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When it comes to learning martial arts, many participants want to find the right fit for their needs. For many, real-life application of the martial art type is important—including use in real fights if the need arises.
The best martial art for real fights? Jiu Jitsu, sometimes called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu due to its origin, is considered the most practical martial art for street fighting and real-life situations. This is primarily because students learn to take people to the ground and control them.
While Jiu Jitsu is rated number one among the different styles of martial arts for real fights, there is a wide variety of martial arts and practicality for each. In this article, we will not only further discuss Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also walk through additional martial arts styles that may be useful for street fighting, and helpful moves to use in street fights.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that focuses on self-defense. This particular form of martial art focuses on grappling, and unlike some other similar practices, it focuses on ground fighting. It is originally an adaptation off of Judo, another form of martial art, but over time became its own combat sport.
The reason this form of martial art is emphasized as being the best for real-life fighting situations is because of its teaching that the size of your opponent does not matter. BJJ teaches that a smaller and weaker person can still be successful when fighting someone larger and stronger than them.
BJJ does this by teaching students how to use leverage and weight distribution to bring the fight down to the ground. Once both opponents are on the ground, executing moves such as a chokehold or joint lock is easier. Both of these moves will incapacitate the opponent. These moves revolve less around the size of the fighter and more around his or her skill level.
The Top 7 Best Martial Arts for Real Fights
Although Jiu Jitsu is number one for street fighting (spoiler alert), six other forms of martial art teach valuable skills when it comes to real fights. When it comes to finding the right type of martial arts for you, it is essential to look into not only which is going to benefit you most in real fights but also how you are going to adapt when the fight isn’t going your way.
Thinking about how a loss may go in each form of martial art is imperative before you commit to learning a form of physical combat. While some have specific ways to get out of being dominated in a physical fight, other forms of fighting may result in serious injury.
#7 Muay Thai
Muay Thai, often referred to as Thai boxing, began around the same time as kickboxing. This style of fighting also focuses on defense and was historically used in combat and war as military defense. Muay Thai is now more widely practiced and is heavily centered in Thailand, where it originated.
Unlike boxing, in Muay Thai fighters can use a variety of moves including:
This makes Muay Thai a brutal martial art, which is why it is considered useful for real fighting. The use of kicking, kneeing, and elbowing differentiates Muay Thai from other forms of martial arts because those are not often used in other martial arts.
On top of the physicality, Muay Thai takes a lot of conditioning and is a very technical style of fighting. For those who want to train Muay Thai, expect that some moves may not come naturally. If you are used to other forms of martial arts, Muay Thai may feel a bit more foreign in its movements.
#6 Krav Maga
Similar to Muay Thai, Krav Maga was also used as a self-defense fighting system for the military. Krav Maga training focuses on channeling your inner anger to then be a good street fighter.
Because of its reputation for providing realistic fight training, many militaries around the world teach Krav Maga to their soldiers. For those who train Krav Maga, many teachers try to simulate real-life situations to encourage quick thinking and mindfulness in students.
Another benefit to Krav Maga is that it is relatively easy to learn through lessons, either online or in person. Many students opt to take online lessons and mimic movements to pick up this form of martial arts. Unlike Muay Thai, you may be able to pick up Krav Maga faster and with more ease.
Sambo was created in Russia in the 1920s for use by the Red Army. This method of fighting is relatively new in comparison to some of the other ways. Sambo translates into self-defense without weapons. There are two main styles of Sambo in practice today, sport and combat Sambo. Sport Sambo is where the wrestling rules were established for this fighting style.
The Sambo style includes grappling, throws, and leg locks. The combat portion of Sambo consists of the strikes and blocks in the fighting style. This sport is one of the most versatile fighting styles today, taking bits and pieces from several other martial arts and taking what works best while leaving the rest behind.
There are some alternative forms of Sambo fighting as a result of this hybrid creation. Self-defense Sambo teaches you to use your opponent’s strikes against them. This concept is similar to other fighting styles such as Aikido and Jujitsu.
Special Sambo was created for a single unit such as a police force to control individuals and disarm criminals. Fedor Emelianenko, one of the greatest MMA fighters, used Russian Sambo to win the Pride Heavyweight Championship in MMA.
Sambo is unpredictable and depends solely on the skill set of the fighter. One minute you could be in a punching war, the next on the ground, and Sambo covers it all. Sambo teaches self-control, patience, and waiting for the right moment. With Sambo, the opponent cannot wait for you to start a sequence of moves and predict your next step.
#4 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) combines many techniques from differing styles of martial arts in a full-contact way. MMA has been made famous in the United States by big-name fighters who stage fights for entertainment.
MMA does not have as many guidelines as other martial arts, as you are permitted to use most strikes. However, some moves are not permitted to use when practicing MMA, including:
- Hits to the groin
- Taking out the knee
- Gouging eyes
- Hitting the back of the head
This style of fighting is powerful, and the fights often do not last long due to the intensity of the combat. This makes MMA an excellent option to tap into during street fights.
Judo is a modern and highly competitive sport, as it is currently an event in the summer Olympics. Due to its status in the Olympics and high-level competition, Judo has gotten way more attention and therefore has been in high demand to learn and practice.
The basis of this martial art is getting your opponent down to the ground. Once you have taken your opponent down, success comes with pinning and putting the opponent either in a chokehold or joint lock, much like Jiu Jitsu.
This form of martial art focuses primarily on strength and can be a highly dangerous form of fighting. Along with the physical, Judo also focuses on the mental aspect of taking down an opponent. This is a great martial art to use in real-life situations such as street fighting as it effectively teaches its students how to get an opponent on the ground.
Boxing is a hugely popular form of fighting in many countries. Much like Judo, it is also an Olympic sport and also has its own championship. Boxing has always been a popular sport in many countries, with huge name boxers gaining mass publicity all over the world.
While boxing is centered around throwing punches while wearing gloves, this would often not be the case in the situation of street fighting. When in a street fighting situation, the likelihood that gloves and headgear would be utilized is low to none.
Boxing is #2 on this list because many times street fights will turn into fistfights, which is basically boxing. It is important to note that this form of fighting is extremely dangerous and can often result in serious injuries if no protective gear is worn. Serious injuries are enormously common in boxing and can cause a lot of abuse to the body.
With boxing often comes head trauma due to the intensity of punches going to the head and neck area; therefore, if you find yourself boxing in a street fight, take extreme caution. This form of martial art is a good option for street fighting based simply around skill, intensity, and fighting style, however, is going to be more dangerous than some others on this list.
#1 Jiu Jitsu/Grappling
Jiu Jitsu originated in Brazil and is a combat sport stemming from Judo. The sport is often referred to as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu due to its roots. However, both names refer to the same sport.
Grappling is a form of combat used in some of the different martial art styles described above. It can also be used as a martial art and can be extremely useful in street fighting. Grappling is the art of taking physical advantage of your opponent, which gets you into an advantageous position for defeating the opponent at hand.
Differing types of grappling include:
- Among many more
These forms of fighting are the best for street fighting because if you are a less skilled fighter than your opponent, you can utilize defensive positions to guard against an attack from a more skilled fighter.
The purpose of Jiu Jitsu is to control and defeat your opponent without causing severe injury. Grappling is taught to many police officers and guards based on the fact that they need to take down potential criminals without hurting them too badly.
Jiu Jitsu and Street Fighting
If you are trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and find yourself in a street fight, here are a few recommended moves to use to take an opponent down to the ground and keep them on the ground:
- Double leg takedown—this is often considered a wrestling move. However, it is also taught in BJJ. This move is very effective for street fighting as it gets your opponent on the ground quickly. Once your opponent is on the ground, you’re in a good place moving forward in the fight.
- Back control—securing your opponent on your back is one of the best ways to immobilize them. Additionally, once you have back control, you are free to execute a number of additional moves, such as a variety of chokes.
- The mount—this move is going to come in handy when you and your opponent are on the ground, and you need to take control of your opponent. This move can turn into a quick win to the fight if you are able to maintain your position on top. The trick to staying in control here is to maintain a high mount. Being in a more upright position gives you the option to execute additional moves such as a chokehold. Try to keep your knees as close to your opponent’s armpits as possible.
If by chance your opponent uses one of those moves on you, and you find yourself pinned on the ground, here are a few moves to keep in your back pocket:
- Technical standup—also sometimes called standing up in the base. This move is done from a seated position and is a way to get to a standing position quickly. This will protect the person who is executing the technical standup from any attack. The technical standup is done by placing weight on your rear right foot. This puts you in a prime position to either stand up and engage with your opponent or run away; regardless, you’re more in control in this position if you’re on the ground.
- Escaping the mount—this is a staple move in BJJ, understandably, as it is critical in getting your opponent off of you. This move can still be effective against someone larger and stronger than you.
Finally, you need to keep some fight-ending moves in mind when getting into a street fight. These moves can be used both on the ground and standing up.
While the above moves are important to use throughout the different stages of the fight, you do need moves that are going to incapacitate your opponent and win the fight.
Here are a few moves that will come in handy for taking your opponent down:
- The rear-naked choke—this choke move is going to be the most effective in a street fight. When engaging in a street fight resorting to a choke move is going to be your best option for a number of reasons. Opting for joint submission will result in the opponent likely getting back up; whereas, a choke results in either a tap out or losing consciousness.
- Guillotine choke—this hold is ideal because it can be executed in a standing position, unlike the rear-naked choke, which is executed in the back control hold. This is going to be a great option for street fighting if you are unable to get your opponent down onto the ground.
- Clinching—this move is very helpful to subdue your opponent while you think of your next route of attack. This ties them up and immobilizes their ability to continue throwing punches or kicks at you.
There are a number of different forms of martial arts that may come in handy for street fighting. Any of the above forms of martial arts can teach students useful tools to take on an opponent in a real-world fight. Based on the information in this article, it is important to figure out what form of martial art is going to be the best fit for you.
Considering the types of maneuvers you want to learn, in addition to the risk you are taking with different kinds of martial arts. Boxing comes with increased risk of head injury while MMA is face-paced and very intense. The way each fight ends is a pertinent thing to remember, especially when you’re on the losing end of the fight.
It is also important to remember, before getting into a street fight that the skills learned in martial arts training should only be used when necessary. While most will not find themselves in a street fighting situation where they need to utilize Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or any other form of martial arts, it is good to know you are able to defend yourself.
If you want to see more posts where we match up BJJ against other martial arts check out our BJJ vs Everybody Section.