The best martial arts for self-defense: Our top 8 tips (2023)

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People are generally averse to violence. However, sometimes it is imperative to resort to violence in self-defense. This could be because someone is trying to mug you or piss off your friends or family, or any other valid reason.

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Using firearms or other weapons might be the first choice, but what if you don't have a weapon you don't like, like at a movie theater or sporting event? Under these circumstances, martial arts are an excellent option.

Martial arts can be learned by both sexes. except to teach youhow to protect yourself without a gunMartial arts are also a good form of exercise to develop strength, stability and flexibility.

For the best results, the type of martial art you want to practice should be chosen according to your physical characteristics.

How to choose the right martial arts style

Most forms of martial arts originate from Asian countries. It takes years of dedicated practice to master any form of martial arts style. Ideally, martial arts training begins in childhood. Just watch the excellent remake of the Karate Kid movie and see all these young Chinese guys practicing fighting. However, that doesn't mean you can't exercise like an adult.

Many people learn martial arts to defend themselves and for other reasons. Because hand-to-hand combat requires superior strength and concentration, martial arts are more than just a self-defense technique.

In Asian cultures, martial arts are associated with a spiritual and philosophical way of life. It is not seen as a mere form of exercise or self-defense technique, but as a way of life and part of the culture.

Most martial arts styles originated in Japan and China while few are known to have originated in Thailand and Korea. Japanese and Chinese styles are the oldest and most popular today. Before deciding on a martial arts style, you must determine why you are interested.

Yes, we are talking about martial arts for self-defense, and while this is one of the main reasons why people take up martial arts, there are other reasons to learn a martial art as well.

Martial arts is one of the few physical-spiritual training approaches where the mind and body must be in harmony. It is also touching for weight training, fitness and weight loss. Self-defense is just a by-product.

For flexibility and agility, Taekwondo and Karate are ideal choices. To keep fit and relieve stress, Tai Chi and Aikido are excellent. For cardiovascular exercises and weight loss, Muay Thai and Capoeira are the best. If you are interested in combat training, the best styles are Kendo, Jujitsu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do and Krav Maga.

You may also be interested in our article about non lethal self defense weapons.

time and perseverance

It takes a long time to master any martial arts style and a lot of tenacity and physical strength. Learning or practicing a martial arts style without proper guidance can lead to physical exhaustion and burnout, particularly in someone who is not used to physically strenuous activities. It also takes a lot of patience and perseverance.

You must be willing to invest a lot of time, patience and physical persistence to learn any form of martial art.

physique and personality

If you are an active and restless person, martial arts are an excellent way to channel that energy. However, if you have a calm disposition, you should choose a more thoughtful and conscious style. As there is a strong connection between mind and body in martial arts, it is necessary to choose a style that suits both your personality and your physical characteristics.

The 8 best martial arts for self defense

While there are hundreds of martial arts styles, some are more self-defense than others. Here we discuss top 8 martial arts that you can practice for self-defense.

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1. Jujutsu


Also called Jujitsu, this is one of Japan's first martial arts styles taught to samurai as a basic fighting technique. Martial arts like judo and aikido are different forms of jujutsu. As one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, jujutsu has had a huge impact on some of the most popular martial arts styles.

In ancient times, samurai were known for their deadly skills with swords, bows and arrows. At the time, these were the weapons of choice for combat.

During the fight it was possible for combatants to lose their swords or run out of arrows. Thus, jujutsu was developed for samurai to protect themselves if they faced an unarmed opponent. Therefore, Jujutsu was developed to be as effective as armed combat.

The English translation of jujutsu is "art of kindness". However, there is nothing "soft" about this martial art form.

There have been different versions of jujutsu over the years, the most popular of which is Brazilian jiu-jitsu. While traditional Japanese jujutsu dates back to 1333, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is relatively new, dating back to 1914. But almost all forms of jujutsu involve hand-to-hand combat and ground combat.

The defining characteristic of jujutsu is using the opponent's kinetic energy or aggressiveness against him.

There are many similarities between jujutsu and wrestling. Both are martial arts and involve grappling and grappling. In jujutsu, the fighter is taught to redirect the attacker's kinetic energy in a way that not only renders the attack useless, but also allows the fighter to counterattack.

Most jujutsu moves involve throwing and joint locks by applying pressure to a joint, such as the elbow or knee. When joint blocks and throws are used together, they become effective as a self-defense technique.

However, there is also a downside. Since jujutsu involves grabbing and grabbing the ground, in a real world situation, if the attacker throws you to the ground, you could be in danger as jujutsu doesn't teach you what to do when you're on the ground. Once on the ground, you have to give up.


  • One of the oldest Japanese martial arts.
  • Hochaggressiv
  • As effective as an armed struggle
  • Ideal for general fitness.


  • Not very practical for real life situations.
  • No effective knockdown skills

2. Taekwondo


Taekwondo developed in Korea over 5,000 years ago. In fact, the development of Taekwondo and the country of Korea took place simultaneously.

Korea's beginnings date back to 2333 BC. when Tangun founded ancient Korea in Asadal. In the beginning, there were three great kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula. At different times, another dynasty came to power and introduced its own fighting techniques. Too bad half of Korea is now one giant prison and the southern half is too weak or indecisive to do anything about it, but that's another topic.

There is no written documentation from this period, but it is known that people from this period were mainly hunters and had their own weapons and fighting techniques, both for subsistence and protection.

Of the three kingdoms, Silla was the weakest and had a hard time protecting itself from the other two powerful kingdoms of Koguryo and Paekje. That's why the 24heThe rulers of Silla formed a group of warriors known as the HwaRang, who were highly skilled in specialized martial arts using sword, bow and arrow.

The HwaRang also developed an ancient unarmed fighting technique called SooBak, which mostly involved fighting on foot, but the HwaRang also involved the hands.

Later, Buddhist monk Won Kang took over the leadership of the group and took martial arts to a whole new level involving the body and mind. It has become a way of life for the HwaRang.

Although this was the beginning of Taekwondo in Korea, the martial arts style as we know it today did not emerge until after 1955. At that time, there were five martial arts academies, or kwans, in Korea. Each of their martial arts styles was different.

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After several failed attempts to unite all these great academies, this only became a reality in 1955. The unified martial art form was called Taekwondo.

The defining characteristic of taekwondo is high spinning kicks. In Taekwondo there is no grappling or ground fighting; it's mostly about kicks.

If you've ever seen a martial arts movie with lots of flying punches and kicks, it was probably taekwondo. This is what makes it such an effective self-defense technique. Taekwondo is also the only martial art that is an Olympic sport.


  • ancient korean martial arts
  • unorthodox footwork
  • vigorous exercise
  • olympic sport


  • Not practical enough for self-defense in the real world.
  • Nothing for seniors.

3. Aikido


Most martial arts enthusiasts do not even consider Aikido as a self-defense technique, as Aikido is not intended to injure or injure the attacker. Rather, it is a way to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In Aikido, great importance is given to the safety of both the fighter and the attacker. Aikido is aptly dubbed "The Way of Harmony of Mind".

Aikido was developed by Japanese martial arts expert Morihei Ueshiba in the 1920s. He developed Aikido as a synthesis of several other martial arts forms, including Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu, Tenjin Shin'yō-ryū, Gotōha Yagyū Shingan - Ryu and Judo . The Daitō-ryū had the greatest influence on Aikido.

This is what Steven Seagal has mastered and used to make action movies.

Much of the technical structure of Aikido is derived from swordsmanship. As Ueshiba was heavily influenced by philosophy, spirituality and compassion, he integrated them into Aikido.

Indeed, the core philosophy of Aikido is not to injure the attacker, but to deflect an attack safely, leaving both fighter and attacker unharmed.

While this leads many people to believe that aikido is not the best self defense technique, it is actually better than most as there is less chance of getting hurt or injured while defending yourself.

Since Aikido combines different martial arts into one, it takes more time to master it. It's also one of the most complicated martial arts out there. If you're looking for something quick and easy to learn, Aikido isn't for you.

Those who later enter Aikido will need a long time to master the art of peacefully deflecting attacks without any kind of aggression.

Like jujutsu, aikido involves manipulating the attacker's momentum to redirect attacks. Grabbing and throwing are two of the defining characteristics of Aikido. Just because it's a more peaceful martial art, don't assume it's ineffective as a self-defense technique.


  • modern japanese martial art
  • Combine different styles into one
  • no aggression
  • Less risk of injury
  • Lots of catches and throws.


  • tricky moves
  • takes time to master

4. Krav Maga


This is an Israeli martial art developed in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld, a famous boxer, wrestler and gymnast.

Krav Maga means "contact sport" in Hebrew and is one of the deadliest martial arts in the world, created specifically for self-defense and protection. There is nothing special about Krav Maga. Movements can get sloppy and messy, which is not surprising given Krav Maga's origins in street fighting.

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In the 1930s, anti-Semitic groups proliferated in Czechoslovakia, with the main aim of instilling fear in the Jewish community.

Lichtenfeld, himself Jewish, decided to develop his own defense mechanism to protect himself and his loved ones. So he developed this new fighting technique and taught it to the group of young vigilantes he assembled to police the streets and protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitic hooligans.

The defining characteristic of Krav Maga is that there is no fighting technique. It is not intended for general self-defense purposes. Instead, these are life-and-death situations in which you must survive at all costs. No wonder it is the Israeli army's official combat system.

There are three core principles of Krav Maga. The first principle is to combat the threat. The second principle is to attack and defend at the same time. In most other martial arts, you must first defend and then attack.

But in Krav Maga, you defend in a way that gives you the ability to attack. The third and most important principle is to attack the vulnerable parts of the body. This includes the eyes, face, neck, neck, fingers and groin.

Krav Maga is easier and faster to learn than most other martial arts. But instead of comprehensive self-defense, it is better to use it in extremely dangerous situations.


  • easy to learn
  • Simple but effective moves.
  • Real and practical fighting techniques.


  • Only useful in street fights and life-or-death situations.

5. Wing Chun


If you've seen any of the Kung Fu Panda movies, you know that kung fu is one of the deadliest and most effective self-defense martial arts. Wing Chun is a type of kung fu, the most notable practitioner being the legendary Bruce Lee.

A traditional Chinese style of kung fu, Wing Chun is a melee martial art form that uses punching and grappling. it was on the 17thheCentury, but its history is a combination of fact and fable.

The generally accepted story of Wing Chun is that the Buddhist nun Ng Mui turned it into a martial art form that can be used effectively by anyone, regardless of height, size, or build. It was created primarily for women.

Initially, Wing Chun was taught only by Buddhist monks, later several other branches of Wing Chun developed. Wing Chun was based on animal movements, allowing the fighter to block and launch an attack effectively.

One of the most famous Wing Chun practitioners was Ip Man, a Wing Chun grandmaster and teacher of Bruce Lee. The wooden dummy used by fighters to practice the craft was also developed by Ip Man. The defining characteristic of Wing Chun is balance.

Wing Chun fighters rarely lose their balance or find themselves in a bad defensive position. Like Krav Maga fighters, Wing Chun fighters attack and defend simultaneously, but fight closely.

On the other hand, Wing Chun is mostly about the hands and does not fully involve the feet. The main element of fighting is punching and not grappling or ground fighting. This means that Wing Chun doesn't offer much opportunity for self-defense, as you have to stay in one place and fight and you can't take down your opponent.


  • All about martial arts
  • Great for melee combat
  • Excellent use of both hands.
  • Ideal for women and people of smaller stature.
  • not very aggressive


  • Not ideal for real-life self-defense situations.

6. Muay Thai


As its name suggests, this form of martial art originated in Thailand. Not only is it one of the most popular forms of martial arts in the world, it is also the most effective for self-defense. The defining characteristic of this martial art is the use of every part of the body as a weapon.

For example, the hands are used as swords and daggers, the elbows as hammers, the knees as axes, the legs as staffs, and the forearms and shins as armor. It is also called Thai boxing and is a martial art in Thailand.

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As Thailand is surrounded by other nations, it has always been attacked by other countries. At the time, Muay Thai was one of the deadliest martial arts and soldiers passed it down to the next generations.

There were several fights between Thailand and other nations and only the strongest fighters survived, who then passed on the best Muay Thai techniques to the next generations. Tony Jaa brought this type of martial art to the fore.

Over the years, Muay Thai has gone through several innovations and has become more powerful. Although Muay Thai is not an Olympic sport, it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and has also been part of the World Games since 2017. Muay Thai uses kicks and punches as well as knees and elbows.


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  • good rivet job


  • Does not involve skills or tactics to deal with more than one opponent

7. karate


Karate is synonymous with martial arts. Martial arts means karate for most people. In fact, many people tend to assume that karate is the only form of martial art.

Karate is of Japanese origin and was developed on an island called Okinawa as an empty-handed fighting technique because weapons were prohibited on the island. Karate has become a comprehensive self-defense technique due to its incorporation of grappling, kicking, punching and even blocking.

Karate is one of the most widespread forms of martial arts and it is also accessible to learn. The emphasis is on strikes, be it punches or kicks. Karate is all about punching and kicking and therefore the hands and legs are used equally.

There are different styles of Karate: Kobudo, Kata, Kumite, Bunkai and Kihon. It also incorporates Japanese cultural influences, so your mind and personality are in sync with your body. As karate uses arms and legs to fight as well as grab and grab, it is one of the most effective self-defense techniques.


  • Includes punches and kicks.
  • Combine footwork and defense.
  • Great base for other martial arts.
  • strengthens the reflexes


  • Some Impractical Self Defense Techniques
  • No full contact combat

8. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


When talking about martial arts, it is obvious to include Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Although descended from traditional jujutsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has grown in popularity over the years, mainly due to its inclusion in the UFC.

It is strongly influenced by judo, formed byJigoro Kanoearly 20'sheCentury. as one of your studentsMitsuyo MaedaImmigrating to Brazil from Japan, he began teaching jiu-jitsu to the locals, giving rise to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The Gracie brothers - Carlos and Hélio - were the first students atMaeda.But Hélio soon discovered that it wasn't for the little ones. He then decided to modify jiu-jitsu to make it suitable for those with smaller physiques, which became known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

What makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu an effective self-defense technique? It is the ability to defeat an opponent, even if you are small.

This is also the biggest difference between traditional jujutsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Almost all UFC and MMA fighters train extensively in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is also called human chess because it is very intellectual.


  • Ideal martial art for weaker or smaller fighters.
  • More ground combat
  • highly intellectual
  • Effective against stronger opponents.
  • Ideal for individual battles.


  • Not good for life-threatening situations.
  • need time to learn

Pick one, focus and commit

With all these different martial arts, the choice depends entirely on your strength, fitness, physique and level of purpose. Although all martial arts have something in common, the truth is that each of them, when practiced with dedication and mastered to the fullest, can be excellent for self-defense.

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