I’m sure everyone is quite aware of Martial Art luminaries like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee or Jet Li. Most of us grew up watching their movies, perhaps imitating the kicks and punches in an empty bedroom, envisioning our childhood bullies’ faces being the landing pad for our sick moves. However, most Martial Art forms exist merely as spectator sports, a display of grand physical prowess in a world that doesn’t necessarily count on physical strength as evidence of worth anymore. Here we are talking about the best martial arts for street fighting or self defence.

Up against a thief out to mug you, or a hooded assailant, these techniques would be about as effective as an attempt to cartwheel away from a gunfire. However, in this list, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best martial arts which actually do take actual fighting into consideration and thus offer you a standing chance.

10 Best Martial Arts For Street Fighting

#10. Kickboxing – Kick and Punch

Best Martial Arts for Street Fighting - Kickboxing


An effective technique when done right and with efficiency. One of the most common and effective techniques is to advance towards your opponent and kick them square on the chest, potentially damaging their larynx and leaving them helpless. However, simple as this may seem, you need to be able to execute it lightning fast, enough so that he can’t anticipate your move.

Alternatively, you could grab hold of his armed arm and smash your forehead against his nose. Nose being the most delicate part of the body, with soft cartilages in place, would immediately shatter rendering him in agonies of pain. However, both techniques rely on you having fast reflexes and confidence, something that can only be honed through rigorous training.

#9. Arnis – Weapon Based Fighting

Arnis - Best Martial Arts

This is the Phillipines’ National Martial Art and Sport, founded by Remy Presas. This is primarily a self-defense technique rather than an aggressive one. It seeks to defend in an injury-free manner. Training generally involves the use of a Rattan Stick, or baton, from the very beginning. However, one may wonder where they would get a “Rattan Stick” from when in the middle of a mugging. Well, that is a fair question, however the Rattan Stick is only just symbolic of whatever weapon one may have at hand, as long as it’s long enough.

One popular move is called “defanging the snake”, which involves striking the hands of the aggressor, thus getting him to drop his weapon of choice, nullifying the threat to a great degree.

#8. Karate – A Striking Art

Karate - A Striking Art

This is one of the most popular forms of martial arts, with special emphasis on attack deflection. One of the popular moves is to step to the side, strike the hand with the weapon, then quickly strike either on the side, belly, or back. Following that, attack his quadriceps with your knee. Instead of going for his face, which is expected, go for his sternum. If he is charging towards you, punch the soft spot below his sternum. This will immediately throw him back.

However, while it might be tempting to strike at the groin, doing so will only get him to lunge at you.This is one of the best martial arts that ca be taken up street fighting.

#7. Kobudo – Traditional Martial Arts

Kobudo - Best MA

This is perfect for street fights as wielding a weapon effectively is far more favorable in a no-holds-barred street scenario than wielding just your fists. This is accompanied with a heavy repertoire of moves and techniques that can be employed while wielding a vast array of weapons of all shapes and sizes.

#6. Aikido – The Peaceful Martial Art

Best Martial Arts for Street Fighting - Akido

This is a very effective and distinctive form of Martial Art which can come quite handy in a brawl where fists are concerned. One of its distinctive moves is called the kote gaeshi, or the “Forearm Return”. This works on the principle that when someone comes on the offense towards you, he generally leaves parts of himself weak, as such you can use the momentum of his own attack against him.

Translated in terms of the Forearm Return, you can grab hold of his fist as he comes for you and turn around quickly thereby twisting his wrist and rendering him incapacitated with pain. This is one of the best martial arts for street fighting.  Read here to know more on how effectively this is used for street fight.

#5. Dirty Boxing – An Integrated Technique

Best Martial Arts - Dirty Boxing

Dirty boxing, other wise known as “clinch boxing” or “trap boxing” is fairly self explanatory. It is an especially made street fight technique itself which ignores pretty much all the rules of traditional rink-boxing, and prepares you for some gritty gloves-off action.  Check here for more information

#4. Wing Chun – Bruce Lee’s Kung-Fu

Wing Chun - Best Martial Arts

This, or versions of this form, was much favored by Bruce Lee as an offensive technique against an attacker at close range. This is meant to be used at short range, preferably by someone shorter than the attacker, thus it can often be an effective technique for a woman to use against a potential rapist, for instance. It’s signature move involves quick and rapid punches delivered in quick succession to the sternum of the attacker.

These are delivered as quickly as possible, one after the other, staying close to the target, keeping your arms close together so they can’t be grasped by the offender, and the punches should be delivered with the whole weight of the body behind it in a straight line so as to make them as quick as possible. This incapacitates an attacker owing to the strength of several rapid punches falling on the same spot.

#3. Krav Maga – Effective Self Defense

Krav Maga - Best Martial Arts for Street Fighting

This is the official defense system used by the Israeli Military, known to be the deadliest armed forces in the world. They are brutally effective, and focus on threat neutralization and agile movement. They approach self-defense in an extremely pragmatic manner, wasting absolutely no time in showmanship and exerting only the techniques necessary to quickly and effectively end street confrontations. Check here for more information.

#2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Ground Fighting

Brazilian-jiu-jitsu - Best Martial Arts for Street Fighting

This is one of the world’s foremost and best martial arts for street fighting, most effective for one on one confrontations. Developed in Rio De Janeiro, it was built as a means to utilize intelligence and knowledge of body mechanics as opposed to brute strength, designed to allow smaller individuals to win over larger, stronger targets.

#1. Muay Thai – The Art Of Eight Limbs

Muay Thai - Best Martial Arts

Generally attackers who come at you in the streets aren’t trained fighters, they have one aim, to maim or to rob you, depending on their proclivities. To do so they generally come armed with some form of weapons and their only aim to get at you and keep moving on until they cause sufficient damage to fulfill their purpose. However, if you are trained in Muay Thai, or the “Science of Eight Limbs” you can effectively stop their progress short with a few short but pointed moves, the aim is to make use of eight different “points of contact” as opposed to just the two fists. This makes it essentially impossible to defend against.

It is this randomness and strength that makes Muay Thai one of the most effective means of defending oneself, especially as it relies more on coordination and presence of mind rather than large amounts of physical strength, which we’re not all lucky enough to posses.

Martial arts are great sports and a good way to keep yourself fit. The above listed are the best martial arts for street fighting. Try a few different martial arts styles before committing to one, as not every martial art is for everyone. But they take years to master, sometimes even with years of practice, they might not assure your safety largely due to obsolete training methods that don’t prepare you for street fighting. So ensure that you get thoroughly trained as this is the most important skills that you can have to protect yourself and your family from an attacker.