11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

9. Karate

The next martial art on our list today is the world-famous Karate. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t Japanese, but rather Okinawan. Though it is a part of Japan today, Okinawa was actually an independent country and is the home for most of what we now know of as Japanese martial arts. 

Though an extensive history of Okinawan Karate is hard to come by, it is estimated that the roots of Karate stem back thousands of years and into the Chinese kingdom and possibly the Philippines. Nevertheless, Gichin Funakoshi is considered the “founder” of the art since he pioneered the popularization and created the most popular style know today, Shotokan. 

Karate is an umbrella term used to describe a large amount of smaller styles and branches, the most prominent of which are Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-Ryu, and more. This is important to mention because the specific school and branch has quite a large impact on the quality of the training and its effectiveness on the street. 

Shotokan Karate is a very tough and effective martial art and has also evolved to try to combat Western Boxing, but it hasn’t managed. Regardless of its general failure against most Western arts, Shotokan is still a martial art that can provide a solid basis for self-defense for anyone learning. 

It is full of powerful, linear strikes, blocks, and kicks. This linear nature is also what it gets quite a lot of criticism for. It isn’t very natural and also somewhat unrealistic due to its overly formal and linear nature. Nevertheless, it is very useful if trained in a good dojo and with determination. 

However, though it is the most popular branch, Shotokan isn’t the most effective of Karate styles for self-defense. That title is much more often accredited to Kyokushin and less frequently to Goju-Ryu. 

Kyokushin Karate is viewed as the tank of all Karate styles. It isn’t fancy, it doesn’t have very large movements, but it focuses heavily on full-contact sparring, competitions, and body conditioning, making Kyokuhshin fighters “living tanks”. 

Though it is also somewhat unrealistic compared to some Western arts, Kyokushin, just like Shotokan is more than enough to defend you on the street from most people of ill will, it is far from being the most effective one out there if you want to become really good at fighting/self-defense. 

One of the major reasons why Karate is so far behind on the list is quite simple: the popularity of the art gave space to a vast number of so-called McDojos, which are superficial, ineffective, and watered-down Karate schools that exist to earn money and dish out belts as if they were free. 

However, if you do find a good Karate school near you, and chances are you can, do not hesitate to sign up, since it will give you a great basis for fighting should you need it. 

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