woman karate kicking guy for self defense training

Is karate good for self-defense? Being in a martial arts that was created to fight off attackers, karate can definitely help you when defending yourself from an attack. It depends on the style of karate you take on how focused that system is on self-defense tactics.

As you watch fight scenes in movies like the ones starred by Jackie Chan. You can easily get carried away by how amazing he fights off his attackers by merely using his hands and feet.

This can even inspire you to enroll yourself in a martial arts class. There are many types of martial arts and one of them is karate.

Some schools are better at teaching self-defense than others. Karate schools vary from style to style.

You will need to look for a school that will fit what you are looking for in a martial art. Everyone is looking for something different when training.

Below is more information on what karate is and if it is good for self-defense.

What is Karate?

Karate is a martial arts with a history that dates back to the 14th century. It originated in Japan and over the years, it has managed to cross over to other different cultures.

It came to be when the samurai leaders banned all weapons forcing people to shift their focus to hand-to-hand combat. This is when karate was born.

Karate is a type of self-defense training that focuses on using hands and legs when fighting instead of weapons.

It involves energetic and repetitive movements from both hands and legs.

Kata in karate is a sequence of fighting movements. This helps you train for offensive attacks like punches and kicks and defensive moves such as blocks.

Kumite in karate is what we call sparring.

There are different ranges of sparring from full contact to light hitting. Sparing contact and intensity will depend on your level of training and the school you train at for karate.

Does Karate work in a self-defense situation?

One of the reasons why your knowledge in karate will help you to defend your self is because karate involves learning more than just fighting.

Karate training will make you more confident and more aware of your street surroundings.

In order to overcome your attacker, you need confidence and fight training. With the heightened awareness of your surroundings, you can see your attacker even before they get close to you.

In addition, Karate equips you with the knowledge on how to disable your attacker. Karate enables you to have better control of your mind and body.

This martial art also teaches you how to focus on your target while maintaining your body balance.

Therefore, by employing the karate moves, you can defend yourself from your attacker while controlling your body and calming the fear.

Maintaining a body balance is crucial because you can easily lose a fight if your fighting skills are not honed. With a good body balance, you can protect yourself from any form of attack.

Karate also equips you with a fighter’s reflexes, which enable you to move quickly, and strategically when you are under attack.

The more you practice moves in any martial art the quicker your body reacts to what is presented to you in a fight.

You do not want to think of the next move you just want it to happen.

What techniques are used in Karate to fight an attacker?

There are several karate techniques that can be applied in self-defense, the following are some of the most popular ones.

Low Kicks

A low kick targets the parts of the body below the waist. It may be a kick to the knee, calf, foot or ankle.

The low kick is a good karate technique in self-defense because the attacker would have trouble grabbing or blocking the kick.

By kicking your opponent at the knee, stomach or thigh, you can easily slow down their attack.

Besides the kicks to the knee, stomach or thigh, low kicks also include:

  • Kick to the groin aka low front snap kick
  • Sweep Kick
  • Dislocation kick aka knee joint kick

Low kicks are the only kicks I would do in a street fight or for self-defense.

High kicks you run the chance of losing balance or the opposing fighter catching the kick. It is best to keep the kicks low.

Leg locks

This karate technique is especially useful for females when at the danger of being attacked.

This karate technique is done when the attacker is standing over you. In this technique, you use your knees to trap one leg of the attacker and then twisting their heel.

The various types of leg locks include:

  • Kneebar
  • Straight ankle lock
  • Calf Slicer

The ankle lock is great because if done right you can break the ankle pretty easily. This means they will not be able to chase you down once you release their leg to run.

Power punches

Karate uses power punching to knock out or knocks down an opponent. The power punches used to hurt opponents include.

  • Hook punch lead hand and rear hand
  • Rear cross
  • Uppercut
  • Karate chop
  • Hammer fist

How to throw a hook punch – video below

Does Karate work in a street fight?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. This is because there are some karate styles that are more suited to street fights and some karate styles do not gear their training to self-defense.

The styles or techniques, which do not apply to street fights, are the ones used in karate competitions for winning medals.

Some karate techniques like the ones mentioned above can very well apply in a street fight. However, the techniques you learn in karate classes should only be used for defending yourself.

You should not engage in a fight with someone for no good reason. The main reason for using karate techniques is to defend yourself.

There are some places in the world where it is illegal to use your karate skills in a street fight.

Is Karate one of the best martial arts for self-defense?

Karate is definitely a popular martial art in the world. Below are some of the reasons why this Japanese martial art has taken the world by storm ever since its inception centuries ago.

Easy to learn

One thing about karate is that it is very easy when compared to the other martial arts like MMA. However, karate becomes difficult when you get to higher stages.

Learning the basic techniques is super easy but wait till you get to a high belt level then you know what real karate is.

You still must practice and train properly to get the most out of martial art.

Most training when you first start is pretty basic so it is easier to learn. As you advance to each belt if a system has belts, the training gets more difficult and can take longer to get a belt.

Safe and effective

Karate is a safe martial art because practitioners rarely get seriously hurt when training.

No wonder the martial art is popular among children and even older people have joined the bandwagon. If done right, karate is very effective.

Kids joining is really a key to a martial art gym doing well so if kids keep getting hurt the dojo will not be around too long.

This is why sparring would be limited with kids whereas sparring as an adult may be more intense.

It just will depend on the karate school you train at or the martial art program you take online.

How do you train at home in Karate?

To train in karate at home, you need to have a simple training routine that is easy to follow.

You can check out our free training.

Start simple and practice the moves every week that are taught to you. The following are some of the exercises that you can practice at home.

Cardio and strength

Hitting a heavy bag, jumping rope and shadow boxing are some of the best ways of working on your cardio fitness.

For strength training, you can use lightweights or simply do squats, push-ups, and crunches.

Repetition of techniques

To remember the techniques you learn in your karate class online or in a dojo, you can repeat the techniques while at home.

This means practicing the techniques over and over so your muscles get used to the technique. You need to make sure you are doing the techniques right to avoid bad habits.

I remember being in karate when I was 20 years old and I use to practice my katas at home all the time so I could become really good at them.

Many karate schools will base their belt promotions off how well you master the katas.

I was able to move 7 belts in a year just because I had mastered the katas for each belt level.

Heavy bag

You really need a heavy bag to train at home. Once you have learned how to punch and kick properly, you can use the punching bag to practice on.

I use a punching bag all the time in my training to develop my skills. If you get your training from online it should show different combinations you can use to hit the punching bag.

You should try and do 3 minutes punching and kicking using combinations. Then you take a minute rest and do it again either the same combo or a different one.

If you do this for 5 to 8 rounds it will exhaust you. Unless you are just punching and kicking at 25% and not going 100% on the bag.

You must learn how to punch properly before hitting a heavy bag hard because you could roll your wrist or break your hand or fingers.

I had to punch light on the bag until my wrist and hands got used to the punching.

Combinations shown below in the video


Karate is good for self-defense if you find training online or if you train at a local gym that teaches self-defense.

Some schools focus on tournament sparring and katas which are helpful but may not translate into working well when you need to defend yourself on the street.

You need to try out some different schools or check out our free online training so you can start your training.

You may also like: What Boxing Combinations do You Need to Know and Kickboxing Combinations and How to Train

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