Boxing vs karate for self-defense , Which suits well for self defence in real life situation ( such as blocked by a robber in night at empty street).

  • 4
    Possibly related question: martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/3135/… Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 19:09
  • 4
    -1. This read like almost (but not quiet) a Gorilla vs. Shark. Also, "real life situation" is so vague as to be meaningless. Self defence is not street fighting. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 7:09
  • Whether it's boxing, karate, or baritsu, there are great instructors, awful instructors, and any number of gradations in between. Same is true of martial arts schools and training partners.
    – Kennah
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 4:00
  • Just a generalization, but it seems to me, that a young karate person is overconfident. I think this passes, after about five years of it, but they feel like they can do more than they can. My tkd instructor got jumped by three guys at 2 in the morning. All three made a trip to the hospital. Maybe the real answer is: whoever has better instincts, reflexes, training, and experience. Martial arts are more on the theory side, while boxing has more of simpler moves drilled into your head. Martial artist know a lot of moves, but have they practiced them to the point of a real life situation?
    – coltonon
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 6:00
  • Asking "Which is better" is one of the least productive questions to ask on StackExchange. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 14:19

3 Answers 3




  • More techniques = more options
  • Actually addresses self-defense as a concern. May contain scenarios specifically geared toward self defense situations. Depends on school. Ask.


  • More techniques = less time spent training each technique.
  • Tends to emphasize fitness less than boxing. This varies from school to school. Ask/Observe a class.



  • More time spent developing the few techniques you will use (basic punches: jab, cross, hook, uppercut).
  • Emphasizes fitness. Fitness is important in many situations, including self-defense.
  • Trains more often than karate in a semi-live situation. In this context, semi-live means that two contestants are actively trying to hurt one another. This does not approximate a self-defense situation, but does teach combat awareness. You will learn to take and give hits, and not freeze when confronted with physical violence.


  • Fewer techniques than Karate.


Need more data. Does the Karate dojo emphasize fitness? They tend not to, but there are exceptions. Fitness is usually far more emphasized in boxing, and is an important part of self defense. Does the Karate dojo emphasize semi- to full-contact sparring? If so, another check in its favor, since this is something boxing does early and often. If it both emphasizes fitness and sparring, choose the Karate dojo for its more varied techniques. Understand that one technique practiced to the point of failure is more valuable than many techniques that are practiced half-heartedly.

A word on sparring. I have included it as a criteria for the combat awareness that it trains, but understand that sparring, whether boxing or in karate, is not fighting. It is impossible for a boxing school or a karate dojo to practice fighting, since fighting means actively trying to injure (not just cause pain) each other. In sparring, for example, you will feint, throw combinations, back off. That is not the way self-defense scenarios are fought. In self-defense scenarios, you may face multiple, possibly armed attackers, and the arena will not be cushioned or padded for your safety. It will be best if high-stress self-defense scenarios are engaged in. You may find these in a karate dojo. You won't find them in a boxing school.

Finally, you could do both. They cross-train very well with one another. At the very least, try both. One thing I find is that martial artists are often trounced by well-trained boxers because martial artists do not tend to train as hard as boxers.

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    Good answer overall but I would emphasis that self defence is not limited to fighting. Although, that might be just me... ^_~ Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 8:18
  • 1
    That's a good point. Fighting is the last part of self-defense. Self-awareness, environment-awareness, and preventative measures should come long before the fight. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 11:10

I've been trainging in Kyokushin Karate for 15 years now and what I've learned the most, is that even if you master your art, self awareness is always the first thing that will get you out of a situation that can turn bad.

It's always better to avoid the situation than to be forced to deal with it.

Don't forget : adrenaline rush, stress and other factors can and will affect your capability of defending yourself once you are put in dangerous situation.

I don't think any art is better than the other, it just depend on how you put yourself into it.

Stay Safe !


With The Wudang King's excellent answer I can determine that Karate is more suited for self-defense because the techniques that are taught in karate are generally mixed so their is an emphasis on boxing, kick-boxing, ground grappling, open hand sparring and many self-defense drill simulations that the instructors provide to mimic situations such as: a man wields a knife in front of your throat, a man attempts to choke you out by surprise using a rear naked choke or even a man wielding a loaded gun is pointing a gun in front of you.

In karate you are able to learn more self-defense situations that boxing doesn't provide. The good thing about learning about karate is that each instructor has a different style of fighting, so it increases the spectrum for self-defense.

Boxing on the other hand does emphasize on a few techniques and a copious amount of power that is not viable for all to learn due to physical age and disabilities; with karate contending to the mixed martial arts aspect, your able to practice many self defense scenarios and learn many techniques while using little power to increase damage to your assailant.

My daughter has been learning karate when she was in 3rd grade and she enjoys the fitness, techniques and the training simulations. I recommend committing to karate for self defense, but similar to The Wung Dang Kid's answer your must ask the studio instructors on what aspect that they emphasize greatly. It can either be practical, situation, or sport based training. Look for situation based training to learn self-defense on the streets.

Hope this helps!

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