Which martial art is best in a self defense situation is always going to be a hotly debated topic, and who better to provide a comprehensive, in-depth answer than revered MMA coach, Firas Zahabi.
Zahabi is the owner and head coach at the world-renowned Tristar gym in Montreal, Canada, and has established himself as one of the leading coaches in mixed martial arts over the years, having trained some of MMA’s biggest stars, including all-time great Georges St. Pierre.
Zahabi is renowned for his vast knowledge of martial arts and attention to detail, and he turns his brand of insightful analysis to give a definitive answer to the question, ‘Which martial art is the king of the street?’ in a video post on YouTube.
According to Zahabi, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the best martial art to learn to defend yourself, and he cites Royce Gracie’s dominance in the earliest days of the UFC as a perfect example of how BJJ can get the better of fighters from other disciplines, regardless of size.
”[Gracie] was the weakest of everybody, he was the lightest competitor,” Zahabi says. “You know, he wasn’t winning with physicality, it was pure technique, and that proves to me that Jiu-Jitsu vs. boxing or wrestling, or any other art for that matter is gonna fold to jiu-jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu should win, I think, the majority of the time.”
Zahabi notes that some people may argue that things are different on the street, where anything goes and things like biting, gouging and eye-pokes can come into play.
However, Zahabi suggests that those are not sophisticated techniques and don’t require years of training – noting for instance that a high-level muay thai striker such as Buakaw could kick someone in the groin far harder than any Krav Maga practitioner, despite it being an illegal move in his chosen sport.
Zahabi also acknowledges that there has been some criticism regarding the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a situation where there are multiple attackers.
In that instance Zahabi concedes that it would be “very dangerous to take the fight to the ground,” and therefore a striking discipline such as boxing, muay thai or kickboxing would be more appropriate.
However, Zahabi goes on to claim that most street fights are likely to be one-on-one, and in the unlikely event that you are faced with defending yourself against several attackers, then your best bet is to actually set martial arts aside altogether.
”The vast majority of the time, most street fights are one-on-one, and if they’re not, if I’m worried about getting jumped … then I’d rather have pepper spray on me. I think pepper spray is a far more powerful tool than trying to beat up multiple attackers with my muay thai.
“If I’m a good Jiu-Jitsu guy with a little pepper spray on me, then I’ll go a long way. It’ll go a lot further than a muay thai guy who thinks he can beat up four of five tough guys.”
Zahabi does go on to add one caveat however, which is that while BJJ is in his belief the best single martial arts to learn for self defense, there is a further step beyond that.
”If you want to take your self defense to the next level, adopt mixed martial arts, because mixed martial arts is the true king of the streets. The only thing that beats Jiu-Jitsu is Jiu-Jitsu mixed with something else. Jiu-Jitsu mixed with boxing, or Jiu-Jitsu mixed with wrestling, or Jiu-Jitsu mixed with any other art.”
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