It’s quite simple when you look at it. Self-defense is about getting home in one piece. Martial arts is about self-improvement, fitness, and looking good. Many people refer to martial arts with the purpose of obtaining fighting skills to protect themselves on the streets. At first, the difference is in the goal. The goal of martial arts competition is to win, to show your technical superiority over an opponent. But it’s not a good idea to compete with an assailant on the street – your aim is to protect yourself or even survive. Also the street is different from the ring or tatami because in the ring you’re prepared for the fight, but on the street people usually face with sudden violence. Thus, you have no time to develop a strategy - you have to get into action immediately. Generally, martial arts practitioners are used to fight in nearly constant and well-known conditions, wearing appropriate and comfortable clothes. On the street situation dramatically changes: attack might occur in any inappropriate place; surrounding conditions may be not on your side (slippery ground, poor illuminance, bad weather, etc); your clothes may be not good for fighting, confining moves. Martial arts have certain rules, ethics, and admit fair combat; some techniques are forbidden for the safety reasons. But street fights have no rules, and you should expect every dirty trick of an assailant - don’t reckon on a fair combat. Contrary to sparring, in a self defense situation you will quite probably deal with two or more attackers and they might be armed (with edged weapons, baseball bats, bottles, chains, etc). You should realize, that where’s no need for you to prove your fighting abilities to somebody on the street – your safety is crucial, and such solution as a quick escape might be optimal in a self defense situation.