How many types of Martial Arts are there?

confidence through karate

The Diverse Tapestry of Martial Arts

Delving into the intricate world of martial arts is akin to embarking on a journey through a captivating kaleidoscope, where a myriad of styles from across the globe creates a mesmerizing spectacle. Attempting to quantify the sheer abundance of martial arts proves a challenging endeavour, as the world is adorned with styles that defy a precise tally. Adding to the complexity, the very definition of a martial art is subjective, encompassing a broad spectrum that includes Western boxing and wrestling, with myriad sub-styles nested within each discipline.

A cursory exploration of the vast expanse of the internet swiftly reveals a staggering revelation – there are over 180 distinctive styles of martial arts worldwide, and this number continues to burgeon as dedicated professionals introduce innovative styles into the ever-evolving landscape. Let’s unfold the pages of this martial arts chronicle, spotlighting 20 captivating disciplines that echo the resounding diversity embedded in this ancient and ever-evolving realm:

20 fascinating martial arts from around the World:

  1. Aikido: A Japanese form that intertwines self-defence with locks, holds, and throws, focusing on leveraging the opponent’s movements.
  2. American Kenpo: A hybrid martial art born in America, drawing influences from Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan, and Filipino martial arts.
  3. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: A Brazilian martial art cantered on grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds, blending self-defence with a popular sport.
  4. Capoeira: An Afro-Brazilian martial art incorporating elements of dance, music, acrobatics, and kicks for self-defence and cultural preservation.
  5. Escrima: The national sport of the Philippines, a weapon-based martial art utilizing sticks and knives.
  6. Hapkido: A Korean martial art characterized by joint locks, throws, and dynamic kicking techniques.
  7. Jeet Kune Do: A martial art created by the legendary Bruce Lee, embodying his philosophy and techniques.
  8. Judo: A Japanese form of unarmed combat, now an Olympic sport since 1964, featuring grappling and throwing techniques.
  9. Jujitsu: A Japanese martial art encompassing throws, grappling, ground techniques, and strikes, used for self-defence and sport.
  10. Karate: An Okinawan and Japanese combat system using kicks, blocks, punches, elbows, knees, and sometimes weapons, with styles like Shotokan-ryu, Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu.
  11. Kendo:  is a modern Japanese martial art that uses bamboo swords as well as protective armour and is descended from Kenjutsu, the Japanese art of the sword.
  12. Krav Maga: is a self-defence system developed for the Israeli military and derived from a combination of techniques used in many other styles of martial art. Its focus is on self-defence and not sport.
  13. Kung Fu: is specifically a Chinese system of combat used for fighting and self-defence. It can be learned for Self-defence, as an Artform or as a Sport. There are hundreds of styles of Kung Fu. Some of the most popular include Wing Chun, Wushu, Shaolin and Tai Chi.
  14. MMA: Mixed Martial Arts is a full contact sport fought in a cage and includes strikes using hands and feet, throws and ground fighting. It can be used for self-defence and the emphasis is on sport.
  15. Muay Thai: is a combat sport originating from Thailand and also known as Thai boxing. It utilises fists, elbow, knees and shins. It can be used for self-defence, however the focus is on sport.
  16. Soo Bahk Do: Korean martial based on ancient Korean styles and influenced by Northern and Southern styles of Chinese martial arts.
  17. Systema: Russian martial art used by some of the Russian military special forces. Includes hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training.
  18. Taekwondo: is the national sport of South Korea. It can be learned for self-defence however the focus is quite often on sport. It is highly regarded for its many high kicking techniques.
  19. Tai Chi: is a Chinese martial art. Although there are styles of Tai Chi that can be used for self-defence the majority of modern day practitioner study Tai Chi for physical, mental and spiritual health.
  20. Tang Soo Do: is specifically a Korean system of unarmed combat used for fighting and self-defence. Traditionally the focus is on physical, mental development and spiritual development. It can be learned for Self-defence, as an Artform or as a Sport. 

This list merely scratches the surface, illuminating the extraordinary variety of martial arts styles that have flourished over the past 2,000 years. As we delve into this rich tapestry, each discipline emerges as a testament to the boundless diversity woven into the fabric of martial arts.

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