When it comes to effective fighting, not all martial arts are created equal.

Of course, there's always people who say karate or kung fu masters can take on anyone, which is true, but I'm also considering "effort" when it comes to picking one to learn.

The amount of time it takes to be able to use many martial arts techniques at an acceptable level varies considerably. It can take decades to master kung fu.

My advice is to do your research, and understand if you'll be getting any sort of practice putting the skills you learn into practice. You want to be applying the theory to real-world situations.

It's unfortunate, but the real world isn't a kung fu movie. Real fights end in seconds, and can happen to anyone. The sad part is far too many people know how to defend themselves. Today we're going to cover three of the most effective martial arts to learn.

Krav Maga

Hands down, you've got to learn Krav Maga.

It's one of the most hardcore martial arts in the world, as they focus on effectively neutralizing threats. Not good sportsmanship. It was designed by the Israeli military, and uses simple techniques with devastating effectiveness.

There's three cores to Krav Maga

  1. Neutralize the threat you're facing by whatever means necessary
  2. Use defensive moves that allow you to counterattack
  3. Identify and strike the most vulnerable points in your opponent

It's essentially a martial art that teaches you how to win a street fight.

Originally it was heavily influenced by boxing and wrestling, but the techniques have been adapted to keep it devastatingly effective. You'll learn a little bit of kickboxing, as well as jujitsu, in addition to techniques for disarming an opponent with a gun or a knife.

The trick to Krav Maga is that the movements are simple, efficient and effective, which makes it quick to learn and apply in a high stress situation. Like a fight.

What I love about Krav Maga is how practical it is. Your instructor won't have you kicking the air in the corner of your dojo. You'll be learning one-on-one with sparring partners the techniques you can use to win (and end) a fight. The right way to throw kicks and punches will be covered, along with more advanced styles of fighting to keep multiple attackers at bay.

In short, learn Krav Maga and you'll have a head start on nearly anyone you encounter.

Brazilian Jujitsu

Never underestimate the little guy. Brazilian jujitsu is one of the smartest forms of fighting, as it was developed by Helio Gracie in an effort to win a fight against his brothers.

If you've got a smaller build, this is probably an even better technique for you than Krav Maga.

Instead of relying on brute strength or force, you tap into leverage and momentum to win fights against even the largest opponents. Perfect for anyone who isn't built like the hulk.

It works by compounding the effects of your body's mechanics, using your opponents own weight against them. Recently it's become very popular from mixed martial arts competitions like the UFC, where nearly every contender has some form of Brazilian jujitsu training.

Because of how damn effective it is.

The whole point of the training is to teach you throws and takedown moves, so you can perform a finishing attack. You'll need good balance, but in my experience anyone who's a little bit adventurous will be performing (and learning how to counter) very quickly.

What I found as I learn this technique, is that most people don't really know what to do when they've been thrown and are lying flat on their back. This gives you an element of surprise, so you can quickly finish the job and end the fight.

In Brazilian jujitsu you're taught

  1. Chokeholds to eliminate your opponents air supply and knock them out
  2. Joint locks that put immense pressure on a weak point like an elbow or a wrist
  3. Cranks which twist an opponent's body unnaturally and cause excruciating pain

I'll leave you here with one final thing to think about. Cranks are so painful they're no longer allowed in jujitsu competitions, which should give you an idea about just how effective they are.

Muay Thai

Finally it comes to Muay Thai. Being the first martial art I learnt I'm rather fond of it, and it forms a staple of pretty much every UFC fighters training program.

As the national sport of Thailand, it's essentially just a particularly vicious form of kickboxing.

But you don't just learn how to kick. In Muay Thai you'll also be taught how to use your elbows and knees to strike, and your forearms and shins to defend. It's savage.

You'll learn how to

  1. Turn your hands into a dagger
  2. Turn your elbows into a hammer
  3. Turn your knees into a club
  4. Turn your legs into a battering ram

While most importantly, learning to use your shins and forearms as a protective shield for the rest of your body.

For me though, what I love most is the training. There's no rows of people kicking the air. Even in your first class you'll be paired with a trainer and some pads, and before you know it you'll be donning protective gear to start sparring with other opponents. You'll quickly pick up the art of fighting, and will get ridiculously fit along the way.

When it comes to martial arts, you need to be aware that not all of them are equal when it comes to teaching you how to fight back. Plus there's always a risk you'll get hurt. My advice is to carry a self-defense weapon with you at all times, like one of our strikelights, and ensure you'll come out ahead in any confrontation.

Today we've run through three of the most effective martial arts techniques, to get you ready to defend yourself far quicker. In my opinion, if you're going to deal with the pain and the bruises from your training sessions, it makes sense to pick a style that will actually help to keep you safe, so choose one of these.