With frequent reports of muggings and assaults on the news, it’s hard not to feel nervous walking down the street at night. Studying a martial art is a great way to learn how to defend yourself against a potential assault. For centuries, cultures from all across the globe have developed their own styles and techniques for hand-to-hand combat. Today, recreational martial arts are on the rise; mastering one can help you stay safe—and get a great workout in the process. There are hundreds of different styles of martial arts from all over the world, so which one should you choose? We break down seven of the best styles for self-defense below:
- Muay Thai
This Thai style kickboxing is known for being particularly brutal. Sometimes referred to as the “art of the eight limbs,” students learn how to fight with their hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Because it utilizes the entire body, Muay Thai is also an excellent full body workout. The ‘ultimate’ endorsement? It’s a style that nearly all Ultimate Fighting Champions use in their training.
Jujitsu, which literally translates to “the art of softness,” teaches students how to use an attacker’s strength against them. Using a variety of redirection techniques, Jujitsu experts will negate an attack, and use their opponent’s momentum as a tool. The predecessor for many other popular martial arts styles including Judo and Aikido, Jujitsu shows you that being a strong fighter is less important than being a smart fighter.
A newer martial art, Kajukenbo combines numerous traditional styles including Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Kenpo, and Western and Chinese Boxing. It was created in 1947 by five martial arts masters, each from different traditions. They hoped to develop a cohesive style that would incorporate all of their skills and could be effectively used for street fighting. Pulling from all these different practices, Kajukenbo provides a well-rounded martial arts education ideal for self-defense, training students in punching, kicking, joint-locks, throwing, takedowns, and weapon disarmament.
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Specifically designed to help smaller fighters overpower larger opponents, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an ideal style for people interested in learning how to defend themselves from an attacker. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches students how to use leverage and special grappling techniques to pin their attacker to the ground. Once they have moved the fight to the ground, students learn to finish it using joint-locks and chokeholds.
Sambo is a Russian martial art developed by the Soviet Army to improve troops’ hand-to-hand combat. It is a militaristic, realistic combat style. But what it lacks in artistry, it makes up for in effectiveness. Inspired by judo, jujitsu and traditional Russian wrestling, Sambo primarily focuses on using grappling techniques to overpower opposition.
- Jeet Kune Do
Most familiar to Western audiences as the martial art practice developed by Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do is both a series of techniques and a fighting philosophy. It has been referred to as a “non-classical” martial art, inspired by traditional kung fu moves, but without the form. Because it does not follow strict patterns, Jeet Kune Do is more versatile than more traditional martial art practices. Jeet Kune Do focuses on flexibility and timing, encouraging its students to use minimal movement at the ideal moment to maximum effect.
- Krav Maga
When talking about martial arts for self-defense, Krav Maga Worldwide tops almost every list. Developed for the Israeli Defense Force, this brutal fighting style is known for its aggressive, efficient technique. The guiding principles of Krav Maga are to neutralize the attacker, be on the offensive and defensive simultaneously, and target the opponent’s vulnerabilities. Krav Maga doesn’t shy away from maneuvers banned in many formal martial arts matches such as hits to the groin or eye gouging. While other martial arts may consider these techniques to be ‘dirty’, these moves can be highly effective against an attacker.
Martial arts may have ancient roots, but can still be effectively used for self-defense today. Empower yourself by checking out a martial arts studio in your area.