Best Combat Sports For Self Defense

Best Combat Sports For Self Defense

There is something to be said for being able to protect yourself with self-defense. While it something that you hopefully will never have to use in life, it is also a practice that has many benefits beyond being able to hold off an attacker. Confidence, physical fitness, and self-awareness are some of the many benefits that come from learning how to defend yourself 

But knowing what is the best combat sport to practice for self-defense can be confusing. There are so many great options that it may seem like you should try them all. Focus on combat sports that teach grappling and striking. Let’s break down the best in these respective categories. 

Striking Sports

Striking puts you in the position of going after the attacker. These sports teach you how to effectively punch and kick to fight back. When it comes to protecting yourself some sports fare better than others. 


Boxing is stand-up striking. This combat sport is taught with the ideas in mind fast footwork and fast punching result in good power at contact. There are many different types of punching and boxing techniques that you can learn that can apply directly to defending yourself in a scary situation. It’s a quick way to get back to neutral or stay on offense. 


Kickboxing like boxing has all the elements of punching but adds in kicking. While it takes more time in some instances to kick than punch it also can be very powerful if you are able to work on the speed and timing. Kickboxing also helps with balance because normally when attacked we are off balance and not always standing straight up. This is when you may be able to throw in a certain kick to regain composure. 

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is commonly referred to as Thai boxing because it contains all the wonderful elements of boxing and kickboxing but also includes several aspects of the combat sport that are incredibly useful when fighting. It allows for the use of knees and elbows when striking and also includes pushing/shoving. This is good for situations where you may not be able to throw a punch or kick but can use other parts of your body. 

Grappling Sports

Grappling combat sports is just as important as striking sports because a lot of time if we are being attacked we are being put in hold positions. Our arms may be pinned against our back or we may even be pinned to the ground. Grappling combat sports shows us not only how to get out of these positions but also teaches us how to put our opponent and attacker into holds as well. 


Wrestling is a great sport to learn when it comes to self-defense because it’s actually more about offense strategy. The more explosive you are and the more strength you have, the better you will be at getting your opponent in defensive positions. Dismantling an attacker’s power through a headlock or any other powerful move in wrestling is perfect for self-defense. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has more technique-inspired combat there is a lot of benefit to practicing it. This is because wrestling predominantly focuses on getting your opponent pinned beneath you. BJJ offers something very practical by showing you how to pin your opponent from both the top position and the bottom position. If we are attacked and on our back, BJJ shows us how to take charge from here. 


Judo is about getting your opponent to the ground in the most efficient way possible. Essentially it is taught in the way that you use your opponent’s attacking momentum to grab them and throw them down to the ground. This is a good skill to have in a fight for self-defense but afterward, it may be useful to pick up another for a grappling or striking to continue your own momentum. 

Benefits Of Training With Combat Sports

As mentioned being able to fight in a fight or flight situation is an important skill to have. Aside from this, there are some amazing benefits that have to do with both your physical and mental health. That way you don’t feel like you are training for this rare possibility of an awful event in your life. 

Here is what you can expect to get out of participating in these practices. 

Physical Health

  • All of the striking and grappling practices will increase your cardiovascular load and endurance. This results in a healthier heart and lowers the risk of disease and illnesses. 
  • Tones and strengthens the muscles in your body. Strong muscles help with balance as your get older and lead to fewer injuries with bones, tendons, and muscles. 
  • Lower body fat due to healthy weight loss. 

Mental Health

  • Releases stress by physically getting it out through striking and grappling. Exercise in general helps combat stress. 
  • Improves ability to focus and be in the moment. Because it’s fighting it takes a lot of attention which can translate into other parts of your life when needing to be present. 
  • Introduces you to a like-minded environment where you may meet other positive individuals to work on their self-defense as well.  

Try It Out

With all the positives that come with testing out combat sports, it seems like a no-brainer to give it a try. There are hardly any negatives to trying these sports. Most people who get into combat sports end up trying a mix of different ones. This can help with knowing what to do in specific situations. In general, an all-over great choice is Muay Thai because it combines a bit of everything. 

If you feel that you may not have the time to sign up for a class right away there is no reason why you can’t hop on Youtube and try to follow along with boxing and kickboxing tutorials. At the very least you will be thankful for increasing your fitness and cardio resulting in a toned body and added strength! Who doesn’t want that! 

Sean Lockwood

Sean is a programmer with a passion for extreme sports. Favourite extreme sports discipline is biathlon. Started this blog because of the great love for nature and adrenaline which results in something extreme like Extreme Sports Lab (ESL).

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