There is an ongoing debate in the world of martial arts about this art or that art being better for self defense. In my mind some arts may be more geared towards self defense than others and will more than likely give you a better chance of defending yourself in a street attack. I know that is a very general statement so let me drill down a bit more.
Most martial arts schools train you in a safe environment. You practice with a willing uke and do your best to learn techniques without injuring your partner who probably has to go to work the next day and needs the proper function of his or her arms, legs, fingers, etc..
The truth is that in most street fights, (and I have been in many so I know from experience what I'm talking about), they can be very fast, very brutal and the adrenaline is pumping so hard you are going all out and more! There may be multiple attackers and weapons involved. When this happens all bets are off! The term we like to use in our Combat Hapkido Club is "Junkyard Dog". When you find yourself in the heat of battle you often revert to more primal instincts. Survival is a built in response for most people and they will scratch, bite, kick, headbutt, stomp, pick up a rock or a chair and on and on to survive!
If you watch videos of real attacks on the interweb you will see that most folks just go nuts!
Now, let me say this in earnest! Training is good and if you train enough, you can burn some of these techniques into your autonomic response in a fight. Simple, easy to go to techniques like an armbar are fast and effective. It can be applied in many different ways not just what you have seen on TV at a UFC event. There are other great techniques that you can use and may well help you survive an encounter on the street. We like to say, have as many tools in your martial arts tool box as you can. When pressed, pull out your favorite ones and use them.
In closing, don't expect that just because you are a black belt in something, you will automatically win in a street fight. You may not. Street fights are dirty and unless you train at a dojo who trains you to fight dirty you may wind up hurt. Remember your best weapon is your brain and you can best win a battle by avoiding it altogether. I will write more on this subject soon in an email blast. Until then,
2nd Dan Aikido
2nd Dan Combat Hapkido