September 4, 2022

Taekwondo: Is it Effective in a Real Street Fight?

First and foremost as our common sense dictates, street fights should be avoided. But there may be times when it’s inescapable. In those scenarios, we need to protect ourselves and the ones around us, and for that Taekwondo can act as your saviour.

The name Taekwondo is extracted from the Korean word “Tae” meaning foot, “Kwon” meaning fist and “Do” meaning “the way of”. So, literally, Taekwondo translates to “the way of the foot and fist”. The name Taekwondo was adapted in 1955 while the art itself originated some 2,300 years ago in Korea.

Taekwondo is highly effective in a street fight. Taekwondo is the martial art form which employs the techniques of kicking and punching facilitated by high speed and lightning-fast movement. It greatly emphasizes agility and stability of the body which provides the framework for landing head-height kicks, jumping kicks, turning kicks and other variations of kicking. 

Let us go in-depth on the question presented in front of us.


The physical training works for any martial artworks on only one principle – if there is no pain, there won’t be any gain.” The agility and flexibility in Taekwondo can be achieved only by performing the jaw-dropping and mind-boggling kicks.

Half of its physical conditioning involves stretching. Stretching develops flexibility and speed. Loose joints are trained to move faster, kick higher, and perform swift body motions. The body adapts to quick sudden movements and strengthens the ligaments and tendons.

 taekwondo combat

In a real street fight, Taekwondo and other martial arts practitioners go for moves which are more straightforward but executed at a high pace. If the joint is stiff, it cannot perform the actions that the brain requires and hence result in an unprecedented injury. Therefore, stretching done in Taekwondo becomes beneficial.

Taekwondo practitioners also practice basic kicks and punches regularly. It develops endurance and muscle memory. Real Street fights have no rounds and no time limit. Though real fights rarely last that long, there are cases of running street fights that require a lot of endurance. 

Taekwondo, in that sense, helps in developing the stamina and cardio-vascular strength.

Mental Fortitude

The second factor in winning a fight is mental strength. You panic, you lose. Martial Arts practitioners train every day to overcome the paralyzing fear and think and move flawlessly even in the presence of that fear.

There is always the mention of adrenaline in these cases and how it may be useful. But relying on adrenaline is foolish as it contributes to fear and clouds our judgement. Taekwondo practitioners are constantly reminded of the necessity of controlling one’s emotions in combat. 

It is imperative not to lose patience and keep practising to get better at it. Taekwondo practitioners are also taught in the art of withstanding and enduring pain which in turn helps in developing tolerance.

Skills and Training

It takes years of training to execute flamboyant kicks, In a real street fight, it is a subject to high risk, and the chance of success is often meagre. Naysayers hold on to this fact and believe that Taekwondo, or any martial arts for that matter, cannot be of any use in street fights.

The time taken for a Taekwondo expert to execute a jumping spinning hook kick is the same amount of time an amateur takes to strike with a hook punch. Do naysayers argue that then what’s the point of learning these martial arts if this is the case in reality?

Taekwondo is a combat sport focusing more on self-defense. Big flashy kicks are taught to push the limits of the human body. It is a competitive sport just like any other, and the big flashy moves are as useful in a fight as the bicycle kick is useful in soccer games.

As stated earlier, the moves used are not as important as the physical conditioning and training that built a physique capable of executing such a move. There are technical aspects taught in TaeKwonDo that are useful in a real fight which can save a life.

Defense Mechanism in Taekwondo

The Fighting Stance

The fighting stance is the most useful in carrying out offensive and defensive movements. In numerous sparring matches, the usage of the fighting stance helps in protecting the fatal and vital parts of the body.

Side Stepping

The side step is a defensive move to dodge blows and then counter-attack. Perfect execution is accomplished through intense regular pieces of training.

Most common attack by the amateurs in street fights is the spear. This stance is a protection against the spear as the opponent expects a kick and tries to move farther.


Skipping in and out of kicking range is a basic Taekwondo training drill. In a street fight, this is a countermeasure against opponents armed with short knives.

Palm Block

Blocking strikes is intuitive. The body automatically tries to protect the face and head by raising the hands or arms. The eyes shut on its own as well.  

Taekwondo is based on the premise that the legs are more robust than the arms. Taekwondo blocks and protects against this premise.

Proper blocking drills help in maintaining composure and balance while reducing the chance of injury. 

Offense Mechanism in Taekwondo

The Axe Kick

This move showcases the flamboyant devastating moves that a Taekwondo practitioner is known for. This move involves lifting the leg to the height of the head in an upright position. With the help of the second leg shift the centre of gravity then drop the whole weight of the body with the heel of the kicking leg to the opponent’s temple similar to an axe blow.

In a street fight, when the opponent is bent down or crouching a massive strike of axe kick will do the job with the utmost ease. Axe kick is performed from a distance and hence its effective against opponents with weapons.

Side / Back / Turning Side Kick

This is one of Taekwondo’s most essential and reliable kicks. To deal with multiple opponents, this kick is often relied upon as it’s similar to a horse kicking with its hind legs.

It counters the threat from behind as well and lands the leg in a perfect recovery position to deal with the next attack quickly.

Forty-Five Kick

The 45 or roundhouse kick is another primary Taekwondo kick that is aimed at the lower body. In street fights, the opponent always tries to protect its head, leaving the lower body vulnerable.

The 45 kick can quickly be executed with a fast recovery that attacks the lower body. This move is also taught as the basic military move. In a street fight, while not as powerful as other Taekwondo kicks, it is fast and lands a surprise attack on the opponent.

The Weaknesses in Taekwondo

Lack of Ground Control

Imagine fighting someone who is a pro at jiu jitsu or a wrestler, and I am sure the Taekwondo person won’t be able to stand his ground for very long. This is because of the lack of any ground control in Taekwondo.

Poor Punching Technique 

Punching techniques in Taekwondo is entirely mediocre and is only used as a backup. Therefore there is no punching power, and Taekwondo falls short of that “all-rounder” martial art form in this sense.

Clinching Techniques

Taekwondo probably is the best sport if played or practised in a vast cricket field, but when it comes to a close-range fight, Taekwondo is clearly lacking. This is because the clinching technique of Taekwondo is not up to mark. Hence, when in the grasp of an opponent, there is nothing much that a Taekwondo fighter can do.

No weapon training 

Most martial arts out there provide training with some sort of weapon after a while. This not only makes the practitioner healthy but also aware of how to defend themselves when attacked with something of that sort. Taekwondo, in this case, lags behind too as it does not provide any weapons training whatsoever.

Taekwondo vs Other Martial Art Styles

Taekwondo vs Muay Thai

Without any doubt, the pick will be Muay Thai.

When it comes to street fights and involving a situation of self-defense, Muay Thai is far superior. There are no two ways about it.

The reflex in a street fight is to escape while surviving and Muay Thaai, correctly referred to as the “art of eight limbs” can defeat any opponent.

Muay Thai is all about the excellent grappling technique, which surprisingly is not present in Taekwondo. It utilizes a whole-body offensive leaving no room for the opponent while Taekwondo focuses more on striking the upper body only.

When all of the things mentioned above are taken into account, Muay Thai comes out victorious with a considerable margin.

Taekwondo vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is probably the best martial art form to know when caught up in the middle of an unpleasant situation. 

The whole aim of Jiu Jitsu is to relentlessly tire the opponent before pinning him to the ground and forcing him to submission. Taekwondo, on the other hand, uses kicks to strike the attacker from different angles on the head, chest and collarbone.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about finishing off the opponent with the fantastic ground control and grappling. If a Taekwondo fighter is unfortunate enough to come face to face with a person who knows Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, all I can say is Good Luck!

Taekwondo vs Karate

What will you do in a confrontational situation? Will Taekwondo or Karate help you face your attacker?

The answer is a big Yes.

When it comes to street fights, Karate and Taekwondo are equally effective. The firm kicks and footwork that both the martial arts use can leave the opponent wholly flushed.

In Taekwondo, kicks are slightly more emphasized, and it can come in very handy. You can turn back and hit your opponent on the chest before he can even see it coming, thus taking him by surprise. 

The same goes for Karate; the powerful kicks and punches can help you overcome any situation of dire aggression, and you can completely bedazzle the opponent.

Taekwondo and Karate are both very well-rounded art forms and will help you win any street fight kind of situation efficiently.


When it comes to saving one’s own life, it is crucial to be aware, quick and agile.

Now that we have a decent idea about the techniques of Taekwondo, considering everything in mind, we can say for sure that Taekwondo is useful in a street fight.

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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