What Is The Best Martial Art For Female Self-Defense?

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Most women can recall a time in their lives when they felt threatened or concerned about someone they’d encountered on the street or out and about.

You might have wished that you had the skills needed to protect yourself if something were to happen or to keep your loved ones safe.

Female self-defense is a crucial tool to have for all women and an even better one to hold onto secretly, hoping that you never have to use it but being ready if you did.

Martial arts are the ideal way to equip yourself with some basic self-defense techniques, but some of the styles and schools are better than others for this purpose.

What Is The Best Martial Art For Female Self Defense

Best Martial Art For Female Self Defense

If you want to learn tactics to protect yourself, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, karate, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, and MMA can all be useful. Each offers something unique in its techniques and how self-defense is taught, so it depends on the individual as to what method they’d prefer to use.

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to defend yourself and others, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular martial arts for women that can teach you how to do it proficiently.

By combining your practice in these styles, not only will you have an enjoyable hobby, but a quiet confidence that you can handle anything that comes your way.

If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the martial arts for self-defense, we got you covered:

Best Martial Arts for Women's Self Defense

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The Criteria To Find The Best Martial Art For Women Self-Defense

Which Method is Best For You?

Finding the best style of martial arts to train isn’t as simple as choosing one that looks cool. Rather, you should look at your profile as a potential martial artist to determine which one is best for learning self-defense.

Fitness level

Do you consider yourself a physically fit woman or would you benefit from improving your general strength and fitness before you start your martial arts training?

Some are more physically grueling than others, so you need to be honest with yourself about your current condition.

Previous experience

If you already have some experience either fighting or training in a style of martial arts and enjoyed it, this would be a good path to continue.

Some styles are similar to others and you might find that there were certain aspects of them you want to continue with, so consider your experience before looking at a new avenue.

Style preference

Do you like martial arts that focus more on grappling and ground moves, or are you into swift kicks and powerful strikes? Not all martial arts are the same and what they focus on can be unique to other styles, so when you imagine your preferred method of self-defense, what does it look like?

Number of opponents

Would you rather be able to fight off a group of opponents at once or are you only after some basic self-defense skills that can help you in a one-on-one scuffle on the street?

The level of skill you’re hoping to acquire from martial arts training will differ to suit your goals, so think about what you want to be able to do.

Discover more interesting martial arts for women

The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense

When it comes to self-defense, some schools of martial arts perform better than others. If your ultimate goal is being able to defend yourself and those around you, these are our recommendations for martial arts methods that can help you do just that.

Krav Maga – best martial arts for women’s defense

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is one of the hardest forms of martial arts to master but can be the most helpful if self-defense is your goal. Developed by the Israeli Defense Force and used still in real-life combat, it’s considered deadly martial art when done right.

Krav Maga is hugely beneficial for women wanting to learn self-defense, and not just from unarmed defenders. With regular practice and training from a skilled professional, this form of martial arts can show you proficient gun and knife defense as well.

You’ll also learn the basics like grappling and striking so you’ll feel confident to do it all if you’re willing to put in the effort.

I practiced Krav Maga for a year and I believe is effective, but I felt the groundwork and striking I was learning was archaic. I suggest you cross-train with other arts to get the most out of your self-defense training.

One problem with this system is that you’ll find too many McDojos (fake gyms) out there. Do your research and find yourself a legit gym to train. On this Krav Maga community on Reddit, they have a list of reputable gyms. One of the greatest Krav organizations is KMG Global.

Muay Thai

Muay thai for Self Defense

Muay Thai is a form of Thai boxing that can be used to learn some basic skills in self-defense.

Primarily, this type of martial arts is about delivering devastating blows in the form of knee strikes, elbows, kicks, punches, and clinch takedowns.

Of course, Muay Thai is a sport and the main focus isn’t female self-defense. However, with certain adjustments to your game, you can use those against an unarmed attacker to do some serious damage.

As well as learning how to strike, you’ll learn how to move quickly and correctly to get out of harm’s way. However, consider adding some cross-training with other forms of martial arts as the practice is lacking in groundwork, which can happen in a real-life situation.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

BJJ for self defense

BJJ has taken off as a popular form of martial arts that everyday people can learn, and it’s also great at teaching you basic women’s self-defense skills.

This martial arts form will teach locks, chokes, and takedowns. Giving you a huge advantage against an attacker committed to harm you.

Although it’s ideal for one on one situations, this type of training won’t be as helpful against a group of attackers, nor will it teach you much about weapon defense.

Originally, BJJ had a strong focus on self-defense. unfortunately, nowadays several schools only focus on sport Jiu-Jitsu neglecting self-defense techniques and often even takedowns.

In this case, BJJ is a good candidate for cross-training so you can extend your skill base further.



Mixed martial arts combines the best parts of popular schools and styles, and if you want to pick and choose certain things, it can be a lot of fun to learn.

MMA is great for self-defense as it teaches everything from groundwork, grappling, kicking, striking, and more, so you’ll be a worthy opponent in a real-life situation given there are no weapons involved.

With all of the recent attention MMA has gotten in recent years, it’s essential to train with a skilled professional if using this as your form of self-defense. MMA lacks weapon defense and group attacks training, so consider adding it to part of your cross-training schedule.



Karate has always been the classic go-to for self-defense, with kids and adults alike finding it accessible and enjoyable to learn.

As far as self-defense goes, it is a solid method to use and covers everything you could want in a form of martial arts, including kicks, punches, and blocks.

If you’re hoping to learn basic self-defense and get the family involved, karate is always a popular choice.

Although it might not be as structured and smooth as some forms, it will give you everything you need to succeed in a battle against an opponent and you’ll feel safer knowing your family is equipped with self-defense skills as well.



You don’t have to be in a ring with gloves on to use boxing skills to your advantage, and when you’re in a self-defense scenario, it can be helpful.

Boxing is simple in that most of the techniques are about punching and if you learn to do them well, you’ll take down an opponent swiftly.

Another huge benefit of learning boxing is the ability to dodge and weave and see what’s coming without giving anything away. It’s a great form of physical fitness and is ideal for people who don’t have prior skills, so you don’t have to be a proficient martial artist to learn the basics.

What Is The Best Martial Art For Women’s Self Defense FAQ

Learning any form of martial arts comes with numerous benefits for any woman, and being able to defend yourself effectively against unarmed attackers has to be one of the biggest.

If you’re planning on starting martial arts training and want to know more about what some of the methods offer, read on to find the answers to some commonly asked questions.


For those short in stature, there are some forms of martial arts that allow you to make the most of your physique.

Muay Thai, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all teach forms of combat and self-defense that don’t require a long reach and are ideal for shorter people to learn and become proficient in. 


If you want the same level of skill and combat finesse as a navy SEAL, learning Krav Maga is a good start.

This unique form of combat sport translates to ‘contact combat’ and is a traditional form of martial arts developed in Israel, with its students being equipped to deal with any situation that requires self-defense.


If you want to learn a method of self-defense that doesn’t take years of practice, I’m sorry to tell you there’s no shortcut. You gotta put in the work for at least a full year to start seeing some results.

Muay Thai, karate, or jiu-jitsu can all be welcoming to beginners. There is the option to take your practice further, but most people should be comfortable learning the basics of these forms of martial arts. It’s not easy but rewarding.

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1 thought on “What Is The Best Martial Art For Female Self-Defense?”

  1. Ever so often when I walk down an alley my way home, I’d always feel unsecured. Thanks for writing about Krav Maga and its benefits to women who want to learn self-defense even from knives and guns. I really think that martial arts training should be taken up by women more since we are the victims frequently.

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