No matter what style of martial arts you prefer, learning in the style’s place of origin will help you understand the cultural influence on the form and will give you new ways to train under traditional masters. Depending on your style, you’ll have to go to different places, but here are a few popular forms and countries of origin to consider.
China – Kung Fu
Made famous by many action films and beloved movie stars like Jackie Chan, kung fu originates from China. While it is among the most commonly known forms of martial arts, the practice is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. Many of the components are tied to things like philosophy, legends, and a sort of spirituality involving the energy within. To learn proper kung fu, head to China to immerse yourself in the culture and begin to understand what makes it unique.
South Korea – Hapkido
Less mainstream that kung fu is Hapkido, a form of martial arts based in self-defence. Much like kung fu, Korean hapkido draws on tradition and culture; because of this, learning from the source is the best option. Schools in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, like the Hyung Mu Hapkido School, offer lessons specifically for foreigners, making the process tailored to those who might not be as familiar with the martial art or the culture.
Brazil – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Though jiu-jitsu originates from Japan, Brazilians adapted it into what has been regarded as a “gentler” form of grappling; the reason for this label is because the Brazilian style of the martial art allows smaller fighters to gain leverage over larger opponents and makes use of submission techniques to get the upper hand. Attend a brutal summer camp in Rio de Janeiro to get the full experience.
Japan – Aikido, Judo, Karate
Many of the fighting styles from Japan rely on the use of bare hands and resist the use of weapons; this is because they originate from a time when weapons were strictly limited. Visit a dojo or reach out to a martial arts master to train where the forms originate and experience the culture of traditions that influenced it.
Israel – Krav Maga
A hybrid style, krav maga incorporates elements of aikido, boxing, wrestling, and more. It was developed as a military form of fighting and is among the most applicable in real-world scenarios as a result. It is also one of the youngest forms of martial arts, having been developed in the mid 20th century, and since its creation, it has been adapted and incorporated into military training regimens around the world. To learn the original style, going to Israel where they host intense boot camps may be the best option.