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11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

11. Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art founded by Choi Hong Hi and a couple of army officials and martial artists. It was developed during and after the second world war to solidify the Korean martial arts scene. 

The art is based on Choi Hong Hi’s Theory of Power. This is a set of observations and theories based on rational thinking and Newtonian physics, which he used to describe a martial art that is more effective than any other. 

For example, a central observation of his was that a strike’s power increases quadratically with speed and only linearly with the moving object’s mass, which made him realize that the muscle mass behind the strike isn’t as critical as speed. 

This led to the development of an art based mostly on kicks since our legs can deliver faster strikes and heavier ones than our arms. 

Though this makes TKD unique, effective, and special, it is also what causes it to be less effective than the other arts on this list. When it comes to self-defense, a hypothetical martial art that is to deliver the most potent strikes known is unrealistic. A good jab is more useful in a street fight than the strongest roundhouse kick you can imagine. 

Why is that? Well, there are multiple reasons. The largest of which is that you very often won’t have enough space to do kicks. I don’t only mean a wall blocking your right side off or people walking around. I also mean range-wise. Your average drunkard or mugger will not stand at a reasonable distance away from you so you can kick them. 

This will lead you to be on a constant retreat so you can evade their knife, hands, or clinch, just so you can deliver a solid kick. There are shorter and closer-range kicks in TKD, but they aren’t used frequently, and they also aren’t pressure tested in training circumstances. 

Aside from the range-mismatch that is very likely to occur, TKD isn’t, as mentioned, pressure tested rigorously enough. TKD competitions are about points, which results in practitioners kicking powerfully or confidently, but much rather tapping the opponent here or there with their legs to score a point. 

Also, TKD relies way too much on only kicking, which is a mistake, since, in fights, you cannot rely on knowing only one thing. It can quickly get on to become a grappling or boxing match, and then all your knowledge flies out the window. 

Aside from all the things making TKD a lower-effectiveness art for the street compared to many others, it is still amazing. You will still be able to defend yourself against the majority of people who you ever come across, and you will develop insane flexibility, agility, and power. But that still doesn’t mean it is as effective as many arts. 

Many extremely successful martial artists like Bas Rutten or Valentina Schevchenko started by training Taekwondo, so it is an excellent basis, but it isn’t really effective on its own.

Availability is also a big reason TKD is low on the list. Though it is one of the most popular martial arts on the planet and is available in almost all major cities, the large majority of people will not be able to access proper dojos. 

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