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What is the Best Martial Art for Self Defense?

What is the Best Martial Art for Self Defense?

Maybe one of the longest running cons in all of martial arts is faulty self defense training.

There is just something about digging into people’s fears that have led many into martial arts for the wrong reasons. It’s easy to swindle vulnerable people with a smoke and mirrors form of martial arts. Self defense classes for peoples of all ages can be a huge trap if you or someone you know have no idea what they are getting into.

MiddleEasy is here to help. Thankfully in 2019, there are a ton of options for your martial arts training. How do you know which martial arts are best for defending yourself? In a real life situation what skills do you want in your back pocket?

If you need to learn to defend yourself, the guide below will make for a good starting point.

What’s the Difference between MMA and Martial Arts?

Martial arts are defined as modified systems and traditions of combat used for various human needs. MMA is the combination of multiple martial arts disciplines. MMA includes Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Tae-kwon-do, Aikido, Wrestling and more under one umbrella.

Many skills one learns in a MMA class can be helpful in a Street Fight. All real life situations are different and a lot of MMA cannot prep a person for the more complex unarmed combat situations. When it comes to armed combat, is where certain self defense skills may come into play. Again, even the most advanced martial arts training may not resolve the dangers of an armed situation.

The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense

Mixed Martial Arts

As real as it gets? MMA has many practical self-defense techniques built in to it’s training. MMA is for for real life situations situations because a fighter can learn all forms of martial arts.

Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, and Wrestling are just a sample of skills you will learn with MMA. This combo of martial arts make for a great base as you build-up your defense technique inventory.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

“FACT: Over 80% of jiu-jitsu techniques are useless when strikes are added to the fight. In this detailed slice from the Gracie Academy Street Defense Mastery Seminar, Rener demonstrates some critical components of the Punch Block Series to illustrate the huge differences between “street fight distances” and “sport grappling distances.” To own the principle and learn the most important distance management concepts from the remaining seven positions in a fight, make your way to a Gracie Super Seminar as soon as possible!”

Throughout the years the art of Jiu-Jitsu has taught us that size can sometimes be neutralized with skill. BJJ is a grappling and ground submissions martial art.

A huge part of Jiu-Jitsu is using body leverage to out maneuver your opponent during a scramble situation. A broad knowledge can halt a wide variety of real life unarmed combat situations.

Muay Thai

“In this video, multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao from the EVOLVE Fight Team demonstrates how to use the Muay Thai long guard in a self-defense situation on the street. Evolve University is the largest world championship online university for martial arts. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Submission Grappling, Wrestling, and more, Evolve University is one of the most comprehensive mixed martial arts universities in the world.”

The art of eight limbs, Muay Thai is great for offensive and defensive techniques. Utilizing punches, elbows, kicks, and knees as striking weapons, Muay Thai will improve all of your stand-up techniques.

Adding in Muay Thai’s up close, clinch technique, makes this stand-up martial art important to improving your real life defense.


“This episode is dedicated to Russel Bakewell, who asked me for Shadow Boxing combos for self defense. Thought I would take it a step further, and introduce simple boxing tactics (plus a few bonuses) that would be useful in street fight situations… And throw in Jean Claude Van Damme for the hell of it. Russel, I hope you don’t mind. ;)”

The sweet science is one of the most popular and longstanding martial arts around. Based on footwork and head movement, boxing is a great base for defensive techniques.

Want to learn how to throw a powerful punch? Then boxing is for you. Though it provides useful training skills, punching and defending yourself while wearing large boxing gloves is much different than most hand to hand combat situations.

Krav Maga

“Fast and real techniques for raw street fights and bare knuckles boxing. End the fight in seconds! How to win every fight: train hard and become an expert. Win before it start! Krav Maga master. Starring: Luca Goffi • Brescia (Italy)”

Perhaps one of the most controversial martial arts on our list is Krav Maga. Besides your regular  punches, kicks, and grappling, Krav Maga teaches real-life scenarios like how to disarm an attacker.

Maybe not to used as your sole martial art, depending on the perspective, Krav Maga could be used as a supplement. In particular finding a good Krav Maga gym or coach may be more difficult than any other discipline. Be wary of con men and those with questionable credentials when it comes to Krav Maga.


Every martial art listed above would make for a nice starting point for a larger self defense regime. The right martial art for one person, may not be the right pick for another. Do your research, ask around the community, and take some gym tours before you make a decision.

Knowledge is power, but so is training in the evolving world of martial arts.

Want to learn more? Check out MMA Vs. Boxing: What To Train? Which Style Is More Effective here. Learn more about How To Become A MMA Fighter here.

Scroll through MiddleEasy’s best selection of the best street fighting footage here.

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