Best to Worst Martial Art • Martial Arts Journey

Comparing Best to Worst Martial Arts

While many questions and answers are subjective, it never hurts to develop our critical thinking

by looking at various criteria and comparing it to each other.

What martial art is the best has been an endless debate between many and while there is no

definitive answer, it wouldn’t hurt to compare the pros and cons of various practices to

see which martial art has an advantage compared to others.

To exercise our brains, in this Martial Arts Journey video we will be taking a look at

“Comparing Best to Worst Martial Art”.

Before I begin calculating points dedicated to various martial arts and comparing them

to each other, there are a few important points to mention.

First of all as I am writing this script I do not know myself which martial art will

prevail and I will try to be as objective, unbiased and versatile as much as I can in

comparing the points.

It would also be impossible to compare all existing martial arts since there are simply

too many of them and also I have not tried them all, thus I will be choosing only some

of the most popular martial arts and ones, which I am most familiar with personally.

As for some of the chosen martial arts not everyone would call them martial arts, such

as boxing, yet since many people choose between traditional Eastern martial arts and Western,

often more sports based fighting practices, for the sake of interest I will include them.

Last of all, many argue that MMA is not a martial art in itself as it is encompases

various styles of fighting, yet regarding that there are plenty of gyms which offer

MMA as a practice, thus once more, for the interest of comparison, I will add it to the

list of compared martial arts.

That being said, let us begin.

The martial arts which will be compared are: MMA, Karate, Boxing, Wing Chun, Japanese Jiu

Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Shaolin Kung Fu, Aikido, Judo, Muay Thai and Greco-Roman wrestling,

which in total makes 11 different martial arts related practices.

We will be looking at a list of 13 different criteria to compare them by ranging from effectiveness

and variety of techniques, to philosophy and personal development benefits, which will

be scored from 0 to maximum 3 points for each criteria.

If the criteria will be negative, such as likeliness of brain damage, 0 to 3 points

will be removed from the martial arts total points.

Now that the rules are set, let us begin.

Many people start martial arts wanting to learn to defend themselves, thus the first

part of criteria list will be focused on this question, starting with striking effectiveness:

MMA, Boxing and Muay Thai clearly prevail here, since it trains the most contemporary

and most pressure tested methods of striking, thus they both receive 3 points.

Karate also relies strongly on striking both in training and competition and while it’s

striking techniques are less effective than Boxing, MMA and Muay Thai, it definitely deserves

2 points.

Shaolin Kung Fu and Wing Chun spend a fair amount of time developing strikes as well

and while their techniques tend to be less contemporary and not pressure tested, 1 point

will be dedicated to them both.

While the rest of the martial arts are more focused on grappling and include very few

strikes if any, they will all receive no points for this criteria.

Next up is striking defense, which while is similar, also has some notable differences.

MMA, Boxing and Muay Thai still stay the king here with 3 points, followed by Karate with

2 points.

Shaolin Kung Fu and Wing Chun all focus on complicated, cooperative training, thus they

will receive only 1 point.

Also, I will include here that Aikido and Japanese Jiu Jitsu which technically teaches

defense against strikes and also BJJ, which while not all gyms include defense against

striking, still occasionally address the question of closing the distance when a strike is thrown,

giving 1 point as well to each of these practices.

A logical next question is kicking techniques and kicking defense.

MMA and Muay Thai offer the best kicking techniques and defense, giving them both six points in


Karate also has a strong emphasis on kicking and it’s defense giving it four points.

Meanwhile while Wing Chun and Shaolin Kung Fu teach kicking techniques and defense, it

is not it’s main focus point, thus giving them a total of two points each.

While Aikido and JJJ usually do not teach kicking techniques it does address some kicking

defense giving them one point each.

The rest of the practices still stay pointless.

While striking and kicking are very important skills taught by martial arts which allows

one to maintain distance, it is sometimes inevitable that things will get much closer

into the clinch range, thus our next criteria is how well our martial arts perform in a

close range.

Judo here is undoubtedly the king while it focuses so much on takedowns.

It is also followed by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Greco-Roman wrestling both receiving 3


Since MMA includes all the previously mentioned skills, naturally it also received 3 points.

Further we have Muay Thai in which the clinch is also a common place of training, giving

it two points.

While boxing deals with clinch situations, since it does not train takedowns it is left

only with one point.

Wing Chun as well tends to explore close range situations, yet since it rarely seems to deal

with a clinch type of situation, it will receive only one point.

JJJ and Aikido wrist locks and occasional takedowns could also be used in a close range

and while it may be not as effective as the dominating practices, they both still deserve

a single point.

Meanwhile Shaolin Kung Fu and Karate offer very little focus on this range leaving them

with zero points for this criteria.

Having addressed the clinch, we naturally move on to ground techniques where Brazilian

Jiu Jitsu is obviously the king and while MMA is heavily based on BJJ they both receive

three points.

As Greco-Roman wrestling spends a lot of time on the ground it also receives three points.

While Judo teaches ground techniques known as Newaza, it usually focuses much less on

this realm leaving it with two points.

It is worth mentioning that Japanese Jiu Jitsu offers some ground technique solutions giving

it one point as well.

As for the rest of the practices, the ground is usually an unfamiliar world to them thus

leaving them pointless this time.

I will also address the aspect of competition and live pressure testing as an important

aspect of martial arts in terms of making it effective, which is focused on not in all


MMA, Boxing, Judo, Muay Thai, Greco-Roman wrestling all spend an enormous amount of

time drilling their techniques with live resisting opponents and applying their techniques in

competition, giving three points to all of them.

Since competition is an important part of Karate, it also receives points, yet keeping

in mind that only a comparadly small part of techniques taught in Karate are actually

applied in sparring and that a great amount of time is spent on cooperative training,

techniques and kata’s, it is receiving two, instead of three points.

The rest of the martial arts unfortunately have little to no live resistance training

and competition, leaving them pointless in this category.

While some practices already have a good head start, we will start to move towards more

specialized criteria which will give a boost to certain practices, starting with the question

of dealing with weapons, which interestingly, from our list of martial arts is mainly covered

only by Aikido and Shaoling Kung Fu.

While it is questionable how effective the weapons techniques are in terms of actual

application, for offering this unique vantage point, both of the practices deserve 3 points.

It is worth mentioning that Karate and Wing Chun also occasionally include a few types

of weapons, thus giving them each a single point.

Where Aikido also thrives is in the aspect of offering a lifestyle / philosophy, which

it is famous for, giving it three points in this category.

Judo, Karate and Shaolin Kung Fu tend to also offer some philosophical insights thus giving

them both two points.

I would also like to add at least one point to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for this criteria as

in my experience, personal development and overcoming the ego are quite often addressed

in this practice.

Meanwhile Boxing, MMA and Greco-Roman wrestling, while do sometimes dwell in sports psychology,

as they are more focused on the sports aspect and do not offer a structured approach to

philosophy they receive no points here.

Wing Chun and Japanese Jiu Jitsu also tend to be more focused on techniques as well,

leaving them pointless.

What Eastern martial arts offer as well compared to Western practices is an Eastern cultural

experience, of which some practitioners are specifically looking for.

Since Shaolin Kung Fu, Aikido, Karate, Judo and Japanese Jiu Jitsu are strongly based

on Eastern culture and traditions they both receive three points.

Wing Chun also offers a fairly strong experience of Eastern Culture giving it two points.

Regarding the fact that the Muay Thai dance ritual is performed occasionally and that

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu includes bowing and often GI as it’s uniform, they also both deserve

an additional point for this aspect.

The last positive aspect which will add points to martial arts is the acknowledgment of the

self defense gap.

While not all practitioners realize, the gap between martial arts and self defense exists,

since self defense is not based only on physical skills, but also on self defense based knowledge.

Unfortunately such martial arts as Wing Chun, Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Aikido and Shaolin Kung

Fu tend to focus so much on physical techniques that it often forgets to mention the gap that

still exists in understanding what self defense is truly about.

Karate, Judo, Boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling and MMA, having the sports aspect, occasionally

do address that sports and self defense is not the same, but this misunderstanding often

enough still lies in these practices, thus leaving them with two points.

The only martial art which tends to be much more conscious of the self defense gap is

often enough BJJ, as this question is often admitted and addressed and is also strongly

emphasized by such figures as Rickson Gracie and of additional practices belonging to BJJ

such as Gracie’s Combatives.

As we are moving on to the last parts of the criteria we will take away some of the points

while looking at negative aspects, starting with the health aspect.

All martial arts include some risk to them, yet some more than others.

It is important to recognize that all full contact sports which include strikes to the

head such as MMA, Boxing and Muay Thai can lead to brain injury and other types of trauma,

which leads to all of them losing three points.

Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Greco-Roman wrestling, especially during it’s competition

stages may also lead to various injuries causing them to lose two points.

Some of the throws in Aikido and JJJ, while also considering the fact that sitting on

your knees is not everybody's cup of tea, which may lead to knee injury leads these

both martial arts to lose a single point as well.

As our last point of criteria, for a moment, we will come back to considering a martial

arts effectiveness and what sometimes prevents a martial art from being effective.

One of such barriers for efficiency may be reliance on overwhelming amount of techniques.

While offering various techniques is not a sin, some martial arts focus so much on offering

an overabundant amount of different techniques and demanding the student to know them all,

while in the meantime sacrificing their efficiency.

Such martial arts as Shaolin Kung Fu, Aikido and Japanese Jiu Jitsu tend to suffer strongly

from this phenomenon, causing them all to lose three points.

They are also followed by Karate and Wing Chun which introduce a great amount of techniques

of which only a part is actually applicable, causing them to lose two points each.

While more criteria could be named, we already see the result in the differences of points,

yet in the end, it is important to ask - does it really matter which martial art receives

most points?

When we take a look at the list of explored criteria it quickly becomes clear, that there

is no martial art or practice which is complete and that each practice has its strengths and

weaknesses and offer unique benefits.

The real reason why I wanted to make this video is to remind everyone, that each practice

is unique and while some are better than others in particular fields, which is important to

recognize, in the end they may each suit individuals needs based on the practitioner.

For a practitioner, it is important to know what exactly we are looking for and to choose

the right practice.

It is unfortunate when someone chooses a martial art seeking for something which it does not

really offer and sometimes spends years practicing it without really learning what he came for,

yet when comparing different martial arts, it is also important to recognize that maybe

someone is training a certain practice for reasons, which only this practice can offer

and thus deserves our respect.

That is why, in the end, it is important to ask ourselves clearly what we really want

to learn and to be critical enough to see where it is best to find this answer, but

also to appreciate each martial art for what it uniquely offers.

This way, each martial art may be the best martial art for it’s particular purpose.

Do you agree with the points given in this video?

What score does your martial art receives based on these criteria?

Let me know in the comments.

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This was Rokas and I wish you to own your Journey.

MMA, Karate, Boxing, Wing Chun, Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Shaolin Kung Fu,

Aikido, Judo, Muay Thai and Greco-Roman wrestling