The 6 Best Self Defense Martial Arts

There are many reasons to learn martial arts. Whether you aim for physical fitness, competition, or want to learn how to fend off violent attacks and protect your loved ones, martial arts are a big investment.  

It’s important to pick the best self-defense martial art to avoid wasting your time!

Martial arts come in different forms. Some of these techniques are great for competition while some are more effective when it comes to fending off dangerous physical attacks. If you’re looking for practical self-defense moves for protection and survival, check out the top 6 best martial arts below.

Why learn self-defense martial arts?

Protecting yourself from any physical harm or violent attack is a basic human right. In the news, you often hear about bullying, abuse, home break-ins, or people attacked on the streets and not being able to defend themselves. Self-defense training is, therefore, a basic survival skill and is accessible to everyone. 

Overall, martial arts teach not only basic self-defense but also discipline, focus, respect, humility, confidence, awareness, and responsibility. When you enroll in self-defense classes, you’re not only building your character but also new relationships. That is why many called martial arts a way of life.

So when and where can you use your self-defense skills? A lot of crimes can happen at home or on the streets. Wherever you are, you should always be ready to defend yourself and those in need.

Defend yourself at home


The basic skills you learn from self-defense classes should make you capable of defending yourself at home when the need arises. If an intruder breaks into your home, your first possible approach should be avoiding a confrontation. You don’t know what weapons the intruder may have and how skilled they are in fighting. Confronting a criminal involves a lot of risks and it’s not worth it to risk your own life needlessly.

In most cases, it’s best to keep a distance and call the police right away.

But what if the intruder wants to attack you? Or go inside the bedroom where your loved ones are sleeping? 

Those of us with families can’t afford to sit back and wait on the police to show up.

When you can’t reach your weapons or any tools right away, then your last option should be to fight bare-handed to defend yourself and your loved ones. Use the skills only to deter the criminal from hurting you and, when you have the chance, find an escape and call the police right away.

Defend yourself in public


How many times have we heard over the news about women being kidnapped or attacked on the street? Or people who are on their way home at night and randomly attacked by criminals?

We might only hear it on the news but it could happen to anyone. Crimes are unpredictable and, as much as possible, we don’t want to be part of the statistics.

Prevention is always better. If you can avoid getting into that kind of situation, then do it. If you’re a woman, avoid walking on the street alone late at night. If you think someone is following you, find a way to ask for help right away. If you can escape the situation, then do it as soon as you can.

But when a confrontation is inevitable, then at least you have the skills to fight back. Fighting using your martial arts skills should be your last option if running away from the situation is not possible.

How to Choose the Best Martial Art for Self Defense

Choosing the best self-defense martial art depends on a lot of factors. 

  1. First, you need to know your goal. Do you want a martial art skill that can be used for practical self-defense only? Are you aiming to join sports competitions? Or do you aim for physical fitness?

  1. Martial arts often differ in the techniques used to deter an attacker. Do you like styles that use striking or grappling? Or would you prefer those that are evolution or tradition-oriented? Your size and build may influence which techniques are most effective.

  1. There are many martial arts you can choose to learn, but not all may fit your current health and interest. A young and athletic person may have more flexible options than those who are trying to learn in their late 30s or 40s. Moreover, it does not matter how effective martial art is for self-defense if you don’t find it interesting to learn.

  1. Finally, you should consider the reputation of the school as well as the experience of the teacher. What values do they teach, especially to those new to the art? How do they handle safety during classes?

Top 6 Best Martial Arts to Learn

Here’s our list of the best self-defense martial arts for the average person:

#1 - Krav Maga


Unlike most of the traditional martial arts, Krav Maga is mainly designed for self-defense. This art has been used by the Israeli Defense Forces for contact fighting or staying alive in combat. 

Krav Maga focuses on these three things: (1) to neutralize the attacker, (2) perform simultaneous attack to debilitate the attacker, and (3) to defend oneself while attacking the vulnerable parts of the enemy, such as the throat, neck, eyes, and groin.

One of the best reasons why Krav Maga is a great martial art for anyone is because of its simplicity. It can be taught to anyone regardless of gender, height, or weight. You will mostly learn about disabling or moving weapons away to prevent injury. There are no definite rules for Krav Maga - your top priority is survival and you’ll be taught how to use every dirty trick to defeat your attacker.

#2 - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also gets the credit as one of the best self-defense martial arts because of its effective techniques used to disable an attacker. It first became popular among MMA fighters when Royce Gracie used the technique to defeat his opponents.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is mainly known for its choking, locking, and ground-pounding techniques to submit your opponents. You will learn how to gain control as well as positioning over your opponent to effectively use the hold, lock, choke, and joint manipulations. With leverage and right techniques, you will be able to put your attacker to the ground no matter what size.

However, when used as self-defense, this martial art is effective only in 1-on-1 close-contact fights. If you have to deal with 2 or more attackers, then the techniques are less effective. 

Overall, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not only a great self-defense martial art but also an excellent training for your body to improve strength and stamina. So if your aim is for fitness and self-defense, then this martial art is a good choice to learn now.

#3 - Karate


If you’ve ever watched Karate Kid and loved the styles used in the movie, then this discipline is for you. Karate is known as one of the oldest martial arts in the world. It’s a well-rounded discipline that uses grappling, kicking, punching, and stances techniques to defeat your attacker.

In self-defense scenarios, Karate is most effective in putting your enemy down using your arms and legs as weapons. You will also learn how to use the elbow and knee for precise striking on the weak points of your enemy. If you are attacked with weapons such as guns or knives, you can use some Karate techniques to neutralize weapons at close range.

Karate is not only effective in 1-on-1 fighting but also when dealing with more than one attacker. The discipline will also teach you how to stay calm during emergency situations and react fast for survival. However, you need to be fit and strong enough for this martial art to be truly effective for self-defense.

#4 - Mixed Martial Arts


MMA or Mixed Martial Arts features explosive takedowns, arm locks, chokes, and flashy strikes to take an opponent down. Just like what you’ve probably seen on TV, MMA is a tough sport and requires a lot of sparring and grappling. So if you want to use this technique for self-defense on the street, you need to be physically fit and strong.

The only downside of this martial art is that there will be no weapon training. But if you master the techniques, MMA will be useful in a realistic 1-on-1 street fight.

#5 - Judo


What makes Judo an excellent choice for self-defense is that the technique teaches you to throw your opponent to the ground. You’ll learn how to knock your attacker’s feet swiftly from under them. It can also be deadly when you are able to grab the attacker with a forceful throw.

Some of the techniques you will learn in Judo include arm locks, kicking, throws and zero striking, chokes, and punching. However, these techniques are only effective in close quarters and 1-on-1 fights. 

#6 - Muay Thai


Muay Thai is a popular national combat sport that originated in Siem, Thailand. It is often known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” since it targets the eight points of contact. This technique is commonly used in MMA training and can be an effective self-defense skill using your body parts as weapons.

Muay Thai emphasizes the use of knees, shins, elbows, and hands to cause bone-crushing injury to the opponent. When used for self-defense, the precise moves can be used to disarm the enemy and make a quick escape.


When you have self-defense skills, you can be confident and ready should you encounter a dangerous situation. We hope you found a martial art that will give you the confidence to defend yourself in any situation.