In modern times, it’s fair to say the famous myth saying that martial art training is a men’s game is finally busted. Whether it is BJJ or boxing, more and more women are discovering the benefits of this type of workout and are having a lot of fun training alongside men. It really is a rising trend and in this article, you are going to learn why and discover the 5 best martial arts for women.
One of the best martial arts for women is jiu-jitsu (BJJ) due to many reasons. First, it is very safe because it doesn’t include striking at all, so you won’t get punched or kicked in the face, and with that, the injury rate is quite low. Next, BJJ is, perhaps, the only martial art that trains a physically small person to beat a bigger and stronger attacker. It is highly practical in a real-life situation where you have to defend yourself, and this is the main reason why so many women are joining BJJ dojos worldwide. And maybe you should too.
If BJJ is not your cup of tea, be sure to read this article to discover many more martial arts that are close to ideal for women.
5. Krav Maga
Krav Maga is an intense all around combat system created by the Israeli military in the 1950s. The entire concept and methods of teaching are designed to prepare you for a real life scenario you may face on the streets. You will learn how to fight on the feet using strikes, grapple, fight on the ground, and even apply dirty tactics. It also includes weapon based training and defending against multiple attackers.
When it comes to street fighting, Krav Maga was supposed to be an “ultimate” system. There are no rules to follow, competitions or winning any type of matches or medals. No, it is all about raw fighting on the streets. Thus, training is a bit more intense than in most other systems. In fact, it is often seen as too brutal and not all people are capable of dealing with the intensity of the classes.
- Focuses entirely on self-defense
- All-around system that covers both striking and grappling
- Also includes dirty tactics and weapon-based training
- Very adaptable as it teaches you how to maximize your strengths
Training does a really good job of covering both physical and mental aspects of fighting. Students go through various scenarios and learn how to fight in all places and ranges. Instructors also do a really good job of simulating real attacks, including the ones with multiple attackers and weapons. You will learn how to stay calm, make rational decisions, and do anything in your power to defend yourself. If that means that you need to take a baseball bat and slam the attacker, Krav Maga encourages you to do just that.
The main problem with Krav Maga is the brutality of training and the fact that the quality of classes varies between the schools. It is also very physical and you will be bruised and battered all the time, and the injuries are quite common as well.
- Krav Maga training is intense and brutal
- The quality of classes and training methods differ a lot between schools
- There is not enough sparring where you can drill all the moves
Boxing might be an ideal option for women due to many reasons. First, it is easy to learn as it focuses on striking using your hands only, which makes it limited in certain areas, but not less practical. Second, boxing training is one of the best full body workouts out there.
Despite being simple in terms of techniques, boxing training is among the hardest workouts out of all martial arts. The bad news is: that the emphasis is on endurance. Or in other words, you will do a lot of grueling cardio workouts like runs, sprints, intense heavy bag workouts, and many others. Strength is also important so students often do bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, or even weight lifting.
Boxing is very popular among women because boxing techniques are quite simple. It all revolves around 5–6 different punches and mixing it all together with footwork and head movement. Regardless of the fitness level and talent, boxing is one of those martial arts that anyone can master in a short time span. With a bit of consistency, you may expect to lose a lot of weight, tighten all of your muscles, and develop solid fighting skills in less than a year.
- Great for fitness and weight loss
- Simple and practical techniques
- Easy to master
- Works well in self-defense scenarios
Boxing is also very effective on the streets for one simple reason. Most attacks on the streets begin with the person throwing a punch or barrage of punches. This is the most common way of attacking and boxing is the best martial art when it comes to these attacks. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman, skinny or fat, you will develop good automatic reactions, timing, and technique to fire back and defend yourself.
- Carries a high risk of head injuries (if you choose to spar)
3. Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a national sport in Thailand that is often seen as a total package when it comes to striking. It focuses entirely on standup, and using all limbs as weapons to strike with kicks, punches, elbows, and knees. Training also covers the basics of grappling like trips and throws from the clinch. However, this versatility comes at a certain price as Thai boxing is a bit too brutal for most people. Not many people have that bulletproof mindset to deal with the intensity of the classes, ad in some way, this is its biggest downside.
However, don’t be discouraged by that. In this day and age, each Muay Thai school, notably the ones in the western world, includes an amateur group. This is a group where people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels can come in and train at a lower intensity. Each class is a mix of anaerobic and aerobic exercises that will improve both your cardio levels and strength at the same time. In fact, many women join Muay Thai because it burns a lot of calories, around 900 calories per class to be more specific.
- Muay Thai is often seen as the most effective striking system
- Burns a lot of calories and improves core strength
- Improves both physical and mental strength
When it comes to techniques, expect to throw hundreds of punches, elbows, and knees per class, and even more kicks. As in most other martial arts from this list, these techniques are not too complex. Most gyms emphasize simple but effective techniques, so there are no flashy moves that require a high level of athleticism to execute.
- Classes are too intense for most people
- A sport still very much dominated by men
In this day and age, kickboxing has come to be a very popular option for women who want to get their bodies in top shape and learn valuable self-defense skills. There are many variations of kickboxing like K-1, American, or Dutch styles. But don’t be confused by this, training in all of these styles is very similar, and the benefits are very much the same.
First, kickboxing is great for women because it is a full body workout. Throwing hundreds of kicks and punches per class will activate every single muscle group in both upper and lower body segments. It is one of the rare workouts that allow you to improve cardio and strength at the same time.
- Techniques are quite simple and easy to learn
- You will lose weight and improve strength in a short time span
- It is very practical in real-life
Training is intense, and there is very little rest and a lot of sweating. Though exhausting, kickboxing classes burn a lot of calories and will make your body stronger, more agile, and more flexible.
Next, kickboxing as a system is very “simple” in terms of techniques. It all revolves around stances, kicks, punches, and how to mix it all together with movement. You won’t have a hard time picking up the basics or get “stuck” on your journey.
There is also a famous “cardio kickboxing” variation that is very popular among women. Although it shares some similarities with the “real” version, cardio kickboxing is a bit different. Yes, it is great for fitness, BUT, it is not as effective for real fighting. Still, if you are into martial art training just to get into top shape, be sure to go for it.
- Sparring could be too intense and hard for a lot of people
- Doesn’t include advanced self-defense drills
BJJ takes the number one spot because it is close to ideal for women who are looking to start training in martial arts. First, it doesn’t include any striking at all, so you would be free from severe facial injuries. Second, it is a very practical system that was designed to help a physically small person defeat bigger and stronger attackers. The only major downside is the fact that it requires a lot of time to master, close to 10 years to be more specific.
Although there is no striking, BJJ classes are actually very hard on your body. The entire system focuses on grappling and fighting on the ground. Students learn various throws from Judo and wrestling takedowns to take the fight to the ground. Once there, they use dozens of different positions, chokes, joint locks, and escapes to defend or attack. It is a highly technical martial art where being strong and using sheer power won’t help you much. You must utilize proper technique, balance, weight distribution, and leverage.
- Allows a small person to beat a physically bigger attacker
- Very technical and hard to defend against
- Doesn’t include striking so the risk of injuries is quite low
- Friendly and respectful atmosphere in most gyms
In real life, BJJ is very practical, notably for women, because it teaches you how to fight on the ground. Let’s assume that most women get attacked by a physically bigger man who won’t have a hard time taking them down using sheer force. But once on the bottom, you will know how to escape, or apply chokes and joint locks to subdue the attacker. No matter how strong they are, it takes years to learn how to escape from a triangle, armbar, and other submissions.
- Very difficult to master
- Includes a lot of hand to hand grabbing and rolling on the ground (for people who don’t like that type of contact)