At TheBestSchools.org, our aim is to underscore excellence in instruction and training wherever it occurs. Take martial arts. Throughout America's cities and suburbs you will find martial arts academies that promise to train students in how to defend themselves, how to become more self-confident, how to get into physical and mental shape, etc. Many even treat martial arts as a competitive sport.
All of this is fine and well. But if martial arts aims to quickly and effectively disable one or more attackers, then in our view the art of choice is Wing Chun Kung Fu and the school of choice teaching this art is Steve Lee Swift's Grandmasters Wing Chun, an academy located in Minnetonka, Minnesota (formerly in Chicago, and then in Florida). Developed by a Buddhist nun who needed to defend herself from bandits and other criminals, Wing Chun uses no fancy roundhouse kicks and engages in no extended grappling. Instead, it focuses on short sharp punches and kicks that disable an assailant with the minimum of motion and energy.
Steve Lee Swift, having earned a black belt in Karate as a teenager, found himself completely outclassed by Simon Lau (who teaches Wing Chun in London---click here). Swift then devoted his life to learning and mastering Wing Chun, of which he is now a grandmaster. Whereas martial arts sparring can sometimes seem like a dance, Wing Chun sees martial arts for what it is, a duel in which the attacker needs to be disabled as quickly as possible.
This is a serious art that requires a serious investment of time and conditioning. The conditioning is not so much your standard calisthenics or workouts, but wooden-dummy work and punching bags consisting of beans, then sand, and then metal filings, all to turn one's hands and feet into hard and punishing weapons. To prevent calcification at the joints, Swift even provides his students with a special liniment (brewed with vodka!).
Here is a video of Swift demonstrating various Wing Chun moves. Notice the extreme economy of motion (no roundhouse kicks, no rearing back to deliver a punch, no jumping or pretending to be some exotic animal).