🥋 Martial Defense 🥋

With over 170 martial arts around the world, which are the most effective for self-defense in a real-life situation?


The confidence to keep a situation from escalating into violence and, if necessary, protect yourself or your loved ones has a cascade of psychological and emotional benefits.


two boxers sparring


  • Teaches you how to keep your distance and not being hit using footwork and head movement
  • Improves speed and strength in your hands
  • Includes a lot of sparring
  • Helps you overcome the fear of fighting because you get hit often


  • No ground game or takedown defense
  • Doesn’t teach how to defend against dirty techniques or weapons
  • Lack of clinch fighting
  • Doesn’t teach you how to defend against kicks

Muay Thai

Muay thai fighters


  • Complete stand-up martial art that teaches how to use all limbs to do damage
  • You will know how to strike at a distance using kicks and punches
  • Teaches knees and elbows in the clinch as well as sweeps and throws


  • Doesn’t teach you how to stop takedowns or fight on the ground
  • Lack of dirty techniques, weapons, and illegal tactics

Krav Maga

man demonstrating arm lock

  • Realistic training teaches you how to deal with various weapons
  • You will learn how to use and defend against dirty techniques
  • Combines striking techniques from various martial arts
  • You can’t mimic the power of an actual attack with a real weapon and violent intention
  • It doesn’t include any type of competition or sparring
  • Most of the attacks in training are not spontaneous and are pre-arranged


two men sparring in karate

  • Powerful kicks
  • Good outfighting
  • Explosive footwork
  • Good countering
  • Doesn't have full contact or continuous fighting
  • Doesn't often deal with leg kicks It is not a realistic method of self-defense on its own
  • Little grappling or sparring
  • Many McDojos


two men wrestling in competition

  • Great for controlling whether you stand up or go to the ground
  • Ground and Pound
  • No finishers
  • No submission defense
  • No strike defense

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

man in shoulder lock

  • Techniques work in real life and are very effective against taller or heavier opponents
  • Teaches how to take the assailant down using judo and wrestling moves
  • Submissions are very effective on the ground
  • Includes a lot of sparring for real-world situations
  • No striking or defense against kicks and punches
  • You won’t learn how to defend against dirty techniques or weapons
  • Not great against multiple attackers


Man using judo throw on another

  • Offensive instincts
  • Grip fighting 
  • Many low-risk throws and takedowns
  • Great training culture
  • Poor striking defense
  • Higher concussion risk than other grappling styles
  • Easy to become over-reliant on the gi

Jeet Kune Do

Woman attacking man

  • Practical self-defense training
  • Very effective for hand to hand combat
  • Teaches adaptation & spontaneity
  • Easy to become a much better fighter in a short amount of time
  • Less structured
  • No ground game defense

🤔 So What's the Best 🤔

There are many martial arts to choose from and you should explore them all. With that said the general consensus among experts is that Krav Maga is probably the most effective art for real-world situations.


Premiere Martial Arts. (2021). History of Israeli self-defense system of krav maga. Premiere Martial Arts.

I think Krav Maga should be taught in schools. Maybe even Karate. We should all know how to defend ourselves against attacks plus these two martial arts (in particular) would help kids learn how to restrain their emotions and thoughts and how to calm down quicker. We need kids that know how to act as good humans because the world of tomorrow is formed from the kids of today.

I think that a combo of 2 or more of these martial arts would give us the best results. Mixing what you learn from each would create combinations of both attacks and defenses you can use in different situations. I would say Krav Maga plus Karate and a bit of boxing would work best?

I’ve heard of Krav Maga and his methods, so definitely one one my list to learn, but I think the most mastered people are the best because of their mental flexibility. With that being said it wouldn’t hurt to learn more than one martial art! If anything it’ll just further ensure your safety in any situation.

I fully agree. It's good to learn different arts and find what works for you.

I've always wanted to try Krav Mega or Jiu-jitsu, but I think I'm going to have to get over my fear of getting hurt first!

Krav Maga is generally pretty light as far as getting started. I wouldn't worry about getting injured.

The risk of injury in Jiu-jitsu is real, but as long as you go to a reputable school you're going to be fine.

I’ve got two picks. If the scenario was I had to pick one to place a young child in to learn self defense, boxing would be my number 1 pick.  The child would learn how to spar, throw a punch, and defend against punches.  I know one of the cons listed was a lack of  clinch fighting, but clinch fighting is a part of boxing, and a technique used often - ALA Floyd Mayweather. My number 2 pick is Karate. I’ve seen this up close and personal, because my cousins started as young children, and are now black belts. They can defend themselves against most anything.

Agreed. I think Karate gets a bad rep because of all the McDojos. It's a very effective system that is both fast to learn and apply.

This is a very helpful list of martial arts moves, including the pros/cons of each. It seems each move has a time or place that is most appropriate for it in combat or self-defense. There are so many fighting styles too, some more practical than others. I need to learn some just in case! 

Awesome breakdown of the different fighting styles and their attributes. Always found myself interested in krav maga myself

This is a great article! I know that other people, such as myself. have been wanting to learn some form of martial arts but not sure where to start. One thing to remember: while it's good to have a breakdown of the major forms of martial arts, it also comes down to each individual. Each person has to decide what is best for themselves, what works for them, what's available in their local area, etc.

Powerful breakdown of the various martial arts abilities in the self-defense realm. Martial Arts are great, but we can learn self-defense without becoming a martial artist.

Really great article. I've known that I wanted to learn self defense skills in order to be able to defend myself in case anything were ever to happen. I started by taking boxing lessons but we would just hit the bag and I did learn how to punch correctly. However, it didn't seem practical enough or maybe I stopped too soon. I read here that Krav Maga is the most practical fighting style to learn, however, it's not very popular in my area. So I will have to do more research but this article was refreshing to learn about all the different options out there.