Where Discipline Meets Aggression

Somewhere, right now, two or more opponents face off to do battle. They exist in the space and time where discipline meets aggression.

For many, martial arts are viewed as a testament to the extraordinary capabilities of the human body and mind. They are meant to instill principles of discipline, hard work, and determination.

What about the most violent martial arts? The systems designed to inflict pain and cause damage on an opponent who's fighting back?

Evaluating Potential for Severe Damage

The kind of violence we're talking about is not the kind that involves making an unprovoked assault on someone who took the parking spot you wanted. It's an acknowledgement of the intensity, effectiveness, and technique that define certain styles in a self-defense or combat situation.

Our criteria for selection also involves taking their potential for severe damage into account. This could apply to a competition or self defense scenario. Traditional martial arts like Taekwondo, Aikido, and Capoeira promote discipline, strength, and the ability to effortlessly perform techniques.

Pressure-tested and Proven Effective

Martial arts like Muay Thai, Lethwei, Krav Maga, MMA, the execution of BJJ submission techniques, and Bare Knuckle Boxing are distinctly different. Why? Because they have been put to the test in real life and live training, or competition.

While there is some level of crossover as a practitioner, the results of taking Krav Maga classes, are not the same as what you will get out of Muay Thai or BJJ classes. (And that's okay, it isn't supposed to be.)

Each form serves a fairly specific purpose and each form will equip you with a distinct skillset. All of them will prepare you to protect yourself if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.

Now that you have more context, we can take a closer look at each form, one at a time.

Muay Thai Strikes that End Fights

Muay Thai is a martial art that originated in Thailand. It's a combat sport that uses stand-up striking and clinching techniques. Muay Thai is called the "Art of Eight Limbs" because it uses punches, kicks, knees and elbows to strike opponents.

Muay Thai is known for its punishing roundhouse kicks. Low kicks, body kicks, and head kicks can all end fights with the right timing, speed and accuracy.

Professional fighters have literally gotten their skulls caved in from elbows during competition. Knees to the face are another technique that earned Muay Thai a spot in this article.

Lethwei - Take Off Your Gloves and Use Your Head

Imagine Muay Thai, except headbutts are allowed. Oh, and you're not wearing gloves. That's Lethwei.

Not many competitions allow headbutt strikes and their sheer brutality is reason #1. In street fights outside of competition, headbutts can end altercations.

It doesn't get much more violent than punching with bare knuckles and using your head as a weapon. If you're interested, check out our detailed breakdown of Lethwei.

The Krav Maga Self Defense System

Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed for the Israeli military. It's often referred to as "the most effective martial art in the world." If you're looking for an effective way to get in shape and learn how to defend yourself, this is it. Krav Maga is used by law enforcement and military around the world because of its effectiveness in real-life situations.

Techniques that target sensitive areas like the groin kick or eye gouges (and pokes) are commonly taught by Krav Maga instructors. (Taking an eye is pretty damn violent.)

Blood on the Canvas in MMA

Including MMA on this list is kind of cheating since it's a full-contact combat sport that allows technique from nearly all forms of martial arts. MMA fighters practice a wide range of styles to become good at causing damage to their opponent.

In recent years, MMA has been growing rapidly worldwide since its early days, but wasn't always viewed in a positive light due to its violent nature. Next time you watch a fight card, pay attention to the color of the canvas leading up to the main event.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's Bone-snapping Submissions

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by nature, isn't necessarily taught as a violent martial art. If you zoom out and look at what's happening, a "successful" submission where someone refuses to tap could lead to a pretty devastating outcome.

‍Gracie Combatives is a good system to use as an example. The lessons prepare its students to defend themselves or help protect others.

If you take the classes, you'll learn that the main purpose is to keep yourself safe and control the level of violence or harm you want (or need) to inflict on your attacker.

Using an Kimura to ruin someone's rotator cuff isn't the main goal behind learning Gracie Combatives. But if you find yourself in a situation where that may be necessary to prevent someone from continuing to assault you, so be it.

The Bare Knuckle Boxing Bloodbath

A lot of casual fight fans refuse to watch bare knuckle boxers smash each other in the face. They might say it's because some of the fighters are lacking in technical ability.

Or maybe it's because it is guaranteed to turn into a bloodbath. Bare knuckle fights give off a primal and visceral energy that is very distinct from MMA or traditional boxing.

Unique Blends of Ferocity and Brutality

Once you start to understand the most violent martial arts, you'll see that each discipline has its own unique blend of ferocity, efficiency, and brutality. With its brutal striking techniques, Muay Thai exemplifies the raw power of the human body, while Lethwei's fearless approach to bare-knuckle combat elevates it even further.

Krav Maga, born from military necessity and designed to maim, thrives on ruthless efficiency and rapid incapacitation, embodying a no-nonsense ethos in self-defense. Bare knuckle boxing, an ancient form resurrected in modern times, places the emphasis on the unforgiving impact of bare fists, showcasing a primal and unfiltered approach to combat.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, though not outwardly expressing violence, has the ability to inflict a methodical and controlled form of violence on the ground.

As we wrap up, it's important to acknowledge the inherent responsibility that comes with this knowledge. While these disciplines have earned reputations for their intensity and effectiveness, remember to recognize the ethical principles and self-discipline that a large majority of practitioners uphold.