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Do you have a martial arts question you would like to have answered? We can't promise we have all the answers, but's staff and contributors will try to help. Just fill in the form at the bottom of this page.

Topic: "Deadliest Art"

Out of all the techniques and all the different styles of martial arts, such as karate, kung fu, kempo, etc., if you were to pick one, which of these styles do you consider the deadliest (even though they are deadly all, if used correctly).



This is an almost impossible question. First, what is the definition of deadliest? And there are so many contexts, both offensive and defensive. Both kung fu and karate have very deadly offensive techniques, but if you are tackled and go to the ground, then judo or Gracie jujutsu would be helpful. Of course, if you go to the ground you are also vulnerable to attacks from above (especially if you are fighting more than one person), so, relying on ground techniques isn't always the answer either. Here, arts such as aikido work well since the art is well versed in movement to avoid a single or multi-person attack. Then there is the situation of weapons. If attacked by a weapon, such as a baseball bat, night stick, or even a sword (unlikely today), I would prefer to have daito ryu skills which were honed over centuries to address this type attack. What about facing a good boxer? They have excellent fist techniques. A karate-ka or kung fu exponent trained in full contact would have an advantage, and so would a Thai boxer whose specialty is low leg kicks and elbows. A judo or Gracie Jujitsu person would also have an advantage. But, if you are grabbed while standing by one, two, or three attackers, I would prefer aikido, jujutsu or aikijujtsu skills.

In the end there is no deadliest art per se. Most martial arts have tended to specialize is certain techniques and methods. So, the question should perhaps be, what martial arts should I know in order to be more proficient in the art I study? At a minimum other arts allow you to recognize and better deal with a variety of techniques with which you might not be familiar. For example, Gracie Jujutsu demonstrated to many striking arts practitioners the importance of cross training to be less vulnerable to take downs and ground fighting.

The individual study of arts like karate, jujutsu and aikido is really a fairly modern phenomena. In Japan during the feudal periods of warfare the samurai trained in many arts -- the sword, spear, bow and arrow, horsemanship, strategy and many others. Within the weapon arts were also grappling and jujutsu skills, and striking techniques using the blunt part of their weapons. In short, samurai were very well rounded in a great variety of combat methods.

Many great modern founders of martial arts systems such as judo and aikido also had a broad experience in the martial arts, experience which they synthesized into their new arts. To better understand your art, and to utilize your skills to the maximum, it is thus advisable to broaden your knowledge with other arts. In part this is what Donn Draeger (the great martial arts historian and writer) meant, I think, when he once said to me, "You can't grab budo by a single corner."

All of the above comment, however, avoids one critical point. The effectiveness of any art is directly related to the practitioner's will, spirit and/or experience. Thus, a deadly art in one person's hands may not be not so in another. This further complicates evaluation.

Thus in answer to your question, there is no simple answer.

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