Are you searching for the best martial arts where you can develop proper self-defense skills? If you are, congratulations, you are making an intelligent decision, and you have come to the right place to learn all about the best martial arts for women.
Training in one of many combat systems we have included in our list will boost your confidence, physical fitness, and overall health.
Let’s look at our top 10 picks and see how effective these systems are and what makes them suitable for women.
Wing Chun is a style of Kung Fu designed by a woman, Ng Mui. As a combat system, it is not as advanced or practical in real combat as other arts on this list. But the defensive and offensive principles suit women well.
The concept revolves around anticipating and intercepting the attack with quick attacks using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.
The focus is on the economy of motion and delivering each blow in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
The key is to time the attack perfectly to use the force of your strikes and the attackers’ momentum against them to generate a lot of power. In classes, you will train with both men and women and drill each move and attacking scenario until it gets stamped deep into your muscle memory.
Wing Chun works well during close-range exchanges when someone gets in your face or gets a hold of you.
It trains you to use these scenarios to your advantage to blast them with rapid punches to the throat, solar plexus, elbows to the face, and knees to the stomach or groin area.
Taekwondo is one of the best martial arts for women due to its practicality.
It teaches you how to use legs as the primary weapon to deliver all types of jumping, spinning, and roundhouse kicks with huge power and laser accuracy.
Due to the lack of musculature, most women do not have immense punching power, which is where legs come into play.
Legs are longer and heavier than hands, which enables you to attack from a safe distance and do considerable damage.
Regardless of gender and physical size, most people don’t know how to check or absorb kicks. A single, well-placed kick to the rib cage or side of the head can knock any person out cold, no matter if men or women throw it.
On top of that, Taekwondo teaches closed and open hand attacks and how to mix them with kicks and fast movement.
When it comes to specific scenarios, Taekwondo works best if the fight is in an open space. You need space to apply footwork and land kicks because your abilities would be limited at close range.
Judo is a grappling-based martial art and an Olympic sport. There is a strong women’s judo community in every part of the world, and for sure, you won’t be the only female judoka in school.
First, judo is very popular among women because training is safe. There is no striking as the entire focus is on standup grappling, taking the opponent down with throws, trips, and sweeps, and utilizing pins and joint locks to subdue them on the bottom.
Judo is practical for women as it teaches you how to redirect energy and use the attacker’s momentum against them to throw them off balance.
Most attacking scenarios include grabbing and pulling at close range, and here, your judo skills will give you a significant advantage.
Yes, physically bigger attackers are superior in grappling on paper. However, defending or executing a takedown is all about balance, leverage, and technique.
Despite the size disadvantage, the mix of explosive strength and technique is often enough for you to at least stop them from pushing you down to the ground.
On top of that, judo is the best for improving core and sheer strength, making you physically superior to most other women.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
MMA is the most versatile combat system and is excellent for women’s self-defense.
It covers all the elements: striking, grappling in the clinch, wrestling, and fighting on the ground.
It is a mix of BJJ, Wrestling, Boxing, and Muay Thai techniques in one system, and the coherence between all the elements is close to ideal.
MMA is great for women as it prepares you for most scenarios you may face on the streets.
It doesn’t matter if the attacker throws a strike or tries to take you down. You will have the skills, automatic reactions, and instincts to defend and respond appropriately.
Even if the fight hits the ground, training teaches you attacks from the bottom or how to reverse the position and stand back up.
This makes MMA practical for women who get attacked by physically superior men.
The only downside is MMA’s intense workload and complexity. It is popular among the younger generation and for women who already have a martial art background.
A working mom, for instance, may have a hard time keeping up with the classes.
Karate is very popular among women both as a self-defense system and as a sport. But before you join the classes, you should know that there are many karate styles. Some of the most popular ones are:
Women who want to learn karate for self-defense should research and find a school that embraces traditional ways of teaching.
There, you can learn advanced methods of mixing fast kicks and direct punches with advanced footwork and using elbows and knees at close range to back off the attacker.
Women can benefit significantly from Karate training as the emphasis is on technique rather than power.
The key is to defeat the attacker with speed, precision, angles, and technique rather than using sheer force.
Women can benefit from this concept as, in most cases, they have to deal with physically bigger men.
Training has no full-contact sparring, so the injury rate is average.
Once in a fight, your opponent would have difficulty landing a single clean strike, no matter how much they try. You would overwhelm them with fast movements in all directions and angles to make them miss and create openings and fantastic accuracy.
Karate training also makes you stronger and more disciplined while improving overall health.
Krav Maga is a combat system created by the Israeli Special Forces. It is incredibly beneficial as the entire concept focuses on the scenarios you may face in real life.
It trains you to deal with the bigger and stronger attacker, fight in different places and defend against multiple attackers.
Krav Maga is one of the best self-defense martial arts for women as it allows you to learn self-defense according to your abilities and preferred pace.
Over time, you will develop the style that enables you to defend in the most efficient way possible when you get into trouble.
Krav Maga is a mix of boxing, karate, wrestling, judo, and jujutsu. But apart from conventional martial arts techniques, training includes advanced self-defense drills.
You will perform various simulation drills defending against attacks, including robberies, aggressive people trying to take you down, multiple attackers, etc.
Overall, Krav Maga enables you to do anything in your power to protect your life.
The emphasis is on keeping the mind calm, assessing the situation, and responding in the most effective way possible.
If that means you should use your bag as a weapon or grab the branch off the ground to blast the attacker with it, Krav Maga embraces that.
On top of that, you learn how to target pressure points, gouge eyes, strike the throat and do anything in your power to defend yourself.
The only downside is that training sessions may be too intense and hard on your body.
Kickboxing is very popular among women who want to get in top shape and learn how to fight. The main secret behind this popularity is the simplicity of kickboxing.
At first glance, it may look complex, challenging, and too intense for most women.
In reality, however, it is a beginner-friendly martial art as it revolves around 5 different punches and the same number of kicks.
Women love it since you don’t have to be a gifted athlete to learn how to perform the right way.
The first few months will likely be physically and mentally hard, but it becomes much easier as you get stronger.
Women who stay committed to classes may expect to develop proper self-defense skills in around a year of training and get in top shape in about 6 months.
Sparring teaches you to read the attackers’ reactions, recognize attacking patterns, and respond devastatingly.
It doesn’t matter how small you are. Kickboxing teaches you to generate massive power through the hip and upper body rotation.
A single well-placed kick to the rib cage or punch to the face can instantly back off an attacker.
Also, sparring conditions your body to absorb clean strikes and damage, which keeps your mind from going into panic or “freeze” mode when you get hit by an attacker on the streets.
You will become a real fighter, with real fighting skills ready to be applied in any self-defense situation you find yourself in.
Muay Thai is also known as the “art of eight limbs” as it teaches a person how to punch, kick, and utilize elbows and knees at close range and the basics of grappling.
Training is hard on your body and includes a lot of grueling cardio workouts, bodyweight exercises, and hard sparring.
Though intense, this type of workout has many benefits. It burns a lot of calories, improves upper and lower body strength, and teaches you how to defend yourself utilizing a very aggressive approach.
What makes Thai boxing so practical for women’s self-defense is the clinch.
Most physical confrontations include grabbing and pulling at close range, and this is where you will feel like a fish in the water.
Muay Thai teaches you how to break holds, blast the attacker with vicious elbow and knee strikes, and above all, unleash your violent instincts and never stop fighting until the attacker either backs off or crumbles down to the ground in pain.
The only major downside of Muay Thai is the intensity. The rate of injuries is high, and training can sometimes get painful.
Boxing gyms worldwide are seeing more and more women joining the classes, and for the right reason.
Training is simple, burns a lot of calories, improves strength, and above all, teaches you how to fight. All that a woman could ask for from martial arts.
What makes boxing effective is its simple concept and methods of teaching. You won’t get overwhelmed by the number of techniques or anxious because you are not fit enough to execute certain moves.
No, boxing revolves around 5 different punches, footwork, and upper body movement, and anyone can learn it.
It works well in any fighting situation despite relying only on hand strikes.
Even if you get attacked by a physically stronger and bigger male, a proper punch to the face can easily break their jaw, nose, or tooth, giving you time to run away.
Here, smaller women can also compensate for the lack in size with fast footwork and precise striking.
The other good thing is the surprise factor. Few expect a woman to dodge a strike using head movement, angle out, and blast them with a perfectly placed punching combo.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is widely regarded as the best self-defense martial art for women due to its safety and effectiveness.
BJJ is a grappling-based martial art that doesn’t include any striking. And since punches and kicks cause the most damage, the injury rate is low in BJJ training.
Next, BJJ is an advanced grappling system and very hard to defend against. It is ideal for women as it enables them to beat the physically bigger attacker in a grappling exchange.
For instance, when a woman gets attacked by men, they usually end up in the bottom position on the ground, which puts the attacker into a dominant position from which they can do whatever they want to.
But BJJ teaches you how to break the hold, attack using different chokes and joint locks, or escape and even reverse the position.
The focus is on technique, leverage, and balances, and most people, no matter how strong they are, are unfamiliar with defensive procedures.
Above all, training in BJJ is fun and will change you as a person. Each gym embraces a positive atmosphere and respectful behavior and encourages personal growth.