Martial arts have captivated people for ages, and it’s no wonder – with so many diverse styles and disciplines originating from different regions, there’s something for everyone.
From traditional practices like kung fu to more modern types of martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I, like many others, have an insatiable curiosity about the various forms of martial arts.
Some martial arts focus on grappling and throwing, while others emphasize weapons or the art of relaxation and self-defense.
As someone who has been practicing martial arts for more than 10 years, I could talk about it all day, but for the sake of this introduction let’s just get down to it!
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Traditional Martial Arts
First things first and start with the basics; traditional martial arts. Origin from wonderful places like Japan, Korea, and Okinawa, to name a few.
When most people think of martial arts, they might picture Kung Fu, which originated in China.
Did you know that there are about a gazillion different styles of Kung Fu?
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but there are a lot of them! Kung Fu is known for its acrobatics and fluid motions, focusing on kicks, punches, and other striking techniques.
Some styles even use weapons! A true spectacle to watch, if I may say so myself.
Personally, I haven’t tried kung fu, but I am pretty excited to try it out soon. Ever since I watched a video of Shaolin monks performing various Chinese martial arts and looking like real-life ninjas, I just have to try it out myself. 🥷
While we’re hanging out in Japan, let’s talk about Karate.
Though it has its origins in Okinawa, it’s now practiced globally. Karate emphasizes striking and kicking techniques, training both the body and the mind.
Word of caution: Do not confuse Karate with its cousin, Shotokan Karate, which is a specific type of Karate (more on that later!).
Still, in Japan, we have the martial art of Aikido.
Now, Aikido takes a different approach than some of the other martial arts we’ve discussed. It’s all about neutralizing an attacker by redirecting their energy and using joint locks and throws.
Aikido practitioners aim to protect themselves without causing unnecessary harm to their opponents. Quite the peaceful warriors, wouldn’t you agree?
Heading back to China for a bit, allow me to introduce you to Wing Chun.
This martial art is well-known for its close-range combat techniques, focusing on quick, successive strikes.
Ever heard of a guy named Bruce Lee? Yeah, he trained in Wing Chun, and as we all know, he was pretty darn good at kicking butt!
I promised to get back to this one, so here we are Shotokan Karate. It’s a sub-style of Karate that originated in Japan, and its practitioners focus on speed, precision, and power.
What sets it apart from other types of Karate is its methodical practice and specific katas (forms). It’s kind of like regular Karate’s stricter sibling if you ask me.
Last but not least, let’s travel back to Japan one more time for Kendo.
Kendo is unique among traditional martial arts because it is primarily focused on the use of a weapon: the mighty bamboo sword known as the shinai.
Kendo practitioners seek to strike specific target areas on their opponent’s body while maintaining a calm and composed demeanor.
Talk about grace under pressure, am I right?
Modern Martial Arts
Contrary to traditional martial arts (some of which date back to 1000 BC), these are the styles that emerged in more recent times, offering innovative techniques and training methods to expand our knowledge and capabilities in self-defense and combat sports.
Krav Maga is not for the faint-hearted!
The Israeli military created this martial art, which focuses on effective and brutal real-world self-defense techniques.
Picture this: Hand-to-hand combat, joint locks, and improvised weapons galore I have tried this martial art once and let me tell you; when it comes to Krav Maga, your enemies won’t know what hit them (at least I didn’t 😅)
Can you imagine combining dance, music, and martial arts into one fabulous spectacle? That’s capoeira for you!
This martial art, which Brazilian slaves developed, has evolved into a mesmerizing display of acrobatics, high-flying kicks, and evasive maneuvers.
Music to my ears and eyes!
Jeet Kune Do
Bruce Lee, anyone?
Yes, that’s right. The legendary martial artist founded Jeet Kune Do as a style without boundaries.
Its focus is on adaptability and fluidity to respond to any style of attack. I always knew I could harness my inner Bruce Lee with this martial art.
If my feet could talk, they would probably say “merci” after learning Savate, the French boxing martial art.
Combining graceful footwork with powerful kicks and punches, this stylish sport has really made its mark on the whole combat sports scene. Bring on the gloves and let the elegance commence!
Now, for a lovely blend of flavors, I present Kajukenbo! This martial art combines techniques from karate, judo, jujitsu, kendo, and boxing.
With a focus on both striking and grappling, students get a taste of everything, making this style quite the martial arts buffet.
Fancy martial arts that offer both self-defense and personal development?
Then Choi Kwang-Do is your answer.
This school, which Korean martial artist Kwang Jo Choi founded, places a strong emphasis on fluid movements, effective strikes, and a non-aggressive philosophy. Talk about a well-rounded discipline, huh?
Shorinji Kempo is all about the Zen experience.
With roots in Japanese and Chinese martial arts, this practice balances physical training with mindfulness and meditation.
Throw in some other grappling techniques, strikes, and pressure points, and you’ve got a martial art that truly nourishes the mind, body, and soul.
If I were to describe Bando as a martial art, I’d call it “diversity personified.” Hailing from Myanmar, this versatile style includes kickboxing, grappling, and weapons training.
This martial art developed a unique animal-based component (think snake, bull, or panther strikes) that adds a wild touch to mixed martial arts.
Kuk Sool Won
We are going back to Korea with Kuk Sool Won.
While it’s a modern martial art, it actually draws upon ancient Korean combat techniques, which I think is pretty cool.
With a focus on joint locks, pressure points, strikes, and weapons, this comprehensive system really tests your abilities with rigorous training, making it one of the most difficult Korean martial art techniques to master.
Finally, we arrive at Vovinam, a martial arts style that originates in Vietnam. It offers a rich assortment of techniques.
From striking and grappling to acrobatics and weapon mastery, this discipline aims to create a balanced martial artist.
You could say it’s a martial art that doesn’t let you Viet bored. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
Grappling and Throwing Styles
Judo is a Japanese martial arts style you have probably heard of. It focuses on grappling and throwing your opponent.
In my experience, it’s all about using their own momentum against them and gracefully flipping them over onto the mat.
Judo emphasizes self-defense and discipline, and you’ll often find practitioners refining their joint locks and chokes.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ for short, has quickly become one of my favorites. Developed in Brazil, it evolved from Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, emphasizing ground fighting.
In BJJ, I can use my opponent’s size and strength to my advantage, applying chokes and joint locks to neutralize them.
It’s great for self-defense as well as physical and mental discipline.
Hailing from Russia, sambo is a martial art that combines judo and wrestling techniques. I’ve always been fascinated by its emphasis on grappling and throwing.
From leg locks to arm bars, Sambo can provide a solid foundation for self-defense while strengthening my discipline and body.
Moving on to Southeast Asia, Pencak Silat is one of Indonesia’s most famous martial arts. It encompasses a wide array of techniques, including strikes, throws, and joint locks.
I find the mix of grappling, striking, and weapon play enthralling. It’s not just about self-defense but also about preserving tradition and culture, which is cool if you ask me.
Eskrima, Eskrido, and Arnis
Originating in the Philippines, Eskrima, Eskrido, and Arnis are often used interchangeably, and trust me, they’re a wild and engaging ride.
With a strong focus on stick and knife fighting, these martial arts also incorporate grappling and throwing techniques, making them well-rounded and challenging.
Aikijujutsu, another Japanese martial art, places emphasis on redirecting an attacker’s energy.
What I love about Japanese martial arts, and Aikijujutsu in particular, is that it combines the throws and joint locks of judo with the fluid movements of aikido, providing a comprehensive approach to self-defense.
This martial art features a blend of judo, karate, and aikido techniques.
When I practice Yoseikan Budo, I feel like I’m engaging in a mesmerizing dance, blending striking, throwing, and grappling moves in a seamless, disciplined flow.
Last but not least, traditional Japanese martial arts, aka Jiu-Jitsu!
Focused on joint locks, throws, and chokes, it’s the art that gave birth to Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s an amazing practice for self-defense, honing my discipline, and keeping an ancient tradition alive.
Weapon-based Martial Arts
So now we are finally moving on to the most exciting part: the realm of weapon-based martial arts!
Let me guide you through this thrilling journey as we slice, dice, and parry our way through some of the most iconic styles that are sure to pique your interest.
These martial arts focus on using various weapons as extensions of the practitioner’s body.
So let’s start in the Phillipines.
Kali mainly focuses on using sticks and bladed weapons, turning ordinary objects into formidable tools of combat.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to channel their inner Jason Bourne with a pen or a rolled-up magazine?
Kali’s approach is practical and versatile, enabling you to handle various scenarios with ease.
Imagine walking down the street with nothing but a pen and the confidence of a modern-day ninja (not that I condone vigilantism!).
Moving on to Baguazhang, we encounter a Chinese martial art that emphasizes swift footwork and fluid movements.
With weapons ranging from elegant Chinese swords to the majestic Bagua staff, it is no wonder this art form is often featured in those mesmerizing martial arts movies!
I can’t help but picture myself swirling gracefully in a Wuxia film, each strike a breathtaking dance of precision and power.
Xingyiquan is one of the other Chinese types of martial arts that include weapons.
It arms you with a vast array of weapons steeped in tradition. The focus here lies heavily on swordsmanship, especially the renowned Chinese straight sword.
Last but certainly not least in this category is Shito-Ryu Karate, a Japanese martial art that incorporates an impressive selection of weapons.
This style showcases traditional weapons like the katana and bo staff, making it an excellent choice for those fond of samurai lore.
Studying Shito-Ryu means immersing yourself in an art form that combines the power of karate with the elegance of weapon handling.
Learning to strike with a staff or unleash your inner samurai with a katana is an experience that requires a ton of technique.
Meditative and Defense-focused Arts
Okay, I know what you are thinking:
“Meditative martial arts? Boooooring.“
But hear me out: there are a few styles that focus on meditation, self-defense, and critical breathing techniques, giving you a big advantage over others like increased stamina and self-control.
It is even said that breathing techniques in meditative martial arts are the secret behind superhuman strength like breaking rocks and stuff.
Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to keep this as lighthearted and enjoyable as possible 😀
Aikido is all about blending with your opponent’s energy, almost like a beautiful dance.
Aikido, which is less focused on striking and more on using your opponent’s movements against you, emphasizes circular techniques and balance.
Don’t forget to breathe, though, as proper breathing is essential for mastering this art.
Moving on to Hapkido, this Korean martial art is a blend of self-defense and dynamic joint locking.
Talented practitioners use their opponents’ energy to throw them off balance.
As with any martial arts style, there’s also an emphasis on body coordination and breathing, which are perfect for centering oneself in high-stress situations.
Silat is an Indonesian martial art oozing with fluidity and adaptability.
Silat practitioners use a combination of strikes, locks, and throws, with smooth transitions in between.
Meditation and breathing techniques play a big role in mastering Silat, as they provide mental clarity and calmness.
Japanese Shotokan Karate is a well-known martial art where strong, linear techniques meet deep-rooted stances.
According to this source, it emphasizes a balance between offense and defense, effectively making it a versatile discipline.
But don’t let its strength fool you! Stillness and breathing are important aspects of Shotokan karate.
Another badass Japanese martial art that includes sword fighting Kendo incorporates wooden swords, or “shinai,” alongside protective armor.
Sounds a bit like samurai training, right? 🥷
Although it’s a weapons-based martial art, Kendo still emphasizes spirituality, harmony, and, yes, you guessed it, proper breathing techniques.
Finally, we have the Russian martial art of Systema. Rooted in ancient fighting styles, it focuses on relaxation, spontaneity, and efficiency in movements.
It’s military-based, so expect some no-nonsense, practical self-defense techniques.
Once again, breathing and meditation play a key role in mastering this martial art style, because what’s a martial art without good, deep breaths?
Hybrid Martial Arts Systems
The last types of martial arts are what men call hybrid martial arts.
First up is Muay Thai, which originated in Thailand, hence the name. They call it “The Art of Eight Limbs” because, well, I use all eight of my limbs—fists, elbows, knees, and shins—for some intense striking!
Besides getting me in tip-top shape, I’ve learned that the primary focus on strikes and stand-up combat makes it an ideal martial art for mixed martial arts.
Mixed martial arts is one of the most popular martial arts styles since it is used in big competitions like the UFC and One Championship.
The Inosanto Blend is the next, and I find it to be quite exciting because Guro Dan Inosanto was none other than Bruce Lee’s student!
This hybrid martial art takes elements from many martial arts schools, such as Kali, Silat, Muay Thai, and more.
It’s like a buffet of different types of martial arts, focusing on weapons training and empty-hand combat.
In my humble opinion, Inosanto Blend is a fantastic way to expand my horizons while still kicking butt!
Shooto is a hybrid martial arts gem from Japan that combines elements of wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
With its emphasis on grappling, wrestling, and submission holds, it amazes me how well-rounded this martial art is, given its roots in the Far East.
In Russia, they call it Combat Sambo. I guess I have to watch out for those Russians with their strong Shooto skills, huh? 🤔
Last but not least, there’s combat hapkido. Originating from South Korea, this martial art focuses on self-defense, incorporating techniques from traditional Hapkido and other martial arts like Ju-jitsu and Taekwondo.
What I love about Combat Hapkido is that it helps me deal with real-life situations, such as joint locks and counters to strikes, avoiding unnecessary harm.
It’s like they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
Martial Arts and Self-Defense
So now that you know about more than 25 different types of martial arts, what next? – Well, let me explain to you how it can help you become a self-defense guru.
There are many martial arts styles that focus specifically on self-defense techniques.
One of my favorites is Krav Maga.
This Israeli martial art borrows heavily from other martial arts like boxing, wrestling, karate, and Jiu-Jitsu.
Similarly, mixed martial arts (MMA) is all the rage these days, especially for its emphasis on striking, grappling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The variety of martial arts styles in MMA creates well-rounded fighters capable of defending themselves no matter where a fight goes.
Psychology and Awareness
Speaking of self-defense, awareness, and psychology play a significant role as well.
Aikido, a Japanese martial art, really hones in on these aspects.
It focuses on timing, technique, and limiting the amount of violence used, which is perfect for someone like me whose main goal is to avoid conflict gracefully.
Another interesting art is the ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi, or more specifically, Tai Chi Chuan.
It started as a martial art but has evolved into a healthy exercise that still incorporates self-defense elements.
You bet I’m psyched to give it a shot in my next quest for physical and mental balance.
Even though I don’t want to be involved with them, I still want to know how to defend myself if I ever find myself in an unexpected situation.
I’m relieved to know that martial arts like Kali and Eskrima from the Philippines focus on weapons-based fighting and defense.
These traditional skills have been passed down through generations, and when I took some classes, it really made me feel like I was part of something much bigger.
Another martial art with a focus on weapons defense is Hapkido, which I find particularly exciting!
This Korean art teaches self-defense against various types of weapon attacks, and it really gives me confidence so I feel prepared for anything life might throw at me—literally.
What is The Best Martial Arts for Beginners?
You know, I’ve often asked myself what martial arts training style would be best for beginners like me
Well, as it turns out, the answer isn’t as simple as choosing “Martial Art X” because there are a variety of factors to consider. Like your personal goals, fitness level, time commitment, cost, and location.
Sure, you can choose to take Shaolin Kung Fu classes, but are you willing to travel all the way to Tibet, China, and dedicate the next 15 years to mastering it? That’s what I thought…
Which Martial Arts is Best for You?
You might want to chuckle at the idea of me donning a karate gi or judo outfit, but believe it or not, there are martial arts that cater to various needs, fitness levels, and personal preferences.
Self-defense, physical fitness, mental discipline, or simply picking up a new hobby could determine which martial art is best for you.
With that said, let’s take a quick look at some popular martial arts for beginners.
- Boxing: With its simplicity and focus on punching your opponent, boxing is arguably one of the easiest martial arts to learn but one of the hardest to master. Glove up and prepare to bob and weave your way to better reflexes and fitness.
- Kickboxing: It’s like boxing, but now you can kick too! A fusion of karate, Muay Thai, and boxing, kickboxing is an excellent choice to enhance your coordination, flexibility, and overall workout routine.
- Krav Maga: If you’re like me and want to quickly learn some practical self-defense moves, Krav Maga is calling your name. It aims to end fights efficiently while teaching techniques that aren’t allowed in sports competitions (not for the faint-hearted!).
- Muay Thai: Maybe you fancy becoming an eight-limbed warrior (trust me, that’s a compliment). Muay Thai is the perfect martial art to utilize your fists, elbows, knees, and shins for a high-energy, full-body workout.
If you still haven’t figured out which one to choose, I made a handy table that will allow you to find the best martial arts for you.
|Personal Goals (Examples)||Physical Fitness Level||Time Commitment||Self-Defense vs. Sport||Cost (Average per Month)||Location (Availability)|
|Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu||Fitness, Self-Defense, Competition||Moderate to High||Moderate to High (3-5 days per week)||Both||$100 – $200||Worldwide, Easy to Find|
|Boxing||Fitness, Competition||High||High (4-6 days per week)||Sport, but self-defense applicable||$50 – $200||Worldwide, Easy to Find|
|Taekwondo||Discipline, Self-Defense, Competition||Low to Moderate||Moderate (2-4 days per week)||Sport, but self-defense applicable||$70 – $150||Worldwide, Easy to Find|
|Aikido||Self-Defense, Spiritual Development||Low to Moderate||Moderate (2-4 days per week)||Self-Defense||$60 – $150||Mostly in Major Cities|
|Krav Maga||Self-Defense, Fitness||Moderate to High||Moderate (2-4 days per week)||Sport, but self-defense applicable||$50 – $150||Worldwide, Easy to Find|
|Judo||Fitness, Competition||Moderate to High||Moderate to High (3-5 days per week)||Sport, but self-defense applicable||$50 – $150||Worldwide, Easy to Find|
|Karate||Discipline, Self-Defense, Fitness||Low to Moderate||Moderate (2-4 days per week)||Both||$50 – $150||Worldwide, Easy to Find|
|Kung Fu||Discipline, Spiritual Development, Self-Defense||Moderate||Moderate (2-4 days per week)||Both||$70 – $150||Availability Varies|
What is The Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense?
Krav Maga is widely recognized as the best martial arts for self-defense due to its focus on real-world situations and practicality.
What is The Best Martial Arts for Street-Fighting?
My top pick for the best martial art for street fighting is undoubtedly Krav Maga. This hand-to-hand combat system focuses on practical techniques and a no-nonsense physical approach.
Plus, there’s no need for gloves or any fancy-schmancy gear during training—just your street smarts and determination.
Now, if we’re talking about a combo platter of martial arts, let me introduce you to mixed martial arts (MMA). You might have heard of it on your TV screens; it’s kind of a big deal. MMA incorporates striking, grappling, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, creating well-rounded fighters capable of defending themselves in any direction a fight goes.
So, if you’re up for a challenge and looking for something dynamic, MMA won’t disappoint.
I can’t help but mention boxing, a classic choice for street-fighting warriors.
It’s not just about throwing punches; it also involves blocking and actively defending yourself with swift moves. Balancing cardio and strength training, boxing will improve your motor skills, endurance, and mental preparedness for a real brawl.
Finally, let’s talk about Wing Chun, an art that’s both loved and, well, not so loved. Some say it’s the best for self-defense, while others think it’s the worst. I say, give it a shot and find out for yourself. Wing Chun is balanced and focuses on hand techniques similar to boxing. Just be aware that it doesn’t have a ground-fighting system.
What is The Best Martial Arts in The World?
Ah, the age-old question: which martial art is the best in the world? Well, let me tell you, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question.
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is great for close combat and ground fighting and is often used in modern MMA.
- Muay Thai, the “Art of Eight Limbs,” is ideal for stand-up fighting and kickboxing with its use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins.
- Boxing emphasizes technique, speed, and strategy, offering an intensive cardio workout.
- Krav Maga, developed by the Israeli military, is a practical, real-life self-defense system combining the best parts of various martial arts.
What is The Best Martial Arts Movie?
It’s tough to pick just one martial arts movie as the best, because there are so many fantastic films out there that showcase the genre’s incredible choreography, action, and drama.
However, I’ll try my best to explain my thoughts on one that really stands out.
- Five Deadly Venoms, a classic Hong Kong film, offers an engaging storyline, phenomenal fight scenes, and impressive acrobatics that make it infinitely rewatchable.
- The Prodigal Son (1981), an action comedy, brilliantly blends humor, drama, and well-choreographed fight scenes, keeping you entertained throughout.
Five Deadly Venoms
What is The Best Martial Arts Manga?
Alright, let me tell you about the best martial arts manga out there. You know, as someone who loves a good punch or a well-timed kick, I’ve read quite a few martial arts manga.
First off, we have The Breaker. This one is a fantastic mix of gritty action, intense characters, and jaw-dropping martial arts mastery. If you haven’t read it yet, put this at the top of your list!
Next up is Hinomaru Sumo, which, believe it or not, is as thrilling as it gets when it’s about sumo wrestling. Now, this one blew my mind! It shows the power of sumo in a light I’d never seen before, and before you know it, you’ll be hooked on these larger-than-life characters.
And how can I forget the Legend of the Northern Blade? This martial arts manhwa (Korean manga) is set in a fascinating fantasy world with some seriously awe-inspiring fight scenes. Plus, it’s got an underdog story that’s just so easy to root for.
Another one that’s an absolute must-read for every martial arts fan is Vagabond. This magnificent manga adapts the life of legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto, and it’s got some of the most stunning artwork you’ll see in any manga, ever. Seriously, I can’t stop talking about how beautiful this one is.
Finally, we have the ever-popular Naruto. Alright now, don’t start rolling your eyes at me. I know it’s super mainstream, but it’s simply a classic that can’t be overlooked. It’s got heartwarming moments and tearjerkers, and let’s not underestimate the pure joy of watching ninjas go at it in epic battles.
My Final 2 Cents
So, there you have it—my whirlwind tour of the wonderful world of martial arts.
I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did and maybe even learned a thing or two. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find the nearest dojo and unleash my inner Bruce Lee. 🥷