15 Worst Martial Arts For Self Defense (With Videos)

There are many martial arts in the world. Over 190, to be exact. Martial arts have been created as a way to attack and defend yourself. It has been done for centuries. But as we progress as a society and get more intelligent, we are thinking of more efficient ways to defend ourselves. We realized that some of the martial arts that have existed for years are not as effective as we thought. 

Remember that no martial art is entirely useless because every physical activity has some benefits. But ways of fighting have changed throughout the years. And it has become more violent. Some of the traditional martial arts that were effective in the past would not be good in MMA, let’s say, because they are not as effective as some martial arts used for it. 


Kendo is a Japanese martial art that focuses on sword fight. This martial art originated from samurais that were practicing for their fights. Kendo descended from kenjutsu, and it uses bamboo swords and protective gear. 

You may already see what the problem is with this martial art. You do not own a sword. Maybe you do, but you still shouldn’t go outside with it and try it on other people.Now, as with any other sport, it will make your body more athletic. At least more than it was before.

You will learn how to move your body, make it fluid, and have physical benefits. Kendo is not necessarily bad martial art but a dying one. That is because we now have guns, so we do not need to know how to handle a sword. It is still being practiced in Japan and worldwide. Still, it shall remain a historic martial art rather than a useful one in the 21st century.


Ninjitsu is a bit different from all other martial arts. It is different because it was not made to be a martial art or to have a self-defense purpose. Japanese ninja clans created ninjitsu to help them carry on their missions. Missions such as assassination missions or even espionage. You can agree that this is not something you will need for your daily life.

Ninjitsu is not something that should be taught to the public simply because it is made to deal with an armed opponent. It also teaches secretive techniques that those ninjas used for their missions back in the day.

By saying that, you can see that ninjitsu was not developed for self-defense while being cool and actually having some use. It focuses on techniques that could kill a person. Even today, it is not being taught as a self-defense martial art.

It is, however, a really demanding art. That means it is physically demanding, and you need a lot of commitment to get good at it.

Wing Chun

Wing Chun originated in China in the Shaolin Temple. It was created during the Qing Dynasty by a Buddhist Nun. 

Wing Chun focuses on using your arms for the most part. The biggest problem with the art is that the practitioner moves and attacks in a straight line. That means you will get knocked out if you have somebody like a boxer who can move laterally. 

Another problem with Wing Chun is that you use your arms too much and forget about your legs, leaving an open space for an attack by your opponent.

Another noticeable thing is the lack of sparing opportunities. You practice alone most of the time. Of course, practice is always good. But if you do not have a chance to try what you learned on another person, you will most likely fail if you have to apply that in a dangerous situation. 

Needless to say, this martial art is useless in real-life situations and street fights. It is, however, good if you are in a fight with another person that practices the same martial art. Because they will also linearly attack you, you can use the moves you have been taught.

Kyusho Jitsu

Kyusho Jitsu is another Japanese martial art that originated from the Chinese Dim Mak, and it is a martial art that focuses on vital points in the human body. When practicing Kyusho Jitsu, you will learn how to attack nerves on your opponents’ arms, legs, and neck and even perform throws and locks. If you search for videos on Kyusho Jitsu, you will see masters putting people to sleep with as little as one touch.

If you are already a mixed martial artist that does practical martial arts like boxing, you will know that you cannot just put a person to sleep with a single touch. That’s why this martial art, like many others that claim you can use energy or pressure points to defeat your opponent, is fake.

These sports could put you in danger because the trainers will try to make you believe you will succeed in overpowering your opponent. If you do think that and try to use those techniques in real life, there is a high chance that you will get knocked out by your opponent’s punches and kicks.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art practiced for health benefits, meditation, and self-defense. However, it is one of the worst martial arts regarding self-defense and practical use in the real world. 

Tai chi is a non-violent martial art; if you haven’t figured it out by now, that is bad. Even if you do not condone violence, you still have to be violent to hurt your opponent and thus stop him from hurting you. If you cannot harm your opponent, nothing stops him from hurting you.

Tai chi also does not have sparring sessions among their student. Instead, they all practice separately and do not have a chance of actually using those techniques on somebody. Because tai chi focuses too much on meditation, it is not good martial art to choose if you want to learn how to defend yourself.


Capoeira is a martial art that originated in Brazil. It contains some elements of dance, music, and acrobatics. Training capoeira does have some benefits to it. It will improve your core stability and strength and make you very flexible. It will also help you lose body fat and make you more athletic.

This sport, however, is not your best choice if you are looking for something that will help you defend yourself in real-life situations. Even though capoeira looks fantastic, and you may think you can give a lethal blow to your opponent, it is not correct.

Capoeira focuses on light contact and dancing. You will throw kicks around, but they will not have any power over them, and they will be ineffective against your opponent in a street fight. At one time, capoeira was very popular in Brazil. Many people praised it because they thought it was suitable for defending themselves. 

Soon this martial art got exposed with the birth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which is actually a practical martial art.

Yellow Bamboo

Yellow Bamboo is a martial art that originated in Bali. It teaches you how to use God’s energy to defeat any attackers without contact. The key to successfully doing this is to take the negative energy from the attacker and use it against him. Sounds fake, right? Well, it is. 

This could be called a cult martial art. The “masters” of this art will try to convince their students why this martial art is superior to others, and many people will take their word for it. Sometimes these “masters” will try to organize seminars where they will have many assistants, and by using energy, they will knock out those said assistants. 

This does sound cool. But the reality is that this is all fake. You can see many videos online where martial artists like BJJ athletes will choke out those same “masters” within seconds. Who wouldn’t like to knock out a person without touching them?


Aikido is a well-known martial art in the world. It was created in the 20th century by a Japanese man called Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido is a martial art that focuses on throws and locks and does not contain strikes and kicks.

The main goal of aikido is to learn how to control your opponent without hurting them, and that’s why it is considered a soft and safe martial art. Aikido is ineffective in a street fight because aikido techniques have very complicated moves that you may not have time to use in a difficult situation. 

Another bad thing when practicing aikido is that you do not spar with the people you train with. That means you will not have any real experience using those techniques unless you find yourself in a dangerous situation where you may have to use them. But you will most likely fail if you do not practice them in your training.

Another reason aikido is ineffective is that it focuses on close combat, which you do not want to have if the attacker has a knife. Instead, you would like to keep them at a safe distance where you can throw a punch or a kick and try to run away.


Sumo is another Japanese martial art that has existed for a long time. Sumo is a sport where you try to push your opponents outside the circle you are in. You have won if you manage to push your opponent outside of it. Now you may see why this is useless in a street fight. Sumo has many strict rules and traditions that do not transfer well in real-life situations and other combat sports.

The reason why it is not effective is because of the size of its competitors. You lose your athleticism and movement speed if you are a significant heavy person. If you do not have those, there is a slight chance you will defend yourself. 

Also, Sumo does not have any fighting style. Instead, the whole point is to get bigger, so your opponent will have more difficulty pushing you out of that circle. And if you just try to push away the attacker, it will not work.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu originated in China, one of the oldest Chinese martial arts. Shaolin monks use and practice this art to this day.

You probably think that Kung Fu is a lethal martial art because that’s how the movie industry showed it for all these years. In reality, Kung Fu is a martial art that is good for showing off and not as good as being effective in dangerous situations. 

Kung Fu includes striking and kicking, throws and locks, and even blocks. Kung Fu is ineffective because its techniques are complicated and do not deliver a lethal blow; instead, they are fun to watch, as you may agree from watching all those action movies.

Ba Gua Zhang

Ba Gua Zhang is another Chinese martial art that teaches you how to perform strikes, grapple, and even defend yourself from weapons such as knives.

The main thing about Ba Gua Zhang is learning to move your body in a circle while keeping your arms in front of you and performing strikes. The focus is on keeping your mind calm and controlling your breathing while calmly executing strikes.

Now, this may sound like a good thing, but one of the bad things about keeping your body so exposed by keeping your arms away from your body is that you will not be able to block punches. You will also have difficulty defending against takedowns or even ground and pound.

Another bad thing about this martial art is the way you will move. Because you move your body in such a manner, you will not be stable on your feet, and that will cause some problems if your opponent tries to tackle you or run into you.

Combat Systema

Combat Systema is a Russian martial art focusing on taking your opponent down in a single move. Even though that sounds impressive, it is useless in a real fight. It is also a martial art that is becoming increasingly popular just because of that fact. 

If you’re interested in reading about the differences between sparring and a real fight, be sure to check out our next article.

Those techniques you have been taught will not work the same way on the street as in the dojo when someone lets you take them down. 

Another awful thing about this martial art is the lack of sparring sessions. Any sport that doesn’t have sparring sessions with other students or teachers will most likely be fake. Because if it wasn’t fake, why wouldn’t you let people try it out on other people?

The conclusion is that this is not an effective martial art. Seeing somebody taken down in a single move or even disarmed is fun. Still, unfortunately, you will only see that in a dojo. If you are looking for severe self-defense martial art, you should avoid learning this one.

Shotokan Karate

Shotokan Karate was created in the early 20th century. It is a Japanese martial art that Gichin Funakoshi created. It focuses on linear attacks and severe forms. This is just one out of 4 styles of karate. And it was a good style even used by some fighters in the early days of the UFC.

One of the reasons it is not looked at as a realistic style anymore is because it uses too many unrealistic and overly complicated moves. It also focuses on precision strikes that may not be possible in a heated fight.

It did, however, become more and more popular over the years. Here comes another problem. Because of its popularity, many teachers only teach it because of the money and not because they want to help you. So basically, they are not teaching it correctly.

If you want to try karate, you should try other styles. Kyokushin Karate is the most potent form of karate. It teaches how to deal powerful strikes to your opponent that will actually deal some damage. 


Taekwondo is a Korean Martial Art that solely focuses on kicks. Many taekwondo students say this is one of the best martial arts. But that is not the case, especially not when it comes to self-defense.

As we already know, taekwondo focuses on kicks only. To do a kick properly, you need a lot of space around you and a certain distance from your opponent to hit them correctly. That is a massive problem for a street fight. And a huge problem for close-quarter combat.

If your opponent is far from you, you can deliver a good kick by kicking him with your shin. And suppose your opponent is really close to you. In that case, you do not have any opportunity to use kicks whatsoever, so this martial art becomes useless. You could also get taken down after you try to deliver a kick, and if you do not know how to fight with the rest of your body, you are done.

However, this could be effective against a person who is not a trained fighter. That is because you have more knowledge on how the fight should go, and you, as a more knowledgeable person, will control it better.

Unlike other martial arts mentioned so far, taekwondo is helpful for other combat sports. In MMA, you have kicks, and if you do have some taekwondo knowledge, it will supplement your game. But only using kicks will result in failure.

Krav Maga

If you are searching for the best self-defense techniques, you have probably run across Krav Maga. Imi Lichtenfeld created this martial art in Czechoslovakia during the 1930s. He taught the local Jewish community these techniques to defend themselves against the Nazi forces. 

It is being taught in the military as a form of self-defense in close-quarter combat. Krav Maga does offer some effective self-defense techniques. It does not provide the chance to try those techniques or regular spar sessions as in Martial arts like Boxing or Muay Thai. This one has the same problem with many martial arts that are not really good for defending yourself.

Suppose you do not practice the skills you were taught every day. In that case, you will not be able to use them effectively in a street fight or any dangerous situation. 

Another problem with Krav Maga is that it uses really short combinations in its techniques. And sometimes, that may not be enough to defeat your opponent. So, the lack of spar opportunities keeps Krav Maga students from becoming more successful and having a more practical use in the real world. 


The problem with many martial arts today is that they are not being taught as they should. There are martial arts that are more effective than others. Some are more effective at attacking your opponent. In contrast, others are more effective if you try to defend yourself against them. A lot of them lack sparing opportunities. Without sparing, you cannot see how effective your techniques would be. 

It is essential to spar because you will fight another person that thinks differently than you. That is important because you will learn how to think quickly. For example, you already know what to do if your opponent did something. But will you be able to do that if you panic? Probably no. That’s why we practice so we do not panic much and can handle situations that come at us fast.

Because at the end of the day, practice makes perfect. And if you do not have a chance to practice and test your critical thinking using said martial art, you will not get better.

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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