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List of Martial Arts Styles

This martial arts list summarizes the differences between many of the main martial art styles. The list focuses mainly on the unarmed combat styles. However, you will find a description and review of the most popular forms of martial arts. Hopefully, this will help you to select a martial art style that is right for you. Of course, we prefer Taekwondo. :) Also consider mixing & matching several different martial arts in order to make yourself a more complete martial artist. Visit our Martial Arts Weapons page for videos about the weapons used by these various martial arts.

  • Aikido - Aikido is a Japanese martial arts style focused on redirecting the attack away from you. It involves grabs, strikes, throws, pins and locks. Steven Seagal, the movie actor, is a famous student of Aikido. For videos on Aikido, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Bojutsu - A Japanese martial arts that is focused on staff fighting. For more on Bojutsu, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Boxing - Think Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. This fighting style is focused purely on powerful punches. There is no kicking or grappling allowed. For more about Boxing, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - This Brazilian martial art focuses on ground fighting. This martial art exploded in popularity when Royce Gracie used it in order to dominate much larger opponents in mixed martial arts tournaments in the 1990s. For more on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Capoeira - This Brazilian martial arts style focuses on kicks, knee strikes, punches and evading attacks. It is a very fluid and acrobatic martial arts (almost looks like dancing). Capoeira students are constantly moving in order to avoid attack or to set themselves up to launch an attack. For more on Capoeira, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Eskrima - This martial art style from the Philippines focuses on the use of stick and blade weapons. For more on Eskrima, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Hapkido - This Korean martial art focuses on punches, kicks, throws and joint locks. Hapkido classes often have some weapons training (i.e. with staffs and swords). Hapkido also emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements and control of your opponent. For more on Hapkido, please visit this Wikipedia page.

    • Combat Hapkido is more focused on modern self-defense techniques than Hapkido. It eliminates some traditional Hapkido training elements (i.e. mediation and sword fighting) and adds more ground fighting techniques. It was created by an American, John Pellegrini in 1990. For more on Combat Hapkido, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Hanmudo - This Korean martial art is seen as a "smoother" and more "open hand" cousin to Hapkido. Hanmudo students also train with weapons. For more on Hanmudo, please read this Wikipedia page.

  • Jeet Kune Do - This martial arts style was created by Bruce Lee (yes, the Bruce Lee of "Enter the Dragon" and "Fists of Fury"). This style focuses on techniques that are effective in real combat situations (versus martial arts that utilize stylized patterns or emphasize sports aspects or acrobatics). It focuses on kicks, punches, grappling and traps. For more on Jeet Kune Do, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Judo - This Japanese martial art focuses on grappling, joint locks and throws. Punches and kicks are generally not practiced during Judo.  For more on Judo, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Jujutsu or Jiu-Jitsu - This Japanese martial arts style focuses on joint locks, holds and throws. It tries to redirect or manipulate the force of an attack in order to defeat the attacker. For more on Jujutsu, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Kajukenbo - This is an American martial arts that combines techniques from many different martial arts styles and was designed to be effective in real world self-defense situations and street fights. For more on Kajukenbo, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Karate - This popular Japanese martial art focuses on punches, hand/elbow strikes, knee strikes and kicks. This style was highlighted in movies such as "The Karate Kid". Wax on, wax off!!!!  For more on Karate, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Kendo - A Japanese martial art that focuses on sword fighting. For more on Kendo, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Kickboxing - As the name implies, this martial art combines kicks and punches (boxing). In American kickboxing, use of elbow and knee strikes is usually forbidden (unlike Muay Thai). For more on Kickboxing, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Krav Maga - This eclectic martial arts style from Israel focuses on winning in "real life" combat situations. It uses strikes, kicks, wrestling and many other techniques. Krav Maga wants to finish a fight as quickly as possible and therefore all attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the body (i.e. groin). This martial art is utilized by the Israeli Defense Forces. For more on Krav Maga, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Kung Fu (also known as Wushu) - This Chinese martial arts focuses on hand/arm strikes, kicks and even weapons training. There are many different schools and styles of Kung Fu (thus you can not "transfer" easily from one school to another if you move and this is one of the reasons that Kung Fu is not as popular as Taekwondo on a global basis). The best known Kung Fu students are Poo (of "Kung Fu Panda") and David Carradine (of the "Kung Fu" TV series). :) Seriously, the Shaolin monks of China are famous practitioners of Kung Fu. Jackie Chang and Jet Li are probably the best known Kung Fu movie stars. For more on Kung Fu, please visit this Wikipedia page.

    • Shaolin Kung Fu is a well known style of Kung Fu. This martial arts was developed by the monks at the Shaolin Temple in China.

    • A well-known One of the more unusual forms of Kung Fu is Zui Quan or "Drunken Fist" style. This style tries to imitate a drunkard's movements (i.e. staggering and falling over) in order to confuse opponents and allow for devastating counter attacks. Of course, the martial artist is not intoxicated when practicing this style of Kung Fu! :) For more on Zui Quan, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Kuk Sool Won - This is a Korean martial arts focused on strikes, kicks, grappling, joint locks, weapons training and healing techniques. For more on Kuk Sool Won, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Military Martial Arts - These are martial arts used by and/or developed for the military. They are designed for real-life combat situations (versus sport-based martial arts that ban certain techniques in order to avoid injuries). Styles in this category include Krav Maga (used by the Israeli Defense Forces), Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), Combat Sambo (developed for the Russian military), Modern Army Combatives Program (US Army), Sanshou (developed for the Chinese military), etc. For more on military martial arts, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Mixed Martial Arts - This martial art utilizes a variety of different martial arts styles (i.e. wresting, jiu-jitsu, boxing, karate, etc.) in order to defeat an opponent... most famously in the "Octagon". The UFC is probably the best known promoter of mixed martial art events on a global basis. For more on Mixed Martial Arts, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Muay Thai - This martial arts style from Thailand is similar to kickboxing but also involves elbow and knee strikes. For more on Muay Thai, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Ninjutsu - This is a martial arts style developed from the techniques used by ninjas (Japanese spies and assassins). This style focuses on a variety of martial skills including unarmed combat, weapons, stealth, etc. For more on Ninjutsu, please read this Wikipedia page.

  • Sambo - This martial arts style was developed in Russia. Combat Sambo is similar to mixed martial arts and involves kicks, punches, wrestling, grappling and joint locks. Sports Sambo is more like wrestling and Judo. For more on Sambo, please visit this Wikipedia page.

  • Silat - This is a martial arts style that was developed in Southeast Asia (i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.). Silat comes in many variations as each Southeast Asia nation seems to have put its own spin on this martial arts style. Silat focuses on techniques such as strikes (i.e. elbow and knee), throws, takedowns and weapons (i.e. kris sword and the karambit).

  • Taekwondo - This popular Korean martial art is focused primarily on punches, blocks, strikes and kicks. Many schools also teach joint locks and some throws. Taekwondo is best known for its spectacular kicks (i.e. tornado kicks and spinning hook kicks). For more on Taekwondo, please visit this Wikipedia page or explore our website TaekwondoAnimals.com.

  • Tai Chi - This martial arts style is often seen as a "gentle" martial art because many seniors use its slow movements in order to improve their health & balance and to reduce stress. However, Tai Chi also has "harder" variations that include vigorous self-defense techniques. 

  • Tang Soo Do - This Korean martial art is similar to Taekwondo and Karate (although it is not as popular as these two martial arts styles). Chuck Norris, the movie actor known for "Missing in Action", "Delta Force" and "Walker, Texas Ranger", is probably the most famous student of Tang Soo Do.  For more on Tang Soo Do, please visit this page on Black Belt Wiki.

  • Wrestling - There are many types of wrestling such as Greco-Roman and Freestyle. Punches and kicks are generally not allowed. Wrestling focuses on grappling, throws and "pinning" your opponent. For more on Wrestling, please visit this Wikipedia page.

* For other martial arts, please visit this Wikipedia page for a more complete list of well-known and obscure martial art styles.

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