I live in the countryside and must train alone. What is the best martial art for me to practice? I can devote 1 hour of training everyday. I can make a basic training gym (the one you see in old chinese movies) of ropes, bamboo etc. My body is medium build.

My aim is to be able to defend myself against untrained, but massively stronger unarmed opponents on the street.

For the sake of clarity and brevity, I would like the experts to focus on what should I train, instead how I should train. Which martial art is best for me, under these conditions? Bonus points if you can also point to a source for practical information on training with that school. Thanks.

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    I'd encourage people to close this question as it is incredibly broad and promotes extended discussion and/or guessing rather than answers. Youstay: please break this down into specific questions - as you mention in a comment how to train and what to train are two different things. You must be aware that the SE network is Q&A based and avoids the extended discussion that you would find on a regular forum.
    – slugster
    Oct 12, 2015 at 9:10
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    Several related or duplicate questions have also been linked, you need to show how your question is different to those - having it specific to your body type or location isn't really sufficient. Your problem description is so general that the answer I would give is "Don't be there Daniel-san"
    – slugster
    Oct 12, 2015 at 9:15
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    @YoustayIgo Note that my links above were examples for 3 different martial arts. I'm not saying you should do one of those martial arts. The links provide a general approach for how to learn a martial art when you have no schools nearby. As for which martial art to train or what techniques you should work on, pretty much anything goes so long as you follow my general guidelines. If you're working in solo and don't expect to find any partners, then you should focus on martial arts that provide a lot of solo training (kung-fu, karate, taichi, etc.). Oct 12, 2015 at 16:33

7 Answers 7


Stop pretending you're learning substantial skills by practicing alone. Without a partner to give live feedback and skilled resistance, and without a knowledgeable coach to correct mistakes, you're just engaging in martial masturbation. You'll ingrain bad habits that you'll have to unlearn later.

Focus on becoming the most athletic version of yourself possible. Strength train until you can deadlift double your bodyweight and do more chin-ups than anyone in town. Run sprints and 5ks until you're as fit as someone on the high school track team. Do agility, gymnastic, and movement drills until you can do a dozen well-known feats that no one else in town can do: muscle-ups, pistol squats, free-standing handstand push-ups, backflips, one-arm chin-ups, and all the flying poses in yoga. After you can do all that, get into Olympic lifting and become regional champion of the most powerful movements known to humans: the clean-and-jerk and snatch.

The most martial practice I would consider is hitting a heavy bag for a few rounds several times a week. Even that is likely to ingrain bad habits, though, so really I'd recommend getting strong, fit, fast, powerful, and mobile.

  • +50. Harsh, brisk, and leaving no doubt as to the solution to the problem paused. Oct 23, 2015 at 7:25
  • haha.. "you're just engaging in martial masturbation"
    – user6332
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:43

I think practicing Krav Maga would fit quite well the situation you described especially that life in the countryside would offer you a basic environment for training and it fits very well to defend against all sorts of attackers whether they are bigger, smaller, armed, unarmed, trained or not.

Krav Maga will afford you techniques to defend yourself against a massive attacker in case you are caught in a narrow space and have no where to flee as it it uses techniques of Wrestling, Judo, Aikido and more importantly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (several ties, I have seen on UFC championships fighters with Jiu-Jitsu background wining over much more sized ones).

With Krav Maga you can block, grap, threw and attack your attacker in a variety of real world situations as it is called the martial arts of street survival.

On Youtube you can find quite interesting videos about Krav Maga such as this one but you can initiate yourself using various online resources such as:

  • Thanks and upvote for the helpful answer. I had thought about krav maga (after watching the 1st season of Fight Quest www.imdb.com/title/tt0965364/). But then I dropped the idea because it requires a lot of multi-person routines and it is really not a form of martial arts but more like a do whatever looks promising thing. I thought about Muay Thai, but I don't know if it can be successfully mastered alone without a senior's guidance. Oct 11, 2015 at 8:55

As you are already aware, martial arts are extremely difficult to learn without an instructor. My advice would be to find the best teacher you can in your area. There is really no substitute for the feedback and guidance they provide. Even if you only travel to see them once a month, you will still make better progress than learning out of a book or video.

Many traditional martial arts have extensive foundation work to build strength, flexibility, body coordination, and suppleness that require a lot of personal practice time. Many students with the benefit of regular instruction do not "do their homework" and still expect to make progress. You will have lots of time for the homework but will need to maximize whatever instruction time you get.

If you have multiple options of systems to study, it's best to choose a system that does not require extensive partner practice initially. This probably means a system emphasizing striking over grappling.

If you don't find a teacher, you can expect your results to be similar to someone who exercises regularly and is strong. That is much better than being unfit, but you will have great difficulties against stronger or more skilled opponents. Keep in mind though, that "massively stronger" opponents will always be difficult.

  • There is no skill to encountered here in an opponent. There is just brute force ... and lots of it. No instructor either in my area (except for some traditional sword fighting forms which doesn't apply to my case). I trained on a sandbag for nearly a year and it was very helpful. The problem is, I don't know how to harden my body so I don't go down after taking a few hammer-like punches (or how to avoid having them shower on me). Oct 12, 2015 at 5:50
  • Go to a boxing or a kickboxing gym and save yourself from the MA BS.
    – marko
    Oct 12, 2015 at 18:31
  • "There is no skill to [be] encountered here in an opponent. There is just brute force ... and lots of it." -> Yeah, right. Lots of people are naturally athletic, and that means more than just brute force. Some people instinctively move better. You're caricaturing your bullies. Oct 23, 2015 at 6:10
  • @YoustayIgo You "harden" your body through strength and conditioning training, like at a gym with barbells and kettlebells. The other option is to spar as in boxing or judo. Oct 23, 2015 at 6:22

I think doing some sort of martial art which incorporates kicking and punching, and where you can train with a heavy bag, and do real heavy bag workouts. That's what I would do. Something like kick- & thaiboxing (preferably a martial art where you hit something with contact). A general home workout regime would be running for a couple of miles, followed by a half hour of punching and kicking techniques. And then doing some strength exercises to close the workout, and a little bit of stretching.

  • That's what I already do. Power and technique are two different things, however. I am looking for which technique to follow. I am agile and have quick nerves, but my strength isn't at par with what I might come face to face, on the streets, trying to snatch my cellphone or beating me up just because our team beat them in a soccer match. Life sucks! Oct 13, 2015 at 15:15
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    Maybe you should strength train also, if your very small then it's very difficult even with good technique. Make yourself strong and train maybe martial arts one day (punching and kicking) and do some heavy lifting the other day. It's not rocket science actually, needs some effort though. Good luck!
    – marko
    Oct 13, 2015 at 16:39
  • And the best defense for not get beaten is to avoid your bullies.
    – marko
    Oct 13, 2015 at 16:41
  • You really can't learn to fight without fighting. So sparring is a necessity.
    – marko
    Oct 23, 2015 at 17:46

In ideal world there are quite few you could chose from to suite you but if you dont have a teacher or at least a mentor to directly teach you, I would recommend something you can inform yourself and learn alone from videos, books, manuals or similar. As you live in conditions you described I would suggest (and this is after a thinking and eliminating) Uechi-Ryu or Gojo-Ryu; those styles you can spend life in practicing and they will not present any sort of obstacle or conflicting concept to any other style which you might want to change later in future. On the other hand both of those styles (from Okinawa but with Chinese roots) will definitely help in teaching you basics and proper fundamentals of breathing, holding proper stances, psychomotoric abilities, variety of circular and angle blocking (which both of those styles soaked up from 'White crane' and which is the only correct way of countering a punch of somebody double bigger); You will also need and have to use makiwara as well as trees, which you said you have around the place you live (and which are very good for many practices), makiwara btw is a very different concept in Uechi from i.e. Wing chun makivara and it is used almost exclusively for conditioning your seiken, shuto, tetsui and few other surfaces which are used and exposed in impacts and punches); Uechi also uses series of conditioning techniques and over time your body slowly develops iron robe (how strong and how proper depends on your dedication but I saw some individuums with advanced degree of mastery from this style and they are impressive. to say at least);

Makiwara example's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H1IHYclupI&ab_channel=JanKnobel


If you need sources of books or schools feel free to say but with just a name you can find a lot; If not those 2 arts I've mentioned then third one is all right but I think its also furthest from the origins it is (in this order): - Uechi-ryu (which is on my opinion closest to origins of Pangain noon) - Goju-ryu, - Shorin-ryu:

  • Welcome to stackexchange and thanks for the very detailed and informative answer. I am good with self learning and I have trained alone in the past with some Chinese arts (not full martial arts but useful methods which are helpful in combat). Surprisingly, they are very effective in combat, despite being dubbed useless in street fight by a lot of people. Personally I was more inclined towards the kungfu Eagle form and Muay Thai but finding that it is impossible to master even the basics of kungfu without the guidance of a master, I dropped the idea. I'd look into the form you have suggested. Oct 11, 2015 at 12:49

The upfront caveat

You don't need a full school, or even a live teacher to learn -something- although if you can get a single person to train with, even if they are a beginner and even if you only get to practice with them once a month, it will help you immensely compared to training just by yourself.

The reason is that you will want to learn range, targeting, and how to read someone trying to be aggressive with you. You can't fully learn that with a bag, since, the bag doesn't duck, move or counterattack. You also can only really learn grappling of any type with a partner.

If you can find anyone who will train with you, even if they can't go hard, it will be much better.


If you're learning on your own and you are decently fit, kickboxing is a pretty decent choice.

First, striking arts are something you can practice a lot with a bag and kickboxing's method of generating force is relatively easy to see and understand.

There's also tons of training videos and books available, so it's not hard to find. Most of the punches and a lot of footwork cross over with boxing, so you can also use boxing training videos and books to supplement what you're learning. If you can get a training partner, most MMA videos or books will get you some grappling in there as well.

Kickboxing gives you both elbows and knees (and, in some cases, they also teach headbutts), which gives you some solid infighting tools that hit very hard.

And while you're training, remember that you're not necessarily training to be a professional fighter, or fight against professional fighters - the intense conditioning to harden bones is probably not going to be necessary for you - people who are not training in fighting do not handle taking full kicks to the legs or block knees very well.

  • I would prefer traditional Muay Thai over kickboxing (softer). And yes, I do think when it comes to hitting, nothing compares to this art. I was looking for something that combines this with quick grappling and clinching. Judo and Jiujitsu are far too detailed and slow for street usage unless you're an expert with these. Oct 23, 2015 at 4:26
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    @YoustayIgo You seem to have a lot of ideas about how a lot of martial arts work, without ever having actually done any. I can understand someone with experience in one art forming an opinion on a similar one, but from your comments I'm confused as to what you think judo is. Oct 23, 2015 at 6:08
  • Judo is a mix of choking, throwing, imbalancing and locking (so as to incapacitate) the opponent. There is lesser difference between grappling arts than there is between striking arts. One to one, a grappling person would have an edge over the striker (one successful hold=KO) but usually there are a lot of imbalances involved in real life so generally striking martial arts have an edge (one versus several etc). And no, I have practiced martial arts earlier. Only from books (some chinese eagle forms and si yi forms) and not directly from a teacher. Oct 23, 2015 at 6:14
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    I stand by what I said: you have no clue what judo is, and you haven't practiced martial arts. Try taking a road trip to a judo or boxing club to actually experience these things at least once before acting like you have an educated opinion. Oct 23, 2015 at 6:15
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    I feel like you'll get more from your question if you include your previous experience and what you are looking for. What is "easy" to learn sometimes depends on past training. That said, dealing with multiple opponents isn't a matter of striking or grappling - you use everything you can. Tripping or knocking someone down, breaking a limb, are also useful as much as weapons and striking. However, you can't really learn to deal with multiple opponents very well without training partners.
    – Bankuei
    Oct 24, 2015 at 0:53

Without being already established in a dojo it is far more difficult. If you were already established and had been training for some time I would suggest to do as some of my fellow Dans have done since they have jobs now that keep them afar more often than not. They work in the oil fields and since they were Dans (black belts) prior to these jobs. They have been allowed to train and record their hyungs (forms), Ho Shin Sool (self defence) and Il Soo Sik Dae Run (one step sparring) with a camera from several different angles. Our master then reviews the footage provides feedback and occasionally a video responce. Of course all of this is only supplemental as they still show up to the Do-Jang (Dojo) on their off-schedule to further refine their skill.

Without already being established and knowing the basics however, the only thing I can suggest is to find an art you'd like to study read up on their forms, styles and techniques, then find video footage maybe on YouTube and practice.

But without feedback on proper footing and motion for a given movement you won't be getting the most out of it, it can also be dangerous. Throwing kicks without proper technique for example can cause sprains, strains and joint damage.

Just be careful.

  • Thanks for the response. I didn't find any nomination for a school name that you prescribe for home training. As I train alone, I do not try the flashy kicks (moon kick, butterfly kick and split kick etc) and stick to the more practical stuff (front, back, side, roundhouse, axe etc) which are easy to do. Oct 14, 2015 at 20:04

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