Fit and Safe: Top 6 Martial Arts for Women

Judo martial arts for women
Judo in action! Photo via By Oliver Sellner - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.

In a world filled with unexpected danger, many people learn how to protect themselves to stay safer out there. Becoming physically fit is one way to stay safe. Martial arts for women and men is a way to increase physical abilities while also giving you the knowledge of how to effectively and quickly protect yourself in the face of danger. Please note that while this post focuses on women – that’s what I do here! – martial arts stand to benefits any gender.

As the website knows, a physically fit mom has more energy to get through the day. Plus, when moms are active, their children learn how to be active too. Moms can share martial arts training with their children and partners too.

Now, onto the top martial arts for women:

Judo in action! Photo via By Oliver Sellner – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

1. Judo

Anyone can learn the techniques presented in Judo, which is not built on punching and kicking. Instead, women will learn how to use simple moves to throw an opponent into submission. These lethal moves help women learn to defend themselves in ways disarming to an attacker. Again, anyone, not just women, can benefit from these moves.

Judo teaches women to defend themselves against attackers of any size. Surprisingly, learning Judo and other martial arts can help relieve stress. By knowing self-defense skills, women can be more relaxed out in public. By simply practicing martial arts, women also lower their stress levels by participating in a physical activity that lets them release any frustrations.

Judo practice can lend itself toward being more mindful too. Also, learn to live a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, all of which contributes toward a better understanding of your unique body.

As a result, you can react better to unexpected situations. And if all of that’s not enough to get you starting Judo, immunity improves and recovery speeds up too over time.

Judo has been in the Olympics since the 1960s and has been popular for decades. In the first class, you’ll likely stretch and warm up. Then, the first thing you will learn is how to fall safely, which involves tucking and rolling rather than using your arms. Then, practice the techniques with people of all levels.

As the class closes, you will finish with strength-building activities, such as calisthenics, and breathing exercises. At the end of most classes, students end up chatting and it could be that you make new friendships along the Judo learning journey.

2. Muay Thai

This type of martial arts for women and men began in Thailand. Here, women and men learn to use body parts other than their fists to fight off attackers. Fists are generally not effective in a fight because they are weak; while it’s a Muay Thai technique there are many more than just that.

Fists aren’t the only option as fghting with a fist takes time and lots of upper body strength. If you don’t have that strength yet then Muay Thai teaches you how to use other body parts too, such as your heads, elbows, and knees.

Muay Thai is known as the art of eight limbs because practitioners learn to use their bodies in a graceful way, even though they are learning to defend themselves and hurt their attackers. While other martial arts techniques focus more on the techniques rather than physical fitness, that is not the case with Muay Thai as those who practice it develop very toned bodies.

The full-body workout also develops mental strength that improves self-confidence and discipline. Through hard work, see how much you can accomplish if you simply put your mind and body into it. The martial arts practice also helps you stay calm in stressful situations. You learn to assess your role and adapt to the situation without losing self control.

3. Martial Arts for Women: Tae Kwon Do

Next is Tae Kwon Do, which is a form of Korean martial arts. Its popularity has grown over the years, and it’s now an official Olympic sport. As practitioners kick and punch their way through different colored belts, they learn self-defense techniques and build their physical fitness.

Tae Kwon Do is a good choice for women because it has a strong focus on the lower body. By learning powerful kicks, women can better defend themselves against attackers, as can any gender, in fact. With the techniques of Tae Kwon Do, women are not only better prepared to defend themselves, but they also develop an attitude of strength and confidence that keeps potential attackers away.

Women who practice Tae Kwon Do tone their muscles and develop flexibility too. All of which improves their self-image. They also learn discipline and respect, as well as a sense of calmness.

As for part of what to expect with Tae Kwon Do classes, participants have bare feet and wear loose-fitting clothing. If you decide to attend class regularly, you’ll likely purchase a uniform from your school in time.

In most classes, you will learn and practice techniques while standing in a line with other students. It’s there that you’ll practice fundamental kicks and punches. Eventually, spar with classmates or work on forms, which are patterns of movements to master before moving to different belt levels.

Martial arts for women in practice
Which style of martial arts will you try? Photo via James Buck, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.

4. Hapkido

Other martial arts for women might be better known than Hapkido, but this style is absolutely one to mention here. The Korean word Hapkido translates into harmony, power, path. It is similar to Tae Kwon Do as it has defense at its core rather than offense, and uses throws, kicks, and joint locks to fight off attackers.

This type of martial arts is mixed, but it is not like Jiu Jitsu or other MMA styles because it focuses on defending against an attacker rather than fighting the attacker. Thus, Hapkido practitioners know how to defend themselves when they are in a dangerous situation.

If Hapkido is something you pursue, expect to work through a system of colored belts. Usually it’s at least three years to reach black-belt status.

In a typical Hapkido class, practitioners learn to channel their energy through meditation, stretching, and breathing exercises. Then, they practice their techniques individually and in pairs. The classes typically end with meditation and breathing exercises.

5. Krav Maga

This form of martial arts originated in Israel and is used by the Israeli Defense Force. Practitioners develop skills that help them defend against someone who is armed or unarmed. The skills you can learn in Krav Maga not only are physical but mental too. Learn to use unexpected body parts, like elbows, to fight off attackers, rather than only thinking about using fists.

It’s during Krav Maga training that you’ll also build endurance and stamina. Develop a stronger core to improve with balance to more effectively ward off attackers than before. Also, learn how much force is necessary to exert in an attack, as well as when to attack and when to flee.

Mentally, Krav Maga and many other martial arts for women and men show you how to retain self-control, even when under duress. It’s invaluable to learn to trust your instincts and to use those instincts for protective purposes. The martial-arts systems also help you carry yourself with certainty and confidence, which is going to help you achieve great things in life with the right mental mindset.

Krav Maga classes are usually an hour long. They begin with a physical warmup that often includes calisthenics and stretches.

Once everyone is warmed up, the instructor leads you through strikes with demonstrations from advanced students or the instructor. The instructor breaks down the techniques and practitioners move through them step by step in front of a mirror. As soon as the skills are understood, students practice with partners.

Even your first Krav Maga class, you’ll likely begin learning to fight off violence. You might even use pads and heavy bags right away so you can learn to use your elbows and knees effectively.

6. Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts for Women

With the popularity of Ultimate Fighting, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ has become a favorite style of martial arts for women and others. While you may not want to get into the ring, appreciate learning effective self-defence techniques.

Learning to defend yourself is a good reason to learn any type of martial arts, but with Jiu Jitsu you can learn so much more, from body appreciation and the extent of your personal abilities. All body sizes and shapes can master the skills in Jiu Jitsu, as this female shows with her shoulder and other body parts.

If you are interested in learning Jiu-Jitsu, it’s a good idea to watch a class before you take one. Once you decide to take a class, wear comfortable clothes that fit well and is free of belts and pockets.

Eventually, teachers ask their students to buy a Jiu Jitsu uniform. It’s also helpful to pull long hair into a ponytail and to keep your fingernails short.

And you might even develop friendships with the other women in the gym. Women also become role models for their children who see the physical and psychological strength in them.

Lastly, some BJJ classes begin with gentle stretches, while others start with heavy exercises. And expect to run at the beginning of each class before moving on to learn basic moves from day one onward.

In these classes, learn basic Jiu-Jitsu techniques and drill through them individually several times before grappling with other students. You will learn to position yourself so your opponent will submit and also learn sparring rules so you don’t hurt your partner in an unintended way.

As these classes are physically draining, expect to be tired by the time you leave there. Eventually, your body will adapt to the physical exertion and you will feel energized by the time class finishes up.

As you can see, there are many styles of martial arts for women and any gender. Have you done martial arts or do you plan to add it to your bucket list?


  1. I’ve done Taekwon Do, but moved over to karate. As an older woman, it’s much more my pace and just as effective as a self defence tool. My children also take karate, and I make it part of their allowance. Luckily they enjoy it as well. 😊

    I’ve never heard of some of these forms of martial arts, so thank you for a great post!

  2. Excellent post! I have a 5th degree black belt in To-Shin Do Ninjutsu and have been enriched and empowered tremendously by the ninja arts. I’ve also trained in Tang Soo Do, Wushu, kickboxing, and ground fighting. I highly recommend martial arts for women. There are many styles and schools, so be sure to find a style, place, teacher who feels right for you.

  3. Excellent and with an Eight Year old granddaughter to practices Jujitsu Grandma and Granddad who take her can testify it keeps All ages fit, even those sitting watching lol.. :-)

  4. I agree. I would also like to add wrestling. It helps get a great balance, some strength and combine that with striking. A well worded, thought out and balanced article and I enjoyed the read. Thank you. Stacey.

  5. You must always have an option to prevent a personal attack. Self-defense can help in this case. It is interesting to read the importance of being prepared in this aspect. It is a help for women to know how to defend themselves in this way.

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