3. Krav Maga
The bronze-medal goes to Krav Maga, a military combat system designed to prepare people in the toughest of places to be able to neutralize threats as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It is also the fighting system taught to the Israeli military, which is partly what gives it its good reputation.
Developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, a Hungarian martial artist living in Czechoslovakia, Krav Maga was meant to be a system that is intuitive and which can help individuals survive the tough atmosphere of pre-World War Eastern Europe.
What puts Krav Maga so high on this list is, surprisingly, not the depth and expertise one can achieve with the system. Actually, the lack thereof is one of its main cons. Its intuitiveness and realistic approach to self-defense scenario are what gives it its edge.
Whichever martial art you train in, you will encounter rules. No eye-poking, no groin strikes, no throat strikes, etc. Krav Maga, seeing as it was created with a life-or-death situation in mind, is the opposite. In Krav, these weak points are exactly the parts of the body that are most heavily attacked, in order to neutralize the opponent as quickly as possible.
This makes Krav Maga one of the best martial art systems to train with self-defense in mind. It is easy and intuitive to learn, with most estimates stating that around 6 months are enough for a person to feel reasonably safe in most street-altercations. This won’t make someone an expert, but they won’t necessarily be in fear when walking home at night.
Also, Krav schools often focus on verbal de-escalation techniques and a bunch of other survival skills which might be used in order to avoid a physical altercation. Nevertheless, if the soft skills don’t work, a Krav Maga practitioner will certainly take care of any threat.
The only downsides to Krav Maga are that it cannot be deepened too much, and more importantly, there is no sparring. It provides a surface-level knowledge in the martial arts, which, though enough for 99% of self-defense scenarios, might not be what some individuals are looking for.
Also, the lack of pressure-testing (aka sparring) is a big issue, since it won’t prepare you for fighting with a fully resisting opponent, which can, in turn, make you falsely confident and can get you in a lot of trouble.