you can do in Muay Thai (kickboxing)they are illegalin boxing

Therefore, it is important to ask:How much do the rules affect the realism of the fight?

For example:

  • In boxing, if one fighter grabs the other, the referee intervenes and breaks it, because it isgrabbing is not allowed
  • In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Judo, you don't have to worry about defending yourself from punches and kicks, they exist.hitting is not allowed

although in real lifeeverything goes.

In a situation of self-defenseThere is no arbiter to dissolve you.

If your training only focuses on a single discipline and set of rules, you may beform bad habitsoNegligence of the basic principles of self-defence.

ask yourself:

(Video) Combat Sports Training is BAD for Self Defense

  • Does your training prepare you for a real fight in which no referee can intervene?
  • Do you trust a set of rules to protect you?

"What might be good under the rules of a competition might endanger you in a real fight"

Not ready for self defense

When I was 13, I saw how all this could go wrong.

I started to learn my first martial art.

Butafter 18 months of training,I hadn't done it yetany hands-on practical training.

All my training was theoretical in the form of kata - these are a series of techniques to be memorized, rehearsed and performed in the correct order (but does not require hands-on training with a partner).

For all I knew, he was learning self-defense.

But on a rainy night at the local park,I was attacked and beaten.

As I lay on the cold, damp concrete of the park (with the rain and heavy footsteps), I couldn't help but wonderWhat did these kata really teach me about self defense?

I told my instructor what had happened and he explained that at my level (after 18 months and two belt promotions)I hadn't started yet "real training".

that's what he said thenHe would not begin "proper training" until he earned his black belt.

Anyone who spends decades of their life mastering a martial art (earning a black belt) will have a significant advantage over an untrained (or less experienced) attacker.

Although,Most of us don't plan on dedicating our lives to mastering a martial art.

What if you only study in your spare time?

effectiveness time(TTE) stands for: how long does it take for a person to actually do something they learn.

In terms of martial arts training, TTE can be measured by how well you can use your martial a real situation, such as full-contact training or self-defense.

How long before he can defend himself?

There are no magic rules when it comes to training. No, one size fits all. Although,18 months of effective training, usually enough to see real improvements.But even more important:

  • Did you get enough?practical training?
  • it was youtested against greater resistance?

These two questions directly determine whether you can defend yourself– and its effective time.

"EducationQualityit's just as important as trainingTeam

Consistency is also important:

  • 1 day a week:You will begin to learn the basics of your martial arts.
  • 2 – 3 days a week [recommended]:You can expect to increase your learning speed, improve the techniques you already know and reduce your reaction times.
  • 4 to 5 days a week:At this level, you will continue to increase your learning speed and start to develop instinctive reactions, which means you can react without thinking.

last thought

My 18 months of ineffective trainingdid nothing to prepare for self-defense– and left me completely defenseless against my attacker. That realization hit me with every punch and kick I got in the park that night.

But what if I turned 18 monthseffective workout– in one of the five martial arts mentioned above? Withinvest the same amount of time in training, I would be better prepared for self-defense.

  • Did my training give me practical experience at all levels?NO
  • Have I been tested against increasing intensity levels?NO
  • Did my martial art perform well in high-level full-contact competition?Yes, for some black belts

In my case,martial arts were not the problem.or problem wasineffective trainingthat I received Be careful -this can also happen to you.but not if youFollow what was discussed in this article.Start learning one of thesethe five martial arts mentioned aboveBom:

  • Each of them offers hands-on training experience.
  • Your training offers increasing intensity
  • And all showed their ability to compete

And remember mix

"The best way to learn self defense is a mixture of Grappling & Strike martial arts"


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