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Top 20+ Deadliest Martial Arts (Researched and Ranked)

The deadliest martial arts in the world are Krav Maga, Rough and Tumble, Vale Tudo, Bacom, Line, Silat, Muay Thai, MCMAP, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

From Kung Fu to Krav Maga, this list will show you which martial arts are truly lethal – after all, if you’re going to pick up a new skill, it might as well be one that can save your life!

Key Takeaways

  • What makes a martial art deadly is the amount of force generated and applied in terms of striking or throwing techniques
  • Considering modern, testable martial arts we can look toward MMA to see which martial art styles beat out others and which have consistently risen to the top:
    • Wrestling
    • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
    • Muay Thai
    • Boxing
    • Sambo
    • Judo
  • However, there are some techniques that are not allowed in regulated MMA bouts such as those found in Krav Maga. So we cannot definitively say how effective they would be against other martial art styles
  • We have based this list and our research around testable martial arts that have been proven to be practically effective as well as techniques that can be considered to do the most damage to your opponent

Deadlist Martial Arts Ranked

21. Kung Fu

Kung Fu is one of the oldest and most respected martial arts in the world. This ancient practice has been used for hundreds of years as a form of self-defense and attack, and it still remains one of the deadliest martial arts today. Jump to >>> BJJ vs Kung Fu

Originally developed in China, Kung Fu incorporates a variety of techniques such as striking with the hands and feet, grappling, joint locks, throws, and sweeps. It also focuses heavily on mental focus and discipline which helps practitioners stay sharp when using it in combat.

However, recently we have seen more and more how ineffective kung fu may be for practical defense or in a mixed martial arts setting which is why it is ranked lower on this list.

20. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is one of the most popular and effective martial arts in the world today.

Developed from a modified version of Judo, BJJ focuses on ground fighting and uses joint locks and choking to subdue opponents. It promotes the principle that even a smaller person can successfully defend themselves against larger attackers with balance, leverage, and technique.

The reason why Brazilian jiu jitsu is so effective is due to its emphasis on live sparring (rolling) which is the performing of techniques on fully resisting opponents.

19.Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that has captivated the world with its flashy kicks, fast-paced sparring, and excellent self-defense techniques. Jump to >>> BJJ vs TKD

Developed in the 1940s, Taekwondo combines a variety of traditional martial arts practices to create an effective form of self-defense. This martial art focuses heavily on kicks and is known for its ability to be used at both long and close range. With high flying kicks, powerful punches, and lightning-fast blocks, Taekwondo is one of the most visually stunning martial arts around.

Although it may not seem as lethal as some other styles on this list, Taekwondo can definitely be used as a deadly force if trained properly.

Its combination of strikes from all angles makes it difficult for an opponent to defend against and its use of spinning kicks allows practitioners to gain maximum force behind their attacks.

18. Line

LINE is a close-quarters combat system developed by retired combat arms Marine Ron Donvito in 1989. This system was designed to be used by the United States Marine Corps as well as the US Army Special Forces, and has since been used in military training and martial arts classes worldwide.

LINE stands for Linear Infighting Neural Override Engagement, and it has been honed over years of military experience. It consists of various techniques such as low-light maneuvers, smoke or gas combat tactics, and more that are effective even when the user is under immense physical or mental fatigue.

The unique aspect of LINE is its ability to allow users to defend themselves in a variety of close quarters situations while using minimal effort. By focusing on executions of techniques rather than brute strength, it allows users to maintain situational awareness during fighting without being overwhelmed by their opponent’s superior strength or agility.

17. MCMAP

MCMAP, or Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, is a combat system developed by the United States Marine Corps. It is designed to teach Marines the skills necessary to fight in any environment and situation. It focuses on hand-to-hand combat, weapon disarming techniques, and physical fitness.

MCMAP was designed to replace the LINE System which had become too deadly for modern missions. This style of martial arts emphasizes respect and discipline among its practitioners. It also teaches them how to handle different types of weapons, from knives and swords to batons and firearms.

The MCMAP curriculum includes various forms of martial arts such as Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Boxing, Karate, Aikido and Tai Chi. In addition to teaching practical self defense techniques it also focuses on developing the mental strength necessary for combat situations.

16. Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is an ancient Japanese martial art that has been around for centuries. It is a set of skills and techniques that allow practitioners to engage in espionage, navigation, and surviving in nature.

Ninjutsu also includes unarmed combat, as well as the use of weapons such as swords and shurikens.

Ninjutsu is shrouded in mystery and myths, making it a thrilling form of martial arts to learn if you can find a legitimate and practical school.

This style of fighting focuses on efficiency rather than strength, which makes it great for people who are smaller or less physically fit than their opponents.

There are many different schools of Ninjutsu, each with its own unique approach and techniques that can be used in battle or for self-defense purposes.

However, all forms of Ninjutsu share the same underlying principles – adaptability, creativity and resilience.

15. Bokator

Bokator, an ancient martial art from Cambodia, is a renowned fighting style that has been practiced for more than two thousand years.

It combines hand-to-hand combat techniques such as striking and joint manipulation with ground fighting and weapons training.

Despite its deadly nature, Bokator is designed to be both a form of self-defense and physical fitness.

Bokator also incorporates elements of traditional Khmer martial arts, making it a unique form of unarmed combat.

14. Karate

Karate is one of the most beloved and respected martial arts in the world today. Hailing from Okinawa, Japan, Karate has been practiced for centuries as a form of self-defense. This martial art uses all parts of the body to attack and defend against opponents. Jump to >>> BJJ vs Karate

Punching, kicking, elbows, throws, and open-handed “knife strikes” are all staples of Karate.

Kyokushin Karate allows blows to be thrown with full force and fighters carry no protection. While Karate may not be as intense or violent as some other martial arts on this list, it is still an incredibly effective form of self-defense due to its focus on both the body and mind.

13. Wrestling

Wrestling is an ancient combat sport that has been around for centuries. It involves two competitors trying to make the other’s body touch the ground by forcing them into a prone position.

This deadly martial art was once used in hand-to-hand combat and even featured as part of Roman gladiatorial fights. Jump to >>> BJJ vs Wrestling

Today, it continues to be popular in many places around the world and is often used in UFC fights as one of the staple martial arts (which also includes muay thai, boxing, bjj, and judo)

Wrestling is one of the most effective martial arts out there. The reason why it’s not higher on this list is that the techniques in wrestling are not utilized with the intent to injure or seriously harm someone.

However, wrestling teaches you how to take an attacker down and control them. It should be one of the base martial arts you should learn if you are at all interested in self defense.

It teaches practitioners how to use their opponent’s strength and momentum against them, allowing for both competitive and defensive applications.

12. Boxing

Boxing can be deadly in certain circumstances. Although it is a regulated sport with strict safety measures in place, such as mandatory gloves, weight classes, and medical checks, there is still a risk of serious injury or death. Jump to >>> BJJ vs Boxing

Utilizing the strikes of boxing can be extremely deadly if large amount of force is generated and applied.

Also due to the repeated blows to the head and body found in boxing there is no shortage of serious injuries in competition.

Boxers can suffer head trauma, brain damage, or even death from repeated blows to the head.

This is particularly true for professional boxers who may engage in many fights over their careers. In some cases, boxers may also suffer from long-term health effects, such as Parkinson’s disease, as a result of repeated head trauma.

Furthermore, amateur and unregulated boxing can be particularly dangerous as fighters may not have the same level of protective gear or medical supervision.

Therefore, while boxing is not inherently deadly, the risks associated with the sport should not be underestimated, and proper safety measures should always be taken.

11. Judo

Judo Olympic Rules Explained (Full FAQ)

Judo is a Japanese martial art and combat sport that has been around since the 1880s. It focuses on grappling, throwing, joint manipulation, and ground fighting. Jump to >>> BJJ vs Judo

The core principle of judo is to use an opponent’s strength and momentum against them in order to gain an advantage. This allows for both competitive and self-defense applications as practitioners can learn how to manipulate their opponents without causing harm.

In Judo we see that some of the hardest blows to the body from throws

Practitioners of Judo are expected to respect their opponents and demonstrate discipline during practice. This makes it a great choice for people looking to stay fit while learning how to defend themselves without resorting to violence.

This martial art is also suitable for all ages and can be practiced both competitively or recreationally. In fact, judo was included as a part of the Olympics in 1964 and continues to be featured at major tournaments today.

10. Sambo

Sambo is a Russian martial art that was developed in the 20th century. It is a combination of Judo, kickboxing, Thai boxing and boxing which makes it one of the most versatile forms of unarmed self-defense. Sambo is used by both military and law enforcement personnel as well as private security guards.

The main focus of Sambo is to defend yourself through joint locks, throws, sweeps, grappling and striking.

Jump to >>> BJJ vs Sambo

It has two main disciplines; sports sambo which is similar to judo in that it does not involve punches, and self-defense sambo which incorporates techniques from jiu-jitsu and aikido as well as sports sambo.

Sambo is renowned for its effectiveness in combat situations which makes it one of the deadliest martial arts out there. Its use of fast strikes with accuracy can be very dangerous if mishandled or used against an opponent without proper caution. For this reason, anyone who wishes to learn Sambo must understand that it should only ever be practiced for self-defense or sportive competition purposes.

9. Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing, is a martial art that originated in Thailand centuries ago.

This form of self-defense combines the use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes to defend oneself against an opponent.

It is considered one of the most dangerous and effective forms of unarmed combat due to its ability to inflict quick and powerful strikes with accuracy and precision.

Muay Thai has been used by the Thai military for centuries, using it to train their soldiers in close-quarters combat. Today, Muay Thai is practiced around the world by enthusiasts looking to hone their martial arts skills. It requires rigorous training and dedication in order to master technique and gain strength.

In addition to its use as a martial art form, Muay Thai can provide physical benefits such as increased strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance. Practicing Muay Thai can help improve cardiovascular health, mental focus and discipline; all great attributes for anyone looking to become more physically fit!

8. MMA

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a thrilling combat sport that combines elements from a variety of martial arts disciplines, such as Muay Thai, kung fu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It is an ever-evolving sport which has become increasingly popular over the past few decades.

By mastering a combination of effective martial arts an MMA competitor can learn to be effective from every position and utilize both striking and grappling.

MMA focuses on natural body movements and reaction times to defend against attacks.

Fighters learn how to use simple yet effective techniques such as punches, kicks and elbow strikes which can be used against multiple opponents with ease.

7. Silat

Silat is an ancient martial art that originated in the Nusantara (Indonesia and surrounding countries) region of Southeast Asia. It is a fierce form of self-defense that has been used by warriors for centuries.

This martial art focuses on strikes, joint manipulation, and weaponry to incapacitate your opponent quickly and effectively. It is considered one of the deadliest forms of martial arts due to its ability to inflict serious damage with swift movements.

6. Eskrima

Eskrima is a martial art that originated in the Philippines. It is an ancient and versatile form of self-defense that has been used by warriors for centuries.

The focus of Eskrima is to use quick strikes, joint manipulation, and weapons (escrima sticks) to incapacitate your opponent quickly and effectively.

The philosophy of Eskrima is that the absence of weapons does not necessarily mean that you cannot kill an opponent with your bare hands. To this end, practitioners are taught strategies for disarming opponents as well as techniques for striking vital points on the body in order to cause maximum damage. This makes it one of the deadliest forms of martial arts out there.

5. Bacom

Bakom, a hybrid martial art that originated in Peru, was founded in the 1980s by Roberto Puch Bezada, a former marine and jujutsu master as well as a former convict from Villa el Salvador in Lima.

This combat style is recognized as a hybrid because it blends traditional martial arts like jujutsu with street fighting techniques. In jujutsu, opponents are defeated without weapons or with small ones.

Bakom’s street fighting style was influenced by the slums at the outskirts of Lima. It focuses on power and aims to destabilize opponents by attacking their balance. Additionally, there is an element of surprise and deception as fighters may use hidden weapons in combat.

What sets Bakom apart from other combat practices is its brutal nature. This martial art is designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain on the opponent and overwhelm them. Many fights that utilize Bakom result in the death of one of the competitors.

4. Vale Tudo

Vale Tudo is a martial art that originated in Brazil and has since spread around the world. This style of fighting blends together multiple combat forms, including boxing, muay thai, judo, and Jiu-jitsu to create an intense and dangerous form of unarmed combat.

It’s full contact and there are few rules (hence the name ‘everything goes’) making it one of the most dangerous martial arts out there.

Vale Tudo fights can be brutal as fighters will use any means necessary to gain an advantage over their opponent.

This could include striking pressure points or using joint manipulation techniques to incapacitate them.

Despite its reputation for being incredibly dangerous, Vale Tudo is a great way to stay fit and learn self-defense techniques from across a range of disciplines. It helps you develop strength, agility and speed while also teaching you how to protect yourself should you ever find yourself in a hostile situation. So if you’re looking for an extreme yet practical form of martial arts then look no further than Vale Tudo!

3. Rough And Tumble

Rough and Tumble is a martial art that will make you think twice before getting into an altercation.

Originally developed by prisoners in England’s Newgate Prison, this hybrid style combines punching, kicking, grappling, joint manipulation and ground fighting with hidden weapons such as chairs or sticks. This deadly style emphasizes using your environment to your advantage and quickly incapacitating opponents before they can react.

Rough and Tumble isnt necessarily a martial art as more of a type of street fighting method that has only one rule..”there are no rules”.

2. Sibpalki

Sibpalki is a unique martial art that originated in Central Asia, specifically in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

It combines traditional horsemanship skills and defensive combat techniques, giving practitioners an effective way to overpower their opponents.

This martial art focuses on close-range strikes, blocks, grabs and throws as well as ground fighting maneuvers for maximum effectiveness.

Sibpalki has earned itself a reputation for being one of the deadliest martial arts around due to its efficiency at disabling opponents quickly.

It is also known for incorporating improvised weapons such as sticks and knives into its combative arsenal which adds to its lethality.

1. Krav Maga

Krav Maga is an Israeli self-defense and fighting system that has become incredibly popular over the last few decades. It utilizes a combination of techniques from various martial arts, such as boxing, judo and wrestling, to teach practitioners to protect themselves in any situation. Jump to >>> BJJ vs Krav Maga

The reason why we’ve ranked Krav Maga as the deadliest is due to its techniques that are specifically design to incapacitate, subdue, and sometimes lethally damage your opponent.

This however, doesn’t speak to its effectness. Since Krava Maga can be considered a mixed martial art that also takes from a variety of other (more effective martial arts), the martial arts that it takes from such as bjj, wrestling, judo, muay thai, and boxing are likely more effective.


The reason why Krav Maga’s effectiveness is often questioned is due to:

  • unqualified instruction
  • lack of sparring (so there is no way to prove effectiveness on a fully resisting opponent)
  • pulling techniques from more effective martial arts (like boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu) while not being full experienced with those martial arts

Unlike other martial arts, Krav Maga does not involve competitions or tournaments – instead, it is designed solely for self-defense purposes.

Training sessions often involve simulations of real-world situations that could occur on the street or in combat zones. This helps students learn how to respond quickly in threatening scenarios whilst remaining calm under pressure.

Other Metionable Martial Arts

Lethwei

Lethwei, known as the “Art of Nine Limbs,” is a traditional Burmese martial art known for its extreme brutality and effectiveness.

Hailing from Myanmar, Lethwei incorporates a combination of powerful strikes using fists, elbows, knees, and shins, along with grappling techniques and most notably, headbutts. Lethwei participants wear minimal protective gear, often just hand wraps, making it one of the most bare-knuckle and dangerous combat sports in existence.

Key Points on Lethwei

  1. Combines powerful strikes using fists, elbows, knees, and shins, grappling techniques, and headbutts.
  2. Minimal protective gear worn by participants making it a dangerous combat sport.
  3. Victory can only be achieved by knockout, TKO, or a draw.
  4. Traditional Burmese martial art

The centuries-old martial art has deep roots in Myanmar’s culture and history, transitioning from its original purpose as a means of self-defense or settling disputes to becoming a renowned sport attracting global interest. A key aspect of Lethwei is its KO-centric victory condition, allowing no points or judges’ decisions in determining wins; instead, fights can only end in knockout, TKO, or a draw.

Kalari (Kalaripayattu)

Originating in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Kalaripayattu, often referred to as “Kalari,” is considered one of the oldest and deadliest martial arts in the world, dating back over 3,000 years. Influenced by the region’s diverse cultural and religious heritage, Kalaripayattu is more than just a martial art—it is an ancient lifestyle practice focusing on physical prowess, mental acuity, and spiritual growth.

Key Points on Kalari:

  1. One of the oldest and deadliest martial arts in the world, originating from Kerala, India.
  2. More than a martial art—it is an ancient lifestyle practice focusing on physical prowess, mental acuity, and spiritual growth.
  3. Involves the use of a diverse arsenal of weapons along with unarmed combat.
  4. Includes the technique of attacking pressure points in the body.

Kalaripayattu is divided into three distinct styles—Northern, Southern, and Central—each developing unique techniques and strategies. Practitioners of this lethal martial art undergo rigorous training, emphasizing agility, flexibility, coordination, and balance. The martial art also includes the rare art of “Marma adi” or “Varmakalai,” the technique of attacking pressure points in the body, offering practitioners the ability to incapacitate or even kill adversaries with precision strikes.

Along with unarmed combat, Kalaripayattu attaches great importance to weapons training. Wooden and metal weapons, such as swords, shields, bows, and spears, are integral to the martial art, requiring dedicated practice to wield them with lethal proficiency. Masters of Kalaripayattu, known as “Gurukkals,” are revered figures, imparting their wisdom and expertise to the next generation of warriors, maintaining this martial art’s deadly reputation.

Kajukenbo

Kajukenbo, a martial art that originated in Hawaii in the late 1940s, is a striking blend of various fighting disciplines: Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Kenpo, and Boxing (Kajukenbo being an acronym for the contributing martial arts).

As one of the deadliest martial arts, Kajukenbo was designed to provide practical self-defense skills against real-life threats, focusing on adaptability and rugged techniques that result from its diverse origins.

Key Points on Kajukenbo:

  1. Originated in Hawaii in the late 1940s, combining Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Kenpo, and Boxing.
  2. Designed to provide practical self-defense skills against real-life threats.
  3. Allows for creativity and adaptability in response to different combat scenarios.
  4. Emphasizes robust hand strikes, debilitating joint locks, powerful kicks, and take downs.

Unlike traditional martial arts that follow strict rules and regulations, Kajukenbo allows for creativity and adaptability in response to different combat scenarios. It emphasizes robust hand strikes, debilitating joint locks, powerful kicks, and take downs. Instructors encourage students to develop their style, tailoring their skills to their physical strengths and weaknesses.

Numerous case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of Kajukenbo in real-life situations. For example, the martial art was notably used by a woman named Emilie Thompson, who successfully defended herself against a would-be attacker in 2014. The hybrid nature of Kajukenbo contributes to its lethality, with practitioners effectively handling both armed and unarmed opponents in various altercations. Additionally, Kajukenbo’s effectiveness in mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions and its usage by well-known fighters like Gaston Bolanos further substantiates its deadly reputation.

Kapu Ku’ialua

Also known as Lua or Ku’ialua, Kapu Ku’ialua hails from ancient Hawaii and is another martial art renowned for its deadly nature. For centuries, Lua warriors have trained in the art of joint manipulation, bone-breaking, and pressure point strikes to protect their lands and people from intruders. Like other ancient martial arts, Kapu Ku’ialua holds unique cultural and spiritual elements. As a result, it was once reserved solely for elite warriors who were required to undergo rigorous training and sacred rituals.

Key Points on Kapu Ku’ialua:

  1. Ancient Hawaiian martial art known for its techniques of joint manipulation, bone-breaking, and pressure point strikes.
  2. Emphasis on disabling opponents rapidly.
  3. Techniques of this martial art are notably brutal and have been used in historical battles.
  4. Modern martial artists have incorporated Lua techniques into their training regimens.

Kapu Ku’ialua practitioners are known for their incredible strength, relentless aggression, and expertise in both armed and unarmed combat. The techniques in this martial art are notably brutal, with particular emphasis on disabling opponents rapidly by breaking their bones, dislocating their joints, or rendering them unconscious through strategically placed strikes.

Several historical accounts document the lethal effects of Kapu Ku’ialua in ancient battles, contributing to its reputation as a deadly martial art. Furthermore, numerous modern martial artists, such as Burton Richardson, have incorporated Lua techniques into their training regimens. In doing so, they have continued to pass on the devastating techniques and principles of this lethal martial art to the next generation, solidifying Kapu Ku’ialua as one of the deadliest martial arts known to humankind.

Bojuka-Keysi Fighting Method

The Bojuka-Keysi Fighting Method is a lethal martial arts system that originated in Spain in the 1970s and 1980s. Developed by Justo Dieguez and Andy Norman, this technique is designed to handle real-life street encounters and is primarily utilized for practical self-defense. Incorporated in several action films—including Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Mission Impossible 3—this fighting style has garnered considerable attention in popular culture.

Key Points of the the Keysi Fighting Method:

  1. Originated in Spain in the 1970s and 1980s, designed to handle real-life street encounters.
  2. Incorporates elements from multiple martial arts such as boxing, judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Filipino martial arts like Kali.
  3. Teaches mastery in both unarmed and armed combat.
  4. Adopted by various military and law enforcement groups for its effectiveness.

With the core philosophy of being fast, brutal, and effective, Bojuka-Keysi incorporates various elements from multiple martial arts such as boxing, judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Filipino martial arts like Kali. This synergistic combination allows practitioners to adapt quickly and effectively to their opponents’ dynamic movements during a physical altercation. One crucial aspect of this method is the Pensador or “thinking man’s” defensive posture, which enables individuals to protect their head and torso from strikes while simultaneously launching potent counterattacks.

An essential part of mastering the Bojuka-Keysi Fighting Method involves gaining proficiency in both unarmed and armed combat. This includes understanding the human body’s pressure points, mastering joint manipulations, and honing striking techniques, as well as comprehending weapon usage and disarming. The effectiveness of this martial art lies in its adaptability and practicality, encouraging constant situational awareness and mental preparedness for unexpected, potentially life-threatening scenarios.

A testament to Bojuka-Keysi’s lethality is its broad application within various military and law enforcement groups. Founded by Tom Schrenk, the Bojuka Training Center provides specialized training courses for US Special Forces, SWAT teams, and other high-profile security personnel, equipping them with the tools to efficiently neutralize threats in a broad range of situations.

Aikido

Aikido is another potentially deadly martial art that traces its roots back to Japan.

Developed by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido places a strong emphasis on using an aggressor’s energy and movements against them — minimizing harm while maintaining control of the situation.

While its modern representation is likely not very effective in a self defense or mma scenario, it does hold some merits in basic martial art training such as learning how to move and control your body to perform basic movements

Additionally, perhaps the previous more historical versions of aikido were more effective since it relied heavily on weapons training and use.

  1. Japanese martial art focusing on using an aggressor’s energy and movements against them.
  2. Uses a wide range of techniques, including joint locks, grappling, and decisive throws.

Wing Chun

Wing Chun is a renowned Chinese martial art that focuses on close-range combat and efficiency.

With roots dating back to the Southern Shaolin Temple, Wing Chun has become a popular martial art symbolizing Chinese Kung Fu culture. This fighting style emphasizes speed and power, while its core principles include centerline theory, economy of motion, and simultaneous attack and defense.

While it may not be very effective for self defense or have a large practical application in the realm of mma it still does have its merits as well. With enough practice, even the more traditional methods of wing chun may be effective.

Wing Chun Key Points:

  1. Chinese martial art known for close-range combat
  2. Emphasizes speed and power.
  3. Prominence increased globally through martial artists like Bruce Lee and Ip Man.

The art concentrates on realistic and effective self-defense techniques most suitable for real-life street situations. It employs strikes, kicks, and locks to disarm or disable the attacker quickly. Wing Chun practitioners stress the importance of footwork and precise body positioning, in addition to mastering their famous hand techniques such as “Bong Sao,” “Tan Sao,” and “Fook Sao.” This martial art’s unique feature lies in its emphasis on redirecting an attacker’s force and using it against them. Wing Chun has gained global recognition through legendary martial artists like Bruce Lee and Ip Man, who have showcased its techniques in popular films and demonstrations.

Despite its effectiveness, Wing Chun is not classified as one of the deadliest martial arts. It primarily focuses on real-life self-defense scenarios without causing critical damage to the opponent. Additionally, this art is often underestimated in the mixed martial arts world due to its simplicity.

Kyokushin (Kyokushin Karate)

Kyokushin is a Japanese martial art that combines the rigorous training of traditional karate with the powerfully disciplined spirit of a warrior.

Founded by Mas Oyama, also known as Masutatsu Oyama, in 1964, Kyokushin emphasizes physical conditioning, stamina, and strength to push its practitioners to their utmost limits.

This full-contact martial art is known for its intense, full-contact sparring, often referred to as “kumite,” which involves exchanging powerful blows without protective gear.

Kyokushin Karate Key Points:

  1. Japanese martial art combining traditional karate training with the disciplined spirit of a warrior.
  2. Known for its intense, full-contact sparring, often referred to as “kumite.”
  3. Emphasizes physical conditioning, stamina, and strength.
  4. Includes a vast array of techniques, ranging from punches, kicks, knee strikes to joint locks and throws.

Kyokushin is renowned for the strong spirit its practitioners develop through hard training, as well as the development of unmatched fighting skills. It includes a vast array of techniques, ranging from punches, kicks, and knee strikes to joint locks and throws. These techniques often focus on delivering strong, accurate blows to vital body parts, making it highly effective in real-life combat situations.

Though Kyokushin is acknowledged as a powerful and physically demanding martial art, it does not easily fall into the category of the deadliest martial arts. One primary reason is its primary objective of fostering discipline and personal growth, rather than lethal combat or self-defense situations. Furthermore, while the techniques used in Kyokushin can be exceedingly potent, their application in a controlled and safe environment reduces their capacity for causing severe harm or death.


What Is the Best Martial Art to Learn?

Martial ArtKey FeaturesSuitable For
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)Grappling-based, ground fighting and submissionsThose who want to defend themselves against larger opponents with grappling
Muay ThaiStriking-based, powerful kicks, knees, elbows, and punchesThose who want to improve their striking and conditioning
BoxingStriking-based, focuses solely on punchesThose who want to improve their hand-eye coordination, footwork, and striking
TaekwondoKicking-based, emphasizes high kicksThose interested in acrobatic and flashy kicks
Krav MagaSelf-defense system, practical techniquesThose interested in defending self-defense situations

How To Choose The Right Martial Art

Picking the ideal martial art for your needs requires careful consideration, as many factors determine which style will best align with your personal objectives and physical characteristics.

Several critical aspects to weigh include your fitness level, age, goals, time commitment, learning preferences, and the availability of qualified instructors in your area:

Again, some factors to consider are:

  • goals
  • preferences
  • expectations
  • fitness level
  • age
  • training type
  • location and availability of legitimate martial art schools nearby

Our recommendation is to start by analyzing your goals and current fitness level. While training martial arts will get you into better shape over time know that there will always be a learning and fitness curve.

Next, consider realistic, modern, and effective martial arts that are available nearby.

Finally, take a trial class or two and consider how much time you can devote to training and learning


Here is a quick table breakdown comparing modern vs tradition martial arts. While we lean more toward modern martial arts (since they are easier to find legitimate schools), traditional martial arts like Tae Kwon Do and karate can still be very effective and realistic if they involve the right type of training (including live sparring).

AspectTraditional Martial ArtsModern Martial Arts
FocusEmphasizes respect, discipline, and personal development. Often includes spiritual or philosophical teachings.More focused on practical self-defense, competition, and physical fitness.
TechniquesUses time-tested techniques passed down through generations. The efficiency of some techniques may not have been tested in modern combat scenarios.Techniques are constantly evolving and are tested in real combat scenarios, like MMA matches or self-defense situations.
Training MethodTraining often involves kata or forms, practicing the same movements repeatedly. There is often a set curriculum.Training often involves live sparring and situational drilling. There is usually more flexibility in curriculum.
Belt SystemOften uses a belt or ranking system to denote progress and skill level.Some use ranking systems, while others do not. Some systems use a more informal recognition of progress.
ExamplesKarate, Kung Fu, Aikido, Traditional Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo.Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Krav Maga, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Boxing, Kickboxing.

Some martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai, demand high levels of physical conditioning. Conversely, Tai Chi or Aikido cater to individuals seeking a gentler approach with less emphasis on exertion. Remember, regardless of your current physicality, embracing a long-term commitment to martial arts will improve your form and function over time.

How to Tell if a Martial Art is Legitimate

There are a plethora of martial arts styles available today, but not all are equally reputable.

Discerning a legitimate martial art involves clearly identified methods, effective techniques in real-world situations, reputable instructors, and a supportive community.

Look at the training, if the training involves practicing techniques on fully resisting partners (live sparring) then you can usually assume it is legitimate.

A legitimate martial art will have well-defined methods and techniques, following a coherent training system. It will incorporate a structured curriculum, which enables incremental progress and mastery of fundamental tactics.

Watch out for schools promoting obscure or unintelligible techniques, as these may signal a lack of proper training and organization.

Why MMA Is a Good Measure of Effective Martial Arts

When it comes to determining which martial arts are the most effective, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has emerged as an excellent measure.

If a martial art is prominent in MMA you can pretty much guarantee its legitimacy and effectiveness.

MMA competitions require fighters to employ multiple techniques from different martial arts styles, pushing them to develop well-rounded skill sets. This approach allows practitioners and spectators to observe how various techniques fair against one another in a practical setting.


MMA competition rules replicate real-world scenarios, adding authenticity to the methods being assessed. Compared to traditional martial arts, MMA focuses less on ceremony and more on consistent, efficient performance under extreme pressure.


Why Are Some Martial Arts not Prominent in MMA?

Firstly, some martial arts emphasize forms and kata, which do not translate smoothly into the fast-paced and versatile environment of MMA. These styles may be more concerned with refining specific movements, stances, and techniques rather than on practical effectiveness in a full-contact setting.

Another factor is that some martial arts were developed with specific cultural or historical contexts in mind.

For example, traditional Japanese martial arts, like Kendo and Kyudo, involve weapons such as swords and bows – elements that are not applicable to the unarmed combat of MMA.

Some martial arts are heavily rooted in spiritual or philosophical beliefs that may not align with the more competitive nature of MMA and are simply not effective in live sparring or live competition.


Certain combat-oriented martial arts are not widely featured in MMA due to legal and ethical concerns. For instance, deadly martial arts like Krav Maga or the Keysi Fighting Method involve techniques that can result in severe injuries or death, which are understandably prohibited in sports competitions (which may bring to question its effectiveness).


What Is the Number 1 Deadliest Martial Art?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the “deadliness” of a martial art depends on a number of factors, including:

  • skill of the practitioner
  • the situation in which the martial art is used
  • the level of force applied

That being said, there are some martial arts that are often considered to be more “deadly” than others due to their emphasis on striking, grappling, or other techniques that can cause serious injury or death: These martial arts include:

  1. Krav Maga: Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed for the Israeli Defense Forces. It emphasizes practical techniques for defending against real-world attacks, including strikes, chokes, and weapon threats.
  2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: While BJJ is primarily a grappling-based martial art focused on submissions and control on the ground, it can also be used effectively in self-defense situations. BJJ practitioners are trained to use leverage and technique to overcome larger and stronger opponents.
  3. Muay Thai: Muay Thai is a striking-based martial art from Thailand that emphasizes powerful punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. It is known for its effectiveness in striking-based combat sports such as kickboxing and MMA.
  4. Boxing: Boxing is a martial art that focuses on punching technique, footwork, and head movement. While it is primarily a sport-focused martial art, it has been used effectively in self-defense situations due to its emphasis on powerful punching.
  5. Wrestling: Wrestling is a grappling-based martial art that emphasizes takedowns, control on the ground, and pinning the opponent. It is often used in MMA competitions, and is considered one of the most effective martial arts for take downs and ground control.
  6. Judo: Judo is a Japanese martial art that focuses on grappling, throwing, joint manipulation, and ground fighting. The core principle is to use an opponent’s strength and momentum against them.

What Is the Most Powerful Fighting Style?

While its difficult to scientifically narrow down the most powerful fighting style, we can however, look toward the realm of mixed martial arts and bare knuckle fighting to see which fight styles competitors specialize in and which led to the most damage.

If we had to choose the most powerful fighting style it would be MMA with a strong focus on BJJ, Muay Thai, Wrestling, and boxing.

While every martial art likely took inspiration from other martial arts, below are martial arts that are a clear combination of several martial arts. These attempt to take the most effective techniques from a variety of different, established fighting styles:

  • Krav Maga
  • LINE
  • MCMAP
  • Rough and Tumble
  • Sibpalki
  • Vale Tudo

Deadlist Martial Arts that Use Weapons

We wanted to create a separate list for all martial arts that include the use of weapons. These martial arts do not have to be weapon focused but have to include some techniques that deal with utilizing or disarming weaponry:

  • Krav Maga
  • Rough And Tumble
  • MCMAP
  • Bokator
  • Ninjitsu
  • Silat
  • Eskrima
  • Bacom
  • Eskrima

How To Train Safely In Deadliest Martial Arts

First and foremost, make sure you have a qualified instructor who is experienced in teaching the martial art you’re learning. A good instructor will teach you proper technique and help you stay safe while training.

Second, wear protective gear such as shin guards, headgear and mouthpieces when sparring or drilling techniques. This will help prevent injuries while still allowing you to practice your moves effectively.

Thirdly, start with light contact or no contact at all until you’ve mastered the basics of the form. As your skills progress, increase intensity accordingly but never do more than what is necessary for effective practice.

Finally, take breaks between drills or sparring sessions to give your body time to rest and recover from any possible strain or fatigue. Make sure that you are well hydrated throughout your training session as this will help keep you alert and focused on each move.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Silat Considered the Deadliest Martial Art?

There is no consensus on whether Silat is the deadliest martial art. Like any martial art, Silat can be deadly if applied with intent to seriously harm.

Silat is a martial art that originated in Southeast Asia and has a focus on self-defense and combat techniques. It emphasizes close-range combat, joint locks, throws, strikes, and weapons training. Silat has been practiced by various military and law enforcement groups, and has gained a reputation for being a practical and effective martial art.

How does Krav Maga differ from other martial arts?

Krav Maga is a modern, self-defense system that stands apart from traditional martial arts. While many other forms of martial arts focus on the development of technique, style and discipline, Krav Maga emphasizes practicality and efficiency in order to ensure ultimate safety.

However, Krav Maga often struggles with export instruction, legitimate trainng practices, and often adopts “watered-down” techniques from more effective martial arts like Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling, and boxing.

Ultimately, we recommend avoiding Krav Maga due to its lack of full contact sparring and difficulty find legitimate, knowledgable instructors.

Forbidden Martial Arts Explained

There is no definitive list of “forbidden” martial arts, as the legality and regulation of different martial arts vary depending on the country, state, or organization involved. Some martial arts may be illegal or regulated due to safety concerns, cultural sensitivity, or association with criminal activity.

For example, certain martial arts techniques or practices may be considered illegal or regulated in combat sports such as MMA due to safety concerns.

Is It Safe to Practice Deadly Martial Arts?

Yes, it is safe to practice deadly martial arts, as long as the individual is following proper safety protocols and taking appropriate precautions.

Most martial arts academies have clear guidelines and policies in place to ensure that students are kept safe during training sessions.

These rules may include wearing protective gear such as headgear, gloves and mouth guards; practicing only with an experienced partner; and limiting contact during sparring or drills.

In addition to the academy’s guidelines, individuals should also maintain a level of self-awareness while they practice these martial arts.

This means recognizing when techniques become too intense or when it’s time to take a break from training. It also entails being aware of your own physical limitations and not pushing yourself beyond what you can handle safely.

How Many People Die Each Year from Martial Arts Training and Competition?

Martial arts, while primarily aimed at self-defense and personal development, come with inherent risks. Accidents, injuries, and even fatalities can occur during training and competition.

The number of deaths in martial arts varies depending on the specific discipline, the level of contact, and the competitive nature of the sport.

For instance, boxing, a martial art and combat sport with a long list of fatalities throughout history, has recorded an average of 7.82 deaths per year over the past 30 years.

Mixed martial arts (MMA), which is a combination of various martial arts and combat sports, has a lower annual death rate with 104.79 cases reported since its inception in the 1990s. This may be attributed to the strict rules governing MMA events, and the use of protective gear, such as gloves, mouth guards, and shin guards.

In contrast, traditional martial arts like Karate and Taekwondo tend to have significantly fewer fatalities due to their emphasis on controlled techniques and safety precautions during training and competition. The World Karate Federation, for example, has reported only six fatalities in official competitions since its founding in 1970. However, incidents can still occur during practice, such as the rare cases of commotio cordis caused by a sudden impact to the chest.

It’s important to note that these numbers don’t account for deaths resulting from unregulated street fights, underground events, or training in informal settings. These cases are challenging to track and report accurately, skewing the overall statistics surrounding martial arts deaths.

Are There Any Medical Benefits in Learning Deadly Martial Arts or Other Martial Arts?

Yes, there are certainly medical benefits associated with deadly martial arts.

Studies have found that regular practice of these forms of combat can lead to improved physical and psychological health.

Physically, it has been proven to increase cardiovascular endurance and muscle tone, while also helping with chronic pain relief.

Psychologically, individuals have reported a decrease in stress levels due to the focused aggression exercises and an increase in self-confidence as they become more adept at the techniques.