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The Best Martial Arts For Self Defense for Beginner

The Best Martial Arts For Self Defence for Beginner

Violence should be avoided as much as possible, but not at all costs. Unlike you and I, there are bad people in this world, and at times violence is unavoidable. Looking for the best martial arts for self defense?

Martial Arts for self defense 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.

There are countless reasons why one may decide to train in martial arts for self defense. That said, one of the top and most common reasons is so that they can learn moves that can protect them from harm – or even potentially save their life one day.

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 most effective martial arts for self defense 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 for self defense practice in real life situations. We hope that their insights will help you to decide on which discipline you ought to pursue.

There are hundreds if not thousands of martial arts styles out there but I’ve put together a list of the best of the best. Knowing any one of them (especially #1) can turn your body into a veritable weapon.

Every time there is violence in the news I get a dozen phone calls asking if we teach Krav Maga and how do they get started. In this case, I usually direct them to Boxing, MMA or Jiu Jitsu.

It’s highly unlikely if you are living a healthy lifestyle and your job isn’t security or law enforcement, that you will never face lethal violence in your lifetime. You will however have lots of times where you will need to stand your ground against people who don’t agree with your opinions and may use intimidation to try and enforce theirs. Jiu Jitsu gives you this confidence, fast.

No matter which way you spin it, the only self-defense tool you’re going to definitely have on you at all times is your own body. And while that might be a hard pill to swallow for some die hard tactical gear heads out there, it’s an unfortunate truth. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that you need to be completely defenseless if caught without your gear. You can turn your own body into a weapon by learning a martial art.

Through the Olympic Games, films (especially kung-fu movies), intramural sports, and the ever-pervasive internet – martial arts have become a well-known part of popular culture. But, some forms of it are better for self-defense than others. That’s not to say that they are not effective forms of exercise or even combat when practiced by devoted experts. We just know that one, the average person doesn’t have a lifetime to dedicate to a fighting style, and two, most self-defense situations call for a quick no-nonsense response in which disabling your attacker as fast as possible is the end goal. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of the best martial arts for self defense. Remember, these are not your only options, but we believe they are the most ideal to protect yourself in a worst-case scenario.

There are many different types of martial arts for self defense , but not all of them are good for self-defense. Finding the best self-protection discipline can be challenging. This article will help you decide the best martial arts for self-defense. From ancient martial arts to modern fighting systems, we will guide you in choosing the suited discipline for you.

The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA 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.


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.



Aikido has one of the worst reputations in Martial Arts for self defense 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 for self defense skills, so while it features on this list, I also need to be clear….it is not an art I would rush to do if I needed a self-defense 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.


Taekwondo has earned a reputation for being a competitive sport, but the martial art for self defense was originally developed for self-defense.

This martial art emphasizes kicks over all other techniques. Since your legs are usually longer than your arms, it is a great martial art to keep would-be attackers from getting close to you.

ONE athlete and taekwondo specialist Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen shows just how devastating a head kick could be.

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.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a Thai martial arts style and has extremely deep roots in the country. The fighting style is Thailand’s national sport and their cultural martial art.

Muay Thai experienced an almost Darwin-like evolution.

Muay Thai is not only one of the most effective martial arts styles in the world, it’s also one of the best martial arts for self defense.

The technique is designed to convert the different parts of your body into different commonly used weapons of war.

The hands become daggers and swords; the elbows strike like a hammer or mace; the knees cut like an axe, the legs bash like a staff and the shins and forearms protect the body like a suit of armor.


Western boxing is one of the biggest spectator sports in the world, but is also as effective (if not more) than many street fighting martial arts. It incorporates footwork, head movements, and a variety of punches including jabs, hooks, crosses, uppercuts, and straights. A capable boxer creates combinations of these punches to fight effectively. With emphases on counters, speed, and physical fitness, one well-timed is can be enough to knock down your opponent.

When facing unarmed assailants, boxing is one of the best martial arts for self defense styles, however, we do not suggest using it against armed assailants.

Boxing, 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.

Keysi Fighting Method

The ‘youngest’ of all martial arts for self defense 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 BodyBuilding.com, 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.


In judo, it is often said that it is not the move that matters, but the final results that count.

The results of judo throws, chokeholds, and locks can be devastating — so devastating, in fact, that you should consider learning some judo skills if you are looking for a martial art for self-defense.

A part of the Olympic games since 1964, 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.

Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki brilliantly incorporates judo techniques into his mixed martial arts game.

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.



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 2020 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.

What makes the best martial art for self defense? At the end of the day, the best form of self-defense is preparation. It does not matter which martial art you learn for self-defense. Rather, what matters more is that you can apply your martial art to every day life.

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