While law enforcement does the best to keep you safe, it doesn’t hurt to have self-defense skills up your sleeve. Learning martial arts can be great to help you stay prepared for a street fight without having to carry weapons. But with the various forms of martial arts adapted for different situations, it can be tricky to pick what to learn for self-defense.
Here are the 8 best martial arts for street fighting:
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Muay Thai
- Krav Maga
The rest of this post will cover these fighting styles in greater detail. Read on to find out what makes each martial art suitable for street fighting, what to expect in training, and more.
1. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
As the name suggests, this is a mixture of techniques from different martial arts. If you choose to train in MMA, you’ll be borrowing diverse techniques from arts such as:
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
With MMA, you’ll learn the techniques for ground fighting, clinch fighting, and fighting with a standup opponent. The training focuses on the whole body, and you can use any part of it to defeat your opponent in a street fight.
Some of the techniques you’ll learn in a comprehensive MMA class include:
- Grappling kicking
- Ground fighting
- Submission moves
These techniques will prepare you for any street attack, and you’ll probably catch your attacker by surprise with the versatility of your moves.
MMA also trains you to be versatile and unpredictable with your moves. For instance, you could punch your opponent on the face then use a foot swipe to put them on the ground. Most of the opponents you’ll face in street fights won’t have such versatility.
MMA sparring matches are similar to street fights, giving you the familiarity you need if you get into one. The trainers will surprise you with different attacks to sharpen your fighting skills. At the end of the training, you should handle any street fight technique and overpower your opponents.
Most MMA trainers focus on specific routines instead of covering the wider concepts. However, you can ask your trainer for as many techniques as you can afford and have time for. The more techniques you can learn with this art, the better equipped you’ll be for any street fight.
2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
BJJ is more of a grappling martial art. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t match up to other fighting techniques.
BJJ is unique compared to other martial arts because it trains you to win against a more prominent opponent in a street fight. You’ll learn how to use your size and position to undermine your opponent. You’ll also learn to use positions, angles, leverage, and techniques to overpower the opponent.
This form of martial arts focuses on bringing your opponent to the ground and pinning them to the floor. Almost everyone can kick or throw a punch and cause damage. However, not many people can win a fight on the ground. Once your opponent is on the ground, you can use different choke and joint locks to subdue them.
BJJ borrows some techniques from Judo and wrestling. It’s the only martial art that teaches you how to win against a bigger opponent. This comes in handy in street fighting, where most attackers or opponents in street fights are larger.
Joint lock techniques can be fatal if not carefully applied, and you might end up breaking bones if you use too much force. However, you’ll learn how to use just enough force to subdue your opponent without hurting them or yourself. Also, BJJ training comes with many sparring sessions that will familiarize you with real life street fights.
3. Muay Thai
Some people refer to Muay Thai as the art of 8 limbs. That’s because you can attack your opponent with your hands, elbows, shin, and any other body part that’s free during a fight. It is also known as one of the arts that cause the most damage to the opponent.
When training in Muay Thai, you’ll use padded partners and striking bags to practice your moves. You’ll also participate in many sparring sessions to get you accustomed to the real-life street fight environment.
As a Thai boxer, you’ll learn how to throw vicious kicks. These come in handy when you need to drop long-range opponents to the clinch level, where most people struggle to fight. You can take advantage of this and attack your opponent with kicks and knee strikes to weaken them. You can then use foot sweeps to drop your opponent to the ground.
As part of the training, Muay Thai teaches you how to control your breath during a fight. Breathlessness in a street fight can be a weak point that you don’t want your opponent to exploit. You’ll also be adding muscle strength to help you stay strong for long in a fight. This means that as you learn how to be a good fighter, you’ll also be giving your body a full workout.
Although boxing is mostly a martial art for controlled fight environments, it can be useful in a street fight. Anyone can throw a punch, but can yours drop your opponent to the ground and keep them there? Not many can answer that question with a yes.
As a boxer, you’ll train on areas you can target your punches to weaken the opponent. If you execute the tactics well, you’ll drop your opponent before they know it. The trick is staying within the training techniques and observing your footwork and that of your opponent.
Some of the techniques you’ll learn in boxing are:
- Throwing strong punches
- Moving your head out of harm’s way
- Keeping your distance
- Throwing winning punch combos
Boxing also helps you overcome the fear of fighting by allowing you to train with other people. Your training partners will have gloves on and padding on their bodies, allowing you to throw stronger punches without fear of hurting them. But if you use the same strength in a street fight, you’ll likely hurt your opponent and win.
The sparring sessions also teach how to observe your opponent’s nonverbal communication and use it against them. This gets you accustomed to the adrenaline pump of being in a fight, allowing you to stay calm, meticulous, and dangerous.
As a wrestler, you’ll learn to use your strength, balance, and control to overpower your opponent and pin them to the ground. This makes it one of the best martial arts to apply in a street fight.
In the wrestling training sessions, you’ll learn to exert pressure on your opponent. Sustained pressure helps knock the breath out of them, giving you an upper hand in the match.
You’ll also learn to control your body movements and gain stability when fighting. As a wrestler, you need to know how to prevent opponents from knocking you down. Ground wrestling never ends well, especially if your opponent has the upper hand.
You will also learn how to develop leverage against your opponent. One of the basic wrestling lessons is to study your opponent’s body movements during a fight to identify their weak spots. Once you identify these, it becomes easier to exploit them and win the street fight.
Wrestling will also teach you to use your explosive power and technical knowledge to subdue your opponents. The training is intensive, helping build your muscle strength. Combine that with proper technique, and you have one of the best styles for street fighting.
6. Krav Maga
Krav Maga is one martial art that is not applied in competitive or controlled fight environments. It borrows some techniques from other martial arts such as karate, Judo, and boxing. This makes it one of the best arts to learn for street fighting.
Street fights don’t have as many rules as competitive sports, and the aim is usually just to win the fight. With Krav Maga, you’ll learn devastating techniques such as:
- Eye poking
- Groin attacks
- Throat attacks
Such techniques are not taught in other martial arts, but they could be the ones that help you win in a street fight. The eyes, groin, and throats are the best weak point in your opponent. If you target these, you’ll leave them with immense pain and further your chances of winning the fight.
Krav Maga also prepares you with different fighting techniques such as:
- Effective striking
- Clinch fighting
- Ground fighting
Besides the physical training, Krav Maga also equips you with self-awareness strategies such as de-escalation, avoidance, and situational awareness. Such skills help you assess the fight at hand and use non-violent ways to get out of the fight whenever possible.
Unlike other martial arts, Krav Maga also trains you to defend yourself if your opponent has weapons such as knives. During the training sessions, your instructors will use plastic knives to familiarize you with weaponized attacks. These will help you prepare for real-life street fight situations.
Your trainer in Krav Maga will stimulate you with triggers common in street fighting. You might get insulted, pushed, hit from behind, or yelled at to trigger you to fight. Such simulations are very similar to what you’ll find in a street fight.
Most fights will catch you unprepared unless you participate in competitive street fighting. In such a case, the only weapon you can use is your body. Judo teaches you how to do just that, making it one of the best martial arts for street fights.
Some of the effective techniques you learn in Judo include:
- Joint locks
- Choke holds
- Arm locks
Grappling and wrestling will help you subdue your opponent to the ground, where you can force them to submission. You can also throw your opponent off balance and take advantage of their weak points with joint locks.
Arm locks and chokeholds will help you defeat a close-range opponent in a street fight. At the end of the day, the purpose is to win the fight and keep yourself safe. Judo also teaches you how to evade attacks from your opponents and target their weak points.
As a Judo artist, you have more balance and coordination than your opponent. You can use these points to your advantage by observing your opponent’s movements and identifying the weak links.
Improved coordination also allows you to maneuver your way through a fight to wear out your opponent and set up a win. You can also avoid the attacks by knowing where to move and when. Having great balance in a fight also lets you move your body in different positions while attacking your opponents in their weak spots.
Taekwondo is an Olympic-recognized martial art that will equip you well for street fights.
The art relies on the speed of your strikes and how fast you can overpower your opponent. Street fights are often close range, giving you proximity to your opponent. Taekwondo allows you to use your legs, which are your longest and strongest weapons.
When using Taekwondo in a street fight, the trick is to target the shin and groin of your opponent. These are usually pain points that will hinder your opponent and give you the upper hand in the fight. You can also throw swift successive kicks to the upper body to derail your opponent and give yourself room for more attacks.
Some argue that Taekwondo doesn’t teach you sparring techniques that can come in handy during a street fight. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth because it teaches you how to be swift on your feet. This can be handy because most of the people you’ll face in street fights prefer punching and throwing their opponents. So with proper application, Taekwondo skills appropriately can surprise your opponent and potentially win you a fight.