The World’s Deadliest Martial Arts

We’d all love to be a little bit tougher, wouldn’t we? Well, you could be if you learned a martial art. There are a huge amount of different styles out there, some more effective than others. If you’re looking for something though that will save your neck when it kicks off outside the kebab shop at 3am on a Saturday morning, then read on and enjoy our guide to the world’s deadliest martial arts.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga

TZAHAL / Wikipedia

What is it?

Krav Maga is a modern martial art designed for the modern world. Invented by Imi Lichtenfeld and developed by the Israeli Special Forces, it combines the most potent techniques from a range of styles, including Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Ju-Jitsu and Wing Chun.

Krav Maga then optimises each of these techniques and blends them into an ultra-realistic modern style, equally suitable for the battlefield or a night out in Blackpool. There are no competitions in Krav Maga; its techniques are designed to incapacitate opponents, so using them in a sporting arena would require diluting their devastating efficiency.

Why is it so effective?

Whereas a lot of eastern martial arts such as Kung Fu and Karate are deep rooted in eastern philosophy and spirituality, Krav Maga is a straight to the point fighting system. There’s no concept of the fair fight in Krav Maga; the idea is to neutralize any threat as quick as possible by any means necessary.

Attacks are designed to aim for the most vulnerable parts of the body and put your opponent out of action. As well as unarmed combat, Krav Maga promotes awareness training, which includes being aware of the potential dangers of your surroundings. Training is often high intensity and can be sometimes accompanied by extremely loud music to simulate the intensity and confusion that can occur in a street attack. Krav Maga may not look pretty, but it’s damn effective!

Where can I find out more?

You can learn Krav Maga across the UK. Contact the British Krav Maga Association for more information.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

two judokas fighters

What is it?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, often referred to as BJJ, has rapidly become one of the world’s most popular martial arts. Developed in Brazil by Carlos Gracie in the early part of the twentieth century, BJJ is a highly effective martial art and combat system that focuses upon wrestling, grappling and ground fighting. With its roots in Japanese Judo, BJJ has consciously kept on developing as a martial art to remain effective.

No technique is sacred in BJJ. If it’s not working, out it goes. Equally, it is an art that is happy to incorporate methods from other martial systems if they are found to be more efficient. All practitioners are expected to compete or at least spar (roll) as part of their training. If you like to learn things in a practical and physical way, BJJ is probably for you!

Why is it so effective?

The effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lies in the fact that using BJJ, a smaller and weaker man can easily defeat a larger and stronger opponent by utilizing proper technique, control, and by taking the fight to the ground. BJJ contains a vast array of takedowns, joint locks and chokeholds that can effectively be applied to any size of opponent. Brazilian Ju Jitsu recognizes that most street fights end up on the ground, and train accordingly for this.

It’s a testament to the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that it has been a huge influence on the Ultimate Fighting Championship since its inception in 1993. The Gracie family dominated the sport in its early years with Royce Gracie being the sport’s first superstar, beating the very best from a range of different styles. The vast majority of current MMA and UFC fighters have at least some training in Brazilian Ju Jitsu.

Where can I find out more?

There are several different Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Associations and clubs can be found in most major towns and cities. A good start is the UK BJJ Belt Register, which has a club search facility and a register of certified instructors.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai

Coffee Lover / Shutterstock.com

What is it?

Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing, is one of the world’s most recognisable fighting styles and is one of the most devastatingly effective martial arts. Consisting of punches, kicks, elbows, knees, clinching techniques and some throws, Muay Thai offers participants the chance to learn not just one of the world’s most deadly martial arts, but also to take part in one of the world’s toughest and most exciting sports.

You can take part in Muay Thai whether you want to compete or not, although if choosing not to compete, sparring should be practiced to get the most out of this deadly art.

Why is it so effective?

Training for Thai Boxing can be brutal. This is necessary to harden the body up to compete in this full contact art. Thai Boxing teaches you to use every part of the body as a weapon, and its use of elbows and knees can be particularly devastating. Occasionally criticised for its lack of ground fighting, there’s very few people on the planet that could deal with an experienced Thai Boxer’s flurry of fists, feet, knees and elbows, making this point redundant.

The majority of UFC competitors have practiced Thai Boxing at some point or another, and it is a fixture on the syllabus of most Mixed Martial Arts clubs, where it is taught in combination with other styles, such as wrestling, BJJ, and western Boxing. Muay Thai is truly one of the world’s most effective and deadly martial arts.

Where can I find out more?

There are several different Muay Thai associations in the UK, but a good start is the UK Muay Thai Federation’s club finder.

The Keysi Fighting Method

What is it?

Want to fight like Batman? Then the Keysi FIghting Method is for you. As the fighting style used in the Christopher Nolan Batman films, the Keysi Fighting Method, also known as KFM, is rapidly gaining popularity around the world. Originating in Spain over 30 years ago, KFM was devised by Justo Dieguez as the ‘martial art from the heart’. Keysi is a combat system that isn’t just a collection of techniques, but an all-encompassing training of the human instinct to defend and fight.

Why is it so effective?

In many ways, the Keysi Fighting Method is similar to Krav Maga, in that it is a martial art that is solely focussed on self-defence with no sporting or competition element. It has been described as ‘translating absolute violence into a training format’, a description which does sum up the style nicely.

Whereas most martial arts focus on the one-on-one situation, Keysi, like Krav Maga, recognises that most street fights are against multiple opponents. Students are trained to deal with such multiple attacks, as well as a variety of real-life situations. If you’re looking for a style for the street, then the Keysi Fighting Method is for you.

Where can I find out more?

The Keysi FIghting Method isn’t as widespread as some martial arts, but more information on clubs can be found here.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

mixed martial arts fighter

What is it?

MMA is exactly what it says on the tin, a mix of martial arts. In the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the tendency was for one master of a style to fight a master of another. Due to the early dominance of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, however, many martial artists started cross training, and combining BJJ with their own art. This cross training resulted in a new martial art, MMA, which combines the most useful and effective techniques of a range of fighting styles. MMA is effectively what the vast majority of fighters in the UFC now practice.

Why is it so effective?

MMA is a devastating martial art, as it combines the best bits from other arts. Its sporting bias means that students are used to fighting and ‘rolling’ from day one, and are well prepared for anything the street can throw at them. With 75% of all street fights ending up on the floor, MMA prepares students well with much of the training focussing on ground fighting. A particularly physical art, MMA prepares student well for a range of situations and circumstances.

Where can I find out more?

There are MMA clubs in nearly every town and city in the UK, so finding a club shouldn’t be too difficult. Submission Fighting UK’s directory is a good start to your search.

Which martial art you choose will depend upon a range of factors, such as availability and whether you want to participate in a competitive environment. What all of these have in common though is the need for total dedication. Committing to any of these martial arts won’t just make you as hard as nails, but you’re going to be fitter than you ever have been and feel great too.