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Joe Lewis - Top 10 martial arts for self defense

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Joe Lewis is certainly a legend in the martial arts community. Not to mention being a champion kickboxer. 

He wrote an article for Black Belt, Top 10 martial arts for self defense


Linky here


The Short List, in no particular order:

Kyokushinkai Karate

Outlaw Tai Chi



Chinese Kenpo







What do you think? Agree, Disagree? Feel some particular art is missing?


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I quite like this list. But I also find it strange that krav maga isn't on there. I also think Hung Gar and/or Souther Mantis would have made good additions, but that just be my personal feelings. Also I can't find anything on google about "Outlaw Tai Chi" which sounds awesome. Does anyone have any links?

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I'm also a bit surprised at judo over jujitsu, I was always under the impression that judo was more sport based, while jujitsu looked at a more practical application?

Yes, I think judo and jujitsu come from a common tree, but have different branching out. I know a lot of jujitsu people that still compete in Judo tournaments, plus jujitsu has more striking. It sounded like his reasoning was based quite a bit on anecdotal evidence.

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He seems to have left Muay Thai out but he did put in kickboxing, I find that strange.

Then again as kickboxer he probably thinks kickboxing is better than Muay Thai.


It sounded to me like he was simply lumping Muay Thai with kickboxing. In the article, he starts by mentioning kickboxing, then spends considerable time talking about adding aspects of Muay Boran.

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Ah I see was on my phone with crappy internet so couldn't check the link itself. Although my trainer would probably gnash his teeth in frustration if he saw that. Kickboxing and Muay Boran (or thai) don't even kick the same way, he spent a lot of time correcting my kick telling me to stop kicking like a kickboxer :D.

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The style I trained in for 8 years was derived from Chinese Kenpo, and it was essentially based around street fighting / self defense. Makes sense to me! Most of the list looks pretty sensible and practical.

The cancer was aggressive, but the chemotherapy was aggressive, as well.

There was aggression on both sides. 

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I think it's a pretty well thought out list, especially if you consider Muay Thai "rolled together" with kickboxing.  But I always keep in mind what my first CQC instructor told me: "Martial arts are all well and good, but the best thing you can do is step back, draw your weapon and fire."

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That really depends, if you're to close and had no training in CQC it's better not to draw your weapon. A lot of people had difficulty with the concept of making enough room before attempting to draw and fire during training, drawing without enough room might see you disarmed or worse looking into the barrel of your own sidearm. As with everything practice makes perfect.

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We'll have a hard time finding a true 'expert' in self defense experiences.  How often do you hear of a martial arts expert getting attacked?  For me to truly be able to tell you which art works better I'd have to find multiple people from each martial art who have been attacked and see if any art worked better than the other in their defense. 


There's endless threads of debates about which martial art works best in real life, but where is the evidence?  You'd have to interview all 'victims' of criminal assaults (muggings, rapes, angry drunken people picking a fight, etc) and see if any of the victims had any training and which of them were successful in fending off an attack.  A second source of info might be people who've been in combat and had hand to hand encounters. 


Most martial arts give the practicioner experience in struggling against another person, striking, and physical conditioning.  Those could give us an advantage in a situation where we're attacked, but I'd argue the differences between the arts is minimal when you're just looking at being able to stop someone from beating you up.


I'm 32 years old and I've never been attacked.  No matter what martial art I've studied in my life, it has still not been proven in an attack, because I've never been attacked. I don't really care if what I'm training in is the 'best'.  It's something.  It's more than I knew before, and it will condition me for fighting better than nothing would. 

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MMA legend Renzo Gracie live tweets attempted mugging, gives perps raccoon eyes


Mugger picks wrong victim: MMA fighter


Two isolated incidents, but they do reinforce the theory that knowing something decreases your chances of being the victim.

Meditations On Violence by Rory Miller is probably the most realistic book about self-defense that I've ever read. Highly recommended.

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You could argue that Judo has elements of wrestling...unless we're talking WWE!


I've been attacked twice, both times my martial arts training has made sure that I've won...not cos I'm a bad ass mofo but because I'd trained at something for long enough that my muscle memory was so good that I didn't need to think of what to do, I was just able to do it.


As driftwood has stated, any knowledge is good knowledge and all things being even will give you an edge, you'll have more knowledge of where to hit, how hard to hit, how to apply a number of techniques and also being able to take a hit, and I'd say the last point, more than anything will give you that edge.


However that same training freaked out the other recruits when I did my officer safety training with the police and was telling my training partners to apply a bit of pain so they knew the lock worked!

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Good points, in some aspect, that's where the experience comes in. I may not seek out martial arts masters that have been attacked, but I might ask people that have used some form of training routinely in dangerous or conflict situations.


I train with a lot of law enforcement, including some from their SWAT teams, EMT and bouncers (plus done a little bouncing). They will usually have more real world conflict experience. They also are not afraid to share what they know.

I know a Judo practitioner that works at a mental facility. While there is a lot of "moves" he can't do as part of his job, he routinely uses some of his training controlling patients that wig out.

So it is possible, I think in some ways, to start to narrow down a path. 

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Judo is easy to understand if you know the reasons. Its based around grabbing the opponents clothing and the throwing them. People generally have plenty of clothing to grab in a streetfight and smacking someone into concrete or asfalt will take them out of the fight with ease. As a bonus its harder for the attacker to bring forth assault charges if all you did was throw him to the ground.

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Judo is easy to understand if you know the reasons. Its based around grabbing the opponents clothing and the throwing them. People generally have plenty of clothing to grab in a streetfight and smacking someone into concrete or asfalt will take them out of the fight with ease. As a bonus its harder for the attacker to bring forth assault charges if all you did was throw him to the ground.


Wouldn't this depend on witness accounts and also what the police find at the scene?  


'They were tussling and then they both fell down to the ground' sounds better than


'He grabbed the attacker and then threw him to the ground forcefully, landed on him and then proceeded to choke him'

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