Is Karate Good To Learn For Self Defense?

When it comes to self defense, we often wonder if we should learn martial arts.

The thing is, there is always a great debate regarding which martial art is the most effective in self defense and whether or not it can be useful in the real world. 

If we were to give the short answer – yes, karate is good for self defense. But there’s much more to it than that. 

This guide looks at how karate can be useful in self defense and why you should consider learning it. 

Read on to learn more. 

Is Karate Good To Learn For Self Defense

Is Karate Useful For Self Defense?

As we said, the short answer would be yes – but in reality, it depends on what karate we’re talking about. 

Karate is taught as a primary method for developing the mind and body to deal with self defense when you are unarmed. 

Of course, when this is taught correctly – the mental strength and physical skills can be extremely effective for opponent neutralization in a real life fight situation.

This is when we’re talking about traditional karate though. The problem arises when we start bringing modern karate, like the one seen in the Olympics, into the equation. 

As with many contact or combat sports practiced in the Olympics, there are various sets of rules that are included to protect each athlete.

This makes sense on the face of it, but when it comes to a real life situation – it’s likely to be ineffective. 

Self awareness and general awareness in traditional karate is paramount, and when we bring that into the real world, this can truly protect you. 

In essence, modern karate might be a beneficial sport for fitness and other skills, but it will be of little use for a real fight due to the focus on safety and point-scoring elements. 

What Karate Skills Help In A Real Fight?

As karate is a martial art that is used for self defense, the overall objective is to be able to defend yourself in a real life fight or other aggressive situation, whilst protecting yourself from harm. 

As such, there are a variety of techniques and skills that are taught which could help you. They include:

Open Palm Strike 

Open palm strikes are a great way to strike your opponent without harming your hand. Of course, punching someone with a closed fist can be effective – but there’s a reason that boxers tape their knuckles – to prevent injuries. 

In a real life fight, it is very unlikely your fists will be taped up – so an open palm strike can be extremely helpful. Besides modern sport karate as we mentioned earlier, all other forms of karate will incorporate open palm strikes. 

Straight Strike (Punch)

Punches are generally effective in a real fight, but when it comes to karate, it’s learning how to strike your opponent to avoid injury to yourself that is key. 

Typically, this will revolve around the speed and method of your strike. If you can get these right and attack your opponent correctly, you will defend yourself almost every time. 

Straight/Swinging Punch Defense

This technique is more about defending yourself against a punch. If you can hone in on the blocking and the reverse strike, you should be able to stop your opponent. 

Knees And Elbows 

In a close situation for combat, your knees and elbows can be very efficient at neutralizing your opponent.

This is because they are very hard and very sharp parts of your body, which almost always prevent your opponent from their next attacks. 

Attack To The Groin 

The saying goes that all is fair in love and war, and when it comes to self defense – this is indeed poignant. It’s all about self defense, and a groin strike can stop your opponent almost instantly. 

There are many more skills and techniques that karate can teach you that will be useful in self defense for a real life fight – but the main thing to remember is that you need to know the correct method and learn the disciplines around them to be most successful. 

Are There Any Disadvantages To Karate In A Real Fight?

There are things to consider, but generally if you know what you’re doing with the right karate skills, you should be successful in a real life fight situation. 

Are There Any Disadvantages To Karate In A Real Fight?

However, it’s important that if you have been training for modern sport karate, the likelihood is that you may injure yourself in a real fight. So, don’t expect to use these skills if an opponent is actively trying to hurt you. 

Additionally, you have to understand that karate takes time and discipline to hone in successfully. If you are a beginner and you’re expecting to defeat any opponent in a real fight instantly – you’re probably going to get hurt. 

So, whilst there are few disadvantages to karate in a real fight, it’s important to know what karate you’re using and how experienced you are. 

What Types Of Karate Could You Use?

There are various forms of karate and most are effective when it comes to self defense. Consider using some of the following:

Goju Ryu 

This type of karate is most effective at extremely close range. In some ways, it’s almost the “wrestling” form of karate, in that it brings in some grappling techniques and reversals. 


This is possibly the most well known form of karate, and in its truest form – it cannot be more effective in self defense on the streets. 

Wado Ryu 

This type of karate aims to avoid your opponent’s strikes entirely. This is good when it is brought into another form of karate or other martial art. 

The Bottom Line 

Karate is indeed extremely effective in self defense and is one of the best when it comes to real life situations – as long as you get it right!

Christopher Anderson
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