Which martial arts are effective in self-defense?

Few people understand what self-defense really is

Since there is a lot of confusion on this subject, it’s important to stress some facts:

Self-defense is the study of the best way to solve a dangerous situation, with the less possible use of violence (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method).

Which martial arts are actually effective in the street and which ones are not?

In terms of self-defense, probably all those who include:

  • Sparring 
  • Conditioning
  • Stress management
  • Prevention
  • Negotiation
  • Escaping
  • Planning
  • Daily training
  • Legal awareness
  • A multidisciplinary approach
  • The use of (proper / improper) weapons

And (necessarily) those who exclude:

  • Only fake collaborative simulations
  • Too complex / aesthetic techniques
  • Too easy solutions
  • Violence as the first choice
  • Omnicomprehensive solutions
  • Disarming techniques for novices
  • Only training sessions inside a protected gym-like context
  • Illusions of invulnerability / invincibility

Everything is related to the instructor

Even within these parameters, it is not possible to compile a list of names (like Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, etc.) because everything depends on the instructor’s mindset.

Here there are a few questions in relation to our instructor:

  • Does he know what is he talking about? Has he ever been involved in a fight (even sportive, even sparring)?
  • Does he know the law and the collateral risks? Does he speaks by hearsay or has he experienced firsthand what he says?
  • Has he ever been involved in a self-defense situation? How has he reacted?
  • Has he spent on preparing / studying self-defense more than a few hours in a stage or not?
  • Has he the intelligence to distinguish between practicing violence and avoiding it?
  • And above all, has he the intellectual honesty to admit what are his limits and the ones of what he teaches?

If we must forcibly reply with a long list of “no”, we are in front of a person, not necessarily incompetent in his field but that (probably) cannot teach us self-defense.

In-depth articles

Special thanks

  • Thanks to jasmine for this question and her donation to 6 Dragons Kung Fu


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What is your opinion about what self-defense should be?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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