7 Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival

Featured | A man doing standing on road | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival

Self-defense is important for preppers and average joes alike, so here are the best self-defense martial arts disciplines you might want to consider training in.

RELATED: 10 Martial Law Survival Tactics You Need To Know Now

Train with These Self-Defense Martial Arts Techniques

Self-Defense Martial Arts: A Survival Skill

When it comes to self-defense, learning martial arts is one of the smartest things you can do. If you meet opponents ready and committed to taking you down, you can defend yourself and walk away unharmed.

Knowing certain special techniques give you the advantage of several options to fight off attackers. Essentially, martial arts is also a form of fitness exercise which is also vital to your survival.

Moreover, know-how in self-defense martial arts gives you the element of surprise. A stranger cannot tell for certain the self-defense training you have.

And without any visible weapons, they'll assume you are a defenseless fellow they can easily take on–they're dead wrong.

There are different forms of martial arts you can choose from to train in. Some evolved from ancient forms of self-defense and others are forms of combined or mixed martial arts.

The following are some of the most popular types of martial arts for self-defense.

1. Kickboxing for Self Defense

Kickboxing trains you to be good at using many “weapons” – your hands, feet, knees, elbows, and head. So, it’s a great martial art to help defend you against an unarmed attacker.

Simply rush at your attacker and quickly send him a hard kick in the chin. Kickboxing thrives on such moves which require you to attack fast, using the element of surprise.

Muay thai | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival
If you do it correctly, you’ll successfully force your attacker to bite off his tongue, break his jaw, crush his throat, break his teeth, etc.

In kickboxing, you train to deliver lethal kicks and blows efficiently and powerfully without getting telegraphed.

What Is Telegraphing? Telegraphing is a term used in sports where one reveals their next move or situation unintentionally.

Another smart kickboxing move is to quickly grab his hand with the weapon (if your attacker is holding one other than a gun) and headbutt him in the face, particularly on the nose.

Kickboxers train to endure pain and damage to any part of their body. Click here for the full post.

2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Self Defense Martial Arts

The winner, which receives the most of our visitors’ votes in our Top 10 Martial Arts in the World list is – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).

It’s difficult to explain, but I know from personal experience, that I fell in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu during my first training session.

This wonderful type of martial art became famous during the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship competitions when Royce Gracie defeated his opponents one after another by using just the BJJ technique. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is currently the most popular martial art among MMA fighters.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival
As Helio Gracie said – “Jiu-Jitsu is for the protection of the individual, the older man, the weak, the child, the lady, the young woman – anyone who doesn’t have the physical attributes to defend themselves.” See more at Martial Arts Lab.

3. Muay Thai for Self Defense

Muay Thai is quite known to be a very effective art in all circles. It has proven itself quite well in competitions like mixed martial arts and kickboxing.

It teaches diversity in striking since kicks, punches, elbows, knees, and more are very well taught.

Kick boxing | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival
Muay Thai focuses to a great extent on the clinch, or inside fighting on the feet.

So when someone comes in and tries to turn a self-defense situation into a grappling match, which let's face it happens very frequently, Muay Thai has an answer, at least before the fight hits the ground.

That said, Muay Thai is not a grappling art, per se. And since the majority of fights end up on the ground, this is a weakness. You can read the full article at Thought Co.

RELATED: 7 Self-Defense Video Techniques You Need To Know

4. Krav Maga Self-Defense Martial Arts

Krav Maga 004-1 is Israel’s national martial art, developed largely by Imi Lichtenfeld, and dedicated to no-holds-barred incapacitation for the purpose of street survival. No quarter is expected or given.

krav maga Self defense | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival
It incorporates Western boxing punches, Karate kicks and knees, Greco-Roman wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu ground fighting, Jiu-jitsu throws and grappling, and most importantly, “bursting,” adapted from Wing Chun.

This is a simultaneous defense/attack: instead of blocking an attack and then delivering a response, you block the attack and deliver a response at the same time, i. e., block with the left arm and push forward with the legs, striking with the right fist to the throat, all simultaneously. See more

5. Taekwondo for Self Defense

Taekwondo: the real serious form of taekwondo is a Korean martial art that draws techniques from many other martial arts. It’s what MMA would be if designed by traditional martial arts experts.

The discipline involves various strikes with the hands and feet, from a mobile stance. There are also some take-downs, holds, and joint locks.

Taekwondo | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival

However, the emphasis on speed and high kicks might keep some older and slower would-be martial artists from pursuing the discipline.

6. Karate for Self Defense Martial Arts

A very common martial arts practice, karate means “Empty hand” because there are no weapons used. Karate dates back to as early as the 1300s.

It consists of zero weapon-striking. Instead, an individual’s hands and legs become the main forms of defense.

Not only is karate a good self-defense tool, but it also packs a few health benefits not found in other martial arts practices.

Silhouette of woman doing karate | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival

It is said to use karate only when you are confronted by a “villain or ruffian,” and you can also use it as a way to avoid fighting or confrontation. – Udemy

7. Boxing for Self-Defense Martial Arts

Few martial arts teach these two defensive skills: Use the head to protect the head and the body to protect the body.

Instead, they use weapon-fighting tactics–using their hands to protect the head or the body.

Boxing | Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival
For self-defense from the pocket, it would be hard to defend against a good boxer. Of course, boxing’s lack of elbow strikes, groin attacks, and ground defense is limiting, but for pain tolerance and conditioning, it can’t be beaten.

Check out this video from Maher Husseini for self-defense moves and techniques you can learn: 

You can have skills at handling guns and other weapons, but it is also necessary to be able to fight for your survival even without weapons within your reach.

Whether you are a male or female, young or old, you must have at least some basic training in martial arts. So take your pick now for the best self-defense techniques for you.

Which of these self-defense martial arts techniques would you like to train in first? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 19, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

38 Responses to :
7 Self-Defense Martial Arts For Personal Safety And Survival

  1. TripodXL says:

    @OP; A fine overview of martial arts. I love Taekwondo as one of the most beautiful of the martial arts. Most people, especially older people, don’t realize that Tai Chi is a martial art. The POV of the usefulness of a martial art has to do with the individual’s abilities. I’ve always been 16 foot tall and bullet proof, but after retiring from the military after almost 40 years (and my last PT was 95%) in 2010, I find myself recovering from a cervical fusion, rt rotator cuff surgery, lt shoulder surgery for arthritis and calcifications, and trying to recover from the effects of “statin drugs” and the damage to me that they have caused. Quite an existential “come uppance” for me. I am healing, slowly, and hope to be back to at least short and bullet resistant in the next 6 months. But it has been a miserable 5-6 years. The one that I have looked into over the years is Krav Maga. In reality there are less than 10 moves, more like 4-7 moves, that if practiced to the point of mastery, would be all that one would need for successfully disengaging an attacker. Though, situational awareness, and the avoidance of “physical contact” is a better “technique” to me. I preach this in my concealed carry classes, “the best gunfight is the one that doesn’t happen”. Of course, even a perfect SA, head on a swivel, eyes go click, can wind up in a physical confrontation. That said, if you are an older person and can find a certified Krav Maga instructor that is also certified in other martial arts, and explain to them what you want, the top “5” moves needed to deal with 90% of most possible encounters, and they are willing to do that, instead of teach you some “cut and paste” standard martial arts program, that would be the way I would go. The biggest problem with most martial arts, is that they teach you according to the RULES. In a survival encounter there is only ONE RULE….SURVIVE. They don’t teach head butting, nut biting, eye gouging and other “against the rules” moves. The most useful moves involve several disciplines. My personal one is to get a relaxed back stance (taekwondo), if an adversary comes to you, you grasp (kung fu/judo) and step back one back stance (taekwondo)pulling hard (judo/kung fu) and an step to the side (judo) and either disengage to run or draw your weapon (Glock) OR a brutish and repetitive head strike to the back of the head/neck area. Also involved in this is teaching the lack of repulsion that most people have against biting and really, really, hurting someone. That last part is a mental issue. This is a topic that is really for the “under 40” crowd, and the REALLY FIT over 40 crowd. Anyway, nice post but not necessarily the best way to go. Not everyone can be “karate man”. Appreciate the info. Be Well.

    1. PUNISHER says:


      1. TripodXL says:

        First, it is TaeKwondo and I doubt you will hurt anyone. If you’re put in a ring with MMA, that come from ALL martial arts, I DOUBT YOU WILL HURT ANYONE BUT YOURSELF. If you’re not an MMA fighter, you will have your ass waxed. I don’t do MMA personally, but you don’t have to be a pilot to understand the danger in crashing a plane. MMA, is a convergence of styles that amalgamate into a “win” for the “winner”. Most martial arts, as noted above, are not stand alone dominant methodologies for winning. TaeKwoNdo is NOT A SPORT ANY MORE THAN ANY OTHER MARTIAL ART. You delude yourself if you think otherwise. Be Well.

        1. Sialoi Sialoi Jr says:

          Fist of all, if you can run 10 miles a day, swim 10 laps in a pool, 10 sets of 50 push ups, 5 sets of 10 pull ups, 10 sets of 50 sit ups, and eat right and hit the punching bag for 30 minutes a day and a lot of stretching you will do fine,stay away from lifting weight and that’s all you need, human have a natural ability to defend themselves end of story. A lot of people will under estimate their ability.

      2. Really says:

        Do you really call yourself PUNISHER – How old are you really? 12? Most martial arts are exactly that – an art – where you are taught repetitive techniques, mostly empty handed or air strikes, sometimes in an extemely controlled sparring bout against the very same stlye you just learnt. Go work a few doors in clubs and see how far your kung fu gets you then. The best defence is awareness and avoidance. Saying ‘put me in ring with so and so’ is just gonna get you hurt. Anyone who attacks you is not going to politely bow or shake your hand – they will just attack you, usually in a group, mostly drugged, drunk or psychologically messed up. I think you’ve watched too many Bruce Lee films mate.

      3. Er Mnz says:

        Agree. It is the least of all martial arts that I would take seriously. I lived in Korea for over 10 years and saw the performance by Tae Kwan Do students at university functions. I know that they were just displaying their moves for sport and not for combat purposes, but I was never drawn to that sport. Krav Maga, Judo or Jujetsu seem to like serious combat martial arts, and that’s what I would have learned had I stayed longer in Korea. There’s also anecdotal evidence of Tae Kwan Do practitioners being subdued and defeated especially by people who knew ground defense and offense techniques.

  2. Dan says:

    A very good overview of various self defense training available however I think boxing and wrestling (HS& College)may be the best training in the real world, other than an actual street fight (best trining of all). Most of us that have been in and/or observed actual fights know that when fists fly all the fancy moves in pracice give way to down and dirty super aggression to win.

    1. stephan kerby says:

      agreed. The most simple movements are the most effective. To be able to box to defend standing up, or to be able to maneuver comfortably on the ground for a take down or defense is also crucial. HENCE why MMA fighters learn BJJ, wrestling, thai/boxing.

    2. TripodXL says:

      Neither boxing nor wrestling have the “violence of action” required to STOP an assault AND disengage. That was the point of the OP. It requires something else. I made an excellent explanation above of what was needed. There are some 4-7 moves, that if practiced to the point of being second nature, will prohibit being the victim of an attack. You can’t go to the ground and you must be able to disengage quickly. You will die or be terribly injured if you stand and fight or go to the ground. You have to break off the attack in as few moves as possible. THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE KNOWING A MARTIAL ART. It requires knowing the 4-7 moves mentioned and having mastery of them. Yes, there will be times it won’t work. MOST OF THE TIME, it will work and you can disengage and run or draw a weapon. Be Well.

  3. Rick says:

    I do believe that a good self defense is needed, however, a lot of older people are not capable of the jumps and strikes needed, But there is a style of Martial Arts that was devised for old men and women thar utilizes soft point strikes and nerve strikes that can be quite deadly. I would suggest more research be done for these. I hold belts in five different styles and I will tell you, the “soft style” can be more debilating than any of the others

    1. Mahatma Muhjesbude says:

      No time today anymore Rick, to explain at length, But please don’t tell anyone, especially older persons, to learn nerve and soft point strikes. You’ll just be giving them false hopes and that’s wrong. These are mostly mythology and the few pressure points, etc that do seem to provide pain and such actually require more training and skill and even power in real ‘self-defense’ that only a virtual ‘god of war’ might be able to use effectively. They can be ‘softly demonstrated’ in martial arts schools and they are good ‘entertainment’, but they’ll get you killed in the real world. About the only worthwhile ‘soft target’ is the eyes. But even this takes lengthy accuracy and speed training, especially in a moving target. if you want a good hit probability rate. Older people should learn to use a firearm properly for the best time and expense value.

  4. Mikey says:

    You forgot the MOST DEADLIEST Martial Arts of all!


    especially their deadly groin attacks

    1. TripodXL says:

      For those of limited abilities, Tai Chi is of a vital use and should become a second nature, not something else.

    2. TrpodXL says:

      That was a joke….

      1. Kayty says:

        Actually, as others have mentioned, Tai Chi IS a martial Art, extremely slowed down. but unless you are VERY good at it, It’s not really practical for self-defense. Aikido is an Art which teaches avoidance, throws and locks, but by itself again it’s not very practical. I’d love to see aiki-justsu however. it’s probably best to do an Art you will stick with for the fitness aspect, then pick up some good techniques from other styles as well.

  5. stephan kerby says:

    Bad ranking- 1- Is Jiu-jitsu for the reason mentioned. Kickboxing is essentially thai boxing but thai you use elbows and knees strikes as well. Then boxing as its a basic again. Karate and some of the others are not as realistic in the world/street today. Taekwondoe and many others have moved to more tournament style systems and was surprised by how little we were taught about using punches etc. Almost all kicks. Anyhow jiu-jitsu and then Muay thai in my opinion.

  6. robert bilske says:


  7. SCW says:

    Take the martial art off the mat, out off the studio and try it. Snow, mud, water could all be issues. BJJ in water or say TKD in boots in mud…Make sure whatever you use you practice outside in realistic scenarios.

  8. PUNISHER says:


    1. TripodXL says:


      1. madashell13 says:

        I would rather fight a guy who practices 100 kicks 1 time than a guy who practices 1 kick 100 times. Quantity is not a substitution for quality. What about Benson Henderson and Uriah Hall, the both have TKD backgrounds. Granted they have lost fights, but I don’t recall them having their “ass waxed”. To be correct it is Tae Kwon Do.

        1. TrpodXL says:

          @madashel3; Yes, I agree with the “kicks….”. Tae Kwon Do is spelled and capitalized how ever your master spells it…..I don’t care how else it is spelled. But well said.

  9. Joyce Angleberger says:

    None of these self defense methods will help those of us who are handicapped, arthritic, or weakened from other human ailments. Perhaps we don’t matter and others would be better off without us? I’m aware there are less physically demanding methods of self-defense–why don’t you promote those also?

    1. scw says:

      For older people perhaps something like Richard Dmitri’s Shredder would be suitable. Its very effective, simple and suitable to all ages.

      Youtube has lots of clips. Be warned Richard’s language can be as brutal as his system.

    2. Kayty says:

      I think someone just did…Get a Concealed Carry permit, a firearm you feel comfortable with, and a LOT of range practice !

  10. jimbow says:

    This reminds me of an old joke.
    A man meets 2nd man in a bar out of no were the 2nd man attacks the 1st man when the 1st man is laying on the floor the 2nd man, stands over the 1st man and said Karate. The next week it happens again, but the 2nd man said Taekwondo, the week after that same but this time the 2nd man said Jiu-Jitsu. The week after that week the 1st man walked in late attracted the 2nd man bang bang, when the 2nd man was laying on the floor, the 1st man said tire iron.

  11. Steven Bates says:

    Your the only one that has a clue. I also am out of Chicago and have 5 different black belts and teach strictly self defense. I was king hand to hand pit Ranger School and taught 300 black belt instructors in Korea. Special Force Unit instructor B Co. 75th Ranger. I’ve been in the arts 45 years.

  12. Steven Bates says:

    The strict traditionalist is what we called the frog that fell in the well. He only see’s a piece of the sky and is unaware of dangers outside his view. Every art has a place, and has a use. Not knowing is what can get you killed.

    1. TripodXL says:

      If you aren’t teaching “street fighting” where nut biting, head butting and “illegal fighting technigues” (dick pulling, asshole grabbing, ear biting, neck biting, etc.) are taught, then you aren’t teaching anything.

  13. Brian Heinz says:

    I have been studying GO JU RYU for the past 28 yrs its has so many different aspects to it takes a life time to be a Master. But has so many kill and bone break and pressure point hits in the style. There is no superior Style just superior artist the art is like a tool its up to the worker to be proficient with his tools. And what most people fail to see about the art is its a way of life not something you do.

  14. Retired SF says:

    I agree that martial arts should be learned by all, tai chi is great for older folks for “combating” age, arthritis, and such. But understand that these are all tools in the tool box, not one is perfect for every scenario, situation, or environment. Yes situational awareness is critical, but even the best can not be 100% alert 100% of the time.

    While many martial arts have multiple moves, being 100%. perficent on all moves is not realistict. Being 100% perficent on 30% of the style is more important.

    Yes it is stated by others the best fight is the one avoided, but having an idea of the pychy of the attacker, portraying an attitude of confidence-not the meek will be the first visual deterant. Looking at each person, avoid distractions of electronics, but when the time comes, DO SOMETHING will send the message, I will not go down with out a fight,

    Stay vigilant, stay safe

    1. TrpodXL says:

      @Retired SF; Exactly. The 100%/30% or less actually was the entire point.

  15. madashell13 says:

    I read a bunch of crap by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. Go watch some more Walking Dead.

  16. Viet Vet says:

    The best weapon for self defense weapon is your mind. Your mindset is the ultimate weapon. If you are in a SHTF or life or death sit then all rules are out the window. The only rule is survival. Anything else is BS. You do whatever it takes to protect yourself or your loved ones. Always remember NOTHING IS OFF THE TABLE.

  17. Kayty says:

    Bits of Wisdom I’ve learned from my Martial Arts Studies (Aikido, Tai Chi and Tae Kwon Do)…
    1. the first principle is, RUN AWAY, if you can !
    2. Failing that, be aware that most fights are OVER in 30 seconds or less. Much of that will be on the ground.
    3. If you wear glasses, be sure you can fight WITHOUT them, and practice that way.
    4. Though you practice respect with your teachers and fellow students, Occasionally practice fighting DIRTY.
    5. Be sure you actually practice Hitting Something. In a REAL fight, you likely will be Hitting something.
    6. and, don’t forget the weapons God gave you. Teeth. Elbows. Foot stomping.
    7. High-kicks are for Experts. You have fists. use them.

  18. Jiya meena says:

    Very good techniques for girls

    1. Jiya meena says:

      Very good techniques for girls

      Your thoughts are Good

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