The Top 7 Best Martial Arts for Women You Need to LEARN NOW

Women are often the victims of sexual harassment and domestic violence. The statistics show that self-defense is extremely important to protect yourself (or your loved ones). Today, we’ll discuss the best martial arts for women so you can defend yourself and get out of dangerous situations. 

Best Martial Arts for Women's Self-Defense - Factors to Consider

Although there are many kinds of martial arts for women, some self-defense techniques can be effective for others but not well suited for you. Before you decide to enroll in any martial arts class, make sure that you consider the following factors:

Can take down an assailant no matter what size

Your assailant will often be bigger and heavier than you. When learning a self-defense technique, it is important to learn how to take your attacker on the ground (and escape the situation) no matter their size. Otherwise, you'll end up being on the ground, getting attacked. At this point, it will almost be impossible to get away against someone who’s stronger and heavier.

Doesn’t need a lot of strength to subdue an attacker

A good martial art technique should teach you how to subdue your attacker no matter how small or weak you are. Striking the assailant might be your first response during an attack. But, it’s unlikely you could disable them through striking without being really strong. A good self-defense technique should teach you how to put your attacker to the ground and end the assault quickly.

No “Puncher’s Chance”

Sometimes, a person who wins a fight is someone who knocked his opponent with a lucky punch. When learning self-defense, you should never consider a lucky punch to subdue your attacker. In a dangerous scenario, applying the right self-defense techniques without relying on luck and staying calm will increase your chances of winning against your assailant.

Not limited to rules

Unlike a sports martial art, you should learn every dirty trick to get an advantage over your assailant. Learn all the possible techniques without restrictions from rules, traditions, or customs to make sure that you can defend yourself when needed.

Constantly evolving and improving

Nothing is constant. Even in self-defense, your techniques should constantly evolve and improve to defend yourself effectively in any situation.

Can cover 4 different combat ranges

Combat range is the distance at which two people are positioned when fighting each other. These ranges are the kicking range, punching range, clinching range, and grappling range. A martial art technique that covers these four ranges makes it more effective when applied in an actual, stressful scenario where you have to defend yourself. Remember that an attacker is unpredictable and anything can happen. Knowing how to defend yourself at any position will make you more prepared.

The best martial arts for women - our top picks

Not all martial arts work well for everyone. That is why we have listed the best self-defense martial arts for women that we believe are beneficial and more effective for self-defense. They are:



Judo is a form of martial arts that focuses on grappling and throws. It is a practical choice for women’s self-defense because you can destabilize your opponent at close-quarters, which is most likely when an assailant attacks you, let’s say, on the streets. Women often face assault at close distances where the attacker can quickly make his move and the victim will not have time to get ready to defend themselves.

When executed correctly, judo can help women put their larger assailant on the ground and quickly move away. For example, if your assailant would throw you on the ground from a bear-hug position and you have trained and practiced well, your judo skills can quickly flip the situation and put your opponent on the ground.

Take note that judo is also more effective in close encounters, which is also dangerous. But when done properly, you can put them on the ground and quickly get away.


If you prefer a more modern and mixed approach for self-defense, then MMA is the martial art you should learn. Want to know how to put your opponent down through grappling, striking, etc.? Then learning the fundamentals of MMA will teach you many forms of attacks. Since it's the jack-of-all-trades in self-defense, you can prepare yourself from almost all kinds of combat situations, making it an effective technique to defend yourself anytime.


Known as one of the most popular self-defense techniques in the world, karate mainly focuses on strong strikes through the arms and legs. You will learn the skills used to strike a part of your opponent’s body with focus and impact to inflict damage. Practicing well on the techniques such as striking, kicking, and defensive blocking using your arms and legs will make you prepared for any combat situations.

Muay Thai or Kickboxing


Muay Thai, although more popular as a sports martial art, can also be an effective self-defense for women.You’ll learn short and long range kicks, strikes, clinch fighting, and many other techniques that involve the limbs to violently disable your attacker. 

The only disadvantage for this self-defense is that it requires physical strength. In reality, your assailant (usually a man) would be stronger and larger than you which may render the techniques less effective if you’re not strong enough to put your opponent down.



Want to learn how to effectively overcome a larger opponent using grappling techniques? Then Jiu-Jitsu might be the best for you. What makes this martial art an effective self-defense for women is that you can easily take your assailant down, no matter what size, using different techniques. 

However, Jiu-Jitsu requires you to have a close encounter with your assailant which could be dangerous. It’s always best to keep as much distance as possible between you and your assailant. But, Jiu-Jitsu can be a good last resort.

Krav Maga


Another popular self-defense martial art used by the Israeli military for combat is Krav Maga. It prepares you for violent and life-threatening encounters, which is why this technique is used by the military as a survival skill in a warzone. 

What makes Krav Maga different from other traditional martial arts is that it can use tricks and illegal moves to subdue your enemy such as throat-strikes, groin-strikes, eye-pokes, and many more. This is why it’s street-effective because the self-defense technique is designed for potentially dangerous situations. It may not be an effective skill to put down an opponent which is well-trained in MMA who has deeper knowledge in self-defense but will definitely save you from a typical assailant who would do anything to hurt you.

Benefits of Learning Martial Arts

Learning martial arts can empower women and provide them a lot of benefits, not just for self-defense. We have summarized below why you, as a woman, need to learn martial arts:

Self-Defense Purposes

The best way to keep yourself safe is to avoid confrontations and run away quickly from any potentially dangerous situations when possible. But sometimes you can’t avoid or escape a conflict and the only way is to defend yourself from your attacker. Learning martial arts will give you the tools to be ready for those situations.

Personal Growth

Learning martial arts will not only equip you with the skills to defend yourself but also help you grow personally. The experience and approaches will be a journey to make yourself better everyday.

Help Build Self-Confidence

Knowing how to defend yourself will not only save your life but also help build confidence.  

Learn One’s Limitations

Martial arts will teach you how to control yourself during a confrontation. The aim is to win and, as much as possible, avoid dangerous confrontations. You don’t learn these skills to pick fights and injure someone.

Physical Activity

Learning martial arts techniques can be physically demanding. This means you’ll be more active, healthier, and feel better.

Promotes Self-Discipline

Learning combat sports requires determination and self-discipline. Without these, you won’t be able to perform the techniques properly and may eventually give up. The discipline you will gain can not be only applied to self-defense but to the other aspects of your life as well.


What’s great about joining a martial arts class is that you’ll meet other like-minded people. Training and sparring sessions can potentially build friendships or strong bonds with new friends too.

Best female martial artists

Martial arts is not just for men, and several female fighters have proved that women can also show their strength, beauty, and athleticism in the ring. If you are looking for an inspiration, check out these famous female martial artists below:

Ryoko Tani

Ryoko Tani is the only female judoka who has ever competed at five Olympic games and won a medal in every competition.  At the international level, Tani remained unbeatable for 12 straight years, from 1996 to 2008. She is only 1.46 meters tall but that did not stop her from pursuing her passion for judo.

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is a famous actress and female MMA fighter. Her first passion was judo which made her the first American to ever win a gold medal in the Olympics. After the victory, she went on into becoming an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter where she has been known for winning her matches in just a few seconds.

Gina Carano

Gina Carano is more than just a pretty face. The American actress and fitness model has been long considered the face of women’s MMA. Although she stopped fighting for more than a decade after her loss to Cyborg, she remains one of the best female MMA fighters of all time.

Cristiane Justino Venancio

Also known as “Cris Cyborg” in the ring, Cristiane is a Brazillian-American MMA fighter and a current Bellator featherweight champion. Cris is also a former Strikeforce, UFC, and Invicta FC World Featherweight champion.  She rose to fame in 2009 when she defeated Gina Carano via a first-round technical knock-out, and later became the only MMA fighter to become a Grand Slam Champion.

Valentina Shevchenko

When it comes to female Muay Thai in MMA, Valentina Shevchenko is no doubt one of the best fighters. Shevchenko has been famous for her ring name “the bullet” because she is fast and deadly. Her professional MMA and Muay Thai debut started in 2003, and she has been fighting ever since, winning every international fight she joined. Some of her insane records include eight times IFMA World Muay Thai champ, IFMA Royal World Cup Winner, WMF World Champ in Thailand, Word Combat Games Gold Medalist, and WMC World Champion.


The world can be a dangerous place for those who are weak and defenseless, especially for women. Crimes and violence are everywhere and the best way is to prepare yourself to fight if you don’t have the option to run away.

There are many ways that you can defend yourself and in this post, we have summarized the best martial arts for women. So before you join a class, make sure that you know what your primary objectives are and make the best decision.