Can kickboxing protect you in a self-defense situation?

  • By: Robin
  • Last updated: March 1, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Is kickboxing a good martial art form for self-defense?

Street fights usually start quickly and end quickly. Most untrained people don’t have the stamina to throw more than a couple of punches, never mind the technique to have them land. With that in mind, your greatest weapon is your instincts. The ability to not flinch when a punch is thrown your way, the muscle memory to slip and counter, or simply having a good guard, will make the world of difference.

In this article, I want to take a look at what styles are most useful in a street fight and try and compare some of the most commonly taught martial arts.


Which is better for self-defense between boxing and kickboxing?

The first thing to bear in mind with street fights is that they are messy. Most people’s primal instinct is to throw wild punches and then prey that some punches land before they gas out.

A trained kickboxer could take advantage of this, as most people will be unprepared for kicks. A powerful leg strike to an untrained leg will end the fight instantly, with a head strike originating from below waist height likely to catch most by surprise. That all sounds great, but street fights are chaotic and can become slugfests before you even realize it.

When all that is taken into account, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what skills will serve you best.  In a punching match, the sweet science is your best friend. When it comes to straight-up punching, nothing beats boxing, end of the story.

Kickboxing is a different animal altogether. The weapons you have at your disposal are going to be more than your average Joe can handle. Your kicks will trump most people’s punching range and up close your clinch work will be punishing.

The more weapons you have at your disposal the more dangerous you are. That’s as true in the Octagon as it is on the street.

Which martial art is the best for self-defense?

You might be surprised at how effective a good guard can be. Just having the sense and basic technique to protect yourself while someone gasses themself out, throwing haymakers at your guard, will enable you to pick apart a fatigued opponent.

No matter the martial art, they all provide you with confidence and the ability to make good decisions under the threat of violence. But to give a definitive answer, I would have to say kickboxing. As stated above, kickboxing offers incredible fundamentals and an endless number of weapons at all ranges. And if it was kickboxing, it would probably be boxing. The basics really are that important.


Is kicking good for self-defense?

Kicking is an extremely powerful tool in combat. You can generate a lot of power in your legs, and their length allows you to use them at range.

For self-defense purposes, it’s that long range that offers the most benefits. Keeping your opponent out of arm’s reach is advantageous in any fight. Teep/push kicks to the chest, abdomen or even groin (this is a street fight remember) will do a great job of keep the combatant out of punching and grappling range, keeping you at relative safety.

As touched on above, people who have not trained their legs properly, will not take leg strikes well. An inaccurate, full-force soccer kick to the leg will sweep most uninitiated off their feet and cause serious damage. For those with training, a precise calf kick or digging kick to the thigh, will put most opponents down. That’s not even touching on the plethora of tools at the disposal of a taekwondo master.

If you have any experience with kicking, it is undoubtedly an invaluable tool in a fight of any level.

Is kickboxing effective in a street fight?

The techniques, conditioning and muscle-memory you will get from kickboxing cannot be understated.

Kickboxers are effective at all ranges. Great boxing fundamentals coupled with footwork that allows for explosive kicks, is a deadly combination.

Clinch work is also foundational to kickboxing. Learning a strong Thai plum grip, having your opponent carry your weight and throwing powerful short-range strikes, also make kickboxers a nightmare up close.

It is an extremely well-rounded fighting style, with few glaring weaknesses. As with all striking styles its biggest flaw is the lack of wrestling/ground game. If you are solely a kickboxer and you get taking down on the street then all bets are off.

Lucky for you, all fights start standing.

Which fighting style is best for street fights?

Nailing down exactly what fighting style is best for street fights is extremely difficult and quite subjective. Do you think Mike Tyson and Khabib Nurmagomedov would answer that question the same way? Probably not.

The easy answer would be MMA, but by nature that is a mix of different disciplines.

The absolute best fighting style for a street fight is the one that suits you best. If you have a genuine fear of taking damage whether due to your disposition or your physical size (no judgment here), then you may want to focus more on avoiding striking and instead neutralizing your opponent. In that scenario, grappling is king. Brazilian Jiujutsu, Sambo, Wrestling and Judo are all incredible martial arts for controlling your opponent. And don’t think for a single second that grappling is for the ‘weak’ because that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you’re a bit more fearless, or someone who needs to feel it to get really switched on, then you will want to focus more on striking. Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Boxing, Karate and Lethwei are all incredible striking arts with very applicable techniques. Things like Taekwondo excel at kicking techniques but are so focused in that area that they leave glaring holes in real-world scenarios. The same can be said for other disciplines like Wing Chun that have almost zero real-world application.

When it comes to fighting styles that ‘work’, we’ve gained an incredible amount of understanding over the past few years thanks to the rise of MMA. If you are ever thinking about what martial arts are the most effective in a real fight, tune in to your favorite MMA organization and you will quickly get your answer. Kickboxing/Muay Thai, BJJ and Wrestling are the top disciplines bar none, with Sambo and Boxing on the rise.


More than powerful kicks and lightning-fast punches, a sharp mind is the most powerful tool you have in a street fight. If someone has a weapon or you are surrounded, drop your ego on the floor and get running. Unless you are doing some special 1 v 6 sparring at your gym, no one is trained to takedown groups of people, use your head and get the hell out of there.

If someone starts throwing punches, your best defense is composure. While their eyes are closed throwing haymakers, you’ll be watching and waiting for your opportunity.

The fact is any martial art is helpful in a street fight. Training your mind and body to be prepared for violence is a very valuable skill to have.

So, unless you’ve just had a local Ninjutsu dojo open up near you. I’d suggest training in the quintessential well-rounded art of kickboxing.

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