Over the course of the late 1900s, martial arts exploded in popularity!
In the fifties it was judo, in the sixties karate, in the seventies Bruce Lee helped to popularize Kung Fu, and in the eighties, ninjutsu became a popular choice.
Popular media helped to transform these once-only eastern art forms into a worldwide phenomenon.
You’ve likely heard all about these different martial arts, each one asserting that it is the most powerful, especially when applied to real-life self-defense scenarios.
But what exactly is the best martial art for self-defense? Are there any that can really help to keep you safe in a real-life situation?
If you’re wondering about this, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’re going to take you through a list of the best martial arts for self-defense, taking into account different scenarios that might occur!
What Makes A Good Martial Art For Self-Defense?
Self-defense scenarios in real-life are often dynamic and varied.
The first thing we want to explain about martial arts is that there is no single martial art that is best suited for a real-life scenario.
This is because real-life situations can involve multiple people, people bigger and stronger than you, or unpredictable environments.
Because of this, it’s best to learn different skills from separate martial arts.
With that said, it’s important to note that martial arts that rely on extensive situational drilling are going to be your worst choices for real-life self-defense.
Take for example a martial art like Aikido.
Aikido is all to do with throws, trips, and wrist locks that are not applicable to real-life scenarios against opponents who are aggressive and non-compliant.
There might be positive parts of a martial art like Aikido—for example the ceremony, community, and certain skills—but in a real-life situation, the techniques you learn are far too specific to be of any use.
Because of this, it’s important to select martial arts that involve a lot of sparring and control.
In the list below, we’ve highlighted a few of the best martial arts that you should pick up skills from to be applicable in real-life scenarios.
Best Martial Arts For Real-Life Scenarios
Wrestling is the sport of controlling another person through close-contact grappling.
This is a very good martial art to learn for self-defense scenarios as it will teach you how to control somebody while doing minimal damage.
Wrestling classes typically take you through takedowns, trips, pins and submissions.
It’s important to note here that wrestling isn’t as effective in a real life scenario if you are fighting against multiple opponents.
However, if you are one-on-one, there are few things as powerful as learning to completely overpower a person.
Wrestling is also a martial art that causes minimum damage to an attacker. So you can keep both yourself and your opponent safe.
Kickboxing is a great martial art that prioritizes staying on your feet, and causing damage to your opponent through way of kicks, punches and knees.
A trained kickboxer is going to be a master of knocking out an opponent through either a head strike or a strike to the body.
Kickboxing can be a very effective way of becoming formidable in a physical fight, and can even be effective versus multiple opponents provided you are skilled and fast enough.
3. Muay Thai
Muay Thai is another martial art that is all about consistent physical damage. It’s one of the most brutal martial arts, focusing on elbows, knees, punches and kicks.
It’s an effective martial art for a real-life scenario because of its devastating ability to harm opponents.
We’d recommend Muay Thai if you want something that will toughen you up and give you confidence.
4. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (often referred to as BJJ) is one of the most controversially strong martial arts for real-life scenarios.
BJJ is all about grappling control, but it differs from an art like wrestling due to its focus on submissions and attacks from guard (bottom position).
Like wrestling, BJJ can be a great equalizer versus a single opponent, but can be unreliable in a more dynamic situation with multiple opponents.
We’d generally suggest learning BJJ, but not relying on it for all situations.
MMA or Mixed Martial Arts is a combination of all of the arts we listed above, as well as many more. In short MMA uses anything that works against a real opponent.
If you’re able to join an MMA school near where you live, it is one of the best options you have for learning different skills that can be applied in real fights or real-life situations.
What Martial Arts Should I Avoid?
The worst martial arts for self-defense are the outdated ones that have not been tested in real life scenarios or competitions.
While it might be very appealing to belief that a martial art like Karate, Kung Fu or Aikido makes a person invincible if they achieve the highest level of skill, just know that versus a real opponent who is larger than you and who has a lot of aggression, these techniques do not work so well.
We would advise you to pick up martial arts that can be applied to real-world situations and avoid those that are only ever drilled within a dojo.
So that was our short guide on the best martial arts for self-defense.
We would massively recommend that you pick up one of the martial arts that makes up the body of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and that you learn skills that will be applicable to real-life scenarios.
Avoid any martial art that promises to be a solution or turn you into a ‘lethal weapon.’
We hope that this guide has given you some information on this topic, and you’re now more confident about where you can go to learn real skills that will help you defend yourself.