Top 15 Deadliest Martial Arts in the World

Top 10 Deadliest Martial Arts in the World

Martial arts have been the primary self-defense mechanism and a combat style around the world for centuries. Over the years, different disciplines of martial arts have undergone evolution, giving rise to new techniques and disciplines of martial arts. Moreover, many professional martial artists who trained in different martial arts to grow their skills and broaden their horizons demonstrated a unique combination of techniques and sequences that was not heard of before in a particular martial arts circle. The combination of techniques from different disciplines gave rise to some of the most brutal hybrid martial arts in the world.

Martial arts were initially created to dominate the opponent on the battlefield. The moves and maneuvers in the ancient martial arts fighting styles were perfected for success on the battlefield, where one combatant had to tackle different attackers, disarm his opponents, find his weak areas or pressure points through the openings in the armor, and strike him violently after surrender or submission to ensure he becomes unable to fight back.

The contemporary martial arts reflect a never-ending pursuit of efficient techniques that help counter the attacks of opponents and threats. As a result, martial arts have also been incorporated into law enforcement training routines. For example, Krav Maga is developed for military use. Many BJJ masters were invited to train the police force in different states of America. Both these deadly martial arts are known to control and incapacitate opponents.

Additionally, in the modern world, the main purpose of martial arts is to enable the practitioner to defend himself during street fights or other dangerous situations. Much like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai techniques have also been refined to make it more powerful and effective. These deadly martial arts are also popular because they teach practitioners how to plan and design an attack or defense strategy, help develop mental acuity, and promote tactical planning. Hence, the martial arts of today are equally deadly as they were in the past, offering both physical prowess and acute intelligence.

Moreover, martial arts is relevant today because many people have benefitted from the discipline it instills in practitioners. It has also become a source of stress relief, stress management, improved mental health, physical fitness, and a healthy lifestyle. The social connection and camaraderie found in martial arts circles is seldom found elsewhere, especially if you train in combat sports where having a partner is crucial for progress and success. Therefore, the support system provided by the different martial arts makes them lethal for others because there is no way they can create agitation without suffering repercussions. While all disciplines of martial arts are lethal and most even violent, the ones mentioned in this article can cause the most damage in combat. 

1. Top 10 Deadliest Martial Arts in the World

1.1. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, also known as BJJ , is a martial arts discipline that focuses on grappling and on-ground fighting techniques. Rather there is no striking involved but to gain a dominant position a fighter uses clinches and joint locks to force the opponent to surrender.

This martial arts discipline was revolutionized under the conditions of World War II. Though it is a modified version of Judo including some techniques from classical jiu-jitsu, with a focus on non-Waza  (floor techniques). 

BJJ promotes opportunities that smaller, weaker persons to use balance and technique can successfully defend against a bigger and stronger attacker.

Self-defense, sports grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi), and mixed martial arts can all be trained in BJJ (MMA). Sparring (also known as "rolling") with an opportunity is a key part of training.

It can be a very deadly martial art, and it is especially beneficial to smaller people, but it all depends on the circumstances in which it is applied.

First developed by the Gracie brothers in 1926 following the teachings of core principles, techniques, and combat philosophy of jiu-jitsu from Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become the most comprehensive code of self-defense in the world. Over the years, the traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, also known as the  Gracie Jiu-Jitsu system, has evolved considerably, with black belts introducing innovative techniques that provide an advantage over opponents in controlled competitive settings and unregulated fight scenes. 

Moreover, the invention of No-Gi BJJ further revolutionized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art, its training methodologies, and competitions. Furthermore, the cross-training opportunities offered by BJJ make it effective in a street fight, allowing practitioners to counter attacks from opponents and develop their attacking strategy. 

If practiced in a controlled manner, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is considered a safe and gentle full-contact combat sport. However, it can be deadly and brutal if used to incapacitate an opponent. Aggressive BJJ moves can cause spinal and cervical locks, resulting in severe damage to the respiratory and nervous systems. Due to their fatal nature, IBJJF and other international BJJ organizations have forbidden the use of certain joint locks, heel hooks, and neck twisters.

BJJ practitioners also use protective gear, such as mouth guards, groin guards, and r ash guards , during training sessions on the mats to prevent cauliflower ear, skin rashes, and injury to vulnerable areas.

1.2. Taekwondo


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, that originated in the 1940s by combining different skills that were practiced at the time. The word Taekwondo is a combination of three Korean words. Tae (태, hanja 跆) which means to kick, Kwon (권, hanja 拳) which means to strike with the hand, and Do (도, hanja 道), which is associated with meaning “to hit”.

This martial art is built on striking ability and is distinguished by elegant footwork and quickness. Taekwondo is now one of the most popular combat sports or martial arts in the world, with an estimated 100 million practitioners.

Taekwondo places a strong focus on kicking. Fighters learned that using their legs in combat provided them an advantage over other fighting methods. Moreover, it relies on punching as well because they are the longest and strongest limb. Taekwondo kicks have such destructive strength that they may knock opponents out in a matter of seconds. That’s the reason why it is on our list of the world's deadliest martial arts.

1.3. Karate


Karate is a self-defense Japanese martial art that emphasizes all body components. The island of Okinawa, located south of Japan in the Ryukyu Islands, is the birthplace of karate.

During a karate bout, the entire body is used. Punching, kicking, elbows, throws, and open-handed "knife strikes" are all common techniques used in the sport. Kyokushin Karate, on the other hand, allows full-force blows, and fighters do not wear protective gear.


Karate differs from the other deadly martial arts on this list in that it emphasizes the mind as well as the body. Karate may easily become one of the world's deadliest martial arts with a concentrated mind and a thoroughly trained body.

1.4. Kung Fu

Kung Fu

In general, Kung Fu refers to Chinese martial arts, also called wushu and quanfa. In China, Kung Fu represents any study, learning, or practice that requires energy, patience, and time to complete. Kung fu, in its traditional meaning, can refer to any discipline or skill gained through hard effort and practice, not just martial arts.


Although kung fu is one of the oldest hand-to-hand martial arts. It has been practiced for generations and was employed as a method of attack as well as self-defense by Chinese warriors.


However, there are many styles of kung fu. Though they all have the same goal, to strike your enemy with lightning speed and preventable power. That is what makes it one of the deadliest martial arts in the world.

1.5. Muay Thai or Thai Boxing

Muay Thai or Thai Boxing

Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is one of the most brutal martial arts that one can learn today. Muay Thai techniques are designed to be learned quickly and applied in any real-life combat situation. Muay Thai emerged in the 16th century when the Thai people decided to counter the attacks and conflicts faced while traveling between Southeast China and present-day Thailand. The fighting style and defense mechanism designed initially meant to stay at the borders. Eventually, it spread all over the world, gained global recognition, and is now a competitive sport with excellent professional prospects for practitioners.

Muay Thai training is extremely rigorous and demanding. Practitioners spend years in the Muay Thai gym working on their striking skills, hitting power, and making their arms and shins strong. After years of training, a Muay Thai practitioner becomes so tough that he mostly remains unfazed by the attacks, and his single strike in a vulnerable area can lead to severe injury, physical trauma, and even death in situations where there are no rules.

Muay Thai involves elbow strikes, knee strikes, and clinch work. All these striking and punching techniques in Muay Thai look easy to master but are extremely challenging to acquire proficiency in. The utilization of the opponent’s attacks to control and manipulate them is another essential element of Muay Thai that makes it unique. The fighting style in Muay Thai is called parrying. When a combatant punches or kicks his opponent, a seasoned Muay Thai practitioner will swiftly and decisively deliver open-handed blows to the attacker’s forearms to block the attack.

Muay Thai also teaches strategic thinking and how to foresee or anticipate an opponent’s moves to avoid the attack in the first place. In a no-rule-combat-setting, Muay Thai clinch work can be deadly, especially if used to inflict tracheal injury. Muay Thai fighters wear a headband or mongkhon (headband) and a pra jiad (armband). 

1.6. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Mixed martial arts is a full-contact fighting style that incorporates combat techniques from different disciplines of martial arts. This hybrid martial art is considered one of the deadliest because it was inspired by Vale Tudo, catch wrestling/luta livre, capoeira, and Muay Thai, which were originally unrestricted fighting styles. Though the modern mixed martial arts (MMA) fights held in different UFC events have safety regulations and some illegal moves, it is still one of the most violent martial arts in the world. To become an MMA fighter, martial artists from different disciplines learn techniques and fighting philosophies of other martial arts families as well to become an all-rounder.

Currently, the world of MMA is greatly influenced by martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, submission wrestling, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Judo, and kung fu; however, it is not limited to these fighting styles. In a fighting cage, an MMA fighter has complete control over which martial arts techniques to employ to achieve victory. However, the aggressive nature of grappling, striking, sparring, clinching, chokes, holds, arm locks, leg locks, heel hooks, takedowns, and other submission techniques have proven to be more useful in an MMA bout.

The first MMA fight was held in the 1970s and became popularized with the emergence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. Before UFC, similar fighting scenes were observed in vale tudo fights in Brazil, rooftop fights in Hong Kong, and professional wrestling matches in Japan. Many give credit to Bruce Lee, the most famous fighter emerging from Hong Kong’s rooftop fights, for introducing the concept of mixed martial arts.

The 1993 Ultimate Fighting Championship event reintroduced MMA and street-style fighting to the United States. The event was also advertised as a real-life fighting game inspired by Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Due to Royce Gracie, who won the 1993 Ultimate Fighting Championship by submitting three opponents in just five minutes, MMA gained global recognition and extensive coverage, sparking a revolution in the world of martial arts worldwide.

Since UFC was founded by the Gracie family and Royce Gracie emerged as a winner in the tournament, many BJJ practitioners were also encouraged to learn striking, along with grappling and submission techniques, and eventually transition to UFC.

Today MMA is an extremely popular martial art with the largest viewership worldwide. Since mixed martial arts involves techniques from a wide array of martial arts disciplines, it is extremely difficult to master this combat style. However, MMA fighters are quite tough and lethal their razor-sharp submission techniques and powerful blows can inflict severe injuries, trauma, and even death, especially in an unrestricted setting. 

1.7. Sambo


Sambo was developed in the USSR and practiced by Elite units. Although, it is the martial art of unarmed self-defense. It is a combination of Judo, kickboxing, Thai boxing, and boxing, and became popular all over the world in the 1990s.

Initially, the discipline was originally trained by Red Army Soldiers and government agents. Later on, with the elevation of criminal activities, Sambo began to be taught by security guards and private bodyguards. Further with the increase in the practice of this martial arts discipline, some innovations like knives and batons were added.

Sambo is an art within art. Though it further has multiple disciplines. Sport Sambo is reminiscent of judo because fighters do not use punches within a fight. Sambo for self-defense, on the other hand, is based on jiu-jitsu and aikido and can be performed alongside sports sambo.

Other than that, combat sambo is a more demanding discipline. Primarily intended for the army and police, in which almost everything is allowed like blows to the head, elbows, knees.

Special sambo as the name suggests is a special variant whose techniques are kept secret for members of special units.

Although in America, freestyle sambo has developed as a civilian variant that is not bound to be taught in classic sports clubs.

Combat and Special sambo are righteous to upstanding our list of deadliest martial arts in the world.

1.8. Kickboxing


Kickboxing is another hybrid martial art, incorporating techniques of Muay Thai, full-contact karate, Savate, Sanda, Lethwei, and Japanese kickboxing. Kickboxing is practiced for physical fitness, self-defense, and competitions. Kickboxing emerged in the 1950s to 1970s and quickly gained global recognition. The sport involves powerful punches and kicks, and some of these fighting techniques are considered violent and brutal. The most deadly kicks used in this hybrid form of martial art include question mark kick, spinning back kick, low kick, spinning hook kick, and lead body kick.

Moreover, in kickboxing, the brain suffers injuries and repetitive trauma, making it a highly risky combat sport, especially in uncontrolled combat settings where there are no rules and the primary target is the head. Sometimes, even in controlled competitive settings, kickboxing fights can prove to be fatal. One such incident was reported in 2014 at Milwaukee’s historic Eagle Club, where Amateur kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr. died after his debut fight. Therefore, if not executed correctly, kickboxing can lead to collapse and sudden death. 

1.9. Eskrima


Eskrima, also known as Arnis or Kali, is the national martial art of the Philippines and is considered one of the deadliest disciplines in the world. Eskrima emphasizes weapon-based fighting and focuses on attacks that incapacitate the opponent. Therefore, in Eskrima, the use of bladed weapons, knives, sticks, and other discreet weapons is taught, in addition to, open hand fighting techniques, punches, disarming techniques, and damage-inflicting maneuvers.

In Eskrima training, practitioners learn how to kill an opponent with their hands if a weapon is not available or the opponent manages to disarm them. Eskrima techniques are designed to injure the wrists, elbows, knees, feet, and hands of the rival using weapons or simply incapacitate them with bare hands. The core principle of Eskrima is finishing an opponent, making it an extremely brutal and violent martial art. 

1.10. Savate

Photo Credit: London Savate 

Savate is a French kickboxing style and is considered one of the deadliest martial arts in the world. This traditional French martial art dates back to the 1800s, and though it is not as popularized as BJJ, karate, Muay Thai, or MMA, it is still practiced by many martial arts enthusiasts learn this fighting style to refine their combat skills and get an advantage over their opponents in the ring, on the mats, and in the fighting cage. Savate is a highly effective martial art in terms of self-defense and physical fitness, and can also be devastating if timed right and executed at a closer proximity. Due to its lethal techniques, Savate is getting recognition from mixed martial artists who are adding its techniques to their MMA arsenal. 


Modern Savate involves dynamic kicking techniques, shoes, and onesie suits. This martial art is often compared to ballet, where the practitioner is allowed to thrust his shoes into the opponent’s face. Francois Pennacchio gained recognition for Savate by besting hardcore Muay Thai fighters in combat. Savate’s footwork, chasse frontal bas (oblique kicks), and coup de pied bas (sidekicks) leave MMA fighters and other martial artists defenseless. Noticing its relevance and benefits in an MMA bout, many mixed martial artists are now adopting these kicks and it is only a matter of time before Savate will gain international recognition. 

2. Top 5 Deadliest Martial Art in the World

2.1. Silat


Silat is a representation of more than a word. It is a collective term used for a class of indigenous martial arts from the Nusantara and its surrounding geocultural areas of Southeast Asia. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Southern Vietnam, and Southern Philippines are the places where Silat is traditionally developed. These are also indigenous homes to the Javanese and Malayo-Sumbawan people.

Therefore, hundreds of schools (perguruan) and styles (aliran) are there which tend to focus either on weaponry, joint manipulation, strikes, or some combination.

Silat differs from most martial arts in that, unlike others that emphasize spirituality or self-perfection, Silat focuses on physical fitness. This style focuses solely on violence and that is what makes it one of the world's deadliest martial arts.

However, this fighting style is all about finding out the weaknesses of your enemy and incapacitating them as soon as possible.

Moreover, causing pain is the only concentration in Silat. The style is characterized by a quick attack in which it is very important to get close to the opponent quickly. Moreover, break him in ten seconds and then knock him unconscious with a strong blow to the face, throat, or kidney. There is no respect, no fame, only dirty blows and the exploitation of weaknesses.

Practitioners of this style even encourage blows to the crotch. Yes, straightaway in the testicles. Even though, all the students of Silat must experience what it is like. Either you experience it by breaking a row of bricks stacked on your ribs, or bending metal bars around your neck.

“Keris” or “Kris”, is a dagger used in Silat. It is a corrugated knife for quickly stabbing an opponent into soft body parts. And yes, they put one of the most powerful neurotoxins in the world intentionally on a dagger. This toxic weapon can kill an opponent just a few tens of seconds after being stabbed. 

2.2. Bacom

Bacom or Vacon is one of the deadliest martial arts in the world. This Peruvian martial art was developed in the streets of Lima for the development of the Peruvian Military.


A Bacom practitioner is capable of injuring opponents within a short period. It also entails the use of hidden weapons and powerful punches. Though it is a combination of Jiu-Jitsu and street fighting techniques.


Power is the key that helps the fighter emphasize over the opponents, and to ruin their balance. The element of surprise that makes Bacom one of the deadliest martial arts in the world is the deceptive attacks and use of hidden, secretive weapons in battle.


The vicious nature of this discipline is what makes it different from the other martial arts. However, this combat style is intended to inflict as much suffering on the opponent as possible to become too much for the opponent to endure.


This fighting style also involves arm locks. Whenever a fight takes place utilizing the Bacom style, many times it ends in the death of one of the competitors.

2.3. Vale Tudo

Vale Tudo
Photo Credit: Sherdog

“Everything Goes” that’s what it means. Vale Tudo is a full-contact, unarmed combat sport with limited rules. This fighting style became popular during the 20th century in Brazil. It uses techniques from many martial arts.

Vale Tudo is a vicious martial art that is so lethal that most of its fights are held underground, causing quite a sensation in the media.

2.4. Ninjutsu


Ninjutsu, also known as Ninpo and Shinobijutsu, is a Japanese martial art that entails espionage, navigation, gathering information, and surviving in nature, as well as hiding and sneaking, camouflage, avoiding enemies, infiltration, overcoming natural and artificial obstacles, fighting with bare hands, various weapons, and hand tools, and so on.

The Ninjutsu is thought to have initially appeared in the 13th century, around the period of the Minamoto clan's first shogunate.

Despite the various inconsistencies in the written records, they were most likely renegade peasants who, weary by the constant terror of the samurai, whose class was rising at the time, and helpless to confront them, sought refuge in the mountainous districts of Ig and Koga on Honshu's central island.

There was a lot of curiosity in exotic Oriental skills in the West, notably in the United States, in the 1970s and 1980s. The ninja, shrouded in secret and various stories, came to us in the shape of questionable films, novels, and manuals.

Ninjas were only practiced by a few hundred people in Japan at the time. They were horrified by the publicity and shied away from journalists and adventurers who tried to contact them and learn their secrets.

Currently, tens of thousands of people of all ages practice Ninjutsu in hundreds of rooms around the world. Freed from its dishonorable past, ninjutsu has evolved into an extraordinarily powerful, integral system of self-defense and one of the world's deadliest martial arts, under the strict authority of its home school and spiritual leader in Japan.

2.5. Krav Maga

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is an Israeli martial technique that is widely used in the military, police, and other law enforcement agencies to defend against unarmed and armed attacks. It was a success in the field, and it was named after its founder, Imrich Sde-Ora.

For almost fifteen years, Eyal Yanilov has served as the founder's right hand and now runs the International Krav Maga Federation. Krav Maga has been around since the creation of Israel in 194. Even though the creator himself taught many individuals quickly after his evacuation from Bratislava to what was then Palestine in 1940, just before the Nazis invaded.

He would have been left without one useful and efficient martial art if he hadn't defected.

A combat training approach that teaches how to avoid, avert, and resolve any type of violence or attack. Krav Maga teaches self-defense, martial arts, and combat skills, as well as how to protect others, uniquely and simply.

Yet, in a setting where defeat would be fatal, the core principle of training and coaching is a "he or I" dilemma.

It should come as no surprise that the most effective and dangerous martial art in the world is also the deadliest. Krav Maga is a non-sporting martial art, which implies it is unconcerned about the rules or the safety of the opponent.

3. Last Words

Martial arts have remained one of the most effective fighting methods in the world ever since they were first introduced. Almost all fighting styles that fall under the category of martial arts have some common techniques that allow fighters to cross-train and expand their skill set. An art form, each martial art discipline uniquely empowers its practitioners, allowing them to defend themselves and dominate their opponents in the most adverse situations.

Martial arts are designed to leave the opponent incapacitated and unable to fight back. Consequently, each discipline is lethal, especially if practiced in an uncontrolled manner. Realizing the damage martial arts techniques can cause, the emphasis in most fighting styles is on self-defense and countering attacks instead of initiating them. In addition to physical techniques, martial arts also teach how to manipulate one’s opponent mentally, causing damage outside the realm of regulated fighting situations. 

Photo credit: pinterest

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