What is the best martial art?

Learning Martial Arts Online

What is the best martial art?

Welcome to episode No. 7 of our Martial Podcast! Today let´s talk about a very controversial question: What is the best martial art?


Hello and welcome to today´s Martial Podcast. My name is Martin and I´m a martial arts and self-defense instructor living in Europe. In this episode I want to tell you my thoughts on a very controversial question. And the question is: “What is the best Martial Art in the world?”

What style is better than every other style in the world?

Yeah, and by the way: What do you think? What is the best Martial Art in your opinion? Is there a style that is better than everything else? Or is there no such thing as THE BEST Martial Art? Let me know in the comments.

As always you could either listen to the audio file or read the full transcript on my blog at themartialstudio.com

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But now let´s get started. What is my opinion on today´s question?

And at first, let me tell you a little bit about …


… so far. As I have already trained and tried a lot of different styles.

A martial art that I have trained by far the most until now is Wing Chun Kung Fu.

I have already trained this martial arts style for thousands of hours – either on my own at home, with several training partners in school, on seminars or privately and by teaching it to my students on site or online.

And in my past teachers´ opinions Wing Chun IS the best martial art in the world. Because it is a comprehensive and sophisticated martial art and to every attack of the opponent there is a perfect answer.

And of course we have our Chi Sao – this sticky hands training – that provides us with superfast tactile reflexes making us superior to other fighters of different martial arts styles.

But someday – I was already teaching Wing Chun at my school at that time – I decided to start another martial art in another martial arts association.

As I was very keen on learning to fight with weapons like stick and knife, I began to learn Escrima – a weapon based martial art from the Philippines.

You know what? In their opinion you could forget about Wing Chun. If you want to learn to fight, than Escrima is the best martial art in the world. Because there is not only weapon fighting included.

They also have a bare knuckle fighting style called Panantukan which is the translation of all the stick and knife training into weaponless fighting. And it is far more effective and realistic in a self-defense situation than Wing Chun. At least in their opinion.

Yeah, and as Escrima and Panantukan are really quite effective and supercool to train, I have been training it for the last couple of years really intensely – and I still train it today. But the same is true of Wing Chun. I still train Wing Chun several hours a week, even now after all those years of training.

So both sides couldn´t convince me that only their system is of considerable value and all the other styles are a waste of time.

In fact:

In my attempt to find the perfect and best martial art in the world, I tried out other martial arts and combat sports too.

One of these was Jeet Kune Do of course – as I´m a big fan of Bruce Lee.

And the first person I met there – a student, not a teacher – asked me what I have trained so far. And I told this person, that I´ve trained already a lot of Wing Chun.

And the person asked why …

Why did I train Wing Chun for several years? Why waste so much time on something so ineffective?

Apparently this person – after more than 10 years of training by the way – didn´t know that Wing Chun was one of the major sources of Jeet Kune Do. Because Bruce Lee himself trained this martial arts style in China for several years. And in fact, he trained it very intensely.

So as a matter of fact, a lot of the guys and gals in the Jeet Kune Do school had the opinion, that their style is the best in the world. And everything else is a complete waste of time.

So next I tried out an internal martial arts style.

And Tai Chi was the first which came into my mind. And as you could tell already, they didn´t think very differently.

They said that softness is a strength and therefore a good Tai Chi Master could beat every opponent. As other styles use physical strength and a Tai Chi Master could use this to his advantage.

But I also wanted to know the opinion of someone who uses this physical strength in fighting. So I also went to a Mixed Martial Arts and Groundfighting School.

And I also trained some Thai Boxing.

And in their opinion all internal martial art practitioners are just weenies. Because you fight like you train. And in MMA, BJJ and in Thai Boxing you train the hardest. So their style is far more realistic in a fight than all this internal shit. At least in their opinion.

By the way: As I was asked by my Thai Box Teacher if I had experience in boxing or even Thai Boxing I told him, that I have already trained Panantukan quite a long time. Of course, he didn´t even know what Panantukan was. He just made jokes about it as the name Panantukan sounds funny to him. He asked: What did you learn? Kamasutra?

So in his opinion, Thai Boxing is the real deal.

But what about me?

After so many Martial Arts I have tried out – and some I didn´t even mention like Luta Livre, Silat and Systema – which one is the best?


And I finally came to the conclusion that every martial art has some merit. In fact, every martial art is exceptionally good in a very specific way.

But at the same time, every martial art has a common weakness.

And this weakness is really the same among all martial arts. Even such wildly diverse styles like Thai Boxing and Tai Chi have the same weakness …

And because of this weakness I think that every serious and advanced martial artist should try out and train other styles from time to time.

This common weakness amongst all martial art styles is…

That you always train Wing Chun against Wing Chun in your school. And in another school you always train Panantukan against Panantukan. And Tai Chi against Tai Chi. Thai Boxing against Thai Boxing.

As every trainer and student of any martial art assumes that the opponent will behave in exactly the same way as they themselves train.

In Wing Chun for example we train with a vertical fist and sticking to the opponent. And we come in very close with our punches.

On the other hand: In Thai Boxing everyone assumes that the opponent punches with a horizontal fist, punching from a longer distance with leaning the shoulder and pulling back the hand after the punch.

And if you do it a bit differently in training, then you will immediately get corrected by the trainer.

So in my opinion there can´t be such a thing as a best martial art.

As there is this weakness no one and no school could possibly avoid. Because it comes from the very fact that everyone thinks his or her martial arts style is the best and therefore only trains certain techniques in a certain way.

And of course after some time, everyone in a particular school trains certain techniques in a certain way. So generally speaking you only learn to fight against someone like you – against someone who trains, thinks and acts exactly like you do.

Let that sink in for a moment.

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And then see you next time at the Martial Podcast!

Sifu Martin Grünstäudl – themartialstudio.com


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