30 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

martial arts for self defense

While many martial arts are taught for sports or for fitness, many still hold a valuable role in providing valuable skills for self-defense. If you need to learn a martial art for your own protection or are simply curious, you may want to know what the most effective martial art for self-defense is.

Thankfully, that’s where I can help. I’ve come up with a comprehensive list of 30 great self-defense martial arts. I’ll look at why they are great for protecting yourself but also any drawbacks they have. All you need to do is read on to find out more!

Best Martial Arts for Self Defense

Before we get started, I quickly wanted to explain how I ranked the most useful martial arts for self-defense. Crucially, I’ve placed a huge emphasis on the best martial arts to learn in real-world scenarios. There are times when you may need fighting skills, such as a home invasion, stalking, bar fights, assaults, and robberies, and I’ve focused in martial arts that can help in such situations.

Another equally important point is that I’ve thought of the average person in these scenarios. This is in respect of not only the skills they need but also the panic they’ll be facing. It’s due to this reason, for example, that I’ve prioritized simpler martial arts over more complicated fighting methods.

Finally, I’ve also weighted the list more in favor of popular martial arts as they have more schools/gyms, more resources, and a better chance of finding high-class training. Without further delay, let’s get stuck in!

30. Wing Chun

Wing Chun is a brilliant martial art and one that can be an effective system for self-defense due to its focus on practical techniques and efficiency. It has an emphasis on close-quarter combat as well as the ability to attack and defend simultaneously.

The martial art’s centerline theory and efficiency of motion allow its practitioners to respond quickly to threats. It’s also a martial art that doesn’t focus too much on power, which makes it ideal for smaller fighters trying to overcome a much larger aggressor.

While they may be the advantages, there are some significant drawbacks. The martial arts squared stance can make you vulnerable in real-world situations, and the lack of grappling means you can be defenseless if the fight goes to the floor. While the speed and efficiency of Wing Chun can be good for self-defense, you’ll want to combine these skills with other fighting disciplines.

29. Bakom

Bakom would likely be much higher on this list if it was more widely known, as it can be very difficult to find a school in which to learn it. It’s a martial art that was made for the Peruvian military and shares a lineage with some of the most popular martial art forms.

The martial art remains quite obscure, but it’s designed to be deadly. When learning bakon, you’ll be taught to eliminate your enemy by any means necessary. The basis of this marital art is the integration of street fighting with jiu-jitsu elements.

While striking is a significant part of its training, it will also teach you how to use weapons, including one that is concealed. It’s a shame it’s not widely known as a master of it would be exceptional in self-defense, but there are many better martial arts further down the list.

28. Kenpo

Kenpo is a diverse martial art that originated in Japan but has expanded to have different styles, including American Kenpo. It incorporates elements from a wide variety of martial arts, which allows its practitioners to tailor their skills to adapt to different situations.

It has an emphasis on both rapid and powerful strikes but also combines that with joint locks and throws. This makes it a versatile form of self-defense, especially as it also teaches you the effective use of distance management.

The drawback here is that some of the techniques can be quite complex and hard to execute in the fury as a real-world scenario. To be confident in your techniques, you need to have consistent and quality training over several years.

27. Aikido

Aikido is another Japanese martial art and one that takes a unique approach to self-defense. That’s because a large part of its teachings are about redirection and using the force of an attacker against them. As with Wing Chun, it makes it a great martial art for those who can’t rely on their brute strength.

Unlike Wing Chun, there is a significant focus here on joint locks and throws that can help to debilitate an opponent. It’s perhaps ideal for those who hope for de-escalation rather than physically arming the aggressor.

However, that is also perhaps its biggest downside. When a more aggressive response is required, Aikido can let you down. Unless you have mastery, it can be hard to continuously control an opponent without subduing them through force.

26. Hapkido

Hapkido is a Korean martial art and another one that takes a comprehensive approach to self-defense. What helps to make it so effective is that it blends striking techniques and joint locks with throws and grappling. This range of skills will help to give you a versatile skill set.

Along with ways to hurt your opponent directly, hapkido also emphasizes fluid circular motions that allow you to redirect an opponent’s energy. It’s a martial art that allows you to subdue your opponent without always causing severe harm.

While effective, some techniques do require considerable strength and flexibility, which may be a barrier to some users. It also loses ranking points as it can be a complicated martial art to learn and isn’t as widely taught as some others on this list.

25. Kendo

The Japanese martial art of kendo is one that places a huge focus on swordsmanship. In practice, they use a bamboo sword called shinai and protective armor called bogu. While mainly a sport, its skills and emphasis on discipline and focus can translate to effective self-defense skills.

The use of swords gives any kendo practitioner a huge range of skills as it develops your reflexes and spatial awareness while also giving you the ability to read your opponents. If you have a weapon available, your aggressor won’t stand a chance against your ability.

However, it’s that reliance on sword work that is kendo’s biggest downside. Without the weapon, you’ll simply be relying on your instincts; therefore, it suffers when it comes to real-world application. Integrating kendo with other self-defense practices is a great idea, but solely relying on it can cause issues.

24. Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is one of the deadliest martial arts in the world. If that’s true, why is it so low down on the list? The reason is the barriers that exist to this being a practical self-defense method in the real world. In a bar fight, for example, ninjutsu isn’t going to have many transferrable skills.

However, the art form still teaches you a wide array of techniques as you’ll be looking at not only striking and throws but also weapons training. Alongside this, a lot of its training is about situational awareness and evasion, as well as the use of the environment.

Overall, its incorporation of both armed and unarmed techniques makes it an incredibly versatile martial art. That may be true, but while the emphasis on stealth and unconventional tactics may look great in the movies, it’s hard to incorporate them into practical self-defense situations.

23. Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do is renowned for its practical and dynamic approach to self-defense. Famously created by Bruce Lee, it has borrowed the best bits from many other martial arts to create a fighting system that is both direct and highly efficient.

The style encourages adaptability, which means it can be used in a wide range of different scenarios. A part of the reason it’s so good for self-defense is that it places a significant focus on intercepting and countering an opponent’s attacks.

Sadly, Lee wasn’t able to fully standardize the martial art before his death, and therefore, there can be differences in its interpretation. There is no fixed curriculum, which can lead to confusion regarding it being a great martial art for self-defense.

22. Sibpalki

Here, we have a Korean martial art that is rooted in battlefield techniques. Due to this, it has incorporated a diverse range of striking methods, including kicks and joint locks. Added to this, it also provides you with weaponry techniques.

One of the biggest strengths of this martial art is that it places emphasis on both long-range and close-quarter techniques. You’ll be trained to adapt to various distances and situations, which can give you confidence in using your skills in real-world situations.

Sibpalki gives you a well-rounded approach to self-defense and incorporates traditional Korean weapons, such as the jangbong (long staff) and the bongukgeom (sword). This adds an additional layer of diversity to defensive tactics.

There is no doubt it’s a great martial art, but it loses ranking marks here as it can be quite complicated and isn’t widely taught.

21. Kapu Ku’ialua

Another martial art that isn’t widely taught is that of Kapu Ku’ialua, also known as Lua. This is a Hawaiian martial art that places significance on using an opponent’s energy against them, which makes it ideal for those outmatched by a larger or taller opponent.

The incorporation of traditional Hawaiian weapons such as the leiomano (shark-toothed club) and the ‘o’o (war club) adds a unique dimension to its defensive tactics. It also places a focus on the mental side of self-defense, such as maintaining focus and having situational awareness.

Lua is perfect for those who want to address threats effectively while maintaining a composed state of mind. It faces some of the same issues as sibpalki above but it’s a highly practical martial art and one that has a lot of historical significance.

20. Taekwondo

Taekwondo is one of the most popular martial arts in the world, and a great combat sport to watch. It focuses on kicks more than any other martial art which gives it both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to self-defense.

Korean martial arts place a huge emphasis on speed, agility, and technique. While kicks may be the dominant aspect of the sport, it also teaches punching as well. This equips its practitioners with a versatile skill set suitable for a wide range of situations.

One of the most effective parts of taekwondo is the ability to maintain distance and create effective barriers against potential threats. With this, you can react quickly to high-pressure situations, allowing you to be assertive and accurately assess threats.

A negative aspect of taekwondo is that it has become a technical and tactical martial art that isn’t about hurting your opponent but more about scoring points. It means that it can be difficult to transfer its skills into real threats.

19. Judo

In this part of the list, we look at a few different grappling martial arts, starting with judo. Of course, grappling martial arts all have the same downside when it comes to self-defense situations, and that is the fact that they rely on avoiding strikes and usually getting your opponent to the ground.

However, with its focus on throws and groundwork, a talented judoka can easily dominate an untrained opponent and either subdue them or hurt them. These techniques are perfect for smaller and physically less powerful individuals to overcome a stronger opponent.

If you are stronger, then judo can be great for dominating an aggressor and ending a confrontation without violence. Such instances would be keeping a thief under control until the police arrived. A useful additional benefit is that judo will teach you to remain calm and focused in challenging situations.

Judo takes a more ethical and responsible approach to self-defense, which is perhaps not ideal in situations where your life is in danger and it’s either you or them that gets seriously hurt.

18. Wrestling

Most self-defense situations will end as stand-up fights, but if you need to go to the ground, then wrestling will be invaluable. It’s a centuries-old sport that allows you to control an opponent’s body, place them off-balance, and put them in vulnerable positions.

While originating as a sport, the principles of wrestling translate well to self-defense situations if you end up brawling. If you’re in a grappling situation, then its focus on takedowns and throws can put you at an immediate advantage. An expert wrestler will easily be able to establish full control.

This can be great in situations where you want to diffuse tensions rather than hurting an attacker. This is because wrestling gives you an acute awareness of your own body’s positioning as well as that of your opponent.

If wrestling is your only skill in self-defense situations, then you would need to rely on avoiding strikes to take your opponent to the ground, which can have some difficulties. It can also be highly technical, and it can be hard to execute these moves in the heat of the moment.

17. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Many would have expected Brazilian jiu-jitsu to be at least in the top five of this list. In reality, I feel it has some significant drawbacks when it comes to self-defense. There is no doubt it’s a fantastic martial art but as with judo and wrestling, the lack of focus on striking holds it back.

I found a fascinating YouTube video from Jesse Enkamp that showed BJJ’s complete reliance on the fight being taken to the floor. In most self-defense situations, you’re going to be on your feet, with your fists being your first line of defense.

Despite me saying all of that, BJJ is still a brilliant martial art and has been the foundation on which many great MMA fighters have built a career. Of course, the big advantage here is the submissions and positional control this martial art has.

Importantly, the leveraging techniques used mean a smaller fighter can overcome a much larger opponent. BJJ is perhaps the best martial art in this respect. If you can get the fight to the floor, then this provides a huge advantage in self-defense scenarios.

As with many martial arts on this list, BJJ will also teach you how to stay calm in the midst of battle and develop a strategic mindset. While it’s probably best to learn a striking martial art to go with it, there is no doubt about the tools you’ll get from learning BJJ.

16. Keysi Fighting Method

The Keysi Fighting Method (KFM) is a modern martial art that has been developed for self-defense. One of the best qualities of KFM is that it’s highly adaptable and focuses on instinctive movements that allow its teachings to be easily transferred to the real world.

Originating from the street-fighting experiences of its founders, KFM is designed to be responsive to the unpredictability of self-defense scenarios. One of its core principles is that it emphasizes using natural body movements and reflexes.

This is fantastic as it recognizes that you might not have the time or capacity to rely on memorized techniques in a high-stress situation. Its techniques are designed to be simple yet powerful and are perfect for use in confined spaces or crowded environments.

But as with many of the martial arts on this list, trying to find a training center close to you can be difficult.

15. Bojuka

Here, we have another marital art that can be difficult to learn due to lack of availability. However, this is another great fighting system that they claim to be the “purest form of self-defense,” even though I’m not sure what that actually means!

Bojuka is a system that incorporates a blend of techniques from many different martial arts disciplines. There is a significant emphasis on practicality, adaptability, and efficiency to give you some key survival skills.

Created by self-defense expert Luis Ruiz, bojuka empowers its practitioners to use whatever methods they need for any given situation. This is vital as self-defense situations can be complex and unpredictable, often needing quick thinking.

They are simple and direct attacks that allow you to quickly neutralize a threat and get yourself out of danger.

14. Kajukenbo

Many of the fighting styles I’ve looked at here subtly borrow techniques and philosophies from other martial arts. However, kajukenbo is a little more obvious about its inspirations as its name is a contraction of karate judo, kenpo, and boxing.

It aims to combine all those martial arts into a fantastic self-defense system. Created in Hawaii in the 1940s, it has a no-nonsense approach to personal protection. As with many on this list, it has little regard for fancy technical forms and instead focuses on pure practicality.

During kajukenbo training, you’ll learn striking techniques, joint locks, throws, and defensive tactics, providing a versatile skill set for self-defense scenarios. Its emphasis on realistic training scenarios, including defense against multiple attackers, prepares you for the unpredictability of street confrontations.

As with bojuka above, this allows you to tailor your responses to the specific dynamics of a situation. This will give you clarity and focus to take on any challenge you face.

13. Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a hybrid martial art that seeks to combine the best of karate and boxing. Due to this, it has a great range of strikes that can be delivered with the feet and fists. You’ll learn how to deliver these strikes powerfully to devastating effect.

With a wide range of gyms available, you can also get yourself into peak condition which can be important for any self-defense situation. The art’s focus on punches, kicks, knee strikes, and elbows equips practitioners with versatile tools for personal protection.

One of the key advantages you’ll learn from kickboxing is precise striking techniques. This will allow you to generate your power efficiently and hopefully end the situation with just one crucial blow. The heavy use of sparring and drills also allows you to properly prepare for real-world encounters.

However, there are a few downsides to kickboxing for self-defense. Firstly, it won’t teach you how to punch as well as boxing training would. It also has no focus on grappling and its kicks may be of limited use in close quarters.

Despite those drawbacks, it’s still a great martial art to learn hence why it’s quite high on my list. But if you want a complete set of self-defense skills, it’s best to supplement it with another martial art.

12. Lethwei

Lethwei is also known as Burmese bare-knuckle boxing so you can probably already see why it would be so good for self-defense. While there is a focus on striking with your fists, it also teaches you kicks, elbows and knee strikes.

It’s a sport that has a raw intensity that can match the chaos of a street fight. Those strikes you learn are powerful ones that can easily take down an untrained opponent with one blow. Learning proper techniques can easily get you out of most self-defense situations.

With this martial art, you’ll also learn conditioning and resilience. This will improve your stamina, durability, and mental toughness. These qualities can easily be transferred to a situation where your heart rate is rapidly rising, but you still need to make clear decisions. This is also helped by lethwei’s realistic sparring.

There is a limited focus on ground fighting, and therefore, it can be a little limiting, and its emphasis on bare-knuckle fighting can lead to a higher risk of injuries. Sadly, it’s not widely taught in the Western world, and finding high-quality tutoring can be difficult.

11. Bokator

Let’s move on from a Burmese marital art to a Cambodian one. Bokator has roots dating back thousands of years. It not only focuses on grappling and striking but will also teach you weaponry techniques.

The martial art isn’t for everyone as it places a large emphasis on fluid movements and agility. Training in bokator will not only enhance your physical fitness, but it will also work to improve your situational awareness and mental acuity.

Its techniques are more elaborate than those of many other martial arts, and this may be a significant barrier to some people. It also takes time and effort to master and therefore it’s not ideal for those wanting to quickly learn a martial art for self-defense.

Added to its difficulties is a lack of standardized training and accessibility outside Cambodia. Despite those drawbacks, its multifaceted approach can make it a valuable option for self-defense enthusiasts who want to learn a brilliant and historical martial art.

10. Shaolin Kung Fu

Originating from the Shaolin Temple in China, Shaolin Kung Fu takes a complete approach to martial arts. It not only has a practical application, but it also focuses on spiritual and mental development to give you a well-rounded skill set.

A part of what makes this martial art so great is its diverse range of techniques. These include striking, kicks, throws, and joint locks. It means that whatever self-defense scenario you are in, you’ll have a useful technique to protect yourself.

The biggest drawback of Shaolin Kung Fu is the high level of complexity in its forms and techniques. You’ll need to commit to a huge amount of practice and have patience with your development. Due to this, it’s probably not ideal for those looking for quick results.

The emphasis on discipline, flexibility, and internal energy cultivation makes this a great martial art for anyone looking to put their heart and soul into learning a traditional fighting style. Shaolin Kung Fu’s rich history, cultural significance, and comprehensive approach make it a compelling choice for those seeking both a physical and spiritual self-defense practice.

9. Karate

Originating from Okinawa, Japan, karate is not only a highly effective martial art but one that is highly accessible. I gave it extra ranking points for this list as most towns or cities will have several clubs or dojos where you can get high-quality teaching.

Karate’s beauty comes from its effectiveness and simplicity. While its techniques can take a long time to master, they can be understood quite quickly. These techniques focus on powerful strikes, kicks, and blocks with an emphasis on speed and precision.

Karate also earns positive marks as it’s a lot easier to get to a good level of proficiency compared to other martial arts on this list, which can be overly complicated. You can learn practical self-defense skills which is ideal for those who may be in a rush to develop skills to protect themselves.

While karate is a highly effective martial art, it will also help to develop your mental focus, self-discipline, and confidence. Physically, it will also improve your balance, coordination, and reflexes, which can be useful not only in fighting but also in avoiding dangerous situations.

8. Combat Sambo

Combat Sambo is a martial art that comes from the Soviet Union and has all the benefits of judo while also combining it with striking techniques. This fusion results in a versatile and effective system for self-defense that can be used in any situation.

One of the reasons Combat Sambo features so highly on this list is due to its comprehensive approach. It covers every type of defensive move you may need, such as throws, ground fighting, and striking. This gives it a fantastic real-world application and makes it highly adaptable.

Its effectiveness has been proved by its integration into military and police training. You’ll learn how to defend yourself against both an armed and unarmed aggressor to quickly end any confrontation in a physically dominant way.

It can be a little complex to learn, and you’ll need to commit to a significant time investment to become proficient. Also, finding qualified instructors outside of Eastern Europe can be difficult, which may lead to choosing another martial art instead.

7. Silat

Silat shares many similarities to Sambo above as it’s a brilliant martial art for self-defense but one where it’s hard to find a qualified trainer. From Southeast Asia, Silat mixes in both striking and grappling techniques along with weaponry training. This makes it a formidable self-defense system.

With Silat, there is a significant emphasis on fluidity and intricate movement. This can make it quite difficult to learn for those of us who don’t have a high level of natural agility. Its complex movements can sometimes be hard to remember in the heat of a battle.

That being said, its utilization of joint locks and throws makes it particularly useful for close-quarters combat scenarios. Added to this, its wide range of styles gives its practitioners the ability to choose whichever approach they need for the specific self-defense scenario you are in.

Silat’s incorporation of both armed and unarmed combat techniques further enhances its versatility, providing practitioners with tools to defend against a variety of threats. If you’re lucky enough to have a Silat school near you, this could be a great choice.

6. Kali/Eskrima/Arnis

These terms are used to describe martial arts in the Philippines and can be used interchangeably. Kali is known for its focus on weapons-based fighting, specifically with sticks and knives but it also has plenty of empty-hand techniques as well.

The use of these weapons not only gives you vital skills but can also help improve your coordination, timing, and special awareness. It allows you to seamlessly transition between armed and unarmed combat, making it effective for scenarios where weapons may be involved.

However, the learning curve for these arts can be steep, especially for beginners. The intricate and often fast-paced techniques require consistent practice to master. And while it has become increasingly popular, it’s much harder to find a quality instructor than it is with the likes of karate.

If you can find a good school, then the skills you learn in kali will be extremely useful in a street fight or other dangerous situation. 


These are two separate fighting systems, but with MCMAP being an evolution of LINE, I’m just going to focus on that. MCMAP stands for Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, and it has been developed for the US military to be used in various combat scenarios.

It’s one of the martial arts in this list which has borrowed bits and pieces of many other disciplines to create its own fighting system. Due to that, it covers a wide range of techniques that include striking, grappling, and weaponry. This gives you the ability to respond to any situation in an effective way.

When practiced in MCMAP, you’ll be well-equipped with practical and effective approaches. The reason for that is because it places an emphasis on real-world situations and there is little in the way of philosophy or forms to learn here.

While its main focus is on effective techniques, you’ll also learn how to improve your mental toughness and discipline. It will allow you to maintain composure under pressure, where you’ll be aided by your improved strength, endurance, and agility.

Finding instructors for MCMAP can be tough but many countries will have their own similar form of military martial arts training. While MCMAP is designed within a military context, it has a lot of transferable applications for real-world civilian situations.

4. Muay Thai

A drawback of many of the martial arts I’ve looked at is that it can be difficult to find anywhere to learn them. Thankfully, the top four are all fantastic martial arts that you should have easy access to in your local area.

I start off the top four with Muay Thai, and I must admit, any of these four could easily make it as number one. Coming from Thailand, this is a martial art that looks a little like kickboxing on the face of it but is much more violent.

A popular sport, it has a straightforward and powerful approach to self-defense. Not only does it utilize punches and kicks, but you’ll also be taught how to use your knees, shins, and elbows. This versatility allows you to fight whether you’re in long or short range.

With it being a sport, you also get the benefit of full-contact sparring, which gives you good practice for when you’re not fighting in a controlled environment. It leads to a high level of adaptability in real-world situations.

Added to its fighting benefits, you’ll also vastly improve your cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and flexibility. While it doesn’t cover ground fighting, its focus on striking will prove invaluable if you need to defend yourself. If you’re looking for a fun and recreational martial art, Muay Thai is not for you. If you need valuable fighting skills, it’s perfect.

3. MMA

Many would have MMA as the best self-defense martial art and objectively, I can see why. All of the martial arts this high on the list are fantastic for martial arts. As the name mixed martial arts implies, MMA combines techniques from many different disciplines.

When learning MMA, you’ll get a well-rounded and versatile skillset that allows you to adapt to many different situations. Whether standing or on the ground, the realism of MMA training with its full-contact sparring will ensure you’re fully prepared.

The inclusion of both striking and grappling techniques addresses a broad spectrum of combat situations. If you’re coming up against a strong aggressor who has no fighting training, they’ll stand no chance against you, even if you are smaller.

MMA practitioners will also need to focus on their physical conditioning, which can have a range of side benefits, such as improving cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility. You can become a fighting machine once you’ve spent a few years in the gym.

There are very few downsides, but the intensity and physicality of the training may not be for everyone. Also, you don’t learn much about situational awareness or de-escalation. However, for pure self-defense skills, it can be hard to beat.

2. Krav Maga

As the article I linked to in the ninjutsu section showed, I view Krav Maga as the deadliest martial art. The only reason I don’t have it as number one is that it can take a long time to learn. Due to this, those looking to learn self-defense skills quickly may need to look elsewhere.

Krav Maga was developed in Israel and has been specifically designed for real-world situations. When you become a Krav Maga master, your movements will become instinctive, and you’ll make the most of its high level of efficiency.

While it can take significant learning time, most of the moves in Krav Maga are quite simple, making it a highly accessible martial art. Not only will you learn to deal with unarmed combatants, but weapons training will also teach you how to deal with armed aggressors.

Learning Krav Maga isn’t about recreation or sport, as it has scenario-based drills that simulate common threats. This is highly adaptable and when faced with a real-life attacker, you can confidently default to your training.

Unlike judo, which is focused on subduing an aggressor, Krav Maga teaches you how to incapacitate them aggressively. Finding qualified instructors and standardized training programs can vary, so it’s important to do your research to find high-quality training.

1. Boxing

Some may sneer at me for placing boxing so highly. Others may say it’s not even a martial art. However, I have some solid reasons for placing it as number one because of my view of what happens in real-world situations. If you look at street fights in the movies, you’d think that they were choreographed events where skilled martial artists could take down a dozen opponents in a matter of seconds.

However, if you watch videos of actual street fights (viewer discretion advised) then you’ll see that most of them are unrefined brawls that usually just involve punching. It’s in that respect that I’d rank the ability to strike an opponent with your fists as by far the most important element for self-defense.

In part, I’ve ranked boxing as number one because it’s so simple. In the heat of the battle, when fighting for self-defense, most regular people will lose all composure, and those technical moves in the more advanced martial arts will be forgotten.

However, when facing an untrained aggressor, the ability to punch and avoid punches is invaluable. You can learn the basics of boxing rapidly so if you need self-defense skills as quickly as possible, there is nothing better.

Another part of the reason I’ve placed boxing as number one is imagining the most likely self-defense scenario. I’d say it’s where you’re approached by a sole aggressor either on the street, in a bar, or in another similar setting. In these instances, the balance, composure, and technique you’ll learn from boxing can eliminate a threat very quickly.

Is boxing the best martial art when facing an opponent wielding a weapon? No, I’d say Krav Maga is the best there. But in this real-world situation (such as in a robbery), it’d be much more advisable to just hand over your possessions rather than risk your life.

The reason that boxers beat MMA fighters when they cross over is that boxing is such a specialist martial art focusing on just one specific aspect of fighting. Anyone who trains in boxing will become a better puncher than in any other martial art, because that’s all they’ve practiced for.

Thankfully, the reality is that you don’t need to choose. You can train in boxing to become an elite puncher while also training in Krav Maga for more dangerous scenarios. You can choose the martial arts most relevant to you and enjoy a broad range of self-defense skills.


What is the most effective martial art?

Boxing claimed my number one spot here on my martial arts rank as the best martial art for self-defense. However, a part of the reason I chose it is because it’s so simple and quick to learn. If you’re willing to dedicate yourself to a martial art, there are many others that can be fantastic for self-defense.

It takes longer for these martial arts to become second nature as you may lose technique and composure in a real-world situation. The likes of Krav Maga, MMA, and Muay Thai are all exceptional martial arts to learn for self-defense.

Is Krav Maga effective in a street fight?

Yes, Krav Maga is one of the most useful martial arts a street fight. This martial art was designed for life-or-death situations and Krav Maga will give you the confidence to face any challenges head-on. It can be a great martial art to learn if you fear that you’ll be in particularly dangerous situations.

While fantastic, it’s also important to think of the reality as most regular people would lose composure and clarity during a fight. Due to this, it can be hard to recall your Krav Maga training, especially if you’ve only been doing it for months, not years.

What is the safest fighting sport?

Taekwondo. If you’re hoping to learn self-defense skills but don’t want to go home with injuries after every sparring session, taekwondo is the best martial art to learn. You can still get hurt, but its significant amount of protective equipment and lack of full contact makes it one of the more approachable martial arts.

Which one is better karate or kung fu?

Thankfully for you, we wrote a whole article on this very subject! It’s a very difficult comparison to make for many reasons, partly because of what these two terms mean. Kung fu is a generalized term for Chinese martial arts, and there are also many different styles of karate. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, as it depends on what your goals are.

What is the easiest fighting sport to learn?

Boxing is easy and quick to learn. In a very short space of time, you can dramatically improve not only your punching technique but also how you orientate your body during a fight. While it will take years to fully reach your potential, a couple of months of boxing training will make a huge difference in your confidence when it comes to self-defense situations.

Can kung fu be used in a real fight?

Kung fu is a general term for Chinese martial arts, so it depends on what style of kung fu we’re talking about. If it’s Tai Chi, for example, then it will be almost useless. But you can see from the list that I rank Shaolin Kung Fu very highly.

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Kenny Jarvis
Kenny Jarvis
I have been practicing and studying boxing since I was a teenager. I am passionate about the sport, along with many other martial arts. While my fighting days may be over, I love channeling my passion into my writing to provide insightful blogs.