A very common question most people who are new to fighting ask is what is the best martial art to study? And the truth is there is none. If I had to choose, I’d say JKD (but that’s not an actual art). Though some arts are much more practical than others, there are always situations in which you cayon find a counter argument/scenario for where certain arts, no matter how proven will not work.
I very often see videos comparing different arts. Titles such as “Wing Chun vs MMA” or “Krav Maga vs Karate” are all silly things to compare. This is because these arts are meant for different environments. You can’t compare an art developed for street fighting such as Wing Chun or Krav Maga and then expect it to work when you try to apply it into a cage fighting scenario where there are rules and the environment is controlled. Then 99% of everything flies out the window.
You can’t poke people in the eye. You can’t use weapons. You can’t hit them in the groin. So many elements and key factors those arts are based on will then not work and obviously the MMA fighter will win.
However if you switch it up and make the fight happen in a street fighting environment where everything goes, the outcome will be much different. I have seen more than a few real cases of MMA fighters getting ganged up on or just knocked out via a basic jab cross and even worse being destroyed by weapons attacks.
This is not to say MMA won’t work in these scenarios, but it’s unlikely because in spite of all the versatility MMA brings to the table, it still has limits. And those limits must be supplemented with other arts and styles that fix those holes, and vice versa.
This is where the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) comes into play. In this approach to fighting which was developed by Bruce Lee, those who study martial arts must study as much as possible from various styles and then take what works and further develop that.
What exactly does this mean? Well it means you should learn the most basic arts which cover the following combat subjects:
- Striking (boxing is good for this).
- Kicking (Muay thai)
- Grappling (Jiu Jitsu & wrestling)
- Weaponry defense (kali)
- Streetfighting (Kali, krav maga & wing chun)
In most cases if you know MMA and kali, you should have most of these covered. But that doesn’t mean if you possess a “black belt” in these arts that you’re good to go. You should always try to evolve further by learning more things from other arts and seeing what works for you.
And this leads me to another major flaw in asking what the best martial art is: There is no such thing because what works for 1 person may not work for the other. You are all individuals. You have different tastes, styles, methods and ways of understanding things. Certain moves which work for me will never work for you and vice versa.
One final thing you need to understand is adaptation. If you’re learning how to box and suddenly encounter a fighter who keeps kicking you and you don’t know how to stop it, what’s the answer? Learn how to block kicks! If you know how to punch, kick but are taken down and submitted, learn how to grapple! Evolve, adapt and become better.
Don’t look to one art as the answer to everything. That is a limiting belief and it can end up hurting you. Always look at various arts, study it and take what works for you and discard the rest as Bruce Lee would say (I am paraphrasing). You can also sign up to the free newsletter and get weekly tutorials on all practical methods of self defense listed above if you don’t have access to schools or training around your area.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please share your opinions in the comments section below!
So what exactly is the answer?