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The Most Effective Martial Art for Self-Defence on the Street

The best martial art for self-defence in the streets

The best martial art for self-defence in the streets

It has been two years since my last post regarding martial arts. In these two years, I have had the privilege to practice an extremely wide range of martial arts aimed at self-defence, bringing my count to 15 different martial arts in total.

Although some of them, in my opinion, would never work in a hostile atmosphere and would probably get you killed, there are others that I studied that will send the assailants in the opposite direction. I also picked up some practical experience on the way when I was attacked by a guy with a knife, so I can say which martial art I instinctively chose given the situation; it worked.

In my article, I will highlight the five best martial arts for self-defence, in my opinion.

I would also like to state that if self-defence is your only aim and you are not looking for an oriental lifestyle as well, I would stay away from traditional martial arts like karate or taekwondo or aikido. These arts take years to master before you can dare to take on muggers on the street, and even with years of practice, they won't guarantee your safety largely due to outdated training methods that don't prepare you for street fighting. I would like to state that there are exceptions to the norm, though, as with all things in life, but that's an article of its own.

I based my choice mostly on:

  • The effectiveness of the techniques
  • The speed and simplicity of the arts

These are the most effective arts of self-defence I have practiced and the reasoning behind my choices:

FMA use knives and sticks in addition to hand-to-hand combat.

FMA use knives and sticks in addition to hand-to-hand combat.

5. Fillipino Martial Arts in the Form of Kali and Eskrima

These arts have originated from the very wide scope of fighting traditions practiced by traders traveling through the Philippines, as the locals always kept an open mind to effective ways of fighting. The resulting art focused on stick and knife fighting.

Although Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) has a tight learning curve, especially regarding the sticks, it's definitely one of the most potent arts I have ever practiced. The knife fighting is ever developing since new ways to cut and defend with a knife are constantly incorporated into the syllabus. They even have legal live knife fights to the death in the Philippines.

FMA's hand-to-hand fighting follows the principle that the same stick techniques can be applied without the stick since the stick is only an extension of the body. Although the resulting techniques are not too bad, I have seen better.

The main focus of this art is the sticks and knives, and since a person can find some form of a stick or carry a knife around almost anywhere, this martial art is suited for self-defence on the street.


4. Pencak Silat

Pencak Silat is a term used for a collection of Indonesian martial arts that were developed to combat the Dutch. It has a wide variety of forms, and picking the correct one is crucial for effective self-defence.

The techniques I studied were similar to Muay Thai with the addition of knife and gun techniques. The reason I picked this art as one of my top five was its marginal simplicity, being a bit easier to master than the grappling forms of self-defence. It involves a lot of strikes rather than grabs making it easier to apply since the area where the technique can be applied is much bigger than in grappling. I found almost all the techniques functional for a street situation. However, a few moves were exceptions and wouldn't be so effective if common external factors, such as the attacker reacting in a resistant manner, kicked in. All in all, though, this art will teach you how to defend your life if necessary, even if your attacker is wielding a knife or a gun.


3. Commando Krav Maga/Combat Survival

This is a grappling martial art developed by Moni Aizik based on Judo. It was specifically created for the purpose of self-defence in real-life situations, where guns and knives are usually present.

This, however, is not Krav Maga as created by Imi Lichtenfield, and one should not be confused between the two. I personally think Moni just incorporated the word Krav Maga as a sales gimmick to attract people. Nonetheless, it is an effective martial art, and all of the moves and techniques are applicable in real life. I actually found a lot of similarities between Combat Krav Maga (CKM) and Combat Sambo, probably because both arts have roots in Jiu-Jitsu.

Since it is a grappling art, it also has a bit of a learning curve, and practice is required before you could apply the techniques in a life-threatening situation. The striking in CKM has its roots in Muay Thai, but not a lot of attention is given to this aspect. Although the techniques are quite simple, fast reflexes are needed to properly execute the moves taught. Its gun and knife defences are effective, but I still prefer Krav Maga's approach, which will be discussed next. Again there's no reason not to consider this as your primary form of self-defence; you will not be disappointed.

Combat Sambo is a military fighting form based on grappling.

Combat Sambo is a military fighting form based on grappling.

2. Combat Sambo

This is a Russian martial art based mostly on grappling.

Take note that there are three forms of Sambo, and although they mostly contain the same moves, the application and purpose of the techniques are completely different. There is:

  • Sport Sambo, aimed at competition fighting
  • Self-Defence Sambo, aimed self-defence and inflicting minimum damage to the attacker
  • Combat Sambo, which basically is the military fighting form created to inflict serious damage

Combat Sambo is the form, in my opinion, that is the most effective for the street, although Self-Defence Sambo also carries some weight. Since it is a grappling art, you have to train your reflexes, and practice is an absolute necessity before applying the techniques in a life-threatening situation. Once mastered, the techniques taught are effective, since the whole art is based on real-life situations in the military. But as I said, dedicated practice is required. Their gun defence is also very tricky to master, and doing it improperly by just a bit will get you killed. It took me two months of hard practice before I was able to apply one of the defensive techniques. Their striking is very similar to Muay Thai, following a lot of the same principles, but with such effective grappling techniques you will rarely be required to strike an opponent. The biggest challenge for the practitioner is mastering the proper reflexes to apply the art.

Krav Maga combines many martial arts forms.

Krav Maga combines many martial arts forms.

1. Krav Maga

The first time I heard about Krav Maga, I was skeptical, partly due to the fact that I thought it was a marketing machine, an expensive art that couldn't teach me anything I didn't know. However, it was on the list of self-defence arts, so I decided to have a look.

Krav Maga is mostly a striking Israeli martial art created by Imi Lichtenfield for the IDF and originally had its roots in boxing, karate, and wrestling. Today, the art has been modified to include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and various other arts. To put it simply, it's militarized MMA.

In all my life, I had never seen such a simplistic yet effective form of fighting. It is so simplistic, that I almost felt insulted while learning it. As an MMA fighter, I knew 80% of the techniques already, and mastering the gun and knife defences was a breeze. At the same time, I was truly impressed.

The gun defence is so effective that proper application will always leave you with the gun in one second, whether or not you are smaller than your opponent. There is nothing the attacker can do once the technique is initiated except run as fast as he can in the opposite direction. The knife defence is basically Muay Thai blocks with extremely basic jiu-jitsu to disarm the knife, also incredibly effective. It also incorporates ground fighting, which is actually just the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu syllabus.

Krav Maga can thus actually be seen not as one art, but as a combination of the most effective techniques for any given situation from any art: thus, militarized MMA. Since it is so basic, it also makes it possible to learn Krav Maga through a book or DVD series. I did the basic course and then bought the book and DVDs to master the rest. So even if you are a master in various martial arts, take the time to learn Krav Maga, it's truly a noteworthy addition. To beginners, if you are looking for self-defence, I would recommend this as my number one art.

There are a few other reasons I like Krav Maga so much. The whole Krav Maga system is based on natural reactions of the body in certain situations, and the techniques are then developed around this concept. Thus you could almost say Krav Maga will be the natural reaction of the body. This is important for one reason: Once you are in a life-threatening situation, adrenalin starts pumping into your system, and your brain loses its finer motor functions. Meaning if you are not extremely well trained in an art, you won't be able to apply techniques that require steps (which might play a role in the other self-defence arts). Since Krav Maga is based on natural reactions, even a person not so well-trained in martial arts will be able to execute its techniques under stress with relative ease. Krav Maga classes have a tendency to be extremely expensive where I live, though, and classes advance at a very slow pace, so if this might also be your problem, get the book and DVDs and start practicing. If you are already an MMA or traditional MA practitioner where sparring is involved, in my opinion, don't even bother with classes, the book and especially the DVD series will be sufficient. That is just my opinion, though.

My Experience Fending off a Knife Mugger

When I was attacked by a knife mugger, I was actually curious about how my body would react and with what art I studied it would defend. It was indeed Krav Maga, but most probably because it was the most natural reaction.

But all of the above self-defence arts are effective, and with proper dedicated training, each one of these arts will make you a serious force to be reckoned with on the street or anywhere. If you truly have the time/years and really want to learn a traditional art such as karate, it is an option since most karate forms will include sparring, which in turn will sharpen your reflexes.

I cannot emphasize reflexes enough, because in the end, that is the factor that will determine how good your self-defence will be. Having the knowledge of all these arts will help nothing if you do not have the reflexes to apply it. So actually studying any art that develops reflexes will be a step in the right direction.

One should also take note that striking arts require substantially less refined reflexes than grappling arts since the application of a grappling art requires more accuracy.

If you do decide on a traditional martial art, take my advice and do a Krav Maga course in between classes. The knowledge you will gain will always be with you even if the art you study fails. The choice is yours.

Since the world is a big place, I have probably missed many martial arts that are also aimed at self-defence (or at least can be used for that purpose). This article is also based on my personal opinion so it’s not written in stone. So once again, speak your mind.

The list of martial arts that I practiced and considered for this list is as follows: Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, CKM, Combat Sambo, FMA, Pencak Silat, Taekwondo, Karate, Ninjitsu, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Pancration, Systema, Keysi Fighting Method and Krav Maga.


Martial Artist (author) on May 30, 2021:

Greetings Marty, thanks for the input. To be fair this specific list is not so much about originality as it is about effectiveness. Krav Maga is not original by any means and they are quite transparent about that. It's a combination of boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Judo. Basically the most effective martial arts tried and tested in military warfare. You should read up about its history, very interesting read. All the best

Marty Holloway Sensei on April 15, 2020:

Real life experence. I believe Chinese Kungfu and Japanese grappling is where Krav Maga ideas came from to begine with. Over forty street fights and almost died few times and I that beleivs qualify me. Who has done this?

Martial Artist (author) on March 11, 2020:

Greetings Marty, I respect your views as a traditionalist although I do not agree with them. I based my opinion on real life experience. If you disagree and have been in similar confrontations where you needed to defend yourself against armed assailants feel free to share, would love to hear about them. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on March 11, 2020:

Greetings Frank CHEADLE, you will have to Google to find a club. You can have a look at Seems like a good club. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on March 11, 2020:

Thank you Brad Frank. Appreciate the gesture! All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on March 11, 2020:

Good day Bob, depending on the rules, MMA can beat Krav Maga, since I don't think eye gouging are allowed in their competition rules. Krav Maga is more effective in no rules fighting. All the best

Marty on March 10, 2020:

Here comes the Krav Maga number one nonsense again.that they advertise all the time and make up crap.

Marty Holloway on February 04, 2020:

To say Krave Maga is the best is nonsense. Most of these moves are Chinese and Japanese rip offs. Ive seen what Krav Maga can do and its a joke in the martial art community. This comes from a holder of several belts in Japanese Jujutsu, Hapkido and Kempo Karate. To me Krav Maga is a bridge between a pilate and real martial arts.

Marty Holloway Sensei on January 12, 2020:

You think Karate, Hapkido etc. Dont train you for the street is complete nonsense.

Frank CHEADLE on November 19, 2019:

Is there a school in the Kansas City MO. Areas

Chris on November 14, 2019:

Try Systema. Martin wheeler is an instructor. Beverly Hills Academy in Beverly Hills CA. I challenge you to put Systema to the test, i used it in a real life situation and I'll take it over every other "self defense" system out there.

RJ on November 13, 2019:

I have studied for over 35 years and there is a big difference between Street Fighting and fighting. In Street Fighting there is a big chance your going to get serious hurt. Most Street Fighters have no training and no restriction on what they do. Krav Maga is a most effective style. I am not putting down other styles just respecting the street way of life.

David Kelly on November 09, 2019:

The best way to learn to defend yourself on the street muay thai, wrestling boxing bjj. However, not just learning actually sparring in which one gets hit and hits. Its called fighting. If you want to become a good fighter which in turn will make you good at defending yourself. There is no easy way. If you want to be a good runner you run. If you want to be a good fighter you fight

RAaymond Rankin on October 21, 2019:

I still need more time to find the right martial art for me to learn thank you for your time.

Brad Frank on September 30, 2019:

Excellent article. I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but have thought about Krav Mara for years. I really appreciate your opinion and will do as you suggest. Thank you for your help!

Bob on September 29, 2019:

You know that carlos newton went to israel and beat many krav maga guys badly enough that they wanted carlos to train them. Krav maga overated

Fighter on July 21, 2019:

Chris LOL CKM and KM is not the same art, maybe read the article before posting a comment

Chris Hall on July 09, 2019:

you have KM on here twice, it is the same style . and the name jkd is dead.

Mark Streator on July 08, 2019:

You will learn most about fighting and defending yourself by boxing and getting punched in the face and body. Thai boxing and taking hard damaging kicks to the legs body and arms. Ju Jitsu and feeling and applying chokes and various joint locks and submissions. Without feeling these pains, absorbing and surviving these attacks and stressors, you have no idea how you'll react when violently attacked.

Martial Artist (author) on April 22, 2019:

Good day Guille30,

Thanks for the comment. In regards to your questions:

1. Boxing will sharpen your reflexes yes

2. Depends on your intent. If you only want to learn self defence - Krav Maga, if you are also looking for a new sport - MMA.

3. Depends on the fighter and the amount you train. Generally if you attend all the training 6 months to a year would allow you to defend yourself based on the situation you find yourself in.

4. MMA delves deeper into more techniques which is not necessarily taught on Krav Maga as Krav Maga only focuses on self defence against non-professional fighter while MMA teaches you to win against other fighters that also has professional training.

5. MMA do fill in most of the gaps in Krav Maga in my opinion

All the best!

OJIISAN on April 08, 2019:

I have practice Martial arts for over 50 YEARS KENJUTSURYU KARATE, AIKIDO, SHAOLIN GUNG FU. I have realized the martial arts is not the way of fighting but rather is the way of living and thinking. DOMO ARIGATO

Guille30 on March 11, 2019:

Hi, I really like your post. I´ve reading all your comments and hope you can answer some questions. In my small city I saw one Krav Maga global and one MMA.

My main goal is to do self defense and to become a effective fighter in case I need it. I´ve just started boxing to get in shape.

1-Do you think I can sharpen my reflexes sparring with box?

2-After box do you think I should go with Krav maga directly?or MMA first?

3-You said it takes 6 months to know the basic in Krav maga. How long it takes to get really good in it and survive in the streets?

4-You said Krav Maga and MMA is a good combo for a great fighter. What is it that good that MMA add to Krav Maga? I mean both have Muai thai and BJJ. Maybe MMA go deep in those both and add another useffull martial arts to the game. How do you go with this? You get good with Krav Maga and later add only some things of MMA or just go for alll MMA even more of muai thai and BJJ?

5-You also said that Krav maga is lacking a bit in stand grapping. Do MMA fill the gaps or is necesarry adding some techniques of another martial arts like yudo?

Thaks for all.

Mtco on November 04, 2018:

I've trained in a number of martial arts and self defense tactics systems over the years. These arts are Boxing, BJJ, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, PPCT and verbal deescalation. My training has come from civilian training and from law enforcement. I've have had real life combat applications of these arts and techniques ranging from real life self-defense, defense as an officer in a prison, controlled use of forces and sparring.

Things I have learned:

1.) The majority of people do not know how to fight nor have they ever trained, therefore if you have some form of training you have the upper hand. This assumes that you anticipate or know an attack is coming; such as, squaring up.

2.) Situational awareness is key! If you arent aware of your surroundings and make calculated decisions, you make yourself vulnerable.

Now on to the defense systems and tactics:

Verbal Self Defense:

Every mutual fight is avoidable. Over the years, verbal judo has saved me from a great deal of verbal confrontations and physical confrontations. You can pick the book up on Amazon for a few dollars. It is widely used by law enforcement and for good reason. It has even helped to de escalate personal life situations. This is why I rank it first. Avoiding the fight is the surest way of winning. However, remember its not full proof!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ):

I didn't get into BJJ until my mid-twenties and that is unfortunate. I've found it to be the most effective martial art after the first 10 seconds of any fight. Typically, untrained people flail their arms and wrap up. From a law enforcement stand point, people dont usually become violent or try to flee until after the officer has made physical contact. BJJ has done wonders for me in both personal self-defense and as a correctional officer.

Boxing: I rate second because of its simplicity. Essentially, boxing teaches you to maintain distance and your two weapons are your fist. On top of this you also learn movements to avoid being hit

Muay Thai-

The fighting stance is a bit different than that of Western boxing. At first, I found this uncomfortable, however, as time went on I understood its reasoning and its benefits over boxing. It offers more tools to strike with and I would have rated it second if not for simplicity.

Krav Maga:

I perceive to be the most over-hyped defensive tactics system there is. I'm not saying it isn't effective but you could learn a grappling and striking art and still have a well rounded self-defense strategy.


Of all places I learned this was at the law enforcement academy. I don't even think its called ppct anymore. Anyway with the exception of a few strikes which are borrowed from Muay Thai I find it to be junk. It's crap and is a great way to get your ass kicked.

Dries on October 03, 2018:

I do agree and disagree that traditional martial arts are not so effictive. In my opinion almost every martial art is effictive if you got talent for the martial art and If you really hard trained and also do or did in competition form. Traditional martial arts have to be very hard and very long trained. If you actually look on time I do agree sambo combat is very good. But my experience is that you are best in the street when you are well trained in englisch boxing combinated with the low kicks and not clinching knee work, you can say the K1 rules system if you well learned in that stand up fighting

system you have to drill yourself in BJJ or Sambo combat, Judo also good but to fair for me, In my openion you have to stayed up from the ground as long as possible because a head kick is very quit given from a second opponent when your on the ground fighting you never know is your opponent is alone its ok to fight on the ground but for how long? you never can say it it can turn out that 3 person kick your head non stop while you are grappling you dont going to make it, with the stand up system you can use the enviroment for example standing with a wall after you or standing in a corner so you make a change when the opponent is not alone, I do not underestimate the efficiense of ground fighting it is actually better than stand up fighting but it is less dangerous. In my openion when you build your body up to more than 90kg wheight and when you have a height of minimum 1m75 if you are well trained in the K1 system you actually good for streetfighting if you have a natural snap punch or kick who are hard if they dont end the fight they actually at least seriously distord, making dizy or are very painfull that takes a lot of self confidence and courage to go on if you are several times hitted for dont stop the fight and walk or run away.

I did traditional karate for 9 years after I go for englisch boxing, after that I went to gym were they actually learned me to fight with the combination in training of muay thai, kickboxing and Sambo combat I think this is better than krav Maga because I real street fighter do not let it easily happen that you hit him in the balls or in the eyes you have to carefully and fast reaction with an attacking system of fighting I do not much believe in the counter techniques training of possible attacks only when you are very drilled in all types of attacking

Truema on September 14, 2018:

I disagree with your comment that traditional martial arts is ineffective and takes years to master while doing the forms correctly with every meticulous move may take years to master that does not mean you cannot effectively defend yourself by kicking or punching or knee striking or elbow striking most problems with rational martial arts these days is they have not been practiced as they should and have been watered down much like the telephone game we played as kids however I have been a Taekwondo instructor for over 26 years I can find hapkido jiu-jitsu boxing into my program and my students are very well-rounded I have a female student who just shared a story where a male grabbed her arm she didn't inside block strike knocked his arm off her arm and pushed him back up against the wall to escape. Like anyting take out the bed and keep the good but there's a wave the state's traditional martial arts is a waste of time and ineffective I disagree

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Good day A small guy,

I would recommend BJJ as in my personal experience, the smaller the fighter, the better. BJJ works a lot on technique, speed and skill rather than strength and size. In my own club it is usually the smaller fighters that defeat their bigger counterparts when grappling so it will be ideal for your body type. It is also not too intensive on the body so injuries will be minimal to none. When you become comfortable in martial arts, you will find that you will want to try out Krav Maga as well. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Good day Epaminondas,

Pankration is the Greek version of MMA and shares a lot of the fundamental principles of MMA as well. Modern clubs incorporate Muay Thai and BJJ into their syllabus now a days and therefore not a bad choice. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Good day Michael K,

If you are already well versed in MMA, Muay Thai and BJJ, Yoshinkan Aikido is not a bad choice, as your other arts will compensate for its weak points, there are many practical and fundamental aspects that will assist in your self defence. If you have never done KM though, its not a bad idea to do a short course and add that to your arsenal as well. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Good day,

I can not say that I have ever heard of it. Rather stick to the tried and test in my opinion though. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Good day streetwise,

I would actually recommend BJJ as most of the techniques becomes muscle memory and although it looks like an intensive art on the body, it actually impacts the body a lot less. There are quite a few 80+ year olds still practicing the art and defeating their opponents, due to the way BJJ works. Proper technique will almost always defeat strength. Therefore as you grow older you learn to fight smarter and not harder. For the time being though it is not a bad idea to incorporate some Krav Maga as well, as they go hand in hand. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Good day Usman,

I would recommend BJJ as not only is it safer than a lot of other martial arts to start with, it is also very effective and will teach your child discipline, perseverance and reflex development. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on December 21, 2017:

Thank you for your positive feedback Shane.P

A small guy on November 19, 2017:

Hello... I'm at high school and for a male am relatively on the small side. I do not do any kind of sports and thus is quite out of shape. I'm considering taking a martial arts lesson for self defense, but is hesitant because I'd be starting quite late, and also I don't possess an athletic body. I was wondering what style you think is effective for a small person who will most likely fight people much larger than him, but is also not too brutal so as to deter someone who is not physically fit from practicing at all.

Thanks, and I hope you reply soon!

Epaminondas on October 04, 2017:

I'm trying to find the best self defense system for my daughters and your article helped me a lot.

Here in Greece, TKD is very popular but to tell the truth, its (good) kicks may not be the answer.

I just wonder, have you ever practiced the greek Pangration? It seems to me as a form of MMA.


Michael K on September 04, 2017:


I have experience in muay thai and brazilian jiu jitsue as well as other arts. I look to commit to a martial art so that I dont simply keep skipping from one to another and actually get in depth into the art.

I am considering krav maga but I do like the martial art aspect of aikido, as an already experienced martial artist, do you think Yoshinkan Aikido would be an effective path to take? Or should I just not waste my time in it and commit to krav?

Thank you,

Michael on September 03, 2017:

Loved the coverage, I'm an old black in 1982, stopped all practice. My father in law says in karate, Judi jitsu or other MA is a title of Knight Walker I can't find it. On the web is there such a thing?

DEFENCE on August 04, 2017:

Defence is the correct spelling in British/Canadian/Australian English, although defense is how it's spelled in American English.

Anonimo on August 03, 2017:

No Muay Thai? Mhhhh........

DEFENSE on July 20, 2017:

It's spelled with an "S". There is no "C" in the word DEFENSE.

streetwise on July 06, 2017:

Hi author.

Informative article and amazing that you are still answering/helping others in this thread after 7yrs.

Ive dabbled in various MA since a teen... Ninjitsu, Boxing, Mauy Thai, Wing Chun, Taiji and others, to give you an idea of where i am coming from.

Im now around 50yo and want a "simple" MA that i can train now to keep in my skillset till im in my 90s. So needs to be simple to remember and not physically hard on a body when im older. This is why i leaned toward Wing Chun & Taiji in recent years. Yet found them complex to learn and be competant with them and may not be as useful in a street scenario as others as u have suggested. What do u recomend? KM? I assume Mauy Thai be too hard on the body as one gets older? Especially shin blocks. And BJJ may be not suitable when i get to 90yo or so. There is a guy who teaches KM in my area but this is not his main teaching. And there is also Mauy Thai and Bjj. Ive recently dropped out of the Taiji/TaiChi which although is spose to ve one of the deadliest MAs, is also very long at 108 forms ... then another 108 for the grandmaster style. I wasnt born in the east so dont have the time or patience to fully learn a complex MA such as TaiChi. Any thoughts for others out there who may already be elderly but wanting to defend themselves in needed??

Kichu on June 12, 2017:

It is really an amazing article..what you said is absolutely true..bring us more of your valuable information.

Usman on June 11, 2017:

Dear Sir

My 6 year old son started BJJ one year ago. Unfortunately the instructor moved. Ultimately I would want him to learn KM, however most clubs don't start until age 12. In the interim, I want him to learn a martial art which is useful for self defence and above all improve balance, reflexes and coordination. Is copiera the best option, or finding another BJJ school? I would be open to other suggestions also. I do however think at this age, body control, movement, reflexes and balance are the most important. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

arpan sharma on June 03, 2017:

i feel that in my life tai chi is best i see that this is the best martial arts in the world & learn kyokushin-kan karate.

Shane P. on May 28, 2017:

Great article. I appreciate how you included knife and gun techniquest to compile a practical and realistic self defense art list.

I have been considering taking Krav Maga. I studied Hwarangdo for 3 years and loved every minute of it. It's a very effective and comprehensive combat art, and I found that even as a yellow belt, I could hold my own sparring and grappling against higher belts from other arts.

I stopped training in Hwarangdo when the teacher turned his dojang into an MMA cage fighting school, and there are no other schools in my area. I'm not interested in cage fighting, but I would really like to get back into training an art that is effective for street self defense.

Also, thank you for making the distinction between CKM and KM. I am familiar with Moni, but I was not aware his techniques were not traditional KM. It seems like Krav Maga is the art I should check out, as there is a school here in the Reno area. Thanks again.

Martial Artist (author) on May 27, 2017:

Greetings Parent,

At this stage she needs to develop a love for martial arts and Capoeira is a good starting place. It will help with muscle development and reflexes but Jujitsu is a better choice for practical purposes and self defence. But as she is still very young Capoeira should be sufficient for now. All the best!

Parent on May 25, 2017:

My daughter is almost 5. She has started taking Capoeira classes. She could also attend combat jujitsu near our house. Kraal Maga she must be 14 so she will take that when she is eligible. I think the Capoeira is more appealing to her at this point because of the music and acrobatic elements. Would this be a good way to develop good reflexes? I do appreciate the music/dance aspect for a younger kid. The jujitsu is cheaper and closer to the house though. I am thinking of doing the capoeira until about age 8-10 then the combat jujitsu then the Krav Maga at 14. What is your opinion?

Martial Artist (author) on March 24, 2017:

Greetings Tarannum Rana,

If you have no prior experience with martial arts it might be a very difficult task to learn on just video and net material as some principles has to be taught in a class environment to prevent learning bad technique that might just get you hurt. I say difficult however and not impossible as some has learned it that way and was successful. I recommend finding a muay thai class if possible even if it is only for a free class or 2 to just give you an oversight, there is a bunch of good muay thai beginner courses on YouTube, you can just search for it. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on March 24, 2017:

Good day Searcher,

InDefence is alligned with KMG and will be a good source for your training. They follow the correct form, all the best

Tarannum Rana on March 22, 2017:

Hi! Nice article, thanks a lot for it!

I am a 22 year old girl anf want to take up some martial art. My purpose for doing it is basically self defence, but I want to make a life long routine out it. What martial art do you suggest, considering that I have no experience? Also, thanks to genetics, I have decent muscle strength, so I woudn't mind training in grappeling too. Also, I am from Delhi, India, and most of MA classes here are either a hoax or are way out of my budget. So I will be relying heavily on net for the lessons. So could you please refer some good websites or youtube channels that you follow?

Kindly reply. I am looking forward to start my practice as soon as I can!

Me on October 11, 2016:

Tae Kwon do is a martial art that I have done and it works well. I had a bully and once he saw what I could do he decided to do it now he is been taught discipline and has become more calm.

Angels on September 16, 2016:

What about kung fu?

Martial Artist (author) on September 16, 2016:

Greetings dunno wat dat means,

I mean it is rather difficult to learn for practical purposes, but effective once you have mastered the basics. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on September 16, 2016:

Greetings Razzle,

I would recommend Tae Kwon Do above Wing Chun as Tae Kwon Do has sparring that will improve reflexes, Muay Thai above Tae Kwon Do and Krav Maga or Sambo above Muay Thai. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on September 16, 2016:

Greetings Animesh,

I have only trained in Savate unfortunately, but have found it to be quite effective as it has a lot of sparring. I would however rather recommend Muay Thai above Savate as their techniques are in my opinion more effective. None of the systems however have any knife or gun defences and you would therefore have to do a Krav Maga course inbetween to learn those techniques. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on September 16, 2016:

Good day Kosho Shorei Ryu Student,

It depends on the dojo where you want to train kenpo, some schools focus on realistic training which has a decent self defence training factor and others are more focused on the traditional mindset which makes it less effective on the street. If you can find a good dojo it is a effective self defence option. All the best

dunno wat dat means on September 14, 2016:

u said kali has a tight learning curve in the article. What does that mean? I am asking because I am about to train it.

Razzle on September 07, 2016:


I am looking into learning a martial art which will help me know how to defend myself against a knife attacks and just in general from street fights. I would like to take my brother with me who gets bullied at school and I am wondering what martial art you would recommend. A local instructor not too far from me teaches Wing Chun and another teaches Tae Kwon Do, so would any of these be a good option? Cheers

Animesh on August 28, 2016:

Greetings Martial Artist,

I just want to know your opinion about Savate & Paul Vunak's progressive Fighting System.

Kosho Shorei Ryu Student on August 19, 2016:

What do you say about Kenpo?

It is more realistic than TKD, Karate, Kickboxing or even Aikido. Give me your considerations about this Art.

Paul S on August 12, 2016:

There is value in all arts if taught well and practised diligently, but most schools fail their students in not providing realistic practise. You must have the techniques to what's that are instinctive,

but the real challenge is training yourself emotionally and mentally handle an actual fight - which is where your street

thug had the advantage. Controlling the

situation is as much about reading your attacker or would be attacker and leading them as it is a specific technique. I actually got out of several ugly street scenarios what's I was physically outmatched by multiple opponents - not through my years of northern shaolin or kenpo etc. but by what I said and how I said it.

shalva on July 29, 2016:

thanks,by the way your article is great,one of the best i've ever read about this theme

Martial Artist (author) on July 26, 2016:

Greetings shalva,

One can become a very effective fighter in 2 years in both arts in my opinion.

All the best!

shalva on July 22, 2016:

i have a question,im an armwretler in good shape muscles and stuff,is it possible for someone really dedicated to master muay thai and krav maga in 5 years?

Martial Artist (author) on June 23, 2016:

Good day Will1,

Thank you for your comment. I have tried Qi Gong. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on June 23, 2016:

Good day Jim,

I would advise that you consider Krav Maga and supplement it with Aikido as Aikido will also teach you balance manipulation and core control. If it was not for the lack of realistic training, Aikido would be a very effective art, adding Krav Maga will make it a very potent combination. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on June 23, 2016:

Good day Dan,

I have experienced Keysi and agree it is very effective, since classes are only available in selected areas of the world I however left it off the list as most people reading this article would not have access to it. All the best!

Martial Artist (author) on June 17, 2016:

Greetings JezZ,

You can try: or

All the best!

WIll1 on January 27, 2016:

Very good article. Its nice that someone includes a reality factor. I've had my friends come at me with whichever take down/toss/strike combination they felt would work best.

What I eventually found worked for me were throws and hip tosses. It was difficult at first, to make them work in a situation where you didn't know what your opponent was doing, but eventually I realized you can, if done very smoothly, redirect your own body weight at the same time you carry out a solid hip toss or throw technique.

It hurts when you throw your opponent on top of you, even in a safe environment, and you do learn how to apply proper force, in the correct direction.

Kali, and Aikido, are two of my favorite techniques to train for what I consider applicable self defense, as both can be done practiced by yourself. Do you qi gong?

Thank you, Will1

Jim on January 07, 2016:

Thank you for your insight on the world of martial arts.

I am seeking a martial art which enhances health through chi cultivation, and also is effective for self defense. I think this limits me to the Chinese styles, and assumes that I can even find a kung fu teacher who truly understands and can teach these elements of chi and internal force.

If I find one who can (and how do I as completely inexperienced even judge that?), do I take a traditional Chinese martial art, or do I take Krav Maga, along with something like yoga, assuming that the kung fu of today will most likely either be ineffective or overly complex for self defense?

The following schools are possibilities for Kung Fu:

And these are possibles for Krav Maga:

And there's even a possibility for "effective" Aikido:

I am old enough to not have a few years to "waste" in a school only to find out that the art as taught is ineffective when needed, so I really want to choose the "right" school first.

This has left me so indecisive, yet I need to make a decision. Any advice please would be greatly appreciated, what do you think of the above?

Dan Holloway on January 07, 2016:

Good article! Check out Keysi Fighting Method and Defence Lab by Andy Norman. After 20 years of martial arts including Krav i'd say these are the most functional forms of self defence

jezZ on October 31, 2015:

Am in Japan. Do you know legit krav maga school here? Thanks in advance.

Martial Artist (author) on October 27, 2015:

Greetings Shawn,

Due to Wing Chun being a traditional martial art, I would not recommend it as your option for self defence. Although Bruce Lee did train in it, he also trained in a wide spectrum of other martial arts as well. Krav Maga is combat proven and provides the best chance of defending yourself properly should you need to. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on October 27, 2015:

Greetings George,

Apologies for the late reply. I would recommend Mastering Krav Maga (Volume I) 6 DVD Set -- Self-Defense (Beginner to Advanced), as David Kahn is well known in Krav Maga and you can therefore be certain the instruction you receive is correct. Please do make a point of also attending classes or a course as you have to develop your reflexes to apply Krav Maga, and that can mostly only be done in a class atmosphere. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on October 27, 2015:

Greetings Andrew Carroll,

There were quite a few. My body chose Krav Maga due to being the most natural response. All the best.

Martial Artist (author) on October 27, 2015:


Thank you for your feedback. I did not base my choice on the authenticity of the arts I recommended, as I am well aware that Moni's version of Krav Maga is no where near the original form, but on the effectiveness of the techniques. In my opinion it is still more effective than all the forms you mentioned except for MCMAP, which I did not mention as availability to train in it outside the US is almost non existent. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on October 27, 2015:

Greetings Lonhu,

Although the system does contain effective principles, it is still a traditional martial art that is not necessarily based on situations of today. If possible, rather consider Krav Maga. All the best

Shawn on October 26, 2015:

Any idea how Wing Chun stacks up to other martial arts like Krav Maga? I read that Bruce Lee trained in Wing Chun before he developed his own art, and I saw it in a TV show which got me curious.

I've been thinking of taking it or Krav Maga. The latter seems safer as it seems to be a lot more well known in fighting and self defense circles.

george on July 15, 2015:

Hi Martial Artist,

Firstly, just want to say thanks again for your recommendation last year to have my 5-year old son start in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before moving on to Krav Maga. He just started at last month and he loves it. Doing the BJJ a year before definitely gave him some ease in learning some similar KM techniques.

If you don't mind, I do have another question: I'm thinking of getting a KM DVD course, mainly for use myself (I may end up taking some adult classes at ikmftoronto as well). There seems to be only two on Amazon right now:

- Mastering Krav Maga (Volume I) 6 DVD Set -- Self-Defense (Beginner to Advanced)

- Ultimate Krav Maga Self-Defense Instructional Set (Beginner to Intermediate)

Do you have any recommendation for one or the other?

thx, george

Andrew Carroll on June 18, 2015:

Hi again.

Sorry if you mentioned this but what krav maga technique did you use on the mugger & why did you choose this over muay thai or bjj or aikidio technique. Was it simply how you reacted?

What situation did you find yourself in? on May 25, 2015:

I have about 3 years of Krav Maga training behind me with KMG and IKMF, and all i want to say about this article is to please remove Moni Aizik "KravMaga" from this list as it is not original Imi's KM nor anything similar. It is his own bs super soldier uber killer system and i think another system like JUDO,MMA,MCMAP,etc.. would be more welcome here.

Lonhu on April 18, 2015:

Dear Martial Artist.

What is your opinion about ZEN BU KAN KEMPO ?

Founder : Dr. Harnos Imre Hanshi

they also taught street fighting.


Martial Artist (author) on March 14, 2015:

Good day Joe,

Capoeira is a very flashy martial art and although one cannot deny that it has self defence qualities, I do not consider it a good option for self defence due to many aspects including have no element of suprise and not being effective for multiple opponent combat. Striking is an essential component of being able to defend yourself and one usually avoids kicks as you risk a lot of balance. Rather try Krav Maga or Muay Thai. If you really want to practice it for another reason then just do a Krav Maga course as well. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on March 14, 2015:

Good day Mubbi,

If your budget is tight, I will definitely recommend Muay Thai. It is not so specialized as Krav Maga therefore cheaper but still provides excellent self defence. Just have a look at the gun and knife disarms of Krav Maga on YouTube and add it to your arsenal as Muay Thai excludes such techniques. Muay Thai is used for Krav Maga's striking techniques. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on March 14, 2015:

Greetings Looking for an art,

EnduranceKravMaga is a good choice, they are true to the correct teachings of Krav Maga. All the best

Joe on February 24, 2015:

Good day Mr. Martial Artist. i would like to know your opinion about Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) in real life combat situation if you don't mind. I personally have never met anyone training Capoeira, so i was looking for the info from Google, and found out that Capoeira was just useless as we were trying to dance in front of the muggers with knives or baseball bats. I only have been training Shinkyokushinkai for nearly 2 years, so i have a slight wish to mix both arts.

Thank you in advance.

mubbi on February 05, 2015:

Greetings martial Artists.. thank you so much for your suggestion.. I spoke to the instructor on the link you posted.. krav maga seems to be a very expensive martial arts here in Bangalore.. It is completely out of my budget as I am a student.. I'll have to manage the expenses on it on my own.. so what best would you recommend next .. what other than krav maga do you think would suit me best.. I so desperately need to learn one.. One that would be really help full in any real life threatening situation And even in case of multiple attackers it would help me .. thank you for your valuable time

looking for an art on February 02, 2015:

Oh and the 2 main krav maga centers got shut down. Mid south and the other one. So I can't train there.

looking for an art on February 01, 2015:

martial artist what is your opinion of ?

they are affialiated with the krav maga alliance and I think I want to possibly train there. Thanks.

Martial Artist (author) on January 18, 2015:

Greetings Beginner MA,

What is your purpose for training?

Martial Artist (author) on January 18, 2015:

Good day Monolithic,

In terms of your questions, a combination of Krav Maga and Aikido would in my opinion be a very good choice as the biggest problem with Aikido today is a lack of teaching the students the proper reflexes to apply the techniques. Krav Maga will thus make up for that and teach you proper striking and kicking techniques. So definitely a very good combination for self defence. Ninjitsu is largely dependent if you can find a club with a proper lineage which is extremely rare so would not consider it above the above mentioned combination. Aikido is also a very good art to get your children into the martial arts game but would move them over in six months to either BJJ or Krav Maga as Aikido on its own is very difficult to use, in my opinion, for self defence. Kids also like activities and competitions so would actually recommend BJJ or Muay Thai. It keeps them interested and invested. BJJ being the less injury danger of the two. All the best

Martial Artist (author) on January 18, 2015:

Greetings Mubbi,

Had a look at the other club link you sent. I would still rather stay with the original link I sent you as they have affiliation with Israel and therefore insures you get proper Krav Maga training. It is also the most recommended fighting form for the purpose you want to train for. All the best!

Beginner ma on January 04, 2015:

Hi, you seem very experienced in a variety of ma and respectable in such areas. I'm beginning my descent into martial arts and am confused on what one to choose. I'm young and can't travel outside of the UK to receive training, what would you recommend??

Thank you in advance.

Monolithic on December 26, 2014:

Hi Martial Artist,

Just found your site after a Google search. I've never taken martial arts training before, but I'm a former college athlete (ice hockey goalie) and still play competitively and have decent reflexes. I'm a father of three kids under the age of 5. So I don't have a lot of free time and want to make as informed of a decision as I can before I invest time and money.

I have three multi-part questions. The self-defense part particularly is important to me for "street self-defense" and also if I were in a bar fight. So I'm coming from those two possible scenarios.

1.) I am considering Aikido and also cross-training in Krav Maga since I have heard that Aikido takes so long to master. My choices for the above are because I have heard that Aikido is a good self-defense martial art that allows you to defend yourself w/o having to seriously injure the opponent. The downside is that it takes a long time to learn it to the point where it is effective / you can properly apply it. This is where Krav Maga comes in. It seems to cover the areas where Aikido might be lacking in the beginning. I also chose Aikido because I am thinking it is something I can continue doing into my 50's as well. Are Aikido and Krav Maga a good combination or would you recommend something else?

2. Is Bujinkan Ninjitsu (taijutsu) an effective martial art for self-defense? Could I combine it with something else like I am considering with Aikido and Krav Maga? If not, why not?

My last question involves my little ones:

3.) I'd like to get them involved in a martial art. Is Aikido a good choice? My thinking is that since it takes a long time to master and they are so young, they would have time to practice and grow into it. Or is Aikido to much of a "by-gone" martial art? If not aikido, what other martial art would you recommend for young kids to start with?

Many thanks,


Columbus, Ohio


mubbi on December 20, 2014:


I am very very much confused

Whether to start with karate or judo or takewando or kung fu or mauy Thai or BJJ or Krav maga or kick boxing or MMA .. I want to learn from basics every thing very clearly and correctly .. Wright from the practitioner level to expert level.. learning the right and effective form of martial arts has been my dream right from my childhood.. And now that I have got a chance to learn I really don't want to waste my Time and money learning a kind of martial arts that would literally be off no use to me... Pls throw some light on it

mubbi on December 20, 2014:

Respect martial Artists this is the one I was talking about..


The one there in the link you posted

Please advise :)

mubbi on December 20, 2014:

Respected martial Artists I am very thankful to you for having spent your quality time in replying to my query..

My question is I am very much found off martial arts and want to learn one for my self defense.. I have no much martial arts training I had attended a few classes of shotokon karate in my high school.. which didn't help me at all.. As a child I was abused a lot and also bullied by a bunch a guys.. Respect sir I want to learn martial arts that would help me in my worst situations.. a Real martial art.. sir could you please help me choose the best form off martial arts in india (Bangalore).. I am 21 currently.. I want to learn martial arts that would help me in any worst possible scenario.. You have got a very good knowledge in this field I have been reading all your posts on this website.. Honoured having spoken to you.. kindly guide me choose best form of martial arts.. thank you .. And in case your answer is krav maga.. there are two famous krav maga centres in Bangalore .. The one you've already posted a link about.. and the other one is Badaaz combat academy krav maga Bangalore.. instructor Franklin Joseph..

Thank you

Martial Artist (author) on December 14, 2014:

Hi Bodybuilder,

I do not agree with those statements. I lift myself and found that in my opinion and performance they compliment each other. But it is dependent on the way you train. Muay Thai is a snapping action art and that comes from the triceps. The bigger the tricep the harder the snappier the punch, the bigger the biceps the pushier the punch. If you lift in proportion it shouldn't be a problem. The only disadvantage you do have is the bulkier you are, the slower you are but then again...the harder you hit. So you have to focus on the strong points. In terms of damage you might pick up, it depends on what your Muay Thai training looks like. If you can find a club that trains in proper gear there is no damage as the gloves stabilizes your wrist and hands so, as long as you use proper form and technique you will never have a problem. I found that lifting with large muscle groups rather then muscle isolating exercises (like standing barbell curls instead of lets say preacher curls) do help in-proportion building. All the best

Bodybuilder on December 12, 2014:

Hi martial artist. I was told that it is not good to learn striking arts if you lift weights, because weight lifting is a pushing motion while striking is a snapping motion. Is it really that big of a deal? Are there any striking arts I can learn as a weight lifter? Is it ok to learn krav maga if you lift weights? I was told I should not train muay thai if I am a weight lifter becasue it will cause problems.

Martial Artist (author) on December 11, 2014:

Greetings mubbi,

This will help you out:

All the best

Martial Artist (author) on December 11, 2014:

Greetings Jimmy J,

I have tried looking for information regarding Keno 5.0 but I can not find anything regarding the martial art. So unfortunately I won't be able to assist you. You should note though that if a martial is so unknown one has to question it's effectiveness. Rather stick to proven methods like Krav Maga. All the best.