The 7 Best Self Defense Martial Arts That You Should Know

As martial arts become more popular, more people realize how useful they can be in self-defense situations. However, there are several similarities and differences between these combat sports. So you’re probably wondering, what are the best martial arts for self-defense?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Taekwondo are all good martial arts disciplines that can help you defend yourself. Otherwise, all martial arts have tremendous benefits, including character development, fitness improvement, etc.

In the rest of the article, we’re going to examine a variety of helpful martial arts that teach self-defense skills, including MMA, which is particularly useful for self-defense tactics. So let’s dive in!

What Are The Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense?

Real-world street fighting and self-defense situations necessitate rapid and efficient fighting methods. The following are some of the best martial arts and combat sports for street fights.

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Brief Taekwondo History

Choi Hong Hi and a few army officials and martial artists established Taekwondo, a Korean martial art. It was created during and after WWII to help set the Korean martial arts scene.

Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power is the inspiration for the artwork. This is a combination of observations and hypotheses he utilized to describe a martial technique that is more effective than any other, based on rational thinking and Newtonian physics. 

Advantages of Taekwondo for Self-Defense

Taekwondo is a competitive sport; however, it was created as a self-defense martial art. Therefore, kicks take precedence over all other techniques in this martial art.

In addition, your legs are usually longer than your arms; it is an excellent martial technique for keeping would-be attackers at bay.

Furthermore, Taekwondo uses its unique activities to promote balanced growth and life improvement. This is why Taekwondo may be considered a way of life.

Therefore, we would do well to find the guiding principles firmly veiled in Taekwondo to empower ourselves to lead more worthwhile lives finally.

Disadvantages of Taekwondo for Self-Defense

For several reasons, Taekwondo is not classified among the best self-defense martial arts since it’s not highly effective in combat. 

First, Taekwondo focuses on forceful kicks, where you won’t learn many punches, tactics, and techniques. So, close combat may not be adequate to protect yourself or conquer an attacker.  

Second, Taekwondo doesn’t teach ground fighting, an essential component of combat fighting, especially self-defense or street fighting.


Brief Sambo History

Sambo is the second martial art on today’s list. It is a Russian martial art created in the Soviet Union in the 1920s to help the Russian military improve their hand-to-hand combat skills.

Nowadays, Sambo martial art is divided into three types: grappling, combat sports, and military.

Some Basic Sambo Moves

  • Casting punch: This adaptable punch comes from the shoulder and may be used to close distance or enter a clinch before executing a takedown. The term arises because the punch resembles the motion of casting a fishing line.
  • Kneebars: This grappling submission technique is similar to an armbar and can be employed alone or as a segue into other submission techniques.
  • Leg locks: Leg locks are a prevalent grappling submission technique in sambo. Leg locks are not permitted in Judo. Hence their utilization is a fundamental point of distinction between Judo and sambo.

Advantages of Sambo for Self-Defense

Strikes, kicks, clinches, throws, grappling, wrestling, and other techniques are used, similar to current MMA. However, sambo combines a fighting sport and a self-defense strategy.

Moreover, sambo athletes practice punches, kicks, grappling, and arm and leg lock to deal with their opponents.

Disadvantages of Sambo for Self-Defense

As a self-defense martial art, sambo has many drawbacks that must be considered. Let’s look at a few examples:

Sports sambo does not permit chokeholds, a disadvantage of this fighting style as a self-defense strategy.

Sambo is limited to armlocks and leglocks submissions, and other submissions (wrist locks, neck cranks, heel hooks, kimuras, etc.) are not allowed.

The practice of sambo is mainly centered in Russian. As a result, most Sambo instructors will be Russian-dominated, making it not accessible to everyone.

Muay Thai

best martial arts self defense

Brief Muay Thai History

Muay Thai, often known as Thai boxing, originated in Thailand as brutal kicking, punching, and strikes. It’s also labeled the “Art of Eight Limbs” since it includes punches, elbows, kicks, and knees.

Thai boxing has some of the most potent leg kicks in the martial arts, from elbows that cut opponents’ skin and can result in horrifying KOs to punches and clinch work resembling wrestling.

Advantages of Muay Thai for Self-Defense

Muay Thai also emphasizes the clinch, which is essential in other martial arts such as Judo and wrestling. However, it is a difficult Martial Art to learn, yet it incorporates all the skills needed for self-defense.

Indeed, Most Muay Thai fighters can knock out their opponents in close combat in a matter of seconds. Moreover, they have incredible physical strength and fitness due to their severe training.

Disadvantages of Muay Thai for Self-Defense

Muay Thai has various weaknesses in its use as a self-defense martial art. Consider the following examples:

Muay Thai does not teach all combat strategies, such as ground fighting, takedowns, etc.

Like other striking martial arts, Muay Thai is ineffective against many attackers.

Although grapplers demonstrated in early UFC tournaments, the lack of ground combat in Muay Thai is a significant problem.

However, we all know that going to the ground is the worst choice in a street battle. So while this area is weak, you may consider cross-training with MMA, wrestling, BJJ, or Judo to complete your skillset.

Muay Thai is an outstanding martial art to learn, and it will make you a genuine threat to anyone who assaults you!


Boxing is deserving of a prominent place in any self-defense article, but it is frequently overlooked. 

As most people are aware, boxing is a punch-only martial art. Even the punching is restricted to a specific belt line, which is usually about the middle-lower section of the abdomen.

Western boxing has roots that may be traced back thousands of years to ancient civilizations, and there was never a single point in the past when boxing became popular.

Humans have used it for millennia as one of the most “natural” and intuitive fighting methods. Younger people were drawn to boxing because of movies and tournaments, but the sport never had a shortage of fans or fighters.

Advantages of Boxing for Self-Defense

The art of Boxing is one of the best martial arts for self-defense that you should learn. This is because you acquire a wide range of fighting abilities at a high level.

Therefore, you will understand how fighting works and the ability to knock someone out if necessary.

Furthermore, you don’t use punching and speed bags to train boxing. Footwork is a significant part of boxing and perhaps one of the most challenging aspects to perfect.

As you may know, these fantastic techniques allowed Muhammad Ali to maintain appropriate range, adjust stances, and “dance around his opponent.” In addition, this footwork will make you highly agile and, well, fast on your feet. 

Furthermore, hand-eye coordination, overall fitness, cardiovascular health, and other perks are just a few of the advantages of boxing training, all of which can be useful in self-defense situations.

Moreover, at the basic levels, learning boxing is quite simple, so the learning curve isn’t too high until you reach the professional level, which is more than enough to protect yourself.

Disadvantages of Boxing for Self-Defense

Boxing for self-defense has some disadvantages; let’s take a glance at the following examples:

  • Boxing tactics are inadequately diverse enough to train you for all self-defense circumstances because you and the attacker will be injured.
  • Ground fighting is not taught in boxing courses. As a result, a boxer will struggle to fight on the ground or accomplish takedowns.
  • Like Brazilian jiu-jitsu and other grappling martial arts, boxing does not teach students to protect themselves against kicks and weapons. Otherwise, it is ineffective against many attackers.


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Judo is the following martial art on the list. It is one of the most traditional martial arts globally. In addition, it has been recognized as the martial art of intention for many people, including MMA competitors and Russia’s president.

Advantages of Judo for Self-defense

Judo’s single-minded commitment to throwing people to the ground makes it so effective for self-defense. Throwing onto a thick Judo mat might take the wind out of your sails, but throwing it onto concrete can result in serious harm.

In addition, Judo practitioners have a great sense of distance management and footwork while fighting, which is a considerable advantage for dominating an opponent.

Disadvantages of Judo for Self-defense

Judo is a fantastic traditional martial art that may be utilized to defend oneself. However, it has several drawbacks, as seen in the following examples:

  • First, judo classes do not teach striking combat techniques.
  • Most judo techniques are offered in regular training using the Gi uniform, making operating in real fighting situations hard.
  • Like other martial arts listed here, Judo is useless against several attackers. 

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA stands for “Mixed Martial Arts,” It has recently gained popularity. It combines the finest of every martial art method. Indeed, it also offers a lot of practical self-defense techniques.

Advantages of MMA for Self-defense

MMA training provides the fighter with diverse styles and methods in a fighting style competition.

Because you learn all types of combat in MMA, it’s ideal for self-defense. You’ll learn stand-up fighting, ground-and-pound, grappling, and other skills in MMA.

As the unique martial arts trained for cage fighting are primarily learned for demolishing fighters in the octagon, MMA has gained an excellent reputation for self-defense. So let’s hope you won’t have to defend yourself against a skilled fighter in public. 

However, if you find yourself in a scheme where you or your loved ones are in danger, learning valuable mixed martial arts is ideal.

Disadvantages of MMA for Self-defense

Mixed martial arts fighters are almost complete in protecting themselves or conquering any attacker. Although, they may have difficulties fighting a weapon-wielding opponent or an increased number of attackers.

Aside from that, MMA fighters are nearly ready to defend themselves or defeat any attacker. Yet, they may have difficulty dealing with a weapon-wielding opponent or an increased number of attackers.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

jiu jitsu for self defense

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best martial arts for self-defense that you should know. It became famous worldwide when it was the style used by so many to win in the early days of MMA.

Advantages of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Self-Defense

The art of jiu-jitsu focuses on ground fighting and teaches its practitioner many fighting skills, such as distance management, body hold, submissions, etc. In a one-on-one setting, BJJ is a fantastic self-defense strategy.

Indeed, jiu-jitsu is famous for its locks and chokes, which are helpful in self-defense and street fighting. Besides, it is a terrific sport to practice for fitness, fun, and other sports benefits.

Disadvantages of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Self-Defense

Brazilian jiu-jitsu has some great self-defense applications. However, it has several flaws, such as:

  • It does not teach striking techniques.
  • BJJ may be ineffective in dealing with a weapon-wielding opponent and multiple attackers.

Final Thoughts

All martial arts quoted above are excellent disciplines with generous benefits, including improving fitness, teaching exceptional skills to protect yourself, etc.

However, they have advantages and disadvantages in self-defense and street fighting situations. So, what are the best martial arts for self-defense?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts are among the best practical fighting disciplines for self-defense. However, combining many martial arts may also be best for your objectives, as a combination of BJJ, Muay Thai, and Boxing.

Furthermore, whatever martial art you choose will help you get into a routine, train your body and mind, understand how to defend yourself, and have fun along the way.

Otherwise, following your passion may be the best option because you will overcome all obstacles and transform a martial art discipline into a lifestyle.

I hope this article helped you find the best martial art for self-defense. As a result, you’ll have fun and enjoy your training so much that you’ll want to keep doing it for a long time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does a Martial Art Mean?

Martial arts have been employed to protect a nation’s cultural legacy. Otherwise, it is a system of combat used for self-defense, military and law enforcement applications, competitiveness, physical, mental, spiritual development, and entertainment.

Although martial art has come to be linked with East Asian fighting styles, it was first used in the 1550s to refer to European combat methods. 

What Do Martial Arts Teach You?

Martial arts training is one activity that improves your fighting skills and refines your overall health.

Training them will benefit you in various ways, including discipline, physical fitness, and humility. In addition, people have been using these fighting arts as self-defense for decades to save themselves.