This is a question that should be asked if you are wanting to learn a martial art for self-defence. But the thing is like food and countries around the world, there are so many martial arts out there.
Some martial arts are very traditional, some are combat sports, others specialize in performing beautiful techniques to impress the public and others specialize in self-defence.
This can be further categorized into martial arts that concentrate on hand strikes only, kicks only, other martial arts have weapons, others combine hand strikes and kicks, some arts only concentrate on grappling and other arts combine all facets empty hand fighting.
For those of you that have been around the martial for a while, the UFC in 1993 was started to find out what martial arts worked the best. Back in those days and beyond, if you had a black belt in the martial arts, you were thought of as being a deadly person no one would want to mess with. Your hands and feet were regarded by the public as deadly weapons and had to be registered. Really? Well guess what?
The people that were well versed in Combat Sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jutsu, Amateur Wrestling, Thai Boxing and Western Boxing fared better than the Traditional Martial Arts such as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Kungfu etc. Why was that?
I believe it was because the Combat Sports Athletes were mentally and physically better prepared. They sparred quite often and applied the principles distance, timing, angles with speed and power using simple techniques that had them come out on top. The Traditional Martial Artists were relying solely on their techniques.
In the twenty plus years since, Mixed Martial Arts fighters have got a lot better. They are better well-rounded in terms of fighting techniques, conditioning, nutrition and recovery. You can no longer rely on being just a good grappler to defeat your opponent.
When it comes to self-defence, you can use Mixed Martial Arts to defend yourself. But most of us do not have the time, the physical conditioning and the desire to do this. The other thing Mixed Martial Arts do not cover is defending against multiple opponents, weapons and the natural environment.
I personally like Mixed Martial Arts, but it is a young person’s game, there is a reason why you do not see many people training to fight in Mixed Martial Arts over the age of forty.
Pick a martial art that specializes in katas and forms and does no full contact training, grappling and no self-defence training. When it comes to self-defence, don’t be a paper hound that is someone who looks to get a qualification to prove that they have skills.
Do not train under an instructor that says they teach self-defence when in reality they teach traditional and sporting techniques that will get you seriously hurt or even killed on the streets. There is a reason why there is gender separation and weight classes in tournaments, size and strength matter and help determine whom wins and whom loses.
The late Charles Nelson of the famed School of Self Defence was quoted as saying, street assaults, muggings, rapes and being held at knife point are hardly traditional, so why would you use traditional techniques to defend against non traditional attacks?
Find someone that is experienced, knowledgeable and qualified when it comes to self-defence. Check out their classes, see what they do and don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding skills, mental toughness, qualifications and experience.
You may be thinking what is mental toughness? I was taught that in a physical confrontation, 90 percent of it was going to come down to mental toughness, 10 percent skills. Without mental toughness you will not be able to use your skills to prevail over your attacker.
Another important aspect to remember is to practice your skills on a regular basis with intent. If you don’t practice and you find yourself being attacked, don’t expect to call on the skills when you need them. It you practice the skills without intent, that is imagining you are using them for actual self-defence, you are just practicing a mindless exercise.
There are some self-defence systems out there I can you can check out such as Krav Maga and Systema. I am going to be a bit biased here, personally, I like the system taught by the Todd Group in New Zealand. The Todd Group teaches sound principles and skills that can be applied on the battlefield, the street, and combating domestic violence and rape.