What is the best martial art for self defense?

Do you ever find yourself wondering which martial art is the best for self defense? After all, there are so many different fighting styles out there. And depending on what type of environment you’re in, the situation you’re facing, and your goals for self defense, each of these fighting styles might be the best choice for you. Self defense requires tactics and strategies that are adaptable to any given situation. This means finding the right answer may not be as simple as picking one style and trying it out for a few weeks until you figure out which one works best for you. You need to find something that fits your comfort level, your availability of resources, and your personal goals for self defense. Fortunately for you, we’ve done all the work for you by narrowing down the list of the top 10 martial arts that are great choices for self defence. These aren’t just some random techniques that might work in some situations but rather skills and principles that will get the job done no matter what your personal situation is or how serious your threat level is. Let’s take a look at the top 10 martial arts for self defense:


If you’re looking for a traditional martial art that focuses on grappling and striking, then karate is the best choice. While it may not be the most versatile style out there, it will reliably teach you the most important skills for self defense: how to ground and pound. Karate is a great choice for someone who wants to get serious about self defense and wants to learn how to defeat an attacker.


Like karate, boxing is a martial art that emphasizes grappling and striking. However, it is more suited to an indoor environment because of its propensity for counter punching. If you’re looking for a more club-based style of boxing that will help you take your opponent’s guard down a notch, then boxing is for you.


The more aggressive and aggressive-minded of the two, jiu-jitsu is the perfect match for someone looking to step into a fight with no experience or tools whatsoever. However, the skill set and strategies taught in this specific martial art makes you especially hard to defeat in a fight situation. Not only is it excellent at retaining your balance and avoiding damage, but it also emphasizes takedowns, subdueing an opponent, and being on the edge of your seat as you watch your partner execute a dominant “jiu-jitsu” guard. If you love watching combat sports and are looking for a great way to use your aggressiveness and aggressiveness-on-an-inside-fighter’s-level to your advantage, jiu-jitsu is the way to go.



If you’re a martial art fan, then you know that karate and boxing are both very similar to one another. Kickboxing is the perfect style of martial art that can give you the best of both worlds: the striking and grappling of karate with the athleticism and power of boxing. Its focus on high-risk, high-reward techniques means that it can be a great way to train if you’re looking for a sporty martial art or a great way to learn self defence when you have no other choice but to learn how to defend yourself in an aggressive situation.


Tae kwon do

Tae kwon do will teach your body how it needs to move in order for you to avoid being struck or thrown. It teaches your body how to move quickly and efficiently so that you can get out of an attack before it even begins. In addition, tae kwon do emphasizes proper footwork, stances, balance and coordination as well as proper movement through space. If all this sounds like something you want in your self defence training arsenal, then tae kwon do is definitely worth checking out!


Karate/brazilian jiu-jitsu/muay thai/judo/sparring (combined)

If kicking actually works against your opponent (and it does), then this style will help teach your body how to properly use its legs as weapons against an attacker or counter attacker. Karate teaches your body how to defend itself while also teaching you how to strike with your feet and legs. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai teach you how to defend yourself against an attacker who is on top of you. Judo teaches your body how to move quickly in order to avoid being thrown or struck. Sparring will teach you how to use all of these techniques against an opponent who is trying to do the same thing.


Similar to jiu-jitsu, but a little less aggressive, taekwondo is very similar to a sporting match in that it’s focused on brawn and physicality over brain and brawn combined. While taekwondo may not be as physically focused as martial arts that are a little more aggressive, it’s also not meant for real-life situations where you might find yourself in a tight spot with no-win options and no escape. If you enjoy watching or learning about martial arts in a sporty way, then taekwondo is the way to go.


We love MMA here at io9, and it’s one of the top-rated combat sports out there. With a history dating back to the 19th century and a current worldwide presence, MMA is truly a tradition. MMA is a great choice for both new and experienced martial artists alike. It doesn’t require a ton of focus or energy, is relatively low impact, and can be done almost anywhere. If you’re looking for a solid, all-around fighting style that can handle just about anything, thenmma is the way to go.

Southern Thai Boxing

This is one of the more aggressive styles on the list, but it’s also a very effective way to take someone out of the fight. If you’re landing a lot of shots and are doing well, this may be the right one for you. If you’re looking for a more focused approach to self defense that is more accurate, surgical, and surgical in its approach, then sai is the way to go.

Muay Thai

This is another aggressive style that will teach you a lot about yourself. It’s also one of the most physically punishing fighting styles around. If you’re looking for a way to get your “S” off, then muay thai is the way to go.


Shaolin Kung Fu

If you’re looking for an artsy, artistic way to channel your aggressiveness, then shaolin kung fu is the way to go. This style is incredibly beautiful and will teach you a lot about self-control as well as how to move in a variety of ways.



This is another one of the more aggressive styles on the list and can be used to great effect in real-life situations. If you’re looking for a martial art that combines speed and strength with mental fortitude, judo is your best bet. It’s also one of the more difficult styles to learn, so if you’re not ready for it, it may not be for you.



Like many of these other arts, aikido focuses on self-control and physical training over brawn and aggression. If you like mental games as much as physical ones and would like to learn how to take someone out without getting hurt yourself, then this could be the fighting style for you. It’s also one of the more forgiving martial arts on this list because it doesn’t involve too much damage or stamina requirements—as long as your opponent doesn’t overpower you or force your submission (which isn’t too hard), then it should work just fine. Also: aikido has its own wiki! That makes us very happy indeed.



If you’re looking for a way to take your opponent out without landing a single blow, then grappling is the way to go. It’s not as aggressive as some of the other martial arts on this list, but it can still be very effective if done correctly. Also: Grappling has its own wiki! That makes us very happy indeed.


The best martial arts for self defense are ones that you can pick up and begin using the second day you get to work. After all, these are skills that will help you protect yourself in any situation. Whether you’re living alone or with friends, these will help you get through any crisis and make it through your day without having to resort to drastic measures. The best martial arts for self defense aren’t easy to pick out, as there are so many to choose from. They are skills that will help you in any situation, and they’re adaptable to any given environment. So, if the situation calls for a more traditional approach, karate or boxing are the best choices. If you’re looking for a more aggressive and confrontational approach, jiu-jitsu or mma is the way to go. And finally, if you’re looking for a more creative and creative-on-the-inside approach, taekwondo is the way to go. Remember, you don’t have to pick just one martial art to defend yourself with. There are many different styles and you need to find the one that best fits your needs, your resources, and your personal goals for self defense.