Is Taekwondo Good For Self Defense? (The Honest Truth)

Taekwondo is one of the most well-known but also one of the most popular and widespread forms of martial arts.

Is Taekwondo Good For Self Defense

While a lot of people learn a martial art because they find it interesting or enjoy the cultural elements, a common reason most people learn martial arts is as a form of self-defense.

This makes sense since all martial arts are intended to be used in combat so learning and practicing martial arts should make you a better fighter if you get into a situation where you need to defend yourself.

A lot of different martial arts have gotten quite a negative reputation in some self-defense circles for being largely theoretical and having very little practical application.

So while learning some martial arts may be rewarding in an intellectual, competitive, or cultural sense, often it can not have much pay off when it comes to actually defending yourself.

So where does Taekwondo stand in terms of actually being able to defend yourself? And will Taekwondo be effective in an actual street fight?

We will be going into more depth on this throughout this article, but the short answer is; yes, Taekwondo can be used in some street fights and should be able to help you defend yourself.

However, this comes with the caveat that your fighting style will be drastically different from what it is like in classes or a tournament.

This is because these classes and tournaments have a lot of standards and rules in place that make sense within the context of these situations to prevent serious injury, however, in an actual real-life combat scenario they will likely end up holding you back and getting you injured.

But to get a full understanding of the efficacy of Taekwondo in actual combat scenarios we need to get more details, so read on if you want to know just how effective Taekwondo is. 

What Is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a Korean style of martial arts that has some ancient roots but was not officially established until the 40s and had its fighting techniques made official.

Taekwondo stands out from other popular martial arts for how much it focuses on foot and kicking techniques as well as spins and jumps.

It is one of the most popular forms of martial arts worldwide and because of this it should not be hard for you to find a local establishment that teaches this form of combat.

How Good Is Taekwondo For Defending Yourself In A Street Fight?

Is Taekwondo Good For Self Defense

One of the original purposes of Taekwondo was within the military and was intended to be used in actual combat.

But this has changed over time with hand-to-hand combat not being needed as often and because of this, the martial art is now primarily used in official contexts.

It has become so popular in this context that it has been an Olympic sport since 2000. 

But because of how official Taekwondo has become, it now requires a significant amount of rules that are foundational to most people’s education in the fighting style.

Because of this, many people who have been officially trained in Taekwondo will have to unlearn a lot of the skills that are integral to their style of fighting using Taekwondo if they want to use it in real combat scenarios. 

This can be quite challenging and may require a lot of practice to be able to push past instincts to follow the rules of the sport and instead focus entirely on defending yourself from a real attacker who likely disregards all rules of combat.

Some of these rules include not being able to use hand strikes against the face, not being able to attack using the knee, as well as certain body areas being off-limits to strike.

All of these skills will be necessary to defend yourself and if you follow them in a real combat situation you will likely be beaten as your opponent will not be held back by the handicap you are giving yourself.

Because of all these rules, Taekwondo has faced some disrespect from certain circles who question its efficacy in any circumstances.

But there are plenty of reasons why Taekwondo can be effective in actual fights, it just requires a lot of effort from the fighter to overcome the barriers set in place by training.

Why Is Taekwondo Good In A Real Fight?

An important element of learning and training in Taekwondo is sparring that is also known as ‘taekyon’ and is what most Taekwondo training will focus on after the initial techniques have been mastered.

Learning to spar against an actual opponent, while maybe not a real scenario, will improve reaction times within a combat scenario which is often a hard skill to master as many people tend to automatically freeze up in these situations.

Another discipline practiced within Taekwondo is ‘kyupka’ which tests the ability to break objects that are made from varying hard materials to test how strong strikes are.

This can be done against things like brick, wood, planks, tiles, and many other tests, but they all serve to display how strong and potentially damaging a Taekwondo student’s strikes can be. 

Taekwondo also builds skills that are much needed in real-life combat scenarios. For example, you will need to build a healthy strong body that gives you perfect control over yourself and your mental state.

You will likely also gain the self-confidence that is needed to be decisive in self-defense situations. You will need to be able to pull off agile movements as well as move with flexibility and strength.

While all these skills will need a lot of refining to be effective in self-defense situations, they will give you an advantage over someone who does not have them.


If you want to use Taekwondo in actual self-defense contexts you will need to adapt the fighting style you have been taught and learn to go against several instincts.

However, once this is done you will have a fighting style that can be very effective

Christopher Anderson
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