​What is the Best Martial Art for Self Defence?

Lots of martial arts claim to be "good for self defence".  However they are not designed for self defence and do not train self defence scenarios.  


​Find out more in this article why Krav Maga as a specialised Self Defence system is the best way to quickly learn effective self defence skills....

Features of self defence situations  


Self defence situations are very dynamic with no rules.  There is no typical situation.  Variables might include:

  • ​Single or multiple attackers
  • ​Surprise attack from any direction
  • Motivation of the attacker (social prowess, sexual attack, robbery...)
  • ​Is the attacker(s) ​armed (traditional or improvised weapon)

Moreover, there are situational factors including:

  • ​​Where we are (home, public transport, park, ....)
  • ​​​Our position (standing, sitting, lying)
  • ​​Escape routes
  • Objects around us
  • Lighting

Martial arts and combat sports do not typically train for these sorts of variables.  Instead they are focused on an unarmed 1 vs 1 competition between 2 equally matched competitors with clear rules.

​The only rule in Krav Maga is the law which says ​we must use "reasonable force" when defending ourself and other.  


Once the attacker(s) is unable or unwilling to attack us further we must stop fighting and escape.

Krav Maga Techniques Leverage Vulnerable Points

A key tactic in Krav Maga is to counter attack to "vulnerable points".  For example groin, eyes, joints and organs.  These would all be illegal in martial arts and combat sports as it could injure your opponent.

Self Defence Starts from a Position of Disadvantage

However, this is essential in Krav Maga because you will typically be starting from a position of disadvantage such:

  • 1
    ​Surprise attack
  • 2
    ​Bigger opponent​
  • 3
    ​​Armed opponent
  • 4
    Multiple opponents

​Self Defence is not all about fighting

​While Krav Maga has lots of self defence "techniques", a large part of self defence is non-physical.  

For example, awareness and avoidance is always preferable.  Even if you are to "win" the situation who wants the aftermath of dealing with police, the possibility of retribution, etc.  

Even if you can't avoid a situation, there is also the possibility of deescalating the situation:

  • This could be​ using the voice whether it is to command the potential attacker or to call for help, or in some cases it might even be optimal to comply (mugging etc).  
  • ​Alternatively we could use a "soft" physical response (normally in conjunction with the voice).  For example such as releasing a grab and warning person to keep away... this assertive ​response being enough to stop further advances that could have escalated.   

See Krav Maga Compared to Martial Arts


Interesting video from a professional fighter explaining the difference between Krav Maga and combat sports such as Muay Thai and BJJ. 

Article by:
Aaron Moore

Aaron is ​the Head Instructor for Krav Maga Global [Auckland] and NZ Director.  ​He trained in UK & Israel 2015 and ​teaches Adult and Teenagers​.d.

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