Choosing a martial art for women's self defense

Posted by Anoop Madhavan of Survival Instincts
on FEB 26, 2013


Which is the best form of self-defense? Which is most suitable to women? Karate, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Taekwondo... with so many to choose from, it’s a common dilemma encountered by those wanting to join a martial arts course for personal self defense.

The answer is simple: No single fighting system is the best. Personal safety can be achieved by practicing any martial art. What’s more relevant is to choose the one that you personally find suitable.

Most martial arts masters will respect other martial arts. It would simply be unethical to do so otherwise. Those that claim their martial art is best are most likely driven by commercial motives. Here’s why:

12 false / absurd martial artists claims to watch out for

1. Ours is most practical - Absurd. ‘Practical’ is subjective. A technique practical to you, may not be practical for others and vice versa. How can one master predict practicality to you, without knowledge of your physical and mental capability?

2. Ours is the most deadly - False. The most deadly combat sport in the world is the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) of the USA. It does not rely on any one single martial art – it uses Mixed Martial

Arts (MMA). Yes, that’s right, it is ‘mixed’! Jiujutsu, Muay Thai, Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, etc. are all used in the UFC.

3. Ours is used by military and police - False. There is no particular martial art that’s used by all police and military forces in the world. The US Marine Corps uses Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) - a mixture of many martial arts. The US Army uses Hand-to-Hand (H2H) combat techniques - again a mixture of several martial arts. The Chinese Army (PLA) uses a mixture of various Kung Fu art forms including Shaolin techniques, which we personally feel is deadlier than any western military technique.

4. Ours can be learn’t quickly - False. Every art takes time. If you were to take Krav Maga for instance, it perhaps will take the longest to master. With 2 classes per week it will take you several years to advance 15 grading levels.

5. Ours gives you confidence, quickly - Absurd. Confidence depends on you, not on the martial art

you choose to learn! You don’t need to learn fighting techniques to feel safe and confident. A quick effective pepper spray will give you more confidence than the most serious master in the world. Confidence is in your mind, emphasized in most eastern martial arts including Karate, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, and Tai Chi.

6. Our fighters are the best - False. If fighters from any one martial art were the best, the UFC would not use MMA. I have personally seen a 150 cm, 40 kg Karate girl taking down a huge 192 cm, 80 kg street-fighter. Don’t believe it? See the below video:

7. Ours is best for self defense - False. No technique, system, or art is better than the other. Dominating a fight has nothing to do with the fighting technique. It depends on the mental capability, techniques, and speed of the fighter.

8. Ours is the most scientific - Absurd. This ridiculous claim is often made in modern martial arts. Do you think Kalaripayattu or Kuttu Varisal, evolved over centuries, applying anatomical varma secrets from Ayurveda, are not scientific? Bodhidharma - the south Indian martial artist may well be the father of even Kung Fu and Karate. You will often hear the argument, “our techniques are more Western”. Sorry to bust your chops: Western doesn’t necessarily mean scientific! Wing Chun Kung Fu practitioners are commonly known to knock western boxers twice their size.

9. Ours is not martial art; it’s a self defense system - Absurd. All martial arts/ fighting techniques / “systema” / whatever you call it, are meant for self-defense. Some are more competitive, while others may be more combat oriented, that’s all.

10. Ours is most suitable for women - False. Very few martial arts are developed by a woman, suitable for women. Wing Chun Kung Fu (popularized by the master of Bruce Lee, Yip Man) is an example. It was developed by a lady Ng Mui who taught it to a hapless 15 year old girl named Wing Chun who was being harassed by a bandit to get married. Ng Mui did this by distilling Shaolin martial art knowledge into a system that Wing-Chun could learn quickly and use without developing great strength.

11. Ours don’t need useless uniforms - Absurd. Just as you would when you exercise, it’s good to practice martial art in stretchable and durable clothing. Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo uniforms are nothing but comfortable and flexible exercise clothes.

12. Ours have no belt system - Absurd. Belts are just grading systems. Every fighting system in the world has grades, to determine the level of expertise one has acquired. In Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, 5-7 colored belts indicate grades.

In Kalaripayattu / Kuttu Varisal numbers (indicating techniques learnt - adavu) indicate grades. In Krav Maga, an elaborate 15 grading levels – P1 to P5, G1 to G5, and E1 to E5, indicate grades.

So, what should I do to learn self defense?

STEP A - Attend a self-defense seminar where psychological, legal, and technical aspects are introduced. It should also demonstrate introductory steps to various common martial arts, so you understand the pros and cons of each martial art and get enough information to choose one that would be most suitable to you.

STEP B - Choose the martial art that would be most practical to you considering your fitness levels, time commitments, body characteristics, and the level of threats you commonly encounter. Be it Karate, Kung Fu, Boxing, Muay Thai, or Taekwondo, decide on one only after spending sufficient time analyzing, because your time and life are both precious.

Self Defense Chennai: Survival Instincts Chennai based non profit organization conducts EVADE (Extreme violence & Aggression-Defense & Escape) program, which is the only program in India with simulated crime attacks that would not only prepare women to respond to dangerous situations to defend and escape but also help them identify and avoid situations which could be dangerous.

About the Author

Anoop Madhavan, is the founder of Survival Instincts. He is a practitioner of MMA and Wing Chun Kung Fu. He is familiar with many other martial arts.

As a safety expert, Mr. Madhavan's expert is mostly sort by 5 star hotels, large multinational corporate houses, and big manufacturing plants. He has provided survival training for the Indian Army and various units of Army and Navy National Cadet

Corps along with first aid & disaster response training for the Indian Red Cross.

He is certified by the American Red Cross both as a health & safety training instructor and an emergency medical responder. He also holds a Wilderness First Responder certification from the Center for Wilderness Safety and a Professional Lifeguard Certification from the American Lifeguards Association.

He is a member of the Fairfax Country Community Emergency Response Team, and the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps. He holds memberships in various international safety organizations such as Canadian Society for Safety Engineering (Canada), Safety Institute of Australia (Australia) and Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (UK).

His expertise in personal and institutional safety stems from over 14 years of experience in the United States contracting for agencies such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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