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lady_j's avatar

Does martial arts work for real female self defense?

Asked by lady_j (16points) August 12th, 2010

I’m thinking about taking up martial arts. It seems like fun, but I don’t know how effective it would be for me in real life, if I ever had to defend myself. So, just to get an idea:

Would an average built young woman who has a black belt in a martial art beat an average young man (with no special training), if he really tried to beat her up?

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22 Answers

mammal's avatar

unlikely, but depends how deeply you go.

CMaz's avatar

It is good, like yoga.

But, if you are not crazy enough… It is good, like yoga.

Cruiser's avatar

Martial arts ultimately can be good for self defense but to execute effective self defense moves takes years of hard practice. There are martial arts that focus on pressure points and joint locks that can be very effective against most any sized opponent but again you need additional training in how to get the hell out of a bad situation or better how to avoid situations that could break bad on you.

If you are looking for pure self defense then looking just that….self defense training. Find one that has police or ex-policemen instructors as they can give you real life experience that will allow you to learn some great techniques. I had the best of both worlds in that my 6th degree Dan was also a cop who taught me some insane techniques that bring a world or hurt with very little effort.

syz's avatar

It’s like anything else – what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Of course, all martial arts are not created equally; it also depends on what style you study. But in general, yes, if you are a black belt in martial arts, you can hold your own against an untrained but stronger opponent.

kevbo's avatar

Predatory people respond to people who come across as victims. Being a student of martial arts will likely take you far out of that category as well as teach you how to avoid physical confrontation in the first place.

lady_j's avatar

Of course I understand it takes a lot of hard work and practice to get really good and get a black belt. And I’m not just looking for self dense. I think I want to take up martial arts, because it seems like fun, but I am curious if it would really work for self dense too.

Arisztid's avatar

I am a 6’2”, 195 lb male blackbelt who had his clock cleaned routinely by a 5 foot nothing female blackbelt. I have fought other female martial artists who kick butt close to as well as aforementioned blackbelt or more.

That would be a yes.

I have had to deal with a few street fights I could not avoid and my training does work so I can verify that martial arts training is effective in a self defense situation.

lady_j's avatar

Oh, that’s awsome! Imagine what would have happened if you had no training then.

mammal's avatar

@Arisztid do you have her phone no. lol

Arisztid's avatar

@lady_j It all depends on the Dojo/Dojang/Daguan. If you get a real school, you will come out knowing what you are doing and it will be by instinct. Also, you will know how to assess a situation to avoid a fight and disarm an impending fight if it is at all possible. A real fight, not sparring, is a last resort for a martial artist. That means you did not assess and control the situation properly.

With no training, I would have had absolutely zero chance against her and I am not unskilled in the Arts, having trained for decades. When I had first gotten my blackbelt, I was partnered with her all the time because she was an infighting specialist and loved taking us tall folks out.

She is hardly the only female martial artist who is this skilled or more skilled.

@mammal She is married… I asked her out. :P

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I have similar martial arts experience to @Arisztid and have regularly been bested in tournaments by ladies a foot shorter and over 100 pounds lighter than I. It takes years of dedicated practice to reach that level. About a year of intensive training (3–4 classes per week) can get you to a level where you can confidently defend yourself against any untrained, unarmed attacker. This is not a panacea though; my business partner holds a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but still carries a pistol.

lady_j's avatar

Thanks a lot for the information!! Very good to know.

Arisztid's avatar

It does take dedicated training, I trained 3–6 days a week, 1–2 classes a day for about a decade (I am in between Dojos now so training alone or with friends). The female blackbelt I mentioned was even more dedicated than I was. She was higher in rank than me (I had just tested to 1st Dan when she tested to 2nd) but she easily took on the 2nds and up.

I will verify what @stranger_in_a_strange_land said: no amount of training will keep you alive if you are dumb. Even the best martial artist can get him or herself quite dead by being careless. Avoiding a fight is always the best way.

@lady_j Most welcome. :)

If you do start a traditional martial art at a good Dojo (not a McDojo), you will probably have times during your first year or so when you really, really want to quit. During those times I had a calender where I would mark off every day I wanted to quit and told myself that, if I wanted to quit for a solid month, I would do so.

That never arrived.

So, if you do start, know that traditional training is not glorifying or whatnot. It can be very tedious and painful. It is oh so worth it though on so many levels.

Cruiser's avatar

@lady_j Martial arts is a LOT of fun and a lot of sweat and occasionally painful. My favorite was sparring and beating on the degree belts and of course them beating on me!! A fabulous way to learn self confidence and yes have a blast doing so!

SuperMouse's avatar

Without reading any of the answers I am going to say that it depends upon the style you take. If you decide to study a style that is focused more on sparring and scoring points (Taekwondo or Kempo) then it won’t be very helpful in self-defense. If you take a style that is more about fighting (Hapkido or Jujitsu), you should be easily able to defend yourself. I have a black belt in Hapkido and studied Machado Jujitsu the entire time I was training and there is no doubt in my mind that even as out of practice as I am I would be able to defend myself.

Before all the Taekwondo and Kempo enthusiasts start taking me to task, please note that I am not putting down either of those styles. Although I admit to being a style snob, I love Hapkdo for its power and style I am just saying that they are not the best styles to learn if one is primarily looking to learn self defense.

Cruiser's avatar

@SuperMouse I would tend to agree with you. I took KyuKi Do which was based in Taekwondo forms, but they also taught, Kung Fu Hapkido, and Judo techniques combined and it was the Hapkido techniques that gave me the most command over close quarter moves and defenses, locks and pressure points attacks than any other martial art I got involved with.

Winters's avatar

Yes, such an event occured in Japan when a young woman was almost kidnapped off an elevator by a young man. She german Suplexed the creeper.

mrrich724's avatar

I would say not any time in the immediate future. Maybe down the road after years and years and years of training.

Get a tazer, save thousands of dollars, and years of time and effort!

aprilsimnel's avatar


I take karate at a dojo that specializes in self-defense for women. The sensei is a woman. We get drilled on techniques repeatedly, and we are not allowed to spar until the sensei feels we have mastered those techniques, which takes about a year in most cases.

There are some bits of straight self-defense that she teaches from time to time, and when I’ve practiced them on my much bigger male roommate, they work.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@aprilsimnel Very good point. Find a dojo that teaches the discipline from a practical perspective and has instructors the students can identify with. Even with armed self-defense, many women seem to make better progress in an all-female class with a female instructor. Maybe less testosterone fog interfering with the learning process.

mattbrowne's avatar

I was once told it only works if a minimum level of fitness and repetition of the exercise is maintained over the long run.

SpeedskaterMan's avatar

I doubt it. Even if a woman is a black belt in karate or is trained in self-defense, in a real life situation, a man, even an average built man, would most likely win a fight. Men are overall much stronger and bigger than women, and when both are fighting “no holds bar”, men will almost always be the victor. There’s no denying that.

But it wouldn’t hurt for any woman to take up any kind of martial arts. It will keep her fit and give her a good sense of self-esteem.

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