Want to defend yourself? Forget about martial arts. Learn combat systems.
A lot of people ask that question: "which martial art should I learn for self defense?". The answer is "none". Surprised?
I'm not going to go deep into martial arts background because it's a huge topic and one could write a book about it. The thing is: as much as martial arts were invented for combat, today all martial arts are nothing more than a sport. As much as strange it may seem, there's a huge difference between those two purposes.The difference is so significant it may save your life someday.
Lets do a little bit of case study. You want to learn to defend yourself so you enter google and search for martial art school near your home. Lets say you find a karate school. You go for your first training and talk with a teacher. You learn you should buy yourself a kimono, take off your watch and all the jewellery you wear, then you learn you don't enter the training ground with your boots on. You sit with others and you learn about fighting rules, about what you can't do, where you can kick etc... STOP! Now think. You came there to learn how to defend. And what they are doing? They are teaching you how to not to hurt the opponent! Something is not right, right? The same thing would happen if you choose judo, jujitsu, muay-thai, taekwondo, kung-fu or any other martial art. Well, everything is ok when you treat it as a sport. Sport needs rules and that's understandable. But there are no rules on the street, noone will take off his heavy boots or metal elements from his hands before attacking you. Do you see my point?
Sport will help you become fit, strong, fast and for sure will improve your chance to defend when attacked. But for sure it won't prepare you for that. What's worse - it might make you too confident. But real life is not a ring. While making impressive high-kick you may find yourself hit in the crotch and painfully learn, that something impressive not necessarily is effective.
These days MMA schools become more and more popular. Don't get confused. MMA is more brutal and a little more practical than many martial arts but it is still just a sport. Just like boxing. Anything, that puts you in the controlled environment and put any limit on what you and your opponent do, won't prepare you for what can happen on the street.
The biggest drawback of martial arts is they don't teach the proper mental attitude. Most of us since early years is taught, that we should not hurt others. In result we have moral resistance against causing physical injuries. As much as it is laudable from social point of view it reduces ones ability to successfully defend in dangerous situations. If one is to be able to defend, he will have to be able to break his morality and do what has to be done in order to stay alive. It will involve hurting others, sometimes severely. Are you ready for this?
So what one should do in order to defend himself? Go to someone teaching military combat systems. Krav Maga, Sambo, Kali Arnis, Combat 56 (although I don't think you can learn it outside Poland) or others. The difference between combat systems and martial arts is that systems have no rules and don't teach how to win but how to stay alive. Lessons are very tough, but you'll learn to withstand the pain, to react in stressful situations and how to disable the opponent in just few short moves. Combat systems are brutal, but life is also brutal. In combat systems it's a life that dictates the rules.
If you're not prepared for it, don't waste your money on another self defense karate lessons. Buy yourself good running boots and a pepper gas. It's much cheaper and more effective.