I am asked, more often than I would like to be, what is the single most effective Martial Art a person can study to be effective in a real fight. There of course is no simple answer to this. Are we talking one-on-one, a robbery, a bar-fight with multiple attackers? There are a lot of scenarios so I am going to just assume they mean a fair one-on-one fight that doesn’t involve a “sucker punch”. If you train a lot of realistic fighting such as MMA, you have some experience with the stress, pain, speed, and trauma of a real fight. But this isn’t the question being asked, they are asking what single art, not combination of arts is best for a real fight. My well thought out answer is: Any Martial Art.
If you train in a martial art on a regular basis, you have advantages over people that do not train in anything.
So to take it a step further, let’s just say what art is best if all other factors are fair.
I would have to say that, like I always do, I go back to the original UFC but I also have to take into consideration that the sport has evolved. So it was proven by Royce Gracie that Brazilian Jiujitsu was the Martial Arts Style that cancelled out all of the rest. Wrestling was effective for the big takedown, but on the ground Jits was far more effective in breaking opponents or rendering them unconscious. A striker was like a kid that can barely swim against a shark once the fight hit the ground. Jiujitsu taught its practicioners to close the space needed to strike effectively by guarding and timing the strikes. This caused the stiker to not have a good chance at finishing the fight standing up. What I can say is that Jiujitsu is very effective in one-on-one situations. You can spar 100% when you train Jiujitsu so it gives you a real look at the strength and speed that occurs during a real fight. I would say that the ability to render an opponent unconscious is the best tool in Jiujitsu.
To make things clear, I am saying that someone who trains in Jiujitsu probably has the best chance to win a one-on-one fight against both a street fighter and an opponent who trains in another martial art. The drawback to Jiujitsu is that it is trained with respect, restraint, and rules.
In an actual street fight, there are none of those virtues.
Against someone who is street savvy, biting, pulling hair, head-butting, poking eyes, fish hooking, and other forms of unpracticed damaging attacks are not trained in Jiujitsu. These tactics are employed and defended against in other martial arts, but once again, it wouldn’t mean much if a well-trained Jiujitsu practicioner were to be aware that these things could and would happen if given the opportunity. If you are looking for an art with self-defense, skill, tradition, and real world effectiveness, Brazilian Jiujitsu is probably your best bet. I would love to hear arguments to the contrary. I’m open-minded.