T Nation

Best Style for Self Defense?


What would be the Best fighting style to learn for self defense in street fights/ Bar scenarios?


A large dose of situational awareness, chunks of boxing/kickboxing/muay thai and wrestling/judo - a dash of experience and a sprinkling of a respectable 100 meter sprint.


Morning yoitspmart,

The quick answer is that I do not hold there to be A BEST. Even if there were to be one, it would still be a matter of finding what best fills your needs/wants and that is available to you in terms of geography, time/schedule, and finance. If some engorged walrus kung fu was the best ever, it would do me no good in my local.

Blaze is correct about awareness. I frame this discussion in terms of strategy, tactics, and finally technique. Most of the "styles" are going to focus on the technique part of the spectrum. I also tend to give the quick and dirty explanation about the necessary strategy as "The Three Stupids".

It is early. I need coffee. I have to go to work. So, forgive me for not typing out a great explanation here. Instead, let me give you a few links to other threads on this board that might be of interest to you. I am pretty sure I cover the above points somewhere in them. When you read these, pay special attention to what is written by FightinIrish and Sentoguy.

This thread starts with a bit of a wreck, but I think it is well worth the read. Self defense vs fighting, ego, styles, and legality all get a bit of play.

Here is one that Roundhead started about Grappling vs "Reality Self Defense" vs Boxing. The article in the OP is good and there is good discussion after.

This is largely focussed on Krav Maga, a specific style. Weapons and other considerations also come up.

Hope these help. There is likely an hour's worth of reading in those, but it should help you at least start to frame your questions in your mind about what you want. I would ask any specific questions in this thread so that you get better responses. Feel free to ask specific or general questions.


Robert A


Thanks Robert im going to look through these threads after breakfast! It just seems lately whenever i go out to the bars some duesch tries to start shit with me or one of my friends. I dont know if its because im not the tallest dude in the bar being 5 '10 but i have some decent size being 205 lbs that they want to start shit with me either way i usually squash the problem before something happends, but as of late i would really like to take up a form of self defense that would help in those situations be it that i dont stop the problem before it becomes physical


Either you or your friends are doing something to warrant this.

It's not coming out of nowhere.


Learn to ignore people and/or walk away. That or CCW :slightly_smiling:


Evaluate what bars your going to that your always getting into a squabble. Or figure out why guys are starting up with you and your friends.


yea i know i go to bars that are full of dumb college kids and dueschbags and like i said i try to squash the predicament before it turns physical but some times things happen to fast and im worried there wont be time to walk away after bumping someone in a bar or talk the problem down.


Situational Awareness has kept me out of most fights most of the time...80/20 rule, for what it is worth.


Then do a better job of that or get out of there.

You're not talking self-defense, you're talking fighting. You're going to have legal trouble soon. It's not worth it.


So iv been reading the links that Robert had posted and they have answered most of my questions. I started up at a boxing gym but im not sure if this gym is more like cardio kickboxing or somewhere where i will actually learn to box? iv gone to 2 classes and the class have a bunch of girls with about 4 guys in them and we just hit the heavy bags and do combos and then do some plyometric things. There are other trainers there that have came around during the class and told me to keep my hands up or do something with my feet but thats about it . Do you think i will learn to box here or is this more of a cardio kickboxing/boxing gym?


Is the class taught by a woman?

Sounds like a "Club KO" kinda joint.

You got a link to the place?


Glad the links were helpful.

First, boxing will give you technique that can be applied in "self defense". It does not cover a bunch of the situational and legal issues surrounding using violence to defend yourself from violence. That is fine. It is still of great value. Boxing will also allow you to spar/fight in a controlled environment and will give you "less to prove" to yourself about fighting. I am pretty sure those links had some book recommendations from FightinIrish that delve into what I am writing about here. I think boxing is a great choice.

RE: your Gym

That certainly sounds like either a "cardio like" boxing class, the fact you are hitting bags and pads already makes it different from one of the the pure cardio-kickboxing classes, or it is an introductory class that happens to have a large number of women. At only 2 classes in I would not rush to judgement.

Questions to ask are:
1.)Do fighters(amateur or professional boxers) train at the gym? Have you seen them?

2.)What is the layout of the gym? Is there a ring? What equipment is around(how many heavy bags, speed bags, slip bags/Maize Bags)? Is it in a larger workout facility?

3.)Have you seen other's getting one on one time with their trainers hitting pads? Pad work is a big part of boxing.

4.)How are classes/workouts/training times offered? Only one class 2 x a week would indicate it is "just a class" as opposed to a means to develop fighters.

The answers to these questions should give the rest of us an indication of what type of environment/class it is. The best answer though is to look at the coaches/trainers and ask them about who they have fighting. If you are interested in sparring/boxing training than ask them specifically about it and they should tell you. I would keep showing up, even if it is only until you switch to a different class/gym.


Robert A




yea let me go find it


yea i grabbed a groupon deal on this gym a little bit ago and just started using it so far the guys teaching the classes seem pretty cool and a few of the other trainers have came up to me and made me keep my guard up while punching and offered a little help with keeping balance after throwing a combo. I like that its good cardio and being a weight lifter i dislike the hamster wheel but i want to learn how to box and such as well



I agree with this. The answers to these questions might help us figure out how serious these dudes are.

I checked out the instructors. The one guy who's been doing MMA for four years... well I don't like that as far as boxing. He's got a heavy grappling background and I suspect that as a guy who moved from grappling to MMA, he probably doesn't know shit about boxing, even if he thinks he does.

The other guy Bess has a longer resume, and I found a couple of the guys he trained on Boxrec, but it's tough to tell what's legit and what's not - i.e. who he taught from the ground up and who came to him six weeks out from a fight and said, "Help me do pads."

But yes, whether or not fighters fight out of there is hugely important. And to really learn to box, you're probably going to have to do personal sessions... learning in that kind of "class environment" is rough and tends to teach a lot of bad habits that are tough to unlearn.


If you got it on a groupon then it is probably a fitness type of place. And not a real boxing gym.

You taking these classes probably won't help you. You might learn how to throw a punch, but throwing it will probably just really piss off the guy that you hit with it. And then he will probably kick your ass.

Maybe you should work on your attitude and the way you carry yourself when you are out? That's probably the real problem here. No one is just going to pick a fight with you and try to kick your ass for no reason. If you bump someone as you said and you arent an asshole, just apologize and move on. Simple, really. Granted these things wouldn't hold true if you were in a dive bar in the ghetto with crazy grown men that wanted to rob or hurt you for other reasons, but you said it is the college type of bar that you are hanging out in. So just fixing your attitude would probably be a good start for you buddy.


If you are looking for BOXING, the good places will not be on groupon, will probably not have a website, and most likely be in shadier parts of town and be run by guys saltier than my balls in 90 degree heat. Theyre worth finding, those gyms, not my balls.

I would encourage a full contact combative sport merely so that you learn to be humble and avoid trouble because you have nothing to prove.


This gym looks like a couple of guys with low-to-middling resumes trying to cash in on the MMA craze. A college wrestler and gracie blue belt and his buddy the low-level pro boxing trainer decided that it was easier to make money selling to soccer moms, wannabes, and "lion cubs" (their words) along with posting party pics of them wearing Affliction gear than it was to make money actually training good fighters full time. They might know what they're doing, but I'm going to assume that they'll charge you more than their limited expertise is worth.

If you're in Tempe I'd try Arizona Combat Sports. Not sure how good they are now, but when I was in AZ a few years back they had the best training program in the Phoenix area (Gracie Black Belt for jiu jitsu, similar qualifications for their muay thai and wrestling instructors). Ken Shamrock used to have a Lions Den branch in Scottsdale too, but you have to put up with the endless parade of posers there.