I always wonder which martial art is the most effective in a 1-vs-1 street fight without weapons. After doing some research I came up with 3 types of positions (maybe there are more) someone can hold during a fight.

My logic tells me this:

STANDING: the most effective would be Muay Thai or Boxing.

CLOSE DISTANCE: one should consider to wrestle.

GROUND GAME: Finally on the ground you better use your grapple / BJJ skills to survive :p.

So in my opinion you have Muay Thai or Boxing, Wrestling & BJJ or some grapple art (luta livre).


This type of questions are asked by many. It's better to avoid this kind of situations, but sometimes you just have to be prepared. Some people maybe living in a dangerous environment. Some people don't know which martial art they should practise to be prepared. So the answer for my question should help people in making the correct decision. I'm not trying to underestimate any martial art, but let's face the reality and think logical.

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    While I do think some excellent answers can be generated by this question, it is entirely too broad and subject to opinion (e.g. it is impossible to provide definitive studies/facts/statistics/etc to validate the answer). This is exactly the sort of question that is to be avoided. If you want you can still edit this and ask for it to be considered for reopening, or you could ask a new but far more tightly constrained question.
    – slugster
    Oct 22, 2013 at 8:55
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    This could be an interest question if you narrow what you mean by "effective". Effective for MMA is different from effective for self defense which is different from controlling someone without doing serious harm the way a police officer or bouncer would want to. They overlap somewhat of course, but they are different. Oct 22, 2013 at 16:46
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    Even with the edit, I am afraid that this remains a bad question: (i) street fighting generally involves weapons, (ii) street fights are rarely one on one, (iii) the three position types remain candid at best, (iv) you still give your answer to your question thus inviting arguments, (v) "most effective" is ill defined and primary opinion based. I feel that you are either trying to troll or that there is a more fundamental question you have. I hope and assume the latter: what is the problem this question is trying to solve? Oct 23, 2013 at 7:26
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    @Sardathrion I agree, but I think it has moved closer to a good question. If rephrased to something like "a 1-v-1 fight in urban environment and no weapons" we would have a legitimate question (I don't know what the answer would be or why you would want to ask that question, but it would be a valid question). If changed to "for MMA style rules" we could probably answer empirically by looking at the history of PRIDE and UFC. Oct 23, 2013 at 18:29
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    Is your question What is the best martial art or arts that one needs to know to survive street fights?... If it is, I have a good answer for you. Oct 24, 2013 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


You're going to get a lot of push-back and they'll probably close this question, but you're not far off. Hard-sparring arts have proven themselves in ways that non-competitive arts have not.

However, don't forget that other arts spar hard as well: san da/san shou is akin to kickboxing with fast throws and takedowns. However, like how all modern mixed artial artists need to wrestle and train jiu-jitsu, historians Kennedy and Guo described how san da/san shou explicitly and consciously incorporated boxing techniques after comparing hand techniques of indigenous martial arts. The same process occurred in muay Thai, after they were shown the power of Western boxing, and also in Kyokushin karate, many schools of which have incorporated boxing hand techniques, but which also incorporated muay Thai's leg kicks in the mid-20th century. Now, these are all distinct arts that share boxing's hand techniques, but before they did not.

The key is not stylistic, but rather the degree to which the style emphasizes athleticism and frequent feedback in the form of hard sparring and competition. Styles which do not require their exponents to be athletes are suspect. Styles which do not spar or have a competitive outlet are doubly suspect, since there is no way to weed out ineffective techniques, tactics, or teachers.

  • Actually, both of you are far off. The most effective martial art is gun fighting: easy to train, effective at a distance, and far more likely to make your attacker flee without resourcing to a fight... ^_~ Oct 22, 2013 at 7:58
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    Reductio ad absurdum – Physics = ultimate martial art ;)
    – stslavik
    Oct 23, 2013 at 14:08
  • Good answer! I don't like how you oppose "hard-sparring" and "non-competitive", though. Can't you spar often and hard without participating in organized competitions?
    – Dungarth
    Oct 26, 2013 at 15:16
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    @Dungarth First, there's a good full-fledged question in your comments here, but I don't know what it is. :) Second, over-optimization to a sport ruleset is always a factor, but as I said in the answer, the reason combat sports repeatedly produce better fighters is that they produce athletes who are well-trained in actually executing techniques on fully resisting opponents who are trying to do the same to them. Oct 27, 2013 at 7:24
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    @Btuman See the Neil Ohlenkamp link I posted above, or this answer. I am convinced of the evidence that allocating the majority of one's training towards becoming an athlete and sparring with as many sparring-safe techniques as possible is superior to not sparring or sparring with highly restrictive rulesets (e.g. only light or slow sparring) and not becoming an athlete. Oct 29, 2013 at 15:25

Depends on the application. BJJ is useless against more than one opponent, for instance.

MMA is probably best because it distills all the best parts from various styles into a collection of useful techniques for most situations.

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    I'm sure that it's hard for any martial artist to fight more then 1 opponent at the same time. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    – Tassisto
    Oct 23, 2013 at 6:08
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    Sure, but striking arts make it much more practical. Oct 23, 2013 at 7:30
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    Training makes it much more practical. BJJ can be applied quite well against multiple opponents if the practitioner avoids getting tied up on the ground.
    – stslavik
    Oct 23, 2013 at 14:09
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    The one issue with MMA is that is often optimized for sport.
    – Btuman
    Oct 25, 2013 at 15:19

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