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10 Top Martial Arts for Self Defence

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If you are thinking of taking up martial arts training, you have quite a few to choose from and you should consider what it is you want from the art you are going to train in. If you are taking martial arts training to get yourself fitter, you will find that all martial arts will get you fitter and healthier than when you started. But if you are looking at learning a martial art so that you can defend yourself if you ever have to, you will find it worth your while looking for a fighting art that will suit you best.

1) Kickboxing

Kickboxing has to be one of the most dynamic fighting arts to learn, especially if you want to learn how to defend yourself effectively. There are several different types of kickboxing to choose from, the most well known being Muay Thai, or Thai Boxing. The national sport of Thailand is not known as the art of eight limbs for nothing. The Muay Thai fighter uses punches, kicks, knee and elbows to explode at their assailant. Kickboxing does not rely so much on defence, but hits your attacker with a barrage of strikes that will force them to parry your strikes.

2) Karate

The karate student will not only learn how to attack his opponent with punches and kicks, but they also learn how to defend against attacks using blocks and parries. Footwork is also an important part of karate training, so if someone goes to attack you, you will instinctively sidestep them, block any strikes and deliver your own counter-attack. A lot of time in karate training is taken up by learning katas, which are a set routine of strikes and defences.

3) Akido

Akido is a Japanese martial art that does not rely on many strikes, but mainly uses an opponent’s own momentum against them. For example, an attacker throwing a punch can have his momentum used to bring them down and immobilized. Akido is a very defensive martial art, where you use the techniques to counter your attacker’s moves. Many techniques in Akido use joint locks to immobilize an opponent. One of the most famous practitioners of Akido is American actor Steven Seagal, who is a seventh degree black belt.

4) Wing Chun

Wing Chun is a form of Chinese kung fu that was founded by a young woman named Wing Chun, who was taught kung fu by a Buddhist nun. This is a martial art that is very good for someone of a smaller build. It uses a very square stance facing an opponent and uses the arms to protect the centre line of the body and relies on strikes from a very close range. A skilled Wing Chun practitioner can fire off a series of punches in quick succession (chain punch) to overcome and defeat his opponent. This is the martial art that was taught to the late, great Bruce Lee by Wing Chun master Ip Man.

5) Jiu-Jitsu

The Japanese art of Jiu-Jitsu is the original art of the samurai warrior. It is a fighting art that was forged on the battle field. Jiu-Jitsu is a real hybrid of martial arts; it incorporates striking with punches and kicks and uses throws and grappling techniques such as chokes and joint locks. A Jiu-Jitsu fighter can counter an attack with one of their own and then take them down to the ground and apply a choke or attack a joint to immobilise them.

6) Jeet Kune Do

This is the martialthat was developed by Bruce Lee after he moved from Hong Kong to the United States. He adapted the Wing Chun he had learnt as a boy and mixed it with other fighting styles to develop a fighting art that is effective at every range of combat, from kicking range to ground fighting. Lee never meant his art to be classed as a “style” of martial art, he wanted it to be fighting art without limits or boundaries, that can constantly be developed by the martial artists for their own needs. His famous quote was,”Use what is useful, discard what is not”.

7) Western Boxing


If there is one fighting art that can help you get out of a bad situation quickly, it has to be boxing. Training in boxing will help you develop lightning fast reflexes, not only in your punches but with your evasive footwork and head movements. The classic bobbing and weaving movements that will have you slipping your attacker before launching a counter attack of your own. Boxing training will have you fitter than you ever thought possible and there are plenty of boxing gloves to choose from at the martialartshop.

8) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is essentially a ground fighting art that was developed by the Gracie family in Brazil, after learning Judo from Japanese master Mitsuyo Maeda in the 1920s. The Gracies wanted a system of fighting that would allow a smaller, weaker person be able to overcome and beat a larger, stronger opponent with leverage, timing and technique instead of size and strength. Seeing that many real altercations ended up with the combatants fighting on the ground, they developed a highly efficient system of ground fighting using takedowns, throws, chokes and joint locks.

9) Keysi Fighting Method

This is a street fighting art that originated on the streets of Spain in the 1950s. It has been developed over the years to become a very practical but offensive martial art. One important aspect of the art is the use of the thinking man stance or Pensador, where the fighter uses an almost foetal position to guard his head and body while looking for opportunities to launch a counter attack on their assailant. The Keysi Fighting Method became famous as the fighting art that was used by Batman in the Dark Knight films.

10) Krav Maga

This is the fighting art of the Israeli Defence Force, developed by Imi Lichtenfield, it trains a practitioner to deliver multiple blows to an attacker before being able to make their escape. The philosophy that the best form of defence is attack is very true for the art of Krav Maga. The art will teach someone how to defend themselves against multiple attackers. This is a very practical fighting system that can be learnt quickly and does not require years of study to become proficient in the art.