Summary of the leading martial arts, and their fighting styles with or without weapons. Many people who read these lines do some kind of contact sport. Boxing, karate, judo, aikido are names that nowadays are quite popular, many of which have a long history and tradition.
They are part of the so-called martial arts, sports and artistic disciplines based on struggle and usually with deep underlying philosophy.
There are many different types of martial arts existing. From all the existing ones, throughout this article, we will see some of the most popular and known.
What is a martial art?
Before entering to review some of the different types of martial arts, it is pertinent to make a brief mention of what exactly we mean by martial art.
We call martial arts the set of procedures and methods of struggle and combat that have been developed throughout history and have been forging different styles based on principles, codes, and aesthetics.
We are usually faced with a ritual and simulated battle in which there is no intention of generating severe damage: most of them are oriented to maintain their integrity and defend themselves efficiently. With the least possible energy expenditure and trying to make the least likely damage to the opponent, while at the same time coming in line with the philosophy and the vision of the world it offers.
Although they were born mainly as styles of combat dedicated to fighting and defending against aggressions and rivals, many of these modalities are considered an art and a sport that involves much more than mere movement and combat but also the assumption of values, in addition to giving due respect to both self and rival combatants.
Most of them have a long tradition and have an origin in ancient times or are derived from the ways of fighting of ancient peoples and cultures, although different modalities have also developed over time.
Main types of martial arts
There are many different types of martial arts in the world, born from different cultures and perspectives regarding life, conflict, and energy use. Many martial arts are practiced only with one’s own body, but various modes use weapons (some of the most known today are those practiced with different types of sword, although there are also modalities with bow, mace or staff).
From among this great diversity, below, we will see some of the best-known types of martial arts.
One of the best known martial arts, karate originates in Japan (specifically in today’s Okinawa) and is characterized by the use of punches, slaps, kicks and blockades firmly and forcefully to defeat the rival with a few punches.
This martial art integrates values such as respect and courtesy, and it is essential to show it through various types of greetings. It also seeks to improve the level of body alignment, body hardening, and the ability to connect with it.
This type of traditional martial art of Japanese origin is characterized by the fact that, unlike other disciplines in which the coup is prioritized, in judo, the primary combat mechanism is the grip. In this sense, judo absorbs the strength and weight of the opponent to defeat him.
This discipline, although spectacular, is not particularly aggressive and is more focused on defense: it focuses on using the rival’s strength against him to destabilize and overthrow him. It still requires full-body training and is a very technical sport, incorporating keys. Submission and strangulation.
- Kung Fu
A thousand-year-old Chinese martial art and one of the most well-known ancient martial arts, kung-fu is a discipline usually of direct contact in which the body-to-body is used from punches, kicks, grips, displacements, and different acrobatic movements to maintain the inner balance when training and also as self-defense. Its origin is found in the Shaolin monks, who created it so that the monks could defend themselves.
Kung fu is based on a Buddhist and Taoist philosophical foundation that aims to teach the value of effort and others such as humility, trust, will, justice, perseverance, courage, and honesty. Kung fu has a large number of variants, among which Shaolin or those linked to different animals are among the best known.
One of the best-known sports disciplines is boxing. It is a martial art in which only fists are fought and in which great force is applied in each blow. Although the best-known version in English, there are various variants spread across the multiple cultures, one of the oldest of which comes from Ethiopia.
It is practiced in a ring, and despite being known as violent, when practiced in a genuinely sporting way it contributes to favor values such as discipline, endurance (not only physical but also in terms of adversity) and respect for the opponent. It also helps channel emotions.
Japanese martial art (although some of its origins are Indian) which comes from the ancient Buddhist monks, and which is characterized by a mild and non-aggressive style of combat that focuses on controlling and deflecting rival attacks, as well as taking advantage of its offense to immobilize the opponent.
Usually is focused on the use of dislocations, dodging, throws, takedowns and some punches. Although it is generally practiced with bare hands, there are variations in which different types of weapons are used.
Capoeira is a martial art coming from Brazil, specifically from the former African slaves, who developed this discipline of personal defense as resistance to the harsh oppression and situation that they lived combining techniques of combat, dance and various acrobatics.
It was a way of preserving different cultural elements, as well as a disguised way (the fact that it resembles a dance would make it less suspicious) of practicing a style of combat among the enslaved population. This style of martial art is fast and very technical, as well as requiring a lot of skill and agility. Movements use both arms (fists are not often used) and legs and include both attacks and defense. It also promotes flexibility and attention to rival changes from different angles in other disciplines.
- Muay Thai
The martial art of Thai origin and some dangerousness, as it employs techniques with lethal potential. Focused on direct hand-to-hand contact, this discipline tends to procure a rapid defeat of the rival with strong and powerful blows. In this discipline, the use of all the limbs and most of the body is allowed.
It is considered a type of extreme struggle and is illegal in some countries.
- Krav Maga
This martial arts discipline has started to be accessible and known relatively a few years ago, but we are facing one of the martial arts with the highest lethal potential. It is a fighting and defense system used by the Israeli Defense and security forces, which focuses on unarmed combat inside. Krav magá specializes in trying to equip combat tools in extreme situations and in which we could be inferior, even if we are faced with different opponents at the same time or if they carry weapons.
Although the kind of blows taught in this discipline can be dangerous, the truth is that it is oriented to self-defense in situations of danger and is oriented to a proportional use of force about the attack we suffer. It also encourages attention to the environment and preparation for possible attacks.
Also called Japanese fencing, this martial art from the Japanese country is characterized by specializing in the fight with bamboo swords.
In this martial art both contenders must be covered by armor, and part of a conceptualization of combat and a philosophy similar to that of the ancient samurai. Only he is allowed to attack the forearm, trunk, head, and throat. Discipline and self-control are practiced, and it aims to build the capacity to cope with adversities.
Another tremendous but relatively recent Japanese martial art (born less than a century ago) that has emerged on the basis of different traditional disciplines and that focuses on self-defense body to body in situations of rapid combat, preferring to defeat the rival without harming him or leaving him in a position of humiliation that does not allow him to attack. It also makes it possible to defend oneself in situations of numerical inferiority or against opponents with more significant physical strength. Luxation’s, projections, and launches are some of the types of actions most commonly used in this martial art.