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There are several different types of martial arts, many of which can be learned from schools around the world. Here is a rundown of some of the more popular styles.


Aikido is a Japanese grappling art that involves flowing with the motion of an attacker instead of opposing it. Most aikido techniques involve redirecting the attacker’s momentum and manipulating them into throws and holds.


Hapkido is a Korean martial art that is similar to aikido in that both styles involve redirecting the momentum of an attacker instead of directly opposing their strength. However, hapkido places more of an emphasis on striking and joint locks. Weapons such as swords, canes, and nunchaku may also be used.


Judo is a relatively recent Japanese martial art that was developed in the 19th Century. It involves using throws, takedowns, and holds to immobilize an attacker. Strikes are used when practicing kata (or pre-arranged forms), but they aren’t allowed in competition.


Jiu-jitsu is a Japanese martial art that was designed to defeat an armed and armored attacker. Since most jiu-jitsu techniques were originally intended to be used against soldiers wearing heavy armor, most of them involve using takedowns and holds as opposed to unarmed strikes, which would be useless against an armored opponent.


Karate is a martial art that was developed in Okinawa and focuses mainly on hand strikes. It is similar to tae kwon do except it has a greater focus on hand strikes than on kicks.

Krav Maga

Krav maga is a hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel that combines grappling and striking techniques. It’s known for its efficient and brutal counter techniques that focus on protecting the practitioner while disabling the attacker by any means necessary. There is no krav maga sporting federation, although some schools use badges and belts to rank student progress.

Kung Fu

Kung fu refers to a number of Chinese martial arts that were developed over several centuries. Some of these styles involve exercises that mimic animal movements, while others are rooted in Chinese philosophy and legends. The name “kung fu” doesn’t necessarily have to refer to a martial art; its original meaning referred to mastery of any skill.

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a combat sport in which two fighters use a variety of techniques to defeat each other by knockout, submission, or decision after a number of rounds. Striking and grappling from a standing position or on the ground are utilized, and most MMA fighters train in a variety of disciplines in order to be ready for any opponent.

Muy Thai

Muy Thai is a martial art from Thailand that emphasizes striking with eight points of contact – hands, feet, knees, and elbows – instead of just the hands and feet. Many Muy Thai techniques are used by mixed martial arts fighters.

Tae Kwon Do

Tae kwon do is a 2,000-year-old Korean fighting style that is the most widely practiced martial art in the world. It is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, but open-handed strikes, throws, and joint locks are all learned as well.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a Chinese art that can be used in self-defense but is more commonly used as a form of meditative exercise in the western world. It is known for its slow meditative movements and is not often intended for combat.

Traditional Kickboxing

Traditional kickboxing is a full-contact, stand-up combat martial art that is based on kicking and punching. It has developed from the combination of karate and boxing, and is practiced for self-defense and general fitness.


K-1 is a form of kickboxing that was developed in 1993, and is known worldwide for its heavyweight division fights. The “K” in K-1 officially stands for the representation of karate, kickboxing and kung fu.

Andy Britnell blackbelt champion