Which Martial Art is Best for Self Defence: Our Guide Will Tell You All You Need To Know
In this post you will learn what the best martial arts are for self defence and why.
The question of which martial art is best for self-defence has been debated and discussed on-line for years. However, it is a subject I have given a lot of thought to over the years due to my career.
As a policeman who joined the job at 18 years of age and was 10 stone in body weight, I quickly realised that I was not the biggest or strongest person in the world and this made me vulnerable unless I learned how to look after myself.
As a result, I went looking for a martial art that would give me the skills I needed to become great at self-defence. I researched every martial arts use and functionality and gave a lot of different ones a go. Sadly most were lacking.
I have compiled a list of martial arts for you, and I will give my honest view on each one and its ability for
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.
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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
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
Overall, with great fitness, powerful punches and kicks Karate is an excellent martial art for
- Karate In Action Video
- Karate In Action Video 2
9. Keysi Fighting Method
I have reviewed
Created by 2 men, Justo
Sadly the two creators of this system split company a few years ago and Justo went onto
- Video 1 Keysi in Batman
- VIDEO 2 Keysi By Justo
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 wingchunmasters.com
"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
My personal view is that Wing Chun is one of those arts that is excellent for
7. Jeet Kune Do
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
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.
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
6. Judo and Sambo
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 You Tube. 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
If you train Judo you will do zero
The thing that makes Judo so good for
What happens if you set out to make a combat system for the military that soldiers can use as a sport?
Sambo athletes train to sue 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
I have trained in both Sambo and Judo and love them both
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. 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.
The video below shows a boxer in a
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.
4. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
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
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
BJJ is a great art to train in for fitness, fun and sport and yes it does have some great
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.
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.
2. Krav Maga
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. The below video is of Keith Collyer from Cross Krav Maga showing his excellent skills.
1. Defence Lab
Defence Lab is my favourite martial art and whilst this list is not in a specific order I have to say I feel Defence
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 uses a range of elbows and 'shapes' that are created with the arms to build a fearsome style of fighting, however the training environment has zero ego's and is both fun and friendly. Check out the explosive footage from DL below to see what I mean:
So there you have it,the best martial arts for self defence.
So what are your thoughts?
Comment below and let me know.
This article was written by Andrew Holland
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