The Eleven Most Popular Types of Martial Arts

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Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; physical, mental, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage.

The Eleven Most Popular Types of Martial Arts

Here is my list of the 11 most popular types of martial arts:

1. MMA

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows both striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from other combat sports and martial arts. The first documented use of the term “mixed martial arts” was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg in 1993. The term gained popularity when newfull contact rulesets forderived from different traditional martial arts allowed for more exciting matches.

Since the early 2000s, MMA has been promoted as a sport in North America and elsewhere. It has been heralded as a viable alternative to boxing and professional wrestling. MMA is a relatively young sport with a great deal of potential for growth.

2. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport, and self-defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. It was originally developed by the Gracie family in Brazil in the early 20th century. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is often taught as a self-defense system for smaller individuals who want to defend themselves against larger opponents.

The techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are designed to enable a smaller, weaker person to successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger opponent by using leverage, balance, and proper technique. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an increasingly popular martial art, with many schools and practitioners across the world.

3. Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art that was developed in the early 20th century. It is based on the principles of Aiki, which emphasize harmonious relationships and cooperation. Aikido practitioners use techniques such as joint locks and throws to subdue their opponents without causing serious injury.

The goal of Aikido is to achieve harmony between oneself and others, and to resolve conflict non-violently. Aikido is often taught in a cooperative environment, where students help each other to improve their techniques. This cooperative approach is one of the things that makes Aikido unique among martial arts.

4. Boxing

Boxing is often considered a brutal sport, and with good reason. Two opponents enter the ring, and using only their fists, they attempt to knock each other out. Injuries are common, and concussions are not uncommon. In fact, there is growing concern over the long-term effects of repeated blows to the head. So why do people box?

For some, it is the challenge of trying to best another person in physical combat. For others, it is the appeal of testing oneself against tough odds. And for some, it is simply the thrill of being in the ring, surrounded by the excitement of the crowd. Whatever the reason, boxing remains a popular sport around the world, and shows no signs of waning anytime soon.

5. Kung Fu

Kung fu is a martial art that originated in China. Unlike other martial arts, which focus on punches and kicks, kung fu emphasizes the use of one’s entire body to defend oneself. In addition to its self-defense applications, kung fu is also an effective form of exercise, requiring both mental and physical discipline.

As a result, kung fu practitioners often develop increased strength, flexibility, and stamina. In addition, the practice of kung fu can also promote inner peace and tranquility. For these reasons, kung fu has become increasingly popular in recent years, with people of all ages and abilities finding benefit in its practice.

6. Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that focuses on kicks and punches. It is one of the most popular martial arts in the world, with millions of practitioners worldwide. Taekwondo is an excellent way to improve fitness and flexibility, as well as to learn self-defense.

The discipline and control required to master taekwondo can alsohelp to build character. If you are considering taking up taekwondo, be sure to find a reputable school with experienced instructors. With commitment and practice, you can achieve success in this rewarding Martial Art.

7. Judo

Judo is a Japanese martial art that was created in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. It is a combat sport that is primarily a system of flips, throws, and holds, and it can be practiced with or without weapons. Judo is an Olympic sport, and it is also one of the most popular sports in the world.

It is practiced by millions of people of all ages, and it is a great way to get exercise and stay in shape. Judo can be used for self-defense, but it is also a great way to learn discipline and control. Judo is a unique sport, and it offers many benefits for those who practice it.

8. Sambo

Sambo is a martial art that originated in Japan. It is a new form of unarmed combat that combines elements of Judo, Jujitsu, and boxing. Sambo is an acronym that stands for “Samozashchita Bez Oruzhiya,” which means “self-defense without weapons.”

The art was created in the 1920s by Vasili Oshchepkov, a former student of Judo founder Jigoro Kano. Oshchepkov was also a member of the Soviet Union’s military intelligence agency and he used his knowledge of Judo to develop a new form of hand-to-hand combat that could be used by the Red Army.

9. Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed in Israel that has been adopted by military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies around the world. It is based on a simple principle: to neutralize an attacker as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means using whatever means are available, including punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.

Krav Maga also incorporates techniques from other martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. The result is a highly effective system that can be used in a variety of situations. Krav Maga is not just about physical techniques, however. It also emphasizes mental toughness and awareness, which are essential for surviving a real-world attack.

10. Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a form of unarmed martial arts that originates from Thailand. It is also known as the art of eight limbs, as it employs punches, kicks, elbows and knees. Muay Thai is an effective combat sport, as well as a great way to get fit and learn self-defence.

The benefits of Muay Thai training include improved cardio fitness, strength and flexibility. Muay Thai is also a great way to reduce stress and improve focus and concentration. If you are looking for a challenging and enjoyable workout, Muay Thai is definitely worth considering.

11. Jujutsu

Jujutsu is a Japanese martial art that dates back to the feudal era. It is based on the principles of leverage and balance, and focuses on using an opponent’s own momentum against them. Jujutsu practitioners use a variety of techniques, including strikes, throws, and joint locks, to subdue their opponents.

The art is often used in self-defense situations, and has been adapted for use by law enforcement and military personnel. Jujutsu is a versatile and effective martial art, and its popularity continues to grow around the world.


What are the two types of martial arts systems?

Martial arts systems can be broadly divided into two types: striking and grappling. Striking martial arts include those that focus on punches, kicks, elbows, and knees (such as karate, taekwondo, and Muay Thai), while grappling martial arts include those that focus on throws, takedowns, joint locks, and submission holds (such as jujitsu, aikido, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).

There are also hybrid martial arts that combine elements of both striking and grappling (such as mixed martial arts).

Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense

There are many different types of martial arts, each with its own unique benefits.

However, not all martial arts are created equal when it comes to self-defense. Some styles are more effective than others in real-world situations, and some are better suited for sport or exercise. Here is a list best martial arts for self-defense, in no particular order.

  • Krav Maga
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Muay Thai

Karate vs Taekwondo

Karate focuses more on striking techniques (such as punches, kicks, and blocks), while Taekwondo focuses more on kicks. Both styles are effective for self-defense and fitness.

Judo vs Jiu-Jitsu

Judo is a grappling martial art that focuses on throws and takedowns, while Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art that focuses on submission holds and joint locks. Both styles are effective for self-defense and fitness.

Kung Fu Vs Karate

Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art that includes a wide variety of techniques, while Karate is a Japanese martial art that focuses on punches, kicks, and blocks. Both styles are effective for self-defense and fitness.

Is Tai Chi a martial art?

Yes, Tai Chi is a martial art. It is a Chinese martial art that focuses on slow, fluid movements and deep breathing. Tai Chi is often used for its health benefits, but it can also be an effective martial art for self-defense.

Is Boxing a Martial Art?

Yes, Boxing is a martial art. It is a striking martial art that focuses on punches and combinations. Boxing is often used for its fitness benefits, but it can also be an effective martial art for self-defense.

What is the difference between a martial art and a self-defense system?

A martial art is an art, discipline, or skill that is used in combat or self-defense. A self-defense system is a system or set of techniques that is designed specifically for self-defense. Both martial arts and self-defense systems can be effective for self-defense, but self-defense systems are usually simpler and easier to learn than martial arts.

Deadliest Martial Arts?

There is no such thing as the deadliest martial art, as any martial art can be deadly if used with enough force. However, some martial arts are more effective than others in self-defense situations.

Styles that focus on striking (such as Muay Thai and boxing) or grappling (such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo) are generally more effective than those that focus on traditional martial arts techniques (such as karate and kung fu).

How Many Types Of Martial Arts Are There?

There are many types of martial arts, with new styles and schools popping up all the time. It is estimated that there are over 200 different types of martial arts in the world today.

With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. However, most martial arts can be broadly classified into two main types: striking and grappling.

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About the Author

I am a huge fan of both BJJ and MMA. Jiu-jitsu is my biggest passion, and I’ve been training it for more than 5 years. I have recently been promoted to a purple belt. In this blog, I will be giving you tips on how to improve and how to choose the best BJJ equipment! Learn More