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[EXPLAINED] 10 Best Martial Arts For Everyday Self-Defense

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Martial arts is not just a sport, it’s the best way to learn self-defense.

The world is a rough place but martial arts give you a fighting chance.

Martial arts are also one of the best ways to gain physical and mental strength.

This article will break down the 10 best martial arts for everyday self-defense.

Best Martial Arts For Everyday Self-Defense
Credit: Combat Museum

10 Best Martial Arts For Everyday Self-Defense

There are many martial arts to choose from, but some are more practical in a dangerous situation than others.

For example, studying Tai Chi (meditative martial art) or Kyudo (bow and arrow martial art) wouldn’t help against someone attacking you in the street.

The top 10 best martial arts for self-defense are:

  1. Krav Maga
  2. MMA
  3. Jiu-Jitsu
  4. Muay Thai
  5. Kickboxing
  6. Wrestling
  7. Boxing
  8. Judo
  9. Sambo
  10. Taekwondo

Let’s take a look at these martial arts in more detail.

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Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a military combat system that’s taught to the Israeli Army.

Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian martial artist developed Krav Maga in the 1940s.

It was used to neutralize threats as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Krav Maga helped individuals to survive through pre-World War Eastern Europe.

Why Is Krav Maga Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Krav Maga Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Krav Maga is based on practical defense, using your body and surroundings as a weapon.

It teaches you to maintain awareness and adapt, but also to be quick and effective.

Krav Maga focuses on attacking your opponent’s most vulnerable body parts like the groin or eyes.

It’s easy and intuitive to learn, taking about 6 months to become good enough to feel safe when walking down the street.

Different techniques taught in Krav Maga:

  1. Strikes: (Karate, and Boxing)
  2. Take-downs and throws: (Judo, Aikido and Wrestling)
  3. Ground work: (Judo and Wrestling)
  4. Escapes from chokes and holds: (Judo, Aikido, Wrestling)
  5. Empty-hand weapon defences: (Aikido)

Krav Maga encourages students to avoid fighting.

However, if you can’t because you feel unsafe or it’s impossible to leave, then Krav Maga will help you finish the fight as quickly and aggressively as possible.

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MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

Mixed Martial Arts date back to nearly 648 BC, when the Greek Army used it as combat training.

It’s a sport where all types of fighting styles have been combined.

This martial art was only raised to fame in the modern era after 1993 in Denver Colorado when Royce Gracie competed in the first UFC tournament (UFC 1).

Mixed Martial Arts has since become the most popular martial art in the world, with the rise of MMA promotions like UFC and Bellator.

Why Is MMA Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is MMA Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

MMA creates a rock-solid base for self-defense.

It focuses on filling all the gaps in your fighting knowledge and expanding your skills.

Mixed Martial Arts is an all-around fighting sport, using:

  1. Striking
  2. Submissions
  3. Grappling
  4. And more

It builds your self-confidence because you basically become a walking weapon.

Before you choose MMA as your martial arts of choice, keep in mind that the training is intense.

This is because you’re not only studying one fighting style but multiple at once.

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu originated in Brazil but dates back even further to the ancient Samurais in Japan.

It started with Carlos and Helio Gracie, two Brazilian brothers who met a Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda, a Judo world champion when he was visiting Brazil.

Maeda taught the brothers his art of Judo, they took the ground fighting elements and turned them into their own martial art known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu uses weight, pressure, leverage, and timing to take down, control, and submit opponents.

Why Is Jiu-Jitsu Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Jiu-Jitsu Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t dependent on strength and power, and certainly not on luck.

BJJ is all about overcoming opponents with flawless technique and skill, which is what makes it perfect for smaller or weaker people.

It teaches practitioners a sense of body and situational awareness which is great for self-defense.

Jiu-Jitsu creates mental strength that helps you stay calm in dangerous situations, allowing you to problem-solve more effectively.

BJJ is great at controlling a bad situation when you can’t safely get away.

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Muay Thai

Muay Thai or “Thai boxing” was developed in Thailand, South East Asia.

This martial art dates back to the 13th-century when the military trained it as a self-defense mechanism, but only became well known abroad in the early 20th-century.

Muay Thai is known as the “Art of 8 limbs” because you use your fists, elbows, knees, and shins to fight.

Muay Thai is probably the number one stand-up striking art, even for MMA fighters.

Why Is Muay Thai Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Muay Thai Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Muay Thai is a striking at that covers all ranges, from close proximity elbows to long-distance teep kicks.

It teaches you to use your entire body to fight, not only your fists.

Muay Thai isn’t only about striking, it also implements clinches, trips, and throws.

Practitioners of Muay Thai learn to quickly and fiercely counter opponents using offensive and defensive techniques, and adapt to situations in an instant.

Muay Thai is a notoriously intense cardio workout that anyone can learn, and it’s a great workout too.

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Kickboxing originated in Japan in the 1950s but became well known in America in the 1970s.

It historically developed from karate with a mixture of boxing, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and Savate.

Kickboxing is strictly a stand-up martial art, and can often be confused with Muay Thai.

The key difference is that kickboxing doesn’t include elbow or knee strikes in most competitions.

Kickboxing also employs more techniques seen in boxing, like head movement and footwork.

Why Is Kickboxing Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
Credit: One

Why Is Kickboxing Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Kickboxing focuses on kicks and punches, providing straightforward techniques to use in most fights.

It teaches proper striking techniques for both punches and kicks, without the fancy stuff you’d see in Muay Thai like knee and elbow strikes that might not interest you.

Here are some important striking options you’ll learn in kickboxing:

Basic PunchesAdvanced Punches
HooksSpinning back-fists
UppercutsSuperman punches
Basic KicksAdvanced Kicks
High kicksRoundhouse kicks
Middle kicksTeep kicks
Low kicksSpinning sidekicks

Kickboxing has many benefits like physical and mental toughness, focus, speed, and strength.

Practitioners of Kickboxing will learn the knowledge to read their attackers and respond quickly and precisely.

It will teach you to evade attacks and keep your opponent at a safe distance.

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Wrestling is one of the oldest martial art in history.

Dating back to at least 15,000 years ago.

Wrestling has been featured in many events like country fairs, holiday celebrations, and military exercises.

There are 3 main wrestling styles:

  1. Folkstyle
  2. Freestyle
  3. Greco-Roman

The most commonly trained and competed are Freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Why Is Wrestling Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Wrestling Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Wrestling is a grappling-based martial art, with an emphasis on taking an opponent to the ground and controlling them.

It’s all about disrupting the balance of an opponent by using footwork, throws, sweeps, and more.

In wrestling, you’re not allowed to use any striking.

The point of wrestling is to catch your opponent off guard and surprise them with a fast and effective takedown, which is good for self-defense.

Wrestling improves confidence, physical strength, fitness, and stability.

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Boxing is another very old martial art focusing on striking with your fists.

Dating back to 1400 – 1500 BC, and is now known as Western Boxing or Pugilism.

Boxing was added to the Olympics in Ancient Greece and remains one of the world’s most popular fighting styles.

Why Is Boxing Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Boxing Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Boxing isn’t about how hard or fast you can punch.

It’s far more technical and focuses on effective head movement and footwork which plays a big role.

It teaches you the basics of fighting and self-defense and it’s the most natural way of fighting for a human being.

Boxers are taught to be aware of their surroundings, as well as their and their opponent’s positioning.

It also teaches you discipline, which is a very difficult quality to learn.

Boxing has many benefits like hand-eye coordination, fitness, and cardiovascular health.

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Judo was developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano in 1882.

It’s a grappling-based martial art focusing on getting an opponent to the ground.

Judo is one of the most effective martial arts in the world and is even included as an Olympic sport.

It’s very popular around the whole world, so it’s easy to find a club near you.

Why Is Judo Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
Credit: IJF

Why Is Judo Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Judo practitioners are taught throws, locks, and sweeps.

Techniques of Judo include:

  1. Nage-waza: Throwing techniques
  2. Katame-waza: Grappling techniques
  3. Atemi-waza: Striking techniques

The point of Judo is to pin your opponent or make them submit by putting them into a submission hold like a joint lock.

Much like you’d see in BJJ.

Judo focuses on realistic effectiveness which means they train at full force.

It also teaches you to stay calm and maintain your presence of mind in a fight.

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Sambo is a Russian martial art developed in the 1900s.

It was used to improve the Russian military’s hand-to-hand combat skills.

Sambo is derived from amateur wrestling and includes throws and submissions.

However, Combat Sambo can even include strikes.

Why Is Combat Sambo Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Combat Sambo Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

There are two main types of Sambo.

Sport Sambo or Wrestling Sambo

Sport Sambo is a lot like old Judo.

Focusing on throwing, groundwork, and submissions.

There are no strikes allowed in Sport Sambo, as it’s mainly a grappling martial art.

Sport Sambo is more widely trained than Combat Sambo, which includes striking techniques.

Combat Sambo

Combat Sambo is mainly used by the military.

It focuses a lot on striking and also includes the throws, locks, and holds you find in Sport Sambo.

Combat Sambo striking includes:

  1. Regular punches
  2. Kicks
  3. Elbows
  4. Knees
  5. Soccer kicks
  6. Headbutts 
  7. Groin strikes

Combat Sambo is much more violent than Sport Sambo, that’s why it’s perfect for military self-defense.

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Taekwondo is a Korean martial art founded by Choi Hong Hi in the 1940s.

It was developed during and after the Second World War.

The translation for Taekwondo is “kicking,” “punching,” and “the art or way of.”

Taekwondo is based on Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power.

Why Is Taekwondo Good For Everyday Self-Defense?
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Why Is Taekwondo Good For Everyday Self-Defense?

Taekwondo is an excellent basis for self-defense because punching and kicking are the two main techniques we use in a fight.

It will teach you the correct punching and kicking techniques for keeping an attacker at a safe distance.

The main kicking techniques include:

  1. Head-height kicks
  2. Jumping spinning kicks
  3. Fast kicking

Taekwondo teaches you loyalty, respect, and self-discipline.

It also helps you gain strength, speed, power, flexibility, and agility.

All these benefits are great to have when you need to defend yourself.

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Learning any martial art is great for self-defense, as long as it provides realistic offensive and defensive options in a fight.

Also, the martial art should offer realistic sparring opportunities in training.

This allows you to test your skills against a resisting opponent, like you’d experience in a self-defense scenario.

So choose on of these best martial arts for everyday self-defense, and get started today.

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