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Which Martial Art is Best For Self Defense

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

by: Joe Ueno - Chief Instructor Self Defense Indonesia

One of the most asked questions amongst everyday people and even martial artists is: "Which martial arts is best for self defense? " and the answer isn't as simple as saying: This style or that. Let's first peel some of the misconceptions that comes in the context of self defense & martial arts.

Violence is unpredictable

Actual self defense incidents where an individual or group successfully manage to physically defend themselves against an assault or attack are violent, chaotic and unpredictable. The majority (if not all) martial art systems train in sterile environments and follow a format which is a far reflection of reality. The early days of UFC and combative sports such as MMA has proved that in the context of knocking out a human it generally comes down to effective striking or submission hold that either interrupts the airway or blood flow to the brain. To-date no energy based martial arts system that focuses on the usage of chi, tenaga dalam has had winning record in that stage. While there are benefits to training in combative sports very often the contextual aspect of self defense in the training is missing. Understanding real world violence and using defensive violence is important in self defense and without prior knowledge or training on the subject, confronting it in reality can be paralyzing, world renowned Self Protection Expert & Instructor Tim Larkin once said:

" Ninety times out of one hundred, the answer will not be violence. It will be avoidance or de-escalation. But that one time when violence is the answer, make no mistake, it will be the only answer" – Tim Larkin, Target Focus Training

Not All Martial Arts Are Created Equal

There are many benefits with martial arts practice, in my experience there's many stories how practicioners of martial arts have benefited in the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspect through the discipline of martial arts practice. In the same way that different tools have different functions, martial arts styles and schools are the same in that no martial art can do everything. Furthermore the subject of violence and crime prevention are often ignored entirely in martial art schools and approach the self defense issue by teaching the students memorized techniques and patterns that are impossible to perform under stress and high adrenaline.

So What Martial Arts Is Good for Self Defense?

The answer is what is self defense to you? If a realistic self defense scenario for you is being attacked by someone you know during a heated argument or a realistic scenario is a situation where you are violently attacked at work by a disgruntled worker or colleague, or any other scenario that fits with your risk profile and lifestyle then the answer is to approach and learn self defense from a holistic, 360 degree perspective, understand and apply violence and crime prevention strategies and tactics through a self defense program and not through martial arts. With that said, as mentioned before there are benefits in practicing martial arts and any physical endeavor that prepares the body, mind and psyche for a highly adrenalized situation should be taken. The key is contextual training... one which Self Defense Indonesia (SDI) has experience since 2007 and an area which SDI specifically specializes.

In closing please remember that there is no ultimate martial art system, importantly to note as well is any martial arts school or instructor promising the art to be "effective" for self defense is only addressing a very minor aspect of a self defense scenario. Furthermore as a general rule, avoid schools or instructors whose approach to self defense is the word usage of "Just do this.... or that" if presented with a self defense scenario. Stay safe and see you in our training.

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