How would you defend yourself if you couldn’t use a gun? Martial arts may not serve as effectively as a force multiplier as a self defense firearm, but there are occasions when using a gun isn’t feasible, or appropriate.
First, I must give a disclaimer. Getting into a fist fight, or any other kind of struggle with an attacker, is highly inadvisable. Your first mode of self defense should be to, if at all possible, AVOID any kind of confrontation—physical or otherwise. Also, as with carrying self defense tools, such as pepper spray or a firearm, there is NO GUARANTEE that any degree of training or experience will save you from mortal danger. That being said, if you should find yourself without means of escaping, avoiding, or resolving a self defense situation without becoming involved in a physical confrontation, and using self defense implements isn’t a feasible option, having martial arts training can increase your odds of surviving a self defense encounter long enough to escape or neutralize the threat.
Like choosing a self defense firearm, choosing the “right” martial arts discipline to study for self defense is subjective. As you start your search, this is a key question you’ll need to answer for yourself in order to narrow down your martial arts interests: Would you rather learn to strike and block an attacker, or manipulate and deflect an opponent? (It is advisable to consider one’s size and level of strength when considering this question.)
Again, as with firearms, there are many martial arts disciplines that can help give you a better edge with unarmed self defense. There is no one ideal martial art. In fact, you may find that picking and choosing components from several disciplines serves you the best.
Hard Styles vs. Soft Styles
Hard Style Martial Arts
Martial arts that have an emphasis on direct strikes and blocks, such as boxing, karate, or muay thai, are generally referred to as “hard style” martial arts. The techniques involved with hard style martial arts are often what come to mind when people think of fighting; kicks, punches, elbow strikes, knees to the gut—that kind of thing. Learning to use proper technique when executing strikes or blocks will make someone of any size more effective in a physical confrontation. However, by the nature of hard style martial arts, those with large stature and strength have an advantage against those of smaller stature and strength. This doesn’t mean that small guys, children, or women can’t benefit from learning how to deliver a good punch. But, it does mean that they likely would be better served by integrated some degree of soft style martial arts into their training.
Soft Style Martial Arts
Soft style martial arts generally have circular techniques that allow the practitioner to utilize their attacker’s own body against them, whether through redirection or deflection, joint manipulation, utilizing pressure points, or similar techniques. Some examples of soft style martial arts include judo, hapkido, and tai chi, to name a few. An advantage to integrating soft style martial arts training is that the techniques are generally less dependent on size and strength to be effective.
Some martial arts are a combination of hard and soft styles, such as various kung fu disciplines, MMA (mixed martial arts) or krav maga.
Just because you may not be able to use a firearm doesn’t mean you are defenseless. Which martial arts disciplines will you use for unarmed self defense?