Self-Defense: 5 Effective Moves For Beginners

I started my martial arts journey when I was three years old in Kung Fu and Karate. Then, as a teenager, I began competing in Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Boxing. With 34 fights in the ring and a handful of fights outside of the ring (unfortunately), I have a pretty good idea of what works in self-defense and what doesn’t. That said, all of these self-defense moves require actual training. I don’t believe that judo chopping someone in the throat or a pressure point will do anything in the real world, especially if you are a woman fighting off a bigger man.

The reality is, in order to defend yourself, you must spend time learning a martial art. In this article, I will give you five (5) moves that I believe are the most effective for defending yourself in any situation.

5 Effective Self-Defense Moves

1. Elbows and Knees

In a street altercation, you want to avoid punching with your fists. Contrary to popular belief, boxing in a street fight will usually end with you breaking your hand. This is because there are many small, fragile bones in our hands that break easily. That is why using your elbows, and your knees at close range are ideal. The best way to learn proper technique is by studying the art of Muay Thai.

2. Front Kicks, Side Kicks, and Round Kicks

Kicks are effective strikes because you can keep your opponent at bay. The legs are longer than the arms, so you have a longer striking range. As a result, you don’t allow your opponent to get close to you. Legs are also much stronger than arms, so you can do some serious damage if you learn how to throw a proper kick. Kicks are especially effective if you can learn how to throw them to a man's groin. OUCH! The best way to learn how to blast a proper kick is by studying Karate, Kickboxing, or Muay Thai.

Check out my video on the 5 deadliest kicks in kickboxing.

3. Rear Naked Chokehold

My dad taught me the rear naked chokehold when I was little, and it paid dividends in all of those playground wrestling matches that I got into as a kid. The rear naked chokehold originates from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which they call the gentle art, because you can completely control someone without hurting them. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting and submission holds. It focuses on the skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling one's opponent, gaining a dominant position, and using a number of techniques to force them into submission via joint locks or chokeholds. I highly recommend that everyone learns the basics of grappling because most fights end up on the ground.

4. Palm Strikes and Tiger Claws

As I said earlier, punching someone in the face with your fist is not optimal. You will more than likely break your hand. But, striking someone with the palm of your hand or scratching them across the face (also known as a tiger claw) might be effective enough to fend off an attacker. You can learn these techniques in Kung Fu, Krav Maga, or Karate.

5. Running

The best way to protect yourself from a fight is by avoiding the situation altogether. That means having enough social awareness to prevent chaos, or knowing how to diffuse a potential physical altercation with words. But that doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you just need to run away--put your ego aside and get the heck out of the situation. The best way to do this is to stay in shape and always look over your shoulder when you walk down the street. Awareness is key, wherever you are.

As much as I would love to say that I know some secret pressure points that will kill someone in an instant, I don’t. LOL. The truth is that the only way to learn how to defend yourself is by actually doing martial arts and having the proper training. Pick an art that resonates with you, join a local martial arts school, or check out FightCamp and learn from real fighters in the comfort of your own home.

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The Author: Aaron Swenson, aka ‘Speedy,’ began his Martial Arts journey under his father’s guidance in the family’s dojo in Chicago. By 2013, Aaron was an accomplished fighter with two National Kickboxing titles and a USA National Kickboxing Team spot and fought for the prestigious GLORY Kickboxing organization. Since then, Aaron has become a sought after trainer in LA known for his technical approach to teaching, fancy pad-work, and utilizing music to make the workout fun and engaging. Aaron is a Founding Coach at FightCamp, where he leads boxing and kickboxing workouts and plans to make his return to the ring. Aaron is also USA Boxing Coach certified.