The idea might be crazy to most people: You’re going to pay to get beat up. Then again, studying a martial art is rewarding for your fitness and your overall well-being. Picking the right one to study is detrimental if you’re going to enjoy yourself and stick with it. Which one is accessible and best to suit your lifestyle and most importantly, the situation you may use it in.
Muay Thai is a good one. The term kickboxing has become kind of a blanket term to cover anything that involves punching and kicking, but Muay Thai has a few distinct feature, first, it’s centuries old. In addition to fists and feet, it also involves knees and elbows. It even has some grappling, which can be called the clinch. This martial art is great if you master it, or even train it daily. It builds pain tolerance and good defense. It’s most promising feature is it’s offense. You can do a lot of damage in real situations very quickly.
This is great if you are ever in a situation where you may have to take on more than one attacker.
Wing Chun Kung Fu is a close-range martial art that comes from China. There is a focus on balance and rich traditional history. It also often involves relaxation techniques meant to help keep the body in top performing shape. These are great in a street fight as most guys on the street do not train to fight, so if cardio isn’t good, at least you know how to relax. The mysticism factor in this art causes there to be a lot of training in impractical techniques relative to a street fight. The defensive factor is probably the most abundant advantage, while the offense would not be as effective as it is in Muay Thai. I’d use this if my goal was more of a stress reliever and to really avoid confrontations. It would give you the ability to diffuse violent situations while not damaging your opponent as badly as possible.
Wildly popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s but not as much lately is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This ground-based grappling technique broke off from Judo in the early 1900s. It really started to come to prominence when master Royce Gracie used it to dominate the early UFC tournaments. The object is to put your opponent in a submission hold that either knocks them out or inflicts so much pain that they have to submit. Besides the pain, this art can do major damage to the muscles, joint, and bones of your opponent. This art is certainly deadly when mastered. If your situation involves a bully or a one-on-one type situation, this is the art for you.
You can do as much or as little damage as you choose.
Since this is a grappling art, this would be a horrible idea if you were to have to take on multiple attackers as the techniques are very concentrated on one person. Use this for those personal situations, not at a bar where a group of unruly patrons want to beat you up in the parking lot.
On to Krav Maga, which is a pretty deadly art. The literal Hebrew translation of Krav Maga is “battle contact” and we can’t think of a better description. It was developed by the Israeli Defense Force to be used in real-life combat situations. In addition to punches, kicks and throws, it teaches real-life scenarios like how to disarm an attacker. So this is a great art for offense, defense, and real life-and-death-situations like robberies. For those who want to be able to win a street fight in all of the situations above, this is probably the art for you. This art has a ranking system and can be costly. It is also not as readily available as other forms of martial arts. If your goal is true self-defense, invest your time and money in this one. To say that someone who is an expert in this could beat someone who has been training as long in BJJ or Muay Thai, would not be true in my opinion, but it does serve the purpose of self-defense.
Tae Kwon Do is probably the most available in America. There are studios all over the place. Hailing from Korea, Tae Kwon Do is one of the broadest forms of study. Statistically speaking, it has more followers than any other martial art and it’s even an Olympic sport. Attacks include punches, kicks and throws. For the purpose of self defense, you would either find your self winning a street fight quickly due to the dynamic nature of the striking in this martial art or…Well, or you would try to do some crazy kick on a guy that just wants to tackle you or punch you in the face. For these two situations, a good street fighter may get the upper hand on you. For the purpose of a street fight, this is probably the least effective of the martial arts in mention here.
The infamous MMA. Mixed Martial Arts hasn’t been in this country for long, but it sure has changed a lot since the early days of the UFC. What started as a collection of fighters from strict background facing off Bloodsporty, has evolved into a mature sport with a huge following and lots of nuance. If you train in this, you will beat up street fighters like shooting fish in a barrel. Since this is pretty much a combination of Muay Thai, BJJ, and wrestling… you can find yourself in a situation to have an advantage no matter where the fight goes. The disadvantages to MMA are the discipline and rules. So if a guy throws a headbutt or pulls out a knife, you would find yourself in a situation that knowing Krav Maga could have helped you better in. With that said, you’re in a pretty good spot if you are a regular participant in MMA classes.
In conclusion, knowing a martial art is most likely going to help you in a street fight. Like anything else though, it takes practice. If you go to a class a month, you’re probably more likely to get yourself in more trouble by trying to use your martial art. My best advice is to train for your health and mentality. If you are training to help in street fights, you are probably the person out there looking for trouble.