Finding the best martial arts for self defense purposes is dependent on the individual and the potential dangers in the environment. In other words, there is not a particular style which is the best but rather there is a style out there that best suits what you are trying to achieve. Described below are a few martial arts techniques which may peak your interest.
This form of martial arts is a combination of a variety of other martial arts with the exception of the aspects which are seen as unnecessary. As a result, it is a true to life form of martial arts made for self defense.
With Krav Maga, you are taught to tackle the immediate threat, stop the assailant from forming another offensive and then counteract his moves. It is the best martial arts for self defense against weapons as it was created by Israeli Special Forces to combat the challenges faced in their particular environment.
This method of martial arts is great for situations of defending oneself against an assailant with a weapon such as a gun or knife. Krav Maga places emphasis on crippling attacks to the attacker's vital areas such as the groin and promotes headbutts as well as utilizing available items around you as weapons.
Karate has a great emphasis on self defense techniques. It is a fusion of Chinese Kenpo and other indigenous fighting styles from the Ryukyu Islands. It relies on punching, kicking and strikes to the knee and elbow. This form of martial arts uses blocking and counter attacks.
It is unlike krav maga which teaches the "take down" of your attacker in that it uses "take downs" and restraint to a lesser degree. Also, while krav maga is merely for self defense and combat, karate is also used as a way of keeping fit and as a sport.
As it relates to self defense, karate teaches principles which can be used in any situation as opposed to teaching a bunch of responses to limited situations. These principles are kihon (basics), kata (forms) and kumite (sparring). They are dependent on each other and are used together for a complete method of self defense.
Ninjutsu is a traditional form of self defense. If the name sounds familiar that's because it is derived from the ancient practices of Ninja clans. While karate training requires you to uniformly do drills repeatedly Ninjutsu is a way of learning the principles of self defense and it is up to you to apply them.
This is because the typical training for Ninjutsu does not involve the drills associated with techniques like karate. While Ninjutsu is not a popular practiced martial arts technique today, many of its principles are applied to other martial arts techniques.
Taekwondo's alias, "the way of the fist and foot" paints the perfect picture of what it is all about. It is the national sport of Korea and the most practiced form of martial arts.
This form of martial arts requires strength, stamina, speed and agility. It is a high risk defense mechanism due to its kicking techniques which, if not used effectively, can leave you vulnerable to counter attacks.