Ever since the time we as humans came into creation, we started coming up with ways to fight and wage war. Countless martial arts have been created for self defense that are quite deadly.

The crew at LowKickMMA has come up with our list of the top 10 deadliest martial arts in the world. Read below to learn the history of some of the deadliest martial arts to ever be created.

#10 Wrestling

Starting off our deadliest martial arts list is the grueling grappling art of wrestling. If you don’t think wrestling is a deadly martial art, then see this beast Aleksandr Karelin ragdolling giants. 

Short wrestling history lesson

Wrestling might be the oldest practiced martial art and sport that dates back thousands of years. Ancient Greek and various Asian cultures all have artifacts and manuals that show that they practice wrestling.

Historically, the strongest and most gifted athletes were the best wrestlers of their group of people. They were usually soldiers as well and were among the best fighters in their armies. Using their powerful wrestling skills to take out their enemies in hand to hand combat.

If you still don’t believe that wrestling is a deadly martial art, just look at modern MMA. Generally all of the best fighters like Khabib and Daniel Cormier are accomplished wrestlers.

Reasons why wrestling is a deadly martial art

  • Historically effective: We’ve known since the dawn of time that hand to hand combat often turns into a grappling match. This is why styles of wrestling were created to hold an opponent down and use deadly force.
  • Optimal Control: Having good wrestling skills mean you can keep your opponent down and smother them with pressure. 

#9 Karate

Karate, specifically Kyokushin Karate comes in as our pick for the 9th most deadly martial art. It has been a go to martial art for self defense purposes for decades and has shown to be quite effective.

Consisting of simple, yet powerful attacks that were designed to take an enemy out.

Short Karate history less

Karate began being developed in early 1900s Japan starting with Shotokan Karate founder Gichin Funakoshi. Taking elements from various Chinese martial arts and the fighting system developed by the people of Okinawa.

Kyokushin Karate was founded in 1964 by Master Masutatsu Oyama. He was a Karate practitioner that began developing his own style based on simple, yet powerful strikes.

Oyama would be the main influence that would introduce the sport of full contact Karate. A brutal fighting competition with no gloves, where you win by scoring knockdowns or win outright with a knockout.

Some of the best kickboxers ever that were Kyokushin Karate champions include Semmy Schilt and Andy Hug

Reasons why Karate is a deadly martial art

  • Powerful strikes: The strikes in Karate are simple, yet incredibly powerful. Every strike in the martial art is thrown with maximum force and designed to incapacitate an opponent.
  • Simplicity: What makes Karate such a deadly martial art is its simplicity. All of its movements are basic, but  also produce an incredible amount of force.
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#8 Shaolin Kung Fu

Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest Chinese martial arts ever created and has an amazing history. People have been in awe of the monks of Shaolin’s fighting system for generations and how effective it is.

There were even numerous times in history, where Shaolin Kung Fu proved it is a deadly martial art. Which is why it comes in at number 8 on our list.

Short Shaolin Kung Fu history lesson

The legend of Shaolin Kung Fu dates back to over 1500 years ago. At this time the Shaolin temples were being built and the temple was led by the historical Buddhist figure Bodhidharma.

To go along with prayers, Bodhidharma also implemented physical training into the monk’s daily chores.Training Chinese martial arts that would slowly develop into what we know as Shaolin Kung Fu or Shaolin Wushu.

The monks that practiced it were even documented using it in battle numerous times to defend their temple.

Today, there is still a mysticism around Shaolin Kung Fu and many travel to the temple to learn Kung Fu.

Reasons why Shaolin Kung Fu is a deadly martial art

  • Historically Effective: Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest martial arts that is still practiced to this day. Proving that it is an effective martial art.
  • Well Rounded: Shaolin Kung Fu is arguably the most well rounded form of Kung Fu. Various different strikers are included in the system and many of the best practitioners are well versed in different weapons.

#7 Boxing

Boxing of course has to be added to any deadliest martial arts. There is rarely a year that goes by where there isn’t a death in a boxing ring.

For that reason alone, boxing comes in at number 7 on the list.

Short boxing history lesson

The sweet science actually was one of the original sports along with wrestling. But how we know the sport of boxing today began being developed in the late 1800s.

Queensberry rules began to be implemented into matches and different governing bodies began to be formed.

Unfortunately safety regulations were severely lacking for many decades from when boxing became a sport. 

Deaths were quite common and as of today there have been over 500 deaths in a boxing ring.

Thanks to safety measures put in place it doesn’t happen as often. But as the saying goes “you don’t play boxing.”

Reasons why boxing is a deadly martial art

  • Historically Deadly: Since the sport of boxing was formed, there have been many deaths in the boxing ring. Which is why it is on the list.
  • Powerful Punches: Punches in boxing were designed to concuss an opponent and turn their lights out. Even permanently.

#6 BJJ

Who says there needs to be striking in a martial art for it to be deadly? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu(BJJ) has proven to be one of the most effective martial arts on the planet.

Filled with numerous techniques to either break an opponent’s limbs or strangle them.

Short BJJ history lesson

You probably already know the history of BJJ, but here’s a quick refresher to explain why it’s a deadly martial art. BJJ was developed by the Gracie brothers Carlos and Helio during the 1920s in Brazil.

Carlos learned Judo under Mitsuyo Maeda and started showing Helio some techniques he learned. They realized that some of the techniques were hard to do for smaller men.

So they began developing their own system that was more ground based. Giving smaller men an even playing field against stronger men by using technique and leverage.

As BJJ continued to be developed, the techniques became more refined and more students began learning the martial art.

Once Royce Gracie dominated his opponents at UFC 1 he proved the power of BJJ.

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Why is BJJ a deadly martial art?

  • Strangulations: The easiest way to kill someone, is to get your arms around their neck and squeeze. It works on even the biggest person and BJJ has numerous ways to strangle someone in its system.
  • No Strength Required: The techniques in BJJ don’t require it’s practitioners to be big and strong. Just be technical and use leverage.

#5 Combat Sambo

The Russian martial art of Sambo evolved into a more aggressive style called Combat Sambo.

Basically a Russian version of MMA, where fighters wear headgear and a Gi jacket.

It is widely regarded as one of the most effective fighting systems on the planet. Also one of the most deadly.

Short Sambo history lesson

Sambo was created by Viktor Spiridonov and Vasili Oshchepkov. Two Russian martial artists who learned Judo directly under founder Jigoro Kanu.

When they returned to Russia, they created their own martial art mixing the Judo they learned with wrestling. They would call it Sambo and it became the official martial art of Russia.

Later on striking was implemented into Sambo and that was how Combat Sambo was created. In Eastern Europe and Russia, Sambo is as popular as MMA.

Some of the best MMA fighters ever like Fedor and Khabib were also former Combat Sambo champions. Proving that it is indeed a deadly martial art.

Reasons why Combat Sambo is a deadly martial art

  • Grappling & Striking: In Combat Sambo, you are taught both grappling and striking, which makes for a deadly combination.
  • End A Fight Quickly: Combat Sambo was designed to finish a fight quickly. By either  knocking out an opponent, breaking one of their limbs, or putting them to sleep.

#4 Muay Thai

The art of 8 limbs has proven countless times that it is a deadly martial art. Before it was just practiced for sport, Muay Thai was used in battles by the legendary warriors of Siam.

This is why Muay Thai earns the number 4 spot on our list.

Short Muay Thai history lesson

The history of Muay Thai goes back over 500 years when Thailand was known as the kingdom of Siam. Siam warriors were known for using a deadly fighting art, where they used all 8 of their limbs.

As time went on, the best warriors would start to compete in front of the kings at festivals. Then in the 1930s, Muay Thai started to become a legitimate sport thanks to the influence of western boxing. 

This is when Thai fighters really began developing punches to go along with the kicks, knees, and elbows.

Reasons why Muay Thai is a deadly martial art

  • 8 Limbs: In Muay Thai, you use nearly every part of your body to land deadly strikes on your opponent. Giving you various ways to take them out.
  • The Clinch: The clinch gives you total control over your opponent. By controlling their head, they can’t move and allows you to land devastating strikes.

#3 MMA

Not only is MMA the most popular combat sport on earth, but also a deadly martial art. Well deserving of a spot on our list.

MMA changed the way we look at self defense and martial arts. We realized that you needed facets of different martial arts to have the perfect fighting system.

Short MMA history lesson

Before MMA became a legitimate sport, there was Vale Tudo in Brazil. No holds barred fights that pitted fighters of different fighting styles against each other.

Then the Gracie’s would put on their own Vale Tudo style event with UFC 1. After the success of the first few events, the creators realized that they would need to make changes in order to survive.

A legitimate sport would have to be create and that is how MMA started. Rules were implemented and fighters began cross training in different disciplines.

This would evolve into a full fledged martial art known as mixed martial arts. Now everyone that trains now realizes to be a well rounded martial artists, you must know how to fight everyone. From standing and also on the ground.

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Reasons why MMA is a deadly martial art

  • The Use of Different Martial Arts: MMA is various martial arts rolled up into one incredibly effective and deadly system. Having various methods to take out an enemy is what makes it so deadly.
  • Multi Dimensional: Since MMA uses different martial arts, this gives practitioners the advantage of being multi dimensional. They can land attacks from both standing and on the ground.

#2 Lethwei

If you don’t know what Lethwei is, picture Muay Thai, but more violent and with headbutts. It is arguably the most violent combat sport in the world.

Fighters fight bare knuckle and the only way to win is stopping your opponent. A martial art this violent and deadly deserves a high spot on our list.

Short Lethwei history lesson

Lethwei is the Myanmar version of Muay Thai that is just as old as the art of Muay Thai. Known as Muay Boran or the art of 9 limbs.(One more than Muay Thai.

The martial art like Muay Thai was used in many wars by soldiers of numerous Myanmar armies. Also like Muay Thai, early Lethwei competitions would be held strictly for entertainment. Early Lethwei champions would accept open challenges to anyone that would fight.

It would develop into the official sport of Lethwei again like Muay Thai in Thailand. But where Lethwei differs from Muay Thai is that gloves were never added to the sport.

Headbutts were also permitted and the only way to win was by knockout. Lethwei is now getting more attention and is considered the most brutal combat sport on earth.

Reasons why Lethwei is a deadly martial art

  • Headbutts: The fact that headbutts are allowed and taught within Lethwei makes it extremely deadly. Your head is a powerful weapon and can easily crush an opponent’s face. Especially if you know different heabutting techniques.
  • The Clinch: Just like in Muay Thai, the clinch is a big part of Lethwei. Not only can you land punches and elbows, but also headbutts.

#1 Krav Maga

The most deadly martial art has to go to the Israeli art of Krav Maga. When a martial art is developed to ensure the survival of a people that faced extermination it goes number one.

Not only is it theost deadly martial art, but one of the most complete self defense systems in the world.

Short Krav Maga history lesson

Krav Maga was created by Hungarian Jewish martial artist Imre Lichtenfeld. Imre would create his martial art during the 1930s when Jewish communities were constantly under attack

He realized his martial arts skills were flawed and needed to be altered for real life fights.

Once Lichtenfeld fled to Israel to escape the Nazis is when Krav really began to be developed. Imi would add weapons training and defense to his system. 

He would become the head self defense instructor of the Israeli military and teach Krav to the IDF.(Israeli Defense Forces)

Upon retiring from his position, Lichtenfeld started teaching civilians Krav Maga. Today it has become one most sought after martial arts to learn for self defense.

Reasons why Krav Maga is a deadly martial art

  • Weapons Training: What Krav Maga has over the other martial arts on the list is that it includes weapons training in its system. It is one of the big flaws in the other martial arts, which is why Krav Maga is the most deadly martial art.
  • Created For Survival: The whole reason Krav Maga was created was to help a group of people from being exterminated. It was created on the philosophy that you must do anything it takes to save your life and see another day.
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