Best Martial Arts For Self-Defense

There are multiple reasons why people learn a martial art form, one of the biggest is for self-defense. Martial arts were born for survival, then in future years, this led to them becoming the basis of combat sports like MMA. You will gain many benefits from practicing martial arts disciplines, not just from a physical point of view.

Mixed martial arts aren’t only for self-defense, in fact, they can help you transform aggression into positive energy. An excessive accumulation of energy can actually have a negative impact on your health, from built-up anxiety, aggression, and uneasiness.

To regain balance, you need to discharge this excess energy and martial arts are perfect for achieving this goal. These disciplines are great for children to learn as they can help control aggression throughout life, as well as, for protection in case of unprovoked attacks. Martial arts are especially good for children that have concentration or self-control problems.

It’s important to keep in mind that martial arts must not be associated with violence, on the contrary, they teach discipline and respect. They are therefore disciplines for young and old, which manage to offer you benefits both physically and mentally.

But which martial art is best for self-defense?

List of martial arts for self-defense

Krav Maga

First on the list is krav maga, which was created by the Israeli Defense Forces. Krav maga is one of the best martial arts for self-defense. Although, in reality, it is more of a military discipline. It has become more famous and widespread in recent times and it is one of the best solutions to learn how to defend yourself against an opponent.

The basis of krav maga is built on prevention and reflexes. In the event of an attack, it allows you to use any means to win over your opponent. After it was developed by Israel Security Forces, it has now become widespread among many law enforcement agencies.

Krav Maga actually encourages students to avoid physical confrontation. If this is impossible or dangerous, it promotes the end of a fight as quickly and aggressively as possible. Attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body, and training is not limited to techniques that avoid serious injuries; some attacks can permanently injure or even kill an opponent. Obviously, this isn’t the reason to learn Krav Maga but it shows you that it is perfect for self-defense in a serious attack.

As a student of Krav Maga, you will learn to defend yourself from all kinds of attacks. As well as, counterattack in the fastest and most efficient way.

Japanese Jujutsu

Jujutsu is a type of martial art that originated in Japan, many years ago! It was created precisely for self-defense in the event that a warrior loses his weapon and is left only with his body as a weapon. It is based on knockdowns, fighting both standing and on the ground, and techniques that go to hit the nerves.

Unlike boxing, jiu-jitsu does not allow exclusion of shots. It is understood that in the assaults in the gym the most dangerous ones are avoided and that the attacker suspends his action as soon as the opponent has tapped out. The possible actions in jiu-jitsu are very varied, they aim to inflict the opponent with intense pain, operating on particularly sensitive points of the body. Or placing a limb in a strained position, with the plan to make your opponent submit.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (not to be confused with Jujutsu) is the most used Brazilian martial art among law enforcement agencies in the world. The basis of this martial art draws on strangulation and joint lever techniques. The aim is to control the opponent from a position in which he is unable to react. Once this martial art has been learned to a good standard by anyone, women, men and people of shorter stature.

Starting from the premise that much of the advantage of a bigger and stronger opponent derives from their size, and powerful blows. Someone who has practiced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will attempt to get their opponent on to the ground as that is where they can do the most impact.

By using techniques of control and submission, including joint levers and strangulation. Strength can be neutralized or enhanced by an experienced wrestler who knows how to maximize it by using mechanical force instead of pure physicality. BJJ allows a wide variety of techniques to bring combat to the ground after making a hold.

Once you’ve reached a good level you can even perfect your submission techniques with a top of the range grappling dummy.

BJJ Groundwork

Muay Thai

Another type of martial arts that you may not think of instantly for self-defense is Muay Thai. Also referred to as Thai boxing it involves using your whole body in close proximity. This mixed martial art is known in Thailand as “Eight Limbs Art”.

Each part of your body is either a weapon or part of your armor, hence the art of eight limbs. Your hands act as a dagger, shins and forearms your armor that protects you from blows. Elbows, legs and knees are the other parts of your body that act as weapons.

Muay Thai dates back hundreds of years and has been adapted over time. In fact, Muay Thai was introduced for the Thai army’s military training back when the Kingdom was under attack. The intensity of Muay Thai means that it is perfect for self-defense. In modern-day Muay Thai athletes use shin guards, gloves, and specific Muay Thai shorts.

Muay Thai is now a recognized martial art worldwide and is even going to feature in the Olympics at some point soon. With more expats spending large amounts of time in Thailand each year it’s no wonder the popularity of Muay Thai has grown here in the States and in other countries.

Wing Chun

Up next is Wing Chun. Wing Chun is actually a subcategory of Kung Fu, it is of Chinese origin and was developed by a woman named Ng Mui. She learned multiple types of martial arts before making her mark as the creator of Wing Chun.

This martial art promises anyone to learn to defend themselves, whether they are thin, fat, short, tall, or of any age. It is based on a straight-line technique, which leads to the most vulnerable parts to be hit. Think nose, mouth, throat, testicles (ouch), and bladder.

It is not based on physical strength or acrobatic ability and, on the contrary, allows the weakest people to defend themselves.

The beauty of Wing Chun as a martial art is the fact it teaches you how to use the opponent’s strength against him. The self-defense movements derive from tactile reflexes that are mechanically and directly determined by the opponent’s attack. In this sense, a Wing Chun practitioner is not susceptible to “feints” aimed at making him fall into error.

Also, this martial art can be learned quickly for personal defense purposes and deepened over time. It truly meets the needs of those seeking to respond to force with controlled force, which makes it suitable for self-defense. Many Police and security forces across the world, especially in Asia use these techniques.


Now for another Japanese martial art that is ideal for self defense. You guessed it, Judo!

Judo as a martial art was born many years ago. Its purpose is that of struggle and personal defense, exploiting the opponent’s strength to obtain victory. This technique involves minimal effort and focuses on personal growth.

Judo is practiced today to obtain a better psycho-physical condition by increasing athletic performance. As well as a stronger concentration, decision-making ability, self-control, and conviction in one’s own means and potential. There is a lot of practice needed in Judo, like all other martial arts.

In addition, Judo, despite being an individual sport, has a great social value due to the need in training with many companions. All this leads to enriching the experience of the individual in a climate of the general growth of the group.


Karate is by far one of the best known martial arts in the world. Again this martial art is of Japanese origin. It is hands-down one of the best martial arts for self defense. It involves using your bare hands and like most martial arts, it includes psychological work.

If you are interested in the philosophy and values that are a part of karate, you can even apply them in your daily life. The moral values promoted by the teachers of Karate (Sensei), make you understand the respect for opponents, on the tatami and in life, to remain worthy in both victory and defeat. Likewise, thanks to the color belt code, karateka becomes aware of the established hierarchy and its progress.

Karate is used as a rational training to educate the body and mind to respond to any kind of aggression. In fact, the practitioner is equipped with a wide range of natural weapons, these are the feet, hands, and knees to name a few.

Furthermore, it is considered as an extremely effective self-defense technique, so much so that it has been introduced into the armed and police forces around the whole world.

Karate Practice on Beach


Kickboxing is another martial art of Japanese origin, which has now spread to the Western part of the world. This effective martial art sees the use of both kicks and punches. It is from combining these techniques with classic boxing that has made it so popular.

The punch techniques used in kickboxing are the same as in western boxing, direct jabs, hooks, cross, uppercuts, and combinations of these. In American kickboxing, the one coming from the American Full contact karate, three fundamental formulas have been developed: Semi-contact, Light-contact, and Full-contact. Subsequently, the disciplines of Low-kick and Kick-light developed.

To make the most of the regulation, over the years the technique that characterizes each of these versions has evolved so much that it makes the setting and preparation of the athletes who practice it completely different. For example, the typical semi-contact side guard is considered dangerous and to be avoided in full-contact.

Kickboxing is quite similar to Taekwondo, if you’ve practiced that before then then you’ll most likely already be good at kickboxing techniques.


Kung Fu is the set of all Chinese martial arts and needs great practice to achieve results. In particular, it is described as a ladder, to be climbed step by step, learning the different techniques both spiritually and bodily.

Two things are fundamental to overcome every step, the guidance of a teacher, and daily practice. To climb the ladder it is necessary to understand Kung Fu with the body. For example, practice the exercises so that the body assimilates them, then to understand Kung Fu with the heart, to love Kung Fu. Finally, to understand Kung Fu with the mind meaning of the various movements).

But, is Kung-Fu good for self-defense? It definitely helps as you learn how to react quickly with the training. On top of that, you will learn how to distance yourself from your enemy, meaning they will find it hard to land successful attacks. We wouldn’t say it’s the best martial art for self defense but it’s still a great type of martial art to learn.


If you want to learn a martial art for self-defense then any of the many martial arts that we’ve listed here can help you.

There are many disciplines that help us to defend ourselves. For us, the best martial arts for self defense are the ones that country’s militaries use for training. These being, Krav Maga, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai. Don’t get us wrong other mixed martial arts are also great for self defense. Any practice that involves you training against an opponent to defend yourself will ensure you don’t come unstuck if you experience a surprise attack.

Many martial arts have points that unite one discipline to another, all have characteristics that lead each discipline to be unique and original as a whole. BecoIt is worth learning at least one.


What is the best martial art for self defense?

As you’ve already read above we believe that the best martial arts for defending yourself are Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Krav Maga. Some people may disagree with us, but the fact these are used by many country’s elite special forces tells you that these are two of the best.

What martial art do Navy SEALs use?

It has been documented by former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink that the US Navy SEALs learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu as their chosen martial art. That doesn’t mean they won’t learn others, just that this is the most important to learn first.

What is the best martial arts for women’s self-defense?

We’ll mention Krav Maga again, women also learn this type of martial art in the Israeli forces. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, aikido, and Taekwondo are also great for women’s self-defense.

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