The Different Styles of Martial Arts

Did you know that there are over 180 styles of martial arts all over the globe, each with its own technique and culture?  If you’re planning to enrol into one, the choices might probably confuse you.  There are popular ones you might want to consider looking into to give you an idea which style of martial arts suits you well.


Karate is very popular and in fact, the word karate is being used by most people as a generic way to refer to all Asian martial arts.  Karate originated in Japan between 1912 and 1926, and since then, it was taught in various schools and places.  In the 60’s and 70’s, martial arts movies have greatly increased the popularity of karate.  Karate uses punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes, and open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes.  Other modern techniques used are grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital-point strikes.  It is more of a free-style type of martial arts.


Taekwondo originated in Korea, and has become a popular sport nowadays.  In fact, you may find taekwondo in the Olympic Games and other tournaments.  Taekwondo is the literal translation of “punching” and “kicking”, thus it emphasises on such techniques.  Students are also taught head-height kicks, jumping spinning kicks, and fast kicking as more advanced techniques.  The key in this style of martial arts is to attack and defend using hands and feet without using any weapons.


Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art which mainly focuses on hand techniques.  This is known to be a martial art that promotes peace and harmony, and its primary goal is for the students to learn how to control oneself instead of being violent or aggressive.  Its exercises focus on movements that redirect the opponent’s attack, such as throws, rolls.  It also trains the use of aikido bokken, a wood sword similar to the shape of a katana.  It is popularly known as a defensive martial art, and a common choice among women who wish to learn self-defence.


Muay Thai, often called “Thai Boxing” originates in Thailand.  It is a martial art and at the same time a combat sport that uses stand-up striking and clinching techniques.  They use a discipline called “the art of eight limbs” that uses a combination of fists, elbows, knees and shins.  It has become popular internationally and in the late 20th century people started competing using Muay Thai in kickboxing and mixed-rules matches.


Kung Fu is actually a family term for Chinese martial arts and has a very long history.  There are several different fighting styles developed over the centuries that fall under Kung Fu.  These fighting styles include Five Animals mimicry, qi manipulation, or improvement of muscle and cardiovascular fitness.


Judo is another Japanese modern martial art that became a sport and has been used to compete in various tournaments including the Olympics.  The techniques being used in this martial art is to throw or take down an opponent on the ground, pin or force submission using joint lock or choke.  Students are also taught strikes and thrusts by hands and feet.


From the name itself, its root comes from Brazil and was created in 1920 by Brazilian brothers.  Also known as BJJ, this martial art teaches students that even a weaker or smaller person can defend themselves from a bigger, stronger enemy using leverage and weight distribution.  It focuses on taking down and controlling one’s opponent by using techniques such as grappling, joint locks, and chokeholds.


Believe it or not, boxing is also a type of martial art which is more of a combat sport.  Boxing is basically hand-to-hand combat and uses nothing more.  This has become one of the most popular sports and in fact, a lot of people have organised boxing tournaments and made money out of it.  Boxing has built hall-of-famers that have become legends in the world of sports.