What is the Best Martial Art for Beginners?

You are looking to take martial arts and want to know where to start. You have seen movies with people doing incredible martial art moves to stop an attacker or fight off bad guys. The question most people ask what is the best martial arts for beginners? This depends on why you want to take martial arts. If you are taking for self-defense we recommend Jiu-Jitsu. Yet if you want to learn katas or maybe awesome flying kicks then taking a TaeKwonDo may be more your style.

We will need to look at what is your objective for taking martial arts to see which one fits you as a beginner.
Self-Defense martial arts

Martial arts that teach moves that will work in a fight to protect you include Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga, JeetKuneDo, MMA, Muay Thai, boxing and Judo. Let’s discuss each one and what they teach you that you can use in self-defense or in a fight to protect yourself.

Jiu-Jitsu

This was our number one pick because it is a very effective martial art for self-defense.

What do you learn in Jiu-Jitsu?

• Ground fighting techniques
• How to take any size opponent to the ground
• Position yourself to gain control of the attacker

• Techniques to choke people out such as:
– Rear naked choke
– Cross collar choke
– Triangle choke
– Bow and arrow choke
– Guillotine
– Side choke
– Plus many more you can learn

• Techniques to lock joints such as:
– Wristlock
– Ankle lock
– Armlock
– Armbar
– Reverse armbar

• Takedowns to get the opponent to the ground
• Punch defense
• Mount positions
• Much more

Most people usually do not know how to fight so when you learn Jiu-Jitsu you quickly learn some of the techniques above just enough that you can disable an attacker. These techniques do not take a really long time to learn. They do take time to master but to use these techniques on an attacker you do not need to have them mastered.

Why is Jiu-Jitsu the best martial art for beginners?

• You can quickly learn techniques that can be used in a real fight
• Everyone can train online or train in a local gym
• Anyone no matter size can train and use these techniques
• Trained in Jiu-Jitsu you can beat bigger and stronger opponents
• Many fights go to the ground so knowing ground fighting helps tremendously

Downside to Jiu-Jitsu

• The training mostly focuses on ground fighting so fighting multiple attackers you need stand up training

Krav Maga

This martial art was created for the Israeli army close quarter combat fighting.

What do you learn in Krav Maga?

• You learn the jab punch
• Rear-cross punch
• Hook punch
• Uppercut
• Learn how to stand and move in a fight
• Elbow strikes
• Knee strikes
• Defense against chokes, grabs, headlocks, and punches at you
• Different street fighting kicks
• Defense against weapons like a gun or knife
• Ground fighting techniques (same things as what Jiu-Jitsu teaches)

Krav maga is training that works on you taking out your opponent quickly then getting away by running. This martial art really revolves around learning to defend yourself.

Why is Krav Maga one if the best martial arts for beginners?

• Learn multiple techniques from different martial arts that are effective in a street fight
• Teach techniques that you can quickly pick up and start using
• Teach specific ways to get out of someone grabbing you from behind or putting you in a headlock
• You learn stand up and ground fighting techniques
• Tested on the battlefield because the Israeli army and many others use this training to teach soldiers how to protect themselves

The downside to Krav Maga

• The focus is on self-defense and stand up so not as much training on ground fighting but they do have it

JeetKuneDo

This is another great martial art for self-defense and was created by the late Bruce Lee. I did train in this martial art for several years and loved the training.

What do you learn in JeetKuneDo?

• Boxing (all the punches from a jab to uppercut)
• Elbow and knee strikes
• Trapping hands which comes from Wing Chun Kung Fu
• Simultaneous blocking and punching which is the essence of JKD
• Weapons such as knife and stick fighting from Kali Martial Arts
• Ground fighting techniques
• How to move when fighting
• Kicks effective in street fighting or for self-defense
• Takedowns and throws

Why is JeetKuneDo one if the best martial arts for beginners?

When you learn JeetKuneDo they start with the basics for beginners. The first thing to learn is how to punch correctly. Next, you learn how to stand and move when you fight which is the key to attacking an opponent or defending against an attacker. You can progress in learning self-defense pretty quickly in this martial art.

• Can learn to fight quickly
• Learn multiple techniques that are known to work in a fight
• Learn to do stand up fighting and ground fighting
• You train in a martial art Bruce Lee created how cool

Downside to JeetKuneDo

• I loved the trapping hands and learning to simultaneously block and hit someone but you have to train a very long time for those techniques to work in a street fight

MMA

This martial art was created back in the days when UFC was started. May not be the best one for beginners because it is really for training to fight in a cage. Yet, many gyms do offer MMA that students do not have to enter the ring they can just train.

What do you learn in MMA?

• You learn the jab punch
• Rear-cross punch
• Hook punch
• Uppercut
• Learn how to stand and move in a fight/footwork
• Bobbing and weaving
• Elbow strikes
• Knee strikes
• Ground fighting techniques (same things as what Jiu-Jitsu teaches)
• The transition between kicking, punching and ground fighting

MMA is not really for self-defense but the training is so well rounded you become a deadly weapon. The training you get in MMA will make you more than ready to defend yourself.

Why is MMA one if the best martial arts for beginners?

• Learn multiple techniques from different martial arts that are effective in a fight
• Teach techniques that you can quickly pick up and start using
• You learn to do stand up and ground fighting techniques
• Tested in the UFC ring if you want to know if it works

Downside to MMA

• Not focused on training for self-defense
• No weapons training

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is from Thailand and if you have never seen a pro Muay Thai fight then you are missing out. Check out the video below on Muay Thai fights.

What do you learn in Muay Thai?

• You learn the jab punch
• Rear-cross punch
• Hook punch
• Uppercut
• Learn how to stand and move in a fight/footwork
• Elbow strikes
• Knee strikes

Muay Thai is devastating to an attacker. They use knees and elbows with vicious kicks to knock out an attacker. This martial art is more directed towards ring fights in Thailand.

Why is Muay Thai one if the best martial arts for beginners?

• Learn multiple techniques from different martial arts that are effective in a fight
• Teach techniques that you can quickly pick up and start using
• You will learn devastating knees, kicks and elbow strikes
• Tested in the UFC ring if you want to know if it works because everyone learns knees and elbows in Muay Thai

The downside to Muay Thai

• Not focused on training for self-defense
• No weapons training
• No ground fighting training

Boxing

Boxing is not really a martial art but the training with your footwork and punching can increase dramatically with this training.

What do you learn in boxing?

• You learn the jab punch
• Rear-cross punch
• Hook punch
• Uppercut
• Learn how to stand and move in a fight/footwork
• Bobbing and weaving
• Head movement

Boxing is a great base to learn before you go into one of the other martial arts we have listed above. This will teach you exactly how to better your punching skills.

Why is boxing really good for beginners?

• Learn the proper way to punch so you do not break your hand
• You can pick up boxing pretty easily if you can at least punch straight
• Footwork drills and movement training is incredible
• Boxing has worked to fight off attackers for centuries

Downside to boxing

• Not focused on training for self-defense
• No weapons training
• No ground fighting training
• No elbows and knee training

Judo

Judo is good to use for self-defense. It is also a sport in the Olympics.

What do you learn in Judo?

• Throws
• Sweeps
• Falling techniques
• How to take any size opponent to the ground
• Position yourself to gain control of the attacker

• Techniques to choke people out such as:
– Rear naked choke
– Cross collar choke
– Triangle choke
– Guillotine
– Side choke
– Plus many more you can learn

• Techniques to lock joints
– Armbars
– And more

• Mount positions
• Much more

Judo is an Olympic sport so if you really like the sport and do well you can train to try and make the Olympics.

Why is Judo a good martial art for beginners?

• You can quickly learn techniques that can be used in a real fight
• Anyone no matter size can train and use these techniques
• Trained in Judo you can beat bigger and stronger opponents
• Many fights go to the ground so knowing ground fighting helps tremendously

Downside to Judo

• This has the same issue as Jiu-Jitsu the training mostly focuses on taking opponent to the ground so fighting multiple attackers you need stand up training
• You do not really learn any strikes, elbows, knees or kicks

Traditional martial arts

Traditional martial arts teach you sparring techniques and kata forms. Kata’s a system of pre-set forms that you do for training. Check out the video on what a kata looks like.

The traditional martial arts train in sparring, katas, punching, kicking, and weapons. Many traditional martial arts have tournaments to showcase katas, weapons, and sparring. Traditional martial arts do have very specific rules for sparring.

Here are the traditional martial arts we will review which includes TaeKwonDo, Karate, Kung Fu and Aikido are the four we will discuss because these are the most popular in the United States.

TaeKwonDo

This is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Like Judo this is an Olympic sport.

What do you learn in Taekwondo?

• Kicking
– Front kick
– Sidekick
– Spinning back kick
– Back kick
– Ax kick
– Flying kicks
– Many more

• Punching
– You learn the jab punch
– Rear-cross punch
– Hook punch
– Uppercut

• Katas
• Point-based sparring
• Breaking boards

Taekwondo is an Olympic sport so if you really like the sport and do well you can train to try and make the Olympics.

Why is Taekwondo a good martial art for beginners?

• Really good for kids because teaches discipline and respect
• Anyone no matter size can train and use these techniques
• Sparring in Taekwondo is fun and really safe
• Will help with self-confidence
• Can help in a self-defense situation

Downside to Taekwondo

• You are mainly taught kicking which would be hard to defeat a boxer or ground fighter if you ever get into a fight
• You learn some strikes but it is not the focus so you punching skills will be less then Krav Maga or MMA fighter

Karate

This is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. There are so many different types of Karate we cannot cover all the styles so we will just generalize for you.

What do you learn in Karate?

• Kicking
– Front kick
– Sidekick
– Spinning back kick
– Back kick
– Ax kick
– Many more

• Punching
– You learn the jab punch
– Rear-cross punch
– Hook punch
– Uppercut

• Blocking punches and kicks using arms and legs
• Katas
• Point-based sparring
• Breaking boards

• Weapons training
– Bo / staff
– Nunchucks
– Sai
– Many others

Why Karate a good martial art for beginners?

• Really good for kids because teaches discipline and respect
• Anyone no matter size can train and use these techniques
• Sparring in karate tournaments is fun and really safe
• Will help with self-confidence
• Can help in self-defense situations

Downside to Karate

• You do not get trained in ground fighting

Kung Fu

Kung Fu has been around for a very long time. There are so many different types of Kung Fu we cannot cover all the styles so we will just generalize for you.

What do you learn in Kung Fu?

• Kicking
• Punching
• Blocking punches and kicks using arms and legs
• Kung Fu forms
• Wooden dummy training

• Weapons training
– Bo / staff
– Nunchucks
– Sword
– Many others

• Learn animal forms some Kung Fu schools teach this

Video below shows Kung Fu wooden dummy training in IP Man movie.

Why Kung Fu is a good martial art for beginners?

• Really good for kids because teaches discipline and respect
• Anyone no matter size can train and use these techniques
• Kung Fu has been around a long time so great martial art for beginners
• Will help with self-confidence
• Can help in self-defense situations
• Learn weapons

The downside to Kung Fu

• Depends on what you take but some styles focus more on hand to hand fighting while others do more kicking

Aikido

Aikido was developed for a way to defend yourself while at the same time not injuring your attacker.

What do you learn in Aikido?

• Throws
• Joint Locks
• Ki – is physical and mental training
• Kata
• Knifehand strikes
• Punching
• Grabs

Why Aikido is a good martial art for beginners?

• You can learn this martial art and if you get attacked you can hopefully not hurt your attacker
• Anyone no matter size can train and use these techniques
• Aikido focuses on mind and body growth
• Will help with self-confidence
• Can help in self-defense situations

Downside to Aikido

• Kicking not really a focus
• Grappling not taught

Conclusion

There are several martial arts to choose from when wanting to learn how to defend yourself, stay in shape or learn something new. If you are a beginner figure out what you want to do or which style fits what you are looking for in a martial art. They are all different in many ways so maybe try some local classes or look at videos of each online. I went to several schools before realizing what I wanted to do and train in. I have actually trained in several different types of martial arts. You can do the same to find which one fits your needs. You can also do training online just check out our online courses.