Is Shotokan Karate The Best Self Defense Style?

Is Shotokan Karate The Best Self Defence Style?

Have you ever done research on different Martial Arts styles thinking “which will be the best for my child to learn self defence?”. You’re not alone.

Students and parents asked me this question, so I thought I’d write a short article with my answer, which is short:

Any Martial Arts can be “the best” self defence style, it all depends on the abilities, skills, focus and quality and length of training of the student.

You see, if you train, develop your skills, and learn how to use them, any Martial Art can be your self defence weapon. So the answer to the question is: Possibly.

Thus, what do you need to do to be able to use a Martial Art (Karate or whichever you choose) in self defence – which we hope you will never need to use:


  1. Choose the style.

There are hundreds of different styles of Martial Arts. That’s a great thing, because we all have different personalities, thus while some styles will fit us like a glove others will not. For example Karate Shotokan, with its low stances, fits be best. While I practiced, was good, and liked other Martial Arts I seem to always go back to Shotokan Karate


  1. Choose the instructor, your Sensei.

Every instructor will have her or his own style of teaching. They also have their own personalities. From some you will enjoy learning and learn very fast and easy. From others you might feel you can’t get it at all. That’s alright, find the instructor that fits you best, so you take pleasure in learning.


  1. Be consistent.

Martial Arts are not fitness classes. It’s not about burning calories and toning your body. In fitness classes if you miss a class you didn’t miss much. But in Martial Arts are much, much more profound than that. Miss classes and you will be left behind. In Martial Arts you train not only your body but you keep your mind sharp. To achieve that level of discipline you must make an effort to go to every class, even if you have to cancel going out with your friends.

If you want to ever be able use your chose Martial Art in situations which require using your skills, you must train and be consistent.


  1. Have patience

Learning and developing efficient and effective skills requires time and dedication. It’s not only about knowing how to kick and punch but also when and how to use them, and how to defend from them as well. You must learn about timing, reading your opponent and reacting at the right time.


  1. Try competitions

In competitions we stop the fight when one of the opponents scores. In some Martial Arts there is continuous fighting, but not in Karate.

Although competitions are not real life fighting they can place you in situations where you need to make fast decisions, and teach you how to read and react to an opponent you’ve never met before.

You also experience what it means to be hit, not knocked out (well, depending on the Martial Arts you choose this might happen) but enough to show you how it feels and teach you how to react.

You see, if you never experience being hit in a controlled environment, your body will not know what to do in a real life situation. I experienced this when I was attacked on the street. I was hit but didn’t blink, it was normal for me, my body wasn’t shocked because it was nothing new, and so I was able to respond with a more clear mind.


The difference between a successful Martial Arts practitioner and others (whatever success means to each of us) is that they make a commitment to train, be consistent, have patience, and give their bet at every single lesson. The techniques become their second nature and if they ever need to use them in life threatening situations, their bodies will react immediately.

Remember, however, that your aim is to avoid any form of violence, whether verbal of physical.


Alexandra Merisoiu Sensei
Shotokan Karate 3 Dan & WMO British National Champion
Founder The Merisoiu Technique Institute


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