Home Science Education The 10 Most Lethal Martial Arts EVER

The 10 Most Lethal Martial Arts EVER


We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most lethal martial arts from around the world.


#10 Muay Thai

– Otherwise known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because of its heavy concentration of knee and elbow strikes, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock to learn that this lethal form of self defense came out of country who sees violence and conquest on a daily basis, Thailand.


#9 Kapu Ku’ialua

– The unconventional Hawaiian martial art is also know as Lua. It’s main focus is bone breaking, manipulating the joints and the craziest part open ocean warfare. The complicated name actually means “two hits”. This form of martial art has had a long run on the battlefield and the practitioners of this art form have even taken it an extra step further by coating themselves in coconut oil to make it harder for their enemy to grab hold of them. Sneaky Sneaky


#8 Bacom

– This art form is also be known as Vacon. The Peruvians birthed this style of martial art on the streets of Lima. Bacom blends multiple martial arts and is focused on maximizing injury to your opponent as quickly as possible. Most Bacom contests end in death because of the common practice of carrying hidden weapons and using deception.


#7 Jailhouse Rock

– Yes it has to do with fighting in jails. This name describes many improvisational fighting styles in the US Penal system. Some include Brick City Rock, 52 Handblocks, and Stato. There’s not a lot that’s known about these, they truly are mysteries and for years their existence has been disputed.


#6 Pugilism

– More well known as Boxing. You can see this around the globe in many different forms and the techniques have been adapted in other art forms as well as MMA. The head is the primary target although shots to the body are also performed. This sport was outlawed in many countries around the nineteenth century.


#5 Vale Tudo

– “Anything Goes” This is a full contact combat sport that is very popular in Brazil. It has almost NO rules. To be proficient in this fighting style you’re required to use techniques from numerous martial arts. But with fights like these, that tend to be extremely dangerous and bloody, the mainstream media tends to shy away from covering events. That’s why you will typically see these kinds of events in the underground.


#4 Ninjutsu

– The practice of the Ninja, or technical name Shinobi, in Japan.  This martial art plays on unconventional warfare, deception, espionage and assassination. At one time these “ninjas” were even considered to be non-human or Hinin. Ninja Smoke! *poof*


#3 Rough and Tumble

– This fighting style is actually native to the ‘ol U. S. of A. One of the few styles originating from this young country, its inception came about during the time of the American Revolution and concentrates on maximum disfigurement. That includes eye gauging oro pulling a Tyson on someones tongue and biting it off. Gotta love our forefathers. ‘Merica


#2 Line

– Linear Infighting Neural Override Engagement is the long form name of a combat style the United States Marine Corps conceived in the 1990’s. It’s still employed today by many special forces operatives. The MCMAP, Marine Corps Martial Art Program, succeeded it in recent years due to it’s limited practical application. This art form usually ends up taking the life of your opponent. This causes a problem for the Marines in non emergency situations and peacekeeping operations.



#1 Krav Maga

– The worlds most effective and dangerous of all the martial arts. Guess where this bad boy comes from… it was developed and used by the IDF or Israeli Defense Force, yes sir its not enough that they have one of the most conflicted regions in the world they also have one of the most dangerous forms of martial arts. This thing is a non sport martial art. That means its got NO concern for the opponents wellbeing. It assumes that your opponent is trying to kill you at all times. For this, the brutal techniques focus is to inflict as much damage or pain as fast and effectively as possible, which usually results in deliberately ending the life of your opponent.

What do you think of our Top 10 most lethal martial arts? Would you change any of them around? Comment Below!


We also recommend you check out: The World’s Most Lethal Martial Arts – Readers Choice Edition!

  • Leo

    This is awesome! 🙂

    • Thank you we aim to please 🙂 Let us know if you think we missed any martial arts you feel should be in the top 10!

  • How about the russian system Systema. I have heard it is really good.
    and Wingchun was created by a frail women who defeated all her opponents so I think that speaks highly of it.

    • Christopher Reza

      Wingchun, never heard of it but I am going to read up a bit on it.


      • freeskier

        I took wingchun and kung fu for a few years. then i switch to krav maga. krav is totally realistic, practical and effective. best i have seen. what other style teaches you car jacking defense? None that i know.

    • Evilviking

      Systema is pretty badass and so is Sambo. There is either combat sambo or sport sambo. Combat Sambo is no joke.

  • Maverick

    Keysi wasn’t on the list it’s been compared to your number 1 Krav Maga

    • Alwyn Dixon

      Keysi? The thing choreographed for Batman?

  • I’m writing up an article right now taking in everyones suggestions. It should be coming out in the next hour or so, so keep a lookout everyone!!

  • Guest

    you must be kidding! oldest and deadliest MA in real time minus the movies is wrestling>

  • Fighting Panda

    I think you should brush up on your Martial Arts info because Silat, Kali and Kajukenbo are some badass and proven deadly styles of Martial Arts that I think would rank higher than many of the styles you listed. Kali is used and taught to the Philippine Recon Marines, India’s Commando Close Quarters system and US special forces. Kajukenbo was a system designed for street survival in a modern age. Since you have Tactical Fighting arts in your list of deadly arts their grandfather systems should also be there over the Ring sports or Rule enforced systems. just saying…

    • Hey there. You know we have a newer article up that addresses a lot of what you mention. Although I don’t believe Kali is mentioned but I completely agree a very effective art. I practice Eskrima myself. Love it 🙂

      • Fighting Panda

        Thanks I didn’t notice that. I just stumbled upon the site and saw the article. Once I read it, I had to respond because the words “deadliest ..,ever” provoked my inner martial artist. Been a practitioner of Kali for 7 years, judo, karate, sanda and JKD. But i will check it out thanks dude.

        • Sure thing 🙂 I’d love to learn more Kali and get my Eskrima skills brushed up. Tough to find good instructors who are available to teach here in SoCal though. (If you know of any drop me a line.) 🙂

          • Fighting Panda

            where in SoCal? I have a know a few groups out there.

      • Christopher Reza

        Nice to see you always showing feedback. Great ownership.
        Ill make sure to check that out myself

    • jj

      U.S. special forces doesnt teach kali at all. maybe 20 years ago. many of the techniques come from krav maga now. how do i know this? Been there done that. 1st ranger bat and 7th gp sf.

      • Evilviking

        I can vouch for that…5th gp 3rd Bat.

        • Bruce

          But Krav Maga doesn’t teach knife fighting right? kali is more on stick and knife fighting… I believe Navy Seals are the one using Kali.

          • Aideen

            Hi, I practice Krav Maga, and yes it does teach you knife fighting, also teaches use of a stick, a pipe, anything you have to hand really. It encourages improvisation as well as technique.


          • mssn

            the knife fighting and stick fighting of Krav were from Kali…. just look at the similarities….

          • tay asbury

            Your so right

          • Aussie TEK Kirby

            Nope you are wrong Israelis don’t copy stuff. Kraal Maga is all Israeli and all IDF.

          • Alwyn Dixon

            I’m a Krav Maga instructor of some 17 years, We teach knife and stick fighting, also Israeli style combat shooting to those who wish to learn (outside of the curriculum)

          • Shane Tucker

            Hit me up brother. I am all for learning anything you are willing to teach. shane.tucker31@gmail.com

          • Kambias

            No..Krav maga teache you knife fighting

        • balls187

          Thanks for serving.x

      • balls187

        Thanks for serving.

      • patrick

        yeh krav is bullshit, I went hoping to learn omething amazing, …. it wasnt

        Sambo should be at no 1

        • Jarryd

          WRONG Krav is the best and most lethal martial art there is

      • TL Smith

        You are are still mistaken, kali is still being taught to not only the most elite US Forces (Naval SEAL’s), but also special forces & Law Enforcement Agencies around the globe. Been there, Done that as well!

  • Guest

    You all live in some fantasy world OMG. None of the above 10 “activities” compare to the sport of wrestling. pull out your trekie dolls and go back to your world. You failed to mention the vucan grip above.

    • Christopher Reza

      I would not consider wrestling to be deadly as nearly as these arts are.

      • Evilviking

        Any of the forms on this list can annihilate a wrestler.

  • CJ

    Where’s JKD

  • Christopher Reza

    Regardless of any updates, this article did give a short and pleasing insight to the styles. Although some I was unaware of, I found some interest in researching them.

    *ninja smoke poof*

  • Kris.C

    Kalaripayattu from Kerala,India is the most ancient martial art in the world.it’s origins dates back to 1500 to 2000 years.In Marmakala (which is an advanced form of kalaripayattu) a true master can kill a person without even touching him.(Just by looking at him)It is the mother of all martial arts including Kungfu,Karate etc.It should be included as the number one and most lethal martial art ever.

    • Franko

      um…learn some more world history. ancient Greek boxing and wrestling, and the synthesis of the two, Pankration goes even further back. hell, while Pankration was an event in the ancient Olympics, Spartans trained in it for use in combat. they were actually banned from participating in the Olympics because they were known to practice it to the extreme.

    • Emmanuel

      According to a documentary hosted by the History Channel. The oldest form of Martial Arts found to this date is in Africa. Look it up.

  • Francisco Ibarra

    You missed another BRUTAL martial art that is rarely used anymore due to the high death rate that it had..the forefather of Muay Thai…Muay Boran..you should do research on this style and I believe you will update it and make THIS style number 2 o 1…trust me.

    • Thank you Francisco, this article actually does have a sequel to it on this website, however an update to the original may indeed be worth consideration. We will look into Muay Boran. 🙂

      • Francisco Ibarra

        Thank you brother 🙂

    • Alwyn Dixon

      There’s an even older and more lethal/brutal Thai martial art from which Muat Boran originated, it’s called “Ling Lom” which translates from Thai to English as “wind monkey” or “air monkey”

  • Evilviking

    All in all a very good list. Ultimately there is no real way to rank accurately as everybody thinks that their particular style is better than the next or this one has killed more than that one. I say just set them all loose in a football stadium and the last one standing alive is the deadliest lol. (Which will most likely be Krav Maga…just saying lol)

    • vmx

      I totally agree…

    • patrick

      krav is bollocks, I actually left, I wasnt impressed problem is its theoretical, and its only 50 YO, so not even experienced , It does have good marketing skills tho

  • Brp Goyo

    Three items from America. Your self-centeredness is the most lethal.

    If two martial artists are to kill each other, I would bet on the kali or silat master against those three Murican disciplines any day.

    • While the author of this article is American. I the owner of the publication and am multinational. Citizen of both the United States and Europe, have lived traveled and studied abroad and still have a residence in Europe. That

      • stupocalypse

        He has a point though, I don’t think even one of the worlds top 10 martial arts belong to America. Unless nuclear warfare counts?

  • Sgt Embry

    Someone must not have military experience.Kali is no longer taught in the Maine Core or in any armed forces association i’m associated with. I’ve served 4 years in the armed forces.And I was also taught Krav Maga while being a active duty soldier. Hoorah boys .

    • mssn

      it is being taught among U.S. marines in the Philippines during joint training and operation…. Kali baton tactics and Kali Machete fighting are essential in the jungle warfare because machete will always be used to cut branches of trees and tall grasses to clear the path… during ambush attack where terrorists will likely use machete also, you don’t need to waste time switching from Machete to rifle.. you can just use it instantly…. That is why U.S. marine learn it when they train in the Philippine jungle….

  • Ush Lee

    I thought eskrima would be number 1

    • Another Guest

      yeah, it should at least be in the top 10

  • patrick

    If combat sambo BJJ and Muay thai arent in the top 5 i dont wanna know

    • BJJ doesn't have strikes…. instant disqualification.

      • patrick

        so you think a punch in the face is worse than a torn shoulder broken arm and evntually death by constriction? How about being slammed into the ground with the force of both your weight?

        Id rather get punched

        • Multiple things wrong with ur assumptions. 1st, BJJ is a defensive art. Most BJJ practitioners in competition pull guard if they dont attempt a external grappling (freestyle wrestlers or judo) takedown.
          2nd, in BJJ competitions, i have seen takedowns negated because he pull guard in the middle of the move which reinforces negative concepts.
          Ask Quentin Jackson, he powerbombed most submissions attempts from guard, and that was against padding…
          3rd, most legit striking arts have anti grappling moves or at the very least a wide enough base to make pulling guard hard. BJJ ignores the complexity of getting into clinch with a trained striker because they assume the takedown is inevitable n u will either be on top or bottom. However some ppl refuse to fight on the ground, especially in rl situations because it kills situational awareness. Now who will be the rookie throwing bs haymakers.
          4th, i have had my arm jacked up from an arm bar, however, if my arm is fucked… Now what? I can still fight or run and if its broken, the guy in the armbar position is compromised. Fucked up shoulder, same thing. Choke is the only legit solution that is lethal, all that other stuff is foreplay. However, u negate to power of leg kicks, liver shots, shots to the nuts, knees to the ribs, elbows to the back of the spine. Its not just the chin, n if u never trained against it, a leg kick will make u question to point of conflict. Thats y BBJ is not a lethal art, but more like an AP class in one aspect of fighting.

          • Matt

            lol You’re talking out of your ass.

  • Sunil

    Kalaripayattu – The Orient’s treasure trove, a gift to the modern world and the mother of all martial arts. Legend traces the 3000-year-old art form to Sage Parasurama- the master of all martial art forms and credited to be the re-claimer of Kerala from the Arabian Sea. Kalaripayattu originated in ancient South India. Kung- fu, popularized by the monks of the Shoaling Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma – an Indian Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master.

    Crafted in ancient South India drawing inspiration from the raw power and sinuous strength of the majestic animal forms – Lion, Tiger, Elephant, Wild Boar, Snake, and Crocodile …….. Kalaripayattu laid down the combat code of the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas. Shrouded in deep mystery and mists of secrecy Kalaripayattu was taught by the masters in total isolation, away from prying eyes.

  • Julian Fischer

    Interesting list. I would argue that most of these aren’t martial arts but rather fight systems. The list seems to be a scale of the effectiveness and brutality of the techniques (gouging of eyes and what not) of certain styles and how applicable they are in a modern context. Boxing and military standard hand to hand systems might be very effective but a martial art should have an underlying philosophy and a history or tradition based on discipline and respect. Would’ve liked to see lethwei on here.

    • Excellent points. It’s been a while since this list was generated and we’ve been going over ideas for a new list. I’ll definitely put Lethwei in for consideration. Also your point on martial art vs fight system is very interesting. The question is when does a fight system become a martial art? As all of these essentially originated from an underlying philosophy, it may just be a matter of how established the system is. i.e. JKD was not considered an independent martial art by many purists when Bruce Lee first introduced it. Many to this day still debate that.

      • Julian Fischer

        A very good question. I suppose it depends on when the style of a certain individual or individuals becomes an institution. To be fair it would be all too easy to define a martial art as a system of fighting developed and coordinated by group of individuals and passed on to other people for whatever purpose(normally war or self defense). There has to be some point of parity between an age old institution like karate with its tradition and philosophy and something that was conceived in jail to settle disputes or kill other inmates.

  • Alwyn Dixon

    Nice! i’m a Krav Maga instructor so I’m obviouly biased! But check Defendo from the Fairbanks/Sykes days of WW2. It’s very similar to Krav, the big difference being Krav is still used every day by IDF and the training methods are state of the art as developing within the IDF etc

  • 52 Blocks baby! Defense IS Offense.

    • From what I seeing about this, not to many other arts break fist when on defense.

  • Omar Ibrahim


  • Jack Jitsu

    Muay Thai is #10 and BJJ isnt even on the list, but ninjitsu is?

    This is a parody right???

  • Mohd Radzi

    hey guys,im from malaysia(tanah melayu),u can check my martial in this region,it is the one of the most deadliest martial art,”Silat Gayong”.

  • Brazila

    LOL……..Cant keep laughing…
    JEWS wont fight my brother….They only lies!!!!
    Kravmaga is good for kids fight….

    type a word for S-I-L-A-T
    its the most dealiest fighting style…
    and BTW iam from brazil!!!

    • Micheal Rich

      The reason why you believe it to be the deadliest is because your experiences and biased attitude towards it. Something that can be said about nearly all forms of marital arts is they were designed at the time by a certain people that were engaged in a certain situation and developed that gave them the best results. The term the of ” The deadliest form” is a joke at best !

    • Dee Moo

      Yes I agree, SILAT is deadly and wish they had a school in NYC.

  • Chuck Peterson

    I find that Krav Maga has a lot in common with American Kenpo. The strength of Karv Maga is not only that it’s effective and practical but that you can learn it quickly. The weakness is in lack of sophistication. Everyone loves their own art but you have to take the good with the bad. Kenpo is far more sophisticated BUT it takes much longer to learn. There’s a trade-off. I agree with putting Krav Maga near the top of the list but since it’s difficult to find a technique or move from KM that isn’t also in American Kenpo my feelings are hurt – real bad. I have to wipe my eyes now.

  • mssn

    Kali is the favorite martial art of police officers in U.S. because of baton tactics and edge weapons techniques… SWAT and other law enforcement personnel often train with this art…..

  • Daniyal Khan

    I am a 2nd Kyu Ninja , I can bet Ninjutsu (Not Modern one) should be on 1st , Silat sould be on 2nd and Wing Chun Should be on 3rd.

  • Elizabeth Conley

    It always comes down to the fact that some people are far more effective fighters than others, and you never know who these people are until you force them to defend themselves from you.
    It’s wisest to refrain from attacking people.

  • Vai_D2

    I think you can add Silat, KalariPayyat, Mano Mano, Sikaran and Yaw Yan. But I guess, it top 10 so a good. I did not know about 52 Handblocks and penal fighting styles. 🙂

  • John

    Krav Maga is really over hyped, and from the country it came from, they lay claim to them being the best at everything.

  • Khayr Love

    Tai Chi Chuan & Bagua Zhang will WIPE UP THE FLOOR WITH ALLLLL of these top 10. Its not listed because its the Illuminati of the Martial Arts. What it lacks in arrogance it MORE than makes up in skill set. No Brag, just fact. & to leave Wing Chung out of the top ten says is totally ludicrous. Man, a good capperera practitioner will spank a boxer, Krav Maga and ANY Marine. All of these styles are Linear & Circles will beat straight lines every time.

    Ok, yall can start rolling around on the ground & crying the blues about I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    I’ll leave you with a few names to Google that will ‘walk through’ this super biased list:

    John Painter
    Larry Sanders
    Donny Yen
    Vic Moore
    Moses Powell
    Black Taoist

    I could go on but that should hold you. Injoy your evening.

  • Fastbak

    Opinions are like ass holes everyone got em

  • tay asbury

    I mean I know krav magav is deadly but come on ninjistu 4th and they could ad silat

  • Dillon

    Jeet kune do

  • roy

    you can add Kaze Arashi (Wind-Storm), a form of jujitsu to this list. It has a few wingchun & taekwondo -like techniques. It has close body techiques & weapons fighting. Its a rare & still traditionally/conservatively practised combat form. It is so understated yet so advanced in understanding human anatomy so well that It frankly makes krav-m look like ballet. sorry!

  • nordine dridi

    krap maga my ass !! fuck jews .. i never heard about such bullshit krap maga or whatever ! however if it is that good it would helped them at least to avoid getting their asses burned by hitlir lol ninja number 4 and that crap is number one lol!

  • mike

    The most lethal of all martial arts is the one developed by the father of martial arts, none other than Bruce Lee: Jeet Kune Do. A pidgin or ugly version of which is today referred to as MMA. If an MMA fighter today truly wishes to b the greatest MMA fighter he/she simply has to study and learn as many forms and styles as they can from every discipline. Today's MMA is nothing more than a bar fight n which there r rules and the participants r not inebriated. That said, MMA today is the best and most exciting sports n the world, and the fighters who lead and for the most part live Spartanian lives, are the warriors. These young people put their limbs and lives on the line for the rest of us sofa whiners. I admire these warriors. I'm veteran of the military but n the armed forces it's a team effort. In MMA, it's mano y mano. A fighting form that goes back to the first caveman who punched his buddy for stealing the last hunk of mastadon steak before another caveman n a later fight got smart and grabbed a log to defend himself. So if u r an MMA fighter with dreams of becoming the best of the best: study all forms and styles. Would u rather come to a fight armed with everything from a penknife to a bazooka or approach your adversary with kitchen knife and maybe a baton? With all due respect to these MMA warriors today, you cannot limit yourself to striking, wrasslin', and the so-called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (no such puppy. All martial arts originated from Xaolin gung fu. The only thing that came out of Brazil r bananas, fat-a$$ed broads, and crime). Martial arts is ever-changing. You learn it then you tweak it and it becomes yours. MMA fighters today can't fight off their backs. They are like turtles on their backs, flailing arms and legs. However I did see a young kid recently on Belator who did great off his back. So fighters may be evolving. Which will b great for MMA and martial arts as a whole. I salute all warriors. One advice: NEVER look down even n defeat after a fight. You warriors do battle in the arena. You have absolutely nothing to b ashamed of. Thank you. Long live MMA!

  • Aussie TEK Kirby

    IDF’s Krav Maga number 1 totally agree with this list and USMC’s Line number 2. Few of the others little suspect for the list.

  • Shawn Stoudt

    jeet kune do is

  • Antiantifa

    krav maga hahahahaha!!!!,,,, Jewish propaganda….

  • Paulo Albuquerque

    Kali, SIlat (some styles, not all of them), and Kombato (from brazilian Military).

  • TruthTeller

    I’ve been taking BJJ for about three years and I’m decent. My friend and I are starting Jeet Kune Do in May. That should definitely be on the list, near the top in fact. I did Krav for a session but didn’t stay with it because the traveling was too far.