Feeling Lost About the Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense? Read on!

Using MMA for Self-Defense 

As MMA becomes more popular, more individuals are learning how effective martial arts can be in self-defense scenarios. People frequently ask which is the best martial art for self defense. All martial arts are excellent for developing character, especially in young children.

It’s vital to understand that while many martial arts, including Karate and Taekwondo, are excellent for developing children’s character, they aren’t particularly helpful in self-defense scenarios.

The Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

Training in Martial arts is one of those hobbies that will improve your fighting abilities. Training them will enhance your life in many ways, including discipline, physical health, and humility. 

The best self-defense is a critical component of martial arts and why people develop it. With the rise of modern MMA competitions such as the UFC and Bellator, you can now see almost all martial arts in a quasi-realistic yet safe and pressure-tested environment. This provides new and improved insight into their actual effectiveness.

It is worth noting that martial arts can be quite effective. Still, if they are not widely available in most regions of the world, They may be lower than other martial art that is less effective but more widely available.

If you’re interested in the issue or trying to decide which one to train with, this article will help you select the best martial arts for self defense. It will assist you in choosing the art that best suits you and one you can employ most effectively in prospective street fights. If you want to discover more, keep reading.


Aikido is indeed practically useless against anyone who has decent martial arts skills.

Those who constantly have to control hostile and incompetent individuals find Aikido to be of great value.

People like police officers, security guards, and correctional officers could benefit from learning Aikido because it emphasizes arm control, energy redirection, and a lot of wrist locks.

Various arts are available that will instruct you on how to subdue an aggressor. Still, security professionals cannot do this because they would suffer broken knuckles and have viral videos of them doing it. Aikido can therefore be very useful for professionals. It is recommendable to learn Aikido if you have prior martial arts training in another discipline.



Boxing is a straightforward sport because there is little to no kicking or grappling. Yet learning the fundamentals of boxing only takes a few months, while mastering it takes years.

This ease of use makes boxing a fantastic art or form of self-defense. Similar to how Judo concentrates on only one thing, boxing is excellent in punching skills.

Boxers practice in such a specific area that it is impossible to say they are “complete” in their training. Yet, they frequently have incredible footwork, defense, and swift, powerful combo punches.

Boxers utilize heavy bag gloves for training on the heavy bag and pads and different gloves for sparring. Boxers can train using full force, swiftly developing their ability, fitness, and power. The boxing fitness exercises are also fantastic.

One of the toughest and most grueling fitness programs in defensive martial arts is boxing. A boxing practice will include bag work, sparring, and many other exercises such as skipping, press-ups, and burpees.

Brazil Jiu Jitsu

BJJ is an incredible self-defense strategy when you use it one on one. However, it is vulnerable to collective attacks and defense against weapons.

The martial art, which is a descendant of Judo and is almost entirely grounded, sprang to fame when it was widely popular as a winning strategy in the early days of MMA.

The method is popular for its locks and chokes and is a strong form of fighting. These days, BJJ is more of a sport and less about self-defense. There are points to the player in the competition for guard passing, mount, and other positions.

Although BJJ is a fantastic martial art to practice for health, entertainment, and sport, and yes, it does have some excellent self-defense applications, it also has certain weak points, such as striking, knife defense, and vulnerability to group attacks.

Combat Sambo

Sambo is a famous Russian martial art developed in the Soviet Union around the 1920s to strengthen the hand-to-hand combat skills of the Russian military. It is similar to modern MMA in that it combines strikes, kicks, clinches, throws, grappling, wrestling, and other techniques.

However, Sambo has a few flaws. One of the key concerns is that, as many worldwide martial arts communities believe, it is probably not Sambo but the Russian people who make Sambo so special.

Sambo is the official fighting system of one of the world’s most powerful militaries, the Russian military. This alone gives it a fantastic reputation. Aside from that, most Sambo practitioners are Russians, Kazakhstanis, or people from the surrounding region.

It is not racist or discriminatory to remark that it makes no difference whether the martial artist is Russian or not. The country’s socioeconomic position, which has plagued it for more than a century, has made it acceptable and virtually obligatory for individuals to be far harsher than people from more comfortable Western countries.

Their toughness and hardness transfer into extreme discipline and dedication in the gym and ring, which is why Sambo is a great art form. Sambo is a militaristic version of MMA. It combines boxing, wrestling, and grappling elements into one martial art. However, it isn’t as deep in all of them as it should be. 

Most of the globe, including the United States, has very few schools. There are probably about a dozen or two operational schools in the entire country. However, the exact figures are difficult to come by. It is difficult to locate trustworthy and effective institutions, making it a poor initial choice.

If you get the opportunity to practice Combat Sambo in a Moscow training center for a few months or years, you would most likely walk out as a person who can protect yourself in several scenarios, possibly even from other martial artists. However, due to its scarcity, it trails many other arts on this list.

Why is Russian Sambo effective for self-defense? Sambo is a self-defense method and a combat sport all in one bundle. Sambo competitors learn how to deal with opponents by punching, kicking, grappling, and applying arm and leg locks.

Although Sambo and Judo are extremely similar, Sambo has a more combat-oriented approach, and as a result, it’s better than Judo for self-defense. Unfortunately, there aren’t many Sambo instructors in the world, so that you might locate a Judo club much more easily.

The Meaning of Sambo

The term “sambo” is short for “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which translates to “self-defense without weapons” in English. Sambo has three versions; grappling, martial sports, and military fighting in its purest form.

The grappling variation’s rules focus on conflict and include no strikes. In BJJ, for instance, you are pinning the opponent if you are in what is known as the “guard.” You must score points to win, but the only way to win and score the most points is to throw your opponent while still standing.

This is comparable to a KO in boxing or an Ippon in Judo. The regulations of Combat Sambo are very similar to those of MMA, except that strikes are there, and neither form uses chokes.

The military adaptation of Sambo features combative, aquatic combat and training with firearms.

Although there are differences, Sambo’s devastating throws, arm locks, and leg locks remain its basic moves. Even a skillful BJJ grappler will not be happy with the prospect of engaging in a bout with a sambo fighter.

Defense Lab

Few people are aware of Defense Lab. It is currently a multifaceted martial arts brand. From a fitness system, a self-defense system, a children’s Martial Arts system, a Krav Maga curriculum, and a combat sports system.

This broad collection of curricula implies that a DL instructor usually has a background in several Martial Arts and may offer several programs, just like any MMA school.

Defense Lab’s self-defense part focuses totally on self-defense circumstances that are both armed and unarmed, group attacks. It also now covers MMA-type opponents with its growing technique range. However, it is primarily popular for its unconventional approach to group self-defense scenarios.

Defense Lab’s tactical focus is ‘smash then enter .’The idea behind this notion is that a DL student will move into the attacker, diminishing their striking power and letting them strike at close range and use their ‘shape’ technique.

As for techniques, DL covers a wide variety. They use hammer fist blows, forearms shots, punches, low leg kicks, stomps, and elbow strikes. Both standing and groundwork conditions are part of learning.

Defense Lab is a great system for people who want to learn how to protect themselves. However, they do not wish to join in sports martial arts. The techniques are robust and have basic concepts. In addition, most of their instructors come from a background in Martial Arts or professional security.


Due to its appearance in the Olympic Games, Judo is arguably one of the most well-known martial arts. Judo is available to watch for free on YouTube and streams live worldwide. Why is this sport so effective for self-defense, then?

Judo has a lengthy heritage that dates to the samurai. However, it is now a very competitive sport of modern grappling. Judo training focuses entirely on learning how to throw, pin, choke, and armlock an opponent; no self-defense training is involved. There are no strikes or blocks (unless you look deep into the art).

Because of this, you might assume that Judo is a very inadequate system for self-defense.

Judo is particularly effective for self-defense because of its strategy of knocking opponents to the ground. A throw on a thick Judo mat can knock you off your feet, but one onto concrete will seriously hurt you.

How do you think a non-Judoka will fare against the Judo player, given that Judoka spends almost 80% of their time learning how to throw people who don’t want to go down?

You will fall to the ground violently if a Judo player gets their hands on you.

Even though Judo does not teach any specific self-defense moves, many actions are excellent for self-defense.

Judo throw


The world-renowned Karate is part of our list today. Contrary to popular perception, it is Okinawan, not Japanese. Though it is now a part of Japan, Okinawa was once an independent country and is the birthplace of most Japanese martial arts.

A thorough history of Okinawan Karate is difficult to find. The roots of Karate go back thousands of years and into the Chinese kingdom and possibly the Philippines. Nonetheless, Gichin Funakoshi is the “creator” of the art because he is the pioneer of its popularization and produced the most popular style known today, Shotokan.

Karate is an umbrella name for various minor styles and branches, the most renowned of which are Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-Ryu, and others. This is significant because the specific school and branch substantially impact the quality of the training and its efficacy on the street.

Is Karate good for self-defense? Shotokan Karate is a difficult and effective martial art that evolves to confront Western Boxing but fails. Regardless of its widespread failure versus most Western disciplines, Shotokan is still a martial art that may provide a solid foundation for self-defense martial arts for anyone learning.

It involves forceful, linear blows, blocks, and kicks. This linearity is also the source of much criticism. It lacks naturalness and is somewhat artificial due to its highly formal and linear structure. Nonetheless, it is incredibly beneficial if you train in a decent dojo and with determination.

However, while being the most popular branch, Shotokan is not the most effective Karate style for self-defense. That honor is majorly for Kyokushin rather than Goju-Ryu.

Kyokushin Karate is the tank of all Karate styles. It isn’t flashy, and the movements aren’t particularly massive, but it concentrates significantly on full-contact sparring, tournaments, and body training, turning Kyokuhshin warriors into “living tanks.”

Though it is somewhat impractical in comparison to certain Western arts, Kyokushin, like Shotokan, is more than enough to protect you on the street from most persons of ill will; yet, it is far from the most effective one out there if you want to be skillful at fighting/self-defense.

The popularity of the art created many so-called McDojos, which are shallow, ineffective, and watered-down Karate schools that exist to collect money and hand out belts as if they were free.

However, if you can find a decent Karate school near you, which is likely, do not hesitate to enroll, as it will provide you with a solid foundation for fighting should the need arise.


Keysi remains one of the best forms of self-defense systems available. It is a Spanish street fighting style by two men, Justo Duieguez and Andy Norman. It is a rugged and dynamic style suitable for someone under attack from numerous foes. It has appearances in a few movies, most notably Batman Begins.

Keysi is still a very reliable self-defense system and is highly recommendable. Sadly, the two creators of this system split up a few years ago, and Justo went on to create Keysi by Justo, and Andy Norman started Defense Lab. 

Krav Maga

The best martial arts in the world is arguably Krav Maga. Krav Maga is the official self-defense method of the Israeli Defense Forces and means “contact fighting” in Hebrew. It entirely focuses on self-defense.

Regrettably, Krav Maga standards currently vary from country to country. You get rigorous self-defense versions and much gentler ones resembling kickboxing exercise sessions.

Despite these distinctions, Krav Maga is one of the best martial arts for self-defense. Along with striking, grappling, and other skills, you will learn how to defend yourself against knives and guns. Just be sure your instructor has the necessary credentials. 

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Explosive takedowns, powerful strikes, chokes, and leg and arm holds make MMA a popular sport worldwide. The modern-day gladiators’ proving ground comes from MMA.

The disadvantage of MMA is how physically demanding the training is. Your fitness level will be on the test in a typical MMA class. You will engage in many sparring, grappling, and striking exercises and a range of specialized MMA fitness activities.

The benefit of MMA is that it quickly raises your skill levels across the board. As a result, you quickly become a capable foe for any enemy. Of course, this has the drawback that your attention diverts from self-defense to sports. There is no knife defense training or training for several opponents, yet your unarmed ability improves significantly.


Many of the martial arts or self-defense systems in this article will draw inspiration from the silat martial art. This is because Silat is such a powerful martial art for self-defense.

The foundation provides for an explosive fighting style that uses lightning-quick strikes, balance manipulation, limb amputation, and the dance-like movements of Silat. The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei mainly practice this Southeast Asian martial art. There are several origin myths surrounding Silat, but it is unknown which is true.



This is a Korean martial art founded by Choi Hong Hi and a couple of army officials and martial artists. It dates back to WWII to strengthen the Korean martial arts scene.

The work is about Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power. This is a set of observations and hypotheses based on rational thinking and Newtonian physics that he utilized to describe a martial art that is more successful than any other.

For example, one of his fundamental observations was that the force of a hit grows quadratically with speed but only linearly with the mass of the moving item, which led him to understand that muscle mass isn’t as important as speed.

Because our legs can produce faster and heavier hits than our arms, this resulted in the development of art based mostly on kicks.

Though this makes TKD distinctive, effective, and special, it is also what makes it less effective than the other disciplines on this list. Regarding self-defense, a hypothetical martial art that delivers the most potent attacks is impractical. In a street battle, a good jab is more effective than the best roundhouse kick you can think of.

Why is this so? There are several causes behind this. The most obvious is that you won’t always have adequate room to do kicks. Not just a wall obstructing your right side or people going around. It also means range-wise. The ordinary drunk or mugger will not stand a reasonable distance away from you so that you can kick them.

This will cause you to constantly retreat to avoid their knives, hands, or clinch to throw a solid kick. Shorter and closer-range kicks exist in TKD, although they are rare and are not pressure tested in training.

Aside from the likely range mismatch, TKD is not pressure tested rigorously enough. TKD tournaments are about points, so practitioners do not kick hard or confidently but rather tap the opponent here and there with their legs to get the point.

Also, TKD depends too heavily on kicking, which is a mistake because you cannot rely on knowing only one thing in a battle. It can soon devolve into a grappling or boxing contest, and all of your knowledge goes out the window.

Although TKD is a less effective street art than many others, it is nonetheless outstanding. You can still be able to defend yourself against the vast majority of individuals you encounter and develop incredible flexibility, agility, and power. However, this does not imply that it is as effective as other art forms.

Many incredibly accomplished martial artists, such as Bas Rutten and Valentina Schevchenko, began by learning Taekwondo; thus, it is a solid foundation but isn’t particularly effective.

TKD is also low on the list due to its scarcity. Even though it is one of the most popular martial arts on the planet and is available in almost all major cities, most people will be unable to access proper dojos.

The Approach

The Approach, a striking system gaining interest from law enforcement organizations worldwide, is not a martial art. Even though it only takes a few hours to learn, it can help people deliver terrifying blows.

Self-defense is problematic because you can lose to someone who hits harder than you. No matter how skillful a striker or boxer you are, your options are less if you come across someone who can outpunch you.

The solution is to be able to strike them down, and The Approach does that. No matter your size or age, it enables you to strike with incredible power. The Approach is so potent that it might permanently alter self-defense. 

The Jeet Kune Do

This is a popular martial art in the world. Jeet Kune Do’s other name is “the way of the intercepting fist.” However, there are many misconceptions about what Jeet Kune Do is.

The art, by the popular martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, is a philosophical journey for the martial artist rather than a system of martial arts. After years of exposure to and study of various techniques and practical combat experience, Bruce Lee developed Jeet Kune Do (JKD).

You can see pure brilliance on paper in Bruce Lee’s books on Jeet Kune Do if you take the time to read them. Logic supports every technical advancement, such as placing your strong side toward the assailant and other tactics.

As a result, JKD provides a thorough examination of the practical uses of martial arts with various choices. There is a good chance that no two JKD schools will be alike, but they all share a foundation of sound fundamentals. JKD is a fantastic martial art with a ton of depth and variety for self-defense. 

Thai Boxing

Any list of martial arts for self-defense should include Muay Thai. Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, is a brutal style of kicking, punching, elbowing, and kneeing.

Thai boxing is famous for producing some of the best forms of self-defense for real-life situations. It has the most vigorous leg kicks in all martial arts, is a favorite training method for MMA competitors, and is also excellent for street self-defense.

Muay Thai is a challenging martial art to learn, but it uses all the skills you need to survive on the streets. From punches and clinch work resembling wrestling to elbows that cut the opponents’ skin and can result in terrifying KOs.The main problem with Muay Thai is that it lacks ground combat.

However, since going to the ground is never a good idea in a street fight, you might want to consider cross-training in MMA, wrestling, BJJ, or Judo to round out your skill set while this area is lacking. In either case, learning Muay Thai is a great way to become a serious threat to anyone who attacks you.

Wing Chun

Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu, is lately extremely popular, thanks to the success of the Donnie Yen-starring Ip Man films. Wing Chun delivers strong self-defense skills even without any sporting applications. This close-range self-defense system is very reliable and helpful.

Of course, plenty of people would disagree, but the power of Wing Chun lies in its straightforward approach. In the art, the practitioner develops great strength and repeatedly receives strikes to the face that are almost laser-focused and feel similar to a pole struck.

Although it is unlikely that you will ever get to see Wing Chun in action, many people will disagree with the opinion that it is one of those arts that is excellent for self-defense. Strong straight punching, which is a sign of great skill, is what Wing Chun produces.

The Creator of Modern Self-Defense and Combative Techniques

William Fairburn is largely responsible for the existence of self-defense instruction. In 1907, Fairburn worked as a cop in the lawless city of Shanghai. A former soldier with fierce combat prowess and experience in actual conflict, Shanghai was a risky location where he would engage in more than 600 violent clashes.

He is the pioneer of the martial style Defendu after years of testing his abilities and learning from others. He then worked to prepare commandos for World War 2 combat.

Defendu still exists, although it lacks a strong organization, brand assets, or even a well-organized syllabus. But for years, Defendu has been the cornerstone of most combative training.

What Sets Reality-Based Self Defense Apart From Combatives?

Combatives is the name given to the self-defense style training for troops, but because it is a popular phrase, people have mainly appropriated it to refer to the self-defense techniques they instruct.

As a result, you will encounter the term “Combatives” used to designate a form of self-defense that borrows from Fairburn’s ideas but is not a replica of them.

Realistic-based self-defense (RBSD) can take any form. You may say that RBSD incorporates “the greatest elements” of many other martial arts. This implies that two RBSD classes may differ significantly from one another.

Combatives/RBSD lessons may come in many styles, but most take a similar path.

The Fence, avoidance, awareness, pre-emptive strikes, hammer fists, elbow strikes, kicks, knee strikes, eye gouges, punches, grappling, weapon use, weapon disarms, and the law are just a few of the ideas of the training classes.

The variances in how you learn these skills will primarily depend on the expertise and perspectives of the instructor. In many ways, these techniques are the fundamentals of the arts.

Which Is More Effective For Self-Defense, RBSD, or Combatives?

The quickest way to get knowledge about self-defense is through RBSD/Combatives. It teaches you the fundamentals of numerous martial arts and cuts out the “fluff.” However, picking an instructor with a strong background is crucial to guarantee that you learn effectively.

Most RBSD or Combatives teachers have a history in the military, law enforcement, or professional security.

Therefore, RBSD or Combatives teaching is a useful Martial Arts method for self-defense if you can locate an instructor that qualifies. You will have difficulty finding a combative school that trains kids in self-defense.

Top 10 Motivators for Studying Martial Arts

Martial arts are more popular in the US. It’s a fantastic decision to consider martial arts for yourself or your child. Your physical and emotional health can benefit you in so many ways. But committing to something new can be difficult.

This is why we have this list of the top benefits of learning martial arts. 

A Growth in Confidence

Martial artists of all ages benefit from greater confidence. Martial arts can boost your confidence, whether it’s for you or your child. Successfully honing a skill improves self-image and gives participants confidence that they can be successful in other endeavors.

Children who practice Karate or a similar martial art exhibit increased confidence and better academic performance. Martial arts are a great activity to boost your or your child’s self-confidence.

Full Body Training

Are you trying to find a new type of workout? Your solution is martial arts. This is because martial arts do work the entire body. Consistent practice improves muscle growth, pressure response, and overall mobility.

You will gain strength and burn fat because so many martial arts involve repetitive muscular movements over time. Who wouldn’t desire that?

Looking for a quick, intense way to gain muscle and improve strength? You can get it through Kempo. It is a full-body martial art that combines the physical prowess of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Judo, and Kung-Fu. To achieve those objectives, this martial arts system is perfect.

Amplification of Flexibility

Your overall health will benefit from repetitive movements like high kicks, low stances, fancy footwork, and groundwork that increase flexibility and mobility. Are you aware of all the health advantages of flexibility? Some of them consist of:

  • Better posture
  • A higher degree of mobility
  • Less tension and soreness in the muscles
  • Improving body and mind relaxation

Kempo is the ideal martial art for people who want to increase their flexibility because of its multidirectional movement. Try it out if flexibility is what you’re after.

Qualified Coordination

All forms of self-defense demand spatial awareness and the ability to move in unison with another person. Even the use of equipment and accessories is part of some martial arts. All these elements enhance the participant’s body and coordination and their awareness of the people and surroundings.

Many martial art systems, including Krav Maga, take cues from Kempo practices that encourage the lower body to serve as a base from which the upper body can move and perform.

Skills In Self Defense

A clear advantage of learning martial arts is enhancing the capacity for self-defense techniques in circumstances where there is a genuine threat.

Recent statistics show that aggravated assaults happen every 43 seconds in the US. Martial arts practitioners can learn how to protect themselves in difficult and life-threatening circumstances.

Lower Heart Rate And Blood Pressure

Studies show that people who practice martial arts have lower blood pressure and heart rates. That’s not all, though.

Due to its similarities to high-intensity interval training, martial arts can help to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and generally improve heart health. 

All the physical advantages of regular exercise are available to martial artists without the need to lift weights or run on a treadmill. It’s a fantastic way to enhance your health.

Improves Mental Stamina

Recent studies show that aerobic exercise, such as martial arts, causes a physical alteration in the brain that enhances learning and memory. According to the same survey, there’s a new dementia case reported globally every four seconds. Those who practice martial arts can fight this crippling condition and prevent it.

Better Socialization Skills

Social skills can improve through martial arts. This is a result of the collaborative atmosphere. Working with others who share your objectives allows you to grow and learn as a team. Children will significantly benefit from this. They can learn how to handle conflict, make new friends, and be compassionate in martial arts classes.

Being in an unfamiliar environment can be frightening for children, but learning how to handle it in a safe, controlled setting is a great life skill.

Improve Self Control

You can get familiar with structure and direction by taking martial arts classes. You must focus on the task and block out distractions in this environment. Realizing that you are responsible for achieving your martial arts objectives is also essential. This encourages independence and self-reliance.

To develop and grow, you must work hard on your own. You must exert the necessary effort to perform at your best. As you advance, you’ll develop self-discipline that will help you in all facets of your life.


Did you know that engaging in martial arts training can help you relieve stress? Focusing on the present and things in your control will frequently help you achieve this. Numerous martial arts also strongly emphasize maintaining total control over your breathing and thoughts.


Self-defense is one of many purposes for which people practice martial arts. They are systems and traditions of conflict. Martial arts come in many forms, such as Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Taekwondo, Aikido, etc. 

The practice of using all these different martial arts methods for either competition or self-defense is known as mixed martial arts (MMA).

MMA fighters pick up a lot of abilities and tactics that are great for self-defense, but no amount of preparation can prepare you for everything that could happen in a street fight. To know which martial art is better for self-defense, you must first realize that self-defense and cage fighting are two distinct concepts. 

There are certain methods that MMA fighters can use in the octagon, but there are no restrictions outside of the ring, so you must be ready and have a self-defense mentality.

Since specialized martial arts are suitable for cage fighting, they are primarily for taking down opponents in the octagon. MMA is excellent for self-defense. You can only hope you won’t have to defend yourself from a skillful combatant on the street. 

However, it’s crucial to be aware of practical unarmed combat techniques if you encounter a situation that puts you at risk.

It’s critical to comprehend the distinction between self-defense in armed conflict and self-defense in unarmed conflict. However, you must know the dangers of armed circumstances that you can’t always resolve with martial arts training. Martial arts are beneficial for self-defense in unarmed combat scenarios and even in some armed combat situations.

Leave a Comment