Which Style is the best? 

 When it comes to self-defense, there is a plethora of martial arts styles to choose from, but the question is whether Wushu, Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Taekwondo, or any particular style is effective for self-defense. Let’s explore this topic further. Throughout my years of teaching self-defense, I often come across questions such as, “Is Wushu good for self-defense?” “Is Karate good for self-defense?” “Is Jiu Jitsu good for self-defense?” “Is bjj good for self defense?” and “Is boxing or MMA better for self-defense?” Although these are valid questions, the effectiveness of any martial art style for self-defense depends on various factors.

Training Objectives

Martial art styles are like any other form of exercise or sport. They have techniques, training methods, and objectives, but what matters most is the application of these techniques in a self-defense situation. As Bruce Lee famously said, “Styles separate men. It’s a process of continuing growth.” This quote highlights the issue of people sticking to one style and ignoring other forms of martial arts. Styles may differ in their approach, but the end goal is the same – self-defense.


Having particular style does not make one superior or weaker than another. No style is superior to another, but the learning objectives can make a difference in a person’s skillset. WE just need to ask ourselves, what are my learning objectives? Is it to win in competitions, to perform, or strictly defend oneself during times of crisis? Once we can identify our reason for picking up a particular martial arts, then we have to see whether that particular style is training you to achieve what you wanted to achieve.

Expectations Vs Reality

For instance, my primary purpose for learning self-defense is to protect myself and loved ones. However, the training school I enrolled in focuses 80% of the curriculum on teaching memorization of Forms and patterns, primarily for winning competitions and achieving higher ranking belts. Consequently, this emphasis may cause me to neglect the practicality of the techniques in real-life situations, rendering my learning objectives misaligned with the training school’s approach. Therefore, this training approach is unlikely to help me achieve my ultimate goal and objectives.

Another example. Mr. Alex’s goal for learning self-defense was to win a competition that was bound by fixed rules. However, his school taught techniques that were not bound by rules. Despite this, Mr. Alex went ahead and participated in the competition, only to lose to an opponent who had been training specifically for years with those competition rules. In light of this situation, can we say that Mr. Alex’s school taught a less superior style than the other?

Based on the given examples, it becomes apparent that the effectiveness of self-defense training is not dependent on the style but rather on the alignment between the individual’s objectives and the focus of the training school.

Category based on training objectives

Therefore. training schools can be categorized based on their focus into four types:

    1. Performance-Based – Training focuses on the aesthetic aspect of the martial art. It involves choreographed moves, displays, and exhibitions.
    2. Art-Based – Training emphasizes the history, culture, and philosophy of the martial art. The objective is to learn the art form and appreciate its values.
    3. Sports-Based -Training involves competition and rules. It is more geared towards winning tournaments and medals.
    4. Reality-Based – Training focused on practical self-defense techniques that work in real-life situations. Most of the training will be stress tested based on how real situation will happen. The objective is to train for scenarios one may face in the streets.


After gaining insights from this article, if someone were to ask you, “Is jiu-jitsu the best self-defense?” Will your answer be a simple YES or NO? The effectiveness of any martial art for self-defense depends on how the training school focuses on training its students. If a BJJ or jiu-jitsu training school solely emphasizes grappling techniques on the mats, it may not be practical in real-life street attacks. It is unrealistic to think that one can roll around on the pavement during an attack. Not only can this result in serious injuries, but the attacker’s accomplices may also kick or hurt the person on the ground while they are focusing on a single opponent. It is crucial to find a style that suits your needs and tailor your training accordingly. Remember, no style is superior to another, and the ultimate goal is to learn practical self-defense techniques that work in real-life situations.