Which Martial Art is Best for Self Defense?
The Role of Each Individual in Determining Best Self Defense
First we need to think about the purpose of martial arts training to determine their effectiveness. The purpose is not to be able to dominate or defeat another. Rather the purpose more broadly is to defuse violence and bring about a more peaceful society. In this way the need for technique for self defense will be eliminated not only for yourself, but society at large. So when we evaluate whether one martial art is better than another, we need to do so through this lens.
Yet this lens is actually quite interesting, because the means to bring about a more peaceful society is not a boiler plate standard reaction to every situation. Rather it is dependent upon the individuals with whom you are dealing. So to the question of which is correct, is one martial art supreme or are they all the same, the answer is both are correct. It really depends on whom the discussion is directed towards.
Let’s take one example – an individual who is timid and frightened of being seriously harmed on a daily basis. In order for their lives to become more peaceful, they absolutely need self confidence. If they become confident that their martial art is the best, it will be the best, for them. It will be the best because they develop confidence in its being the best approach. The same argument applies to a similar individual who practices a different martial art. Yet the title of the best will go to their martial art for them.
While we may all wish everyone agreed with us, the fact is that with nearly 7 billion people on the planet we need some room for diversity. Different martial arts will simply be better for different groups of people. Some prefer simple movements (Karate), some complex (Kung Fu), some circular (Aikido), some linear, some emphasis on strikes, others throws (Judo), some competition, some forms, some calibrated resistance, etc. These distinctions need to be addressed, as someone wired to practice artistic forms for health benefits will simply not practice a gritty grappling art with their nose in someone else’s armpit. They will quit and no benefit will be gained. In this sense, there is not a best martial art; there is only a best martial art for you.
So at this juncture it might appear that each martial art is different, so how can they all be the same? Well, as stated in the first sentence, each martial art has the same purpose – to bring about a greater sense of peace in the world and for each individual. So measuring the best martial art based upon which technique wins more MMA competitions clearly fails to address the purpose of martial arts training. It is not about technique, it is about peace.