The best martial arts for self-defense

There are many reasons that people enroll in martial arts classes. Some people are looking to get in shape, while others are want to participate in a stress-relieving activity on the weekends. One of the most popular reasons, however, is that people are looking to learn how to defend themselves. While most martial arts have some aspect of self-defense to them, some varieties are better for this purpose than others. Here are a few of the best martial-arts classes to look into if you want to step up your self-defense game:

Krav Maga
There are a lot of myths floating around about Krav Maga. While some of these myths may be exaggeration, it is true that this style of martial art is a large part of the official training of the Israeli military. According to How They Play, this style of fighting originally took inspiration from boxing, karate and wrestling, but modern teachings of it have worked in Muay Thai and Brazilian jiujitsu. While many styles of martial arts focus heavily on either defense or attacks, Krav Maga is one of the rare ones that uses the technique "bursting." Rather than blocking your opponent and responding, bursting is the process of blocking and attacking at the same time. This will catch any attacker on the street off-guard – unless he or she is also trained in Krav Maga! Since this is taught in the military, there is also a lot of attention paid to disarming your opponent, and maybe even using his or her weapon to stay safe. This will come in handy if you're approached on the street by a person with a gun or knife, because you not only neutralize the threat, but put him or her into a vulnerable position. This training also places an emphasis on your attacker's most vulnerable points – the eyes, face, throat, neck, fingers and groin.

Jiu​jitsu
If you begin practicing jiujitsu and realize that it seems similar to Krav Maga, that's because Krav Maga is actually rooted in jujitsu teachings. Judo and aikido are rooted in this style of martial arts as well. Jiu​jitsu was developed by Japanese samurais so they could defend themselves even if they were disarmed. While it focuses on defense and attack, the most notable difference between jiu​jitsu and other styles of martial arts is the fact that it uses the opponent's energy and momentum against him or her. Jiuj​itsu instructors also spend a lot of time teaching you how to place your attackers in joint locks, which can immobilize them. Brazilian jiu​jitsu is similar, but not exactly the same. This style was actually developed for people who aren't strong enough to pull off a lot of the strength-based moves in traditional jiu​jitsu. Many of Brazilian jiu​jistu's fight moves take place on the ground, incorporating chokes and joint locks.

Aikido
Aikido is a Japanese martial art that's incredibly effective on the street, but also takes a lot of training. It's a very complicated art that's derivative of jiu​-jitsu practices. In addition to jiu​-jistu's joint locks, aikido focuses heavily on your movements, mimicking how your body may move in a sword fight. It's a graceful martial art that uses little striking, but instead teaches you to use your opponent's strength against him or her. Unlike Krav Maga, since aikido is such a graceful martial art and it's self defense purposes certainly come in handy, you'll also learn a lot about balance and control while studying it.