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11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

11 Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

5. Muay Thai (and Kickboxing)

The next martial art/s on the list is Muay Thai. Though there are some relatively significant differences, I consider Kickboxing to be as effective as Muay Thai and definitely in the same league, which is why all that I will write in this section represents both of these incredible martial arts. 

Muay Thai, also called Thai kickboxing or Thai boxing, is a martial art with roots dating back hundreds or thousands of years. It is a traditional way of using the entire body to fight in close-quarters combat, developed by the Thai people of Thailand in Eastern Asia.  

Kickboxing, also known as American Kickboxing, actually dates back to around the 1970s, as that was the time it was developed as a combination of several martial arts. It does, however, get its roots from Muay Thai, which is why it is fair to rate them similarly, and why I will consider them to be the same for the sake of the review. 

Muay Thai is also called the art of 8 limbs, which represents the idea of using elbows and knees just as much as fists and feet/shins to strike. This is what makes Muay Thai so deadly and also versatile, and what gives it a really good ranking in terms of self-defense. 

The conditioning of bones together with the rigorous training of the most effective striking strategies of arguably any martial art, Muay Thai is to stand-up fighting what Jiu-Jitsu is to grappling. It is the number one, undisputed striking art. 

Aside from the aforementioned factors, the versatility of the art is also what makes it incredibly effective in a self-defense scenario. Be it a long roundhouse kick or a short elbow strike to the chin, or perhaps a medium-distance jab, Muay Thai has got all ranges covered. 

Muay Thai also works a lot on the clinch, which is the shortest-range stand-up fighting that exists. The opponents are holding each other by their arms, head, and shoulders to try to secure some close-range elbows and knees. Muay Thai is arguably the best stand-up clinch art. 

This versatility, which allows you to fight in any rage without having to resort to getting on the ground is fantastically effective. With throws also implemented, you can really develop a well-rounded understanding of self-defense in all situations. 

There are two factors that stop it from reaching higher rankings on this list: availability and the learning curve. 

Muay Thai, though increasing in popularity by the day, is still relatively uncommon. Every city or town has a boxing or wrestling gym, but Muay Thai gyms are quite difficult to come by. 

Also, the learning curve is quite steep and difficult. There is a lot of pain and conditioning often involved with the traditional Muay Thai path, so the ones who make it to the top need a lot of determination and perseverance. 

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