List of Top 5 Deadliest Martial Arts

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Some martial arts are more about form, and others are more about function. But let’s get real here. They are all based on combat moves, so in theory any one of them could be deadly. Which ones are regularly taught with the most deadly moves and with that mental intention as one of the main goals? It’s usually those that are geared for street fighting rather than tournament showmanship.

5 Eskrima

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Eskrima, sometimes spelled Escrima, is a Filipino martial art that uses sticks, knives and bare hands to beat an opponent. It’s designed to be used at close range, and its emphasis is on flow, simplicity of moves and weapons disarming. Modern variations of the art sometimes emphasize the dance-like aspects, putting it in the form-over-function category. But don’t let that aspect fool you—when the Spaniards invaded the Philippines, they outlawed Eskrima as being too dangerous.

4 Sambo

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The combo wrestling-grappling style of Sambo, which originated in Russia, was developed in the 1920s as a hand-to-hand combat technique for the Red Army’s Special Forces. Eventually, the government also started teaching it to Russian police officers and security guards to keep surging crime rates under control. Basically, it means, “self defense without weapons,” and the emphasis is on disarming your opponent of his weapon before turning around and using it on him.

3 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

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Although it comes from South America, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is derived from Japanese judo. This martial arts form does get a lot of uniformed tournament play, but its deadliness comes in the emphasis on takedowns leading to ground fighting, where techniques such as sweeps and close grappling can defeat somebody trained only in punches and kicks. Also, strength and size aren’t factors because body weight is used as leverage, which allows a small fighter to take down a much larger opponent.

2 Muay Thai

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Muay Thai originated in Thailand and is sometimes called Thai Kickboxing. In its native country, it is called the Art of Eight Limbs—that’s hands, feet, elbows and knees doing a deadly combination of punches, kicks and strikes. MMA, or mixed martial arts, fighters love to incorporate Muay Thai moves, and the roundhouse kick in this discipline is meant to resemble clobbering someone with a baseball bat.

1 Krav Maga


Krav Maga, used extensively in the Israeli military, originally was developed as a self-defense method by liberation fighters; You won’t find it as a tournament sport—it’s meant for when you really mean business. Weapons are endorsed, to complement the moves that come from Judo, Jiu Jitsu and boxing, and size and gender aren’t factors. Krav Maga was the discipline used by Jennifer Lopez’s character in the movie “Enough,” where her fight training had one explicit objective—to kill her abusive ex-husband.

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