Most people understand the importance of learning self defense but do not have time or the discipline or are unsure about which style they should learn. Going by statistics learning how to defend yourself should be just as important as wearing a seat belt considering you are more likely to be victim of a violent assault then a car crash, of course the ramifications of the two are very different and the stats are subject to many variables.
Owning a gun, pepper spray etc. are all good precautions to take for your personal safety but for many people a gun (the most effective) is simply not an option. Martial arts will give you not only the ability to fight but you will find that you become more confident, disciplined and you may even make some new friends.
Every style will give you these benefits but some styles are better than others depending on what your goals are. I will discuss which are the best martial arts styles to learn for the busy individual with moderate fitness level and flexibility.
This particular style was one of the styles Bruce Lee borrowed some moves to create Jeet Kune Do. Why this is good for beginners or busy individuals is because there are not many moves and they are quite basic moves. This will allow you to pick them up quickly, once you know the moves you can then practice them over and over until they become second nature and you acquire ‘muscle memory’.
So if you do find your self in a situation you will instinctively react rather then fumbling with fancy moves that are not very practical in a street fight. Also it specializes in attacking and defending simultaneously, this ensures the fight is over quickly for people who are not very fit. A search online should return some dojos nearby or you can learn wing chun online. The first option is better, that way you can spar with other students and have a teacher watching over you to see if you are doing things correctly.
This style was developed by the Israel Defense Forces, it is a combination of Aikido, Judo, boxing and wrestling. It has a lot of techniques to use if people come at you with a knife or a gun. It also shows you what to do when someone grabs you from behind, gets you in a headlock etc.
With the addition of striking techniques usually to vital areas, you have the ability to disable an opponent before they get to attack you. Ideal to incapacitate a would be attacker and get away before things get ugly.
Jiu Jitsu is a traditional Japanese art, most may have heard of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which is a more modern variation of this style. The appeal of this style is its ability for a weaker person to take down a stronger opponent by use of joint locks and redirection of energy.
It is very effective if you get taken down to the ground, there are various techniques to turn the tables in your favor and have your opponent in a joint lock to either break their arm or leg or put them to sleep so you can disable the threat. This style does not have many striking techniques.
This style is similar to Jiu Jitsu in the respect that a small opponent can take on a much larger opponent by using their own force against them. It is not as much focused on ground fighting more throwing your opponent around and twisting their arm in un natural positions and even breaking limbs if necessary. Just like Jiu Jitsu there are very few striking techniques, some teachers will incorporate extra striking techniques to balance it out.
Tae Kwan Do
This martial art style is focused mainly on kicking, utilizing the strongest muscles in the body to inflict maximum damage. This is good to keep distance between you and your enemies. this art also has a lot of very fancy kicks that you are unlikely to use in a real fight unless you are some sort of grand master.
Most teachers will also incorporate some anti grapple techniques into the training to make it more practical for self defense purposes.
You will normally have multiple schools to choose from near your home and they normally let you watch a class or two to see if it is right for you so by all means shop around, read some reviews and do some research. If you are unable to find any schools teaching the styles mentioned on this list then any martial arts style is better then none at all.