Directory of Martial Arts Styles
Please feel free to review the various martial art styles below. We hope you enjoy reading about the styles of martial arts from around the world. This is not a complete list, and our Go2 Karate site visitors recommend ones to be added each week for our team’s review.
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Generally considered to have been developed in Japan during the 1920’s and 30s, by Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido is a blending of other arts the master had studied and is unique among martial arts in that it stresses a “concern” for the attacker and is composed almost wholly of redirecting movements, sweeps, throws, and locks meant to drive away an opponent or use their momentum against them to “push” them away. Aikido focuses on movement, and fluidity, and is heavily influenced by religious beliefs of “universal peace and reconciliation” between peoples. Although the form lends itself strongly to nonviolent, or nonlethal results of a confrontation it does maintain a broad catalog of strikes, as well as weapons training. Steven Segal, action movie star and celebrity is a notable practitioner of Aikido.
A Japanese form which is widely regarded as controversial in that it was established in the early 1900s but claims to possess far more ancient origins, and to be a “rediscovered” martial art form. It blends several movements and actions from other forms like Sumo, Hapkido and more and practitioners claim it was in earlier times derived from “dark” arts. Its system of combat was, they say, designed to be a form in which an unarmed man could kill and strike down fully armed Samurai. It is similar to Aikido in that it specializes in throws, sweeps, and locks, however this form stresses the intent or ability to injure or kill an opponent where Aikido stresses “nonviolence” and non-lethality. Whatever the truth of its actual origins it is believed to have been a tradition mainly institutionalized within the Samurai caste.
An American derivation of traditional Japanese Karate founded by Ed Parker in the early 1950s. Its system of combat is largely composed of various punches, strikes, and short, lower body kicks. Its focus relies on disrupting an attacker, or neutralizing and shutting down an aggressor, disabling their ability to continue to fight. Although its system has been defined as a means of surviving real world encounters and beginners or lower ranking practitioners focus heavily on defensive fighting, higher tier practitioners do train in offensive and even lethal combat, as well as some knife fighting techniques. But these are largely reserved for those within the sphere of the black belt, or who have exhibited a mastery of the Kenpo system.
A Sinhalese art traditionally known as having originated sometime in the early ancient period of Sri Lankan history, and possibly earlier. It was widely practiced up until the British Colonial occupations of the 1800’s when it was banned and practiced only in secret. Authorities typically punished practitioners with a gunshot to the knee. Although this system does incorporate weapons training, focusing on indigenous weapons such as knives, swords and staves, its main systems of training fall back to unarmed combat and is an openly offensive system which features multiple pressure point strikes designed to inflict intense pain, and even permanently paralyze or kill an opponent. Angampora is also unique in that for much of its history it was taught almost exclusively within the borders of Sri Lanka and only recently to foreign nationals.
A Japanese martial art originating during the Sengoku Jidai, or warring states period of medieval history, sometime during the 14-1500s. It was established by and practiced almost wholly by Samurai and its central tenants were rooted in the training of weapons largely used by that class, like the sword, spear, glaive, and knives. Its philosophy revolves largely around the journey of a weapons user becoming one with his weapon, and attaining a state of perfect existence there. It was widely practiced all across Japan until about the late 1800s with the transition of armies from traditional weapons, to firearms, when the art form fell into disuse. It has since been maintained by only a few recognized schools and since the 1960’s has been designated a national and cultural treasure.
Although practiced by Buddhist monks of rural China, largely relegated to mountains and remote areas since ancient times, this form was more formally brought into the light of common usage and practice in the late 1800s. Practitioners maintain a broad base of training across a wide variety of weaponry, swords, knives, polearms, staves and more, as well as unarmed combat. The art is centralized around the concept of turning, or circling so as to effectively defend against and ultimately attack and overcome multiple opponents through armed, or unarmed combat. Naturally, as with all martial arts it can be effectively used in real world encounters by a skilled practitioner, however, it is widely regarded as a more formalized martial art in comparison to other contemporary forms.
Originating in medieval Japan, during the warring states period of the 14-1500s, and possibly earlier. It is a martial art centered restrictively around military equestrianism, or horsemanship, and so was considered available to and taught by only the most elite of Samurai. It is closely related to Yabusame, or mounted archery, and does indeed feature mounted archery training, however it also incorporates a wider or broader spectrum of mounted combat, with weapons used from horseback, like swords, lances, spears, and so on. Because horsemanship is central to the art, the proper care and maintenance of horses is also a part of the forms general philosophies. While it was popularly used as a combat form in its day it has since declined into a more formalized role as a sport.
A martial arts form created during the 1980s by a former Marine and Jujitsu master. It is a South American, Peruvian combat system which draws from influences such as Jujitsu, street fighting, brawling, and more. Designed to aid a practitioner in surviving the slums it is therefore almost wholly focused on effective “dirty” tactics applicable to real world encounters and features little to no formalization of the art. It closely resembles other arts such as Israeli Krav Maga in that it is meant to utilize concentrated power, or swiftness of violence to end a dangerous encounter as quickly as possible, and by any means possible. As it is considered a hybrid combat system singularly focused on “street fighting” it incorporates both armed and unarmed techniques. It is frequently overshadowed by the vastly more popular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is not widely practiced.
As with several other forms, Bajiquan is a relatively recent form by comparison, with its origins dating back to 1920-30’s China. It seems its original name Bazi-Quan was considered crude and unsophisticated as was it’s style of combat by its contemporaries of the time. The form has since expanded into numerous schools of discipline with each possessing slightly different styles or forms within the larger umbrella of the art as a whole. For instance some schools incorporate kicks while others eschew them almost completely. The larger whole of the art itself is almost totally focused on hand and body strikes and through its brief history has developed a reputation of renown for its focus on intensity, or ferocity of powerful blows. The system stresses a form of attack which is designed to forcibly separate an opponent's arms or defenses, thus leaving them vulnerable to short, brutal attacks. Because of its emphasis on hand strikes, practitioners are especially well versed in close quarters combat.
It would be proper to say this form originates from sources within Indochina, and has a history dating back at least a thousand years. Any more than this is hotly disputed as pieces and parts of the form can be distinctly traced to China, India, and a variety of southeast Asian countries in general, with none fully agreed on its earliest origins or history. While this form focuses largely on defensive tactics and strategies, it does incorporate both unarmed and armed combat systems. Its focus relies on swiftness of movement, stance, and concentration of strikes to counterbalance or offset any attackers advantage. Its unarmed techniques are sometimes confused with Karate by the less informed, and any resemblance may in truth be derived from distant influences closer to Japan. Bando is divided into several subsets, or forms within forms which accentuate varying types of combat..i.e. Unarmed, armed, weapons forms, and the disciplines associated with them. Though not as widely practiced in the west as other art forms, it does possess a substantial and devoted following.
Established by Englishman Edward William Barton-Wright at the turn of the 20th century. He returned from an extended residence in Japan with a mission to incorporate what he believed were the most useful compilation of techniques into a unified system of combat. Using elements of English Boxing, French Savate, or Kickboxing, western cane and knife fighting as well as various forms of Asian, or Japanese centered unarmed combat, he formulated what he termed a “new art of self defense”. Through various contacts and publications of the day he brought in instructors from Japan as well as other western celebrants of their arts to contribute to what he called the “Bartitsu Club” in efforts to popularize the system. His intention for the system was to incorporate the best of both offensive and defensive techniques, movements, and strikes. The system was popularized by the fictional Sherlock Holmes, fell into obscurity, and has since seen a sharp rise in revived interest following the enormously popular movies based on the same character.
Bataireacht (Irish Stick Fighting)
That Irish Stick Fighting is its own distinct martial art is undisputed, though its origins date back as long as Irish history itself. As its name implies it is almost exclusively concerned with the utilization of sticks, or rods as a weapon, and as such lends itself equally to both defensive and offensive techniques. It specializes in swift, lunging, brutal strikes designed to disable, daze or jam up an attacker, as well as disarm or immobilize their own weapons and thus leave them open and vulnerable to multiple venues of ending attacks. Numerous clans have their own individualized or stylized versions of the art and it remains largely open to unique interpretations of what constitutes the most effective use of the weapon. In recent years there has been a sharp divide between proponents of the art as a cultural, formalized “sport” and those who see it as a legitimate, useful, and effective form of self defense, since virtually anything from a cane or rod to a chair leg to a piece of wood lying on the ground can be quantified as a “stick”, and thus the art has a tremendous range of real world application.
A uniquely Mongolian form of wrestling which dates as far back as 7,000 years. It was particularly revered and encouraged by Ghengis Khan as well as other military leaders for its ability through participation to instill virtuous combat traits and characteristics, bravery, courage, stamina, ambition, as well as the obvious applications toward unarmed combat. For much of its history it has been regarded simultaneously as both a stylized sport, practiced, enjoyed, and engaged in with great festivity by many members of a tribe, as well as a distinct form of unarmed combat applicable to real world encounters and situations and utilized by warriors. Indeed, the etymology of its name means “manly, or masculine characteristics” if even it is as popular among women as men within Mongolia.
Established formally in 1966 by a Malaysian national influenced by Japanese officers of the occupation during WWII. It became the officially recognized martial art of the World Karate Federation. Its consensus of form relies upon creating a perfect balance of strikes, kicks, movement and fluidity combined with an equally balanced repertoire of defensive and offensive techniques. Karate itself is perhaps the most widely recognized martial art in the world and as such enjoys an equally popular membership of practitioners. Indeed, many masters of other martial arts will have had some background in Karate before branching off to form, establish, or master other contemporary martial arts. It should be noted, also, that although billed as a form of self defense, any skilled and proficient practitioner can use it to lethal effect, indeed, its origins fall within the spectrum of systems utilized by Japanese military officers specifically for combat, however much it has since become something recognized more formally as a sport.
Perhaps the youngest form of martial art on the list, formed and established in 2000 by an American, North Carolina native. It is a hybrid form combining meditative practices and movements of Yoga, with elements of Karate and Jujitsu. It is heavily influenced if not almost wholly predicated on the achievement of “inner peace” and harmony with the outside world one inhabits, as well as providing a meager basis of exercise and self defense. While some of its proponents defend its real world application, many others find it minimally practical at best in terms of being an actual “martial art” form, to say nothing of real world situational applicability. Nevertheless it does maintain its own modest base of practitioners and supporters who continue to see the art evolve and grow in popularity.
Running in swift competition for the youngest and most recent form of martial art. It was established by an American, and billed as a “reality based, brutal system of self defense” with an emphasis on real world applicability. It openly cannibalizes what it feels are the most useful tools of other martial arts forms into a system which its proponents say are regularly taught to both military and civilian students, and which possesses the most effective techniques for a real world fight. It does maintain a catalog of both unarmed and armed, offensive, and defensive techniques however, because of its youthful nature in terms of history, it lacks the legitimacy of many other forms. But it should be noted that this does not detract in any way from its potential effectiveness on the battlefield proper, but rather only that it simply has not had lifespan to form a referrable track record.
A Japanese form of staff fighting, its origins are hundreds, if not thousands of years old. The discrepancy simply lies in the fact that the staff has been a weapon utilized for thousands of years and it is difficult to determine with reliable accuracy when its practice began to form into what we now recognize as Bojutsu. Suffice to say the art of the staff maintains a well balanced catalog of offensive and defensive techniques with the main philosophy or aim being that the staff becomes an extension of the wielder, where the two become one. Because of the nature of staff fighting, Bojutsu techniques often lend themselves well to other martial arts forms and indeed can be found to be well integrated into them. For that reason Bojutsu is considered to possess or form one of the core elements of martial arts styles as a whole, being useful both in terms of techniques or tactics used in unarmed and armed combat.
A southeast Asian martial art originating primarily in Cambodia, which is often confused with other southeast Asian styles. It was practiced primarily by Cambodian warriors of a ruling elite, such as a king, and as such was viewed as being in the realm of a standing army as opposed to a style practiced by the wider populace at large. It maintains a wide variety of substyles, or subsets specializing in unarmed, as well as armed combat, and naturally incorporating both defensive and offensive techniques. What is more, because this art maintains such a broad spectrum of subsets or subcategories, many are frequently confused as belonging to their own arts or forms.
Boxing is the art of fist fighting and concerns itself chiefly with punching. It’s relative, kickboxing is viewed as a separate art combining both kicks, and punches. Because boxing is “simply” punching, it cannot be said to reasonably have any particular origin from any one country. It would be more accurate to say it originated in some form or fashion from many, as most if not all cultures have some type of boxing art within them that was practiced. Aside from the more obvious focus on punching, successful boxers also concentrate a great deal of effort on learning proper or effective movements, footwork, the combination of guard as well as attack, and stamina to maintain a strong fight for any protracted length of time. Boxing is arguably the most widely recognized sport or art in the world.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Established by the Gracie family in 1925, it was built on the premise that a smaller person could effectively defend themselves and even counter and dominate a much larger opponent in hand to hand close combat. It utilized techniques of rapid and violent ground fighting, initiating swift leverage, locks and submissions. It has since become a wildly popular sport as well as a proven system of self defense. While it does feature elements of strikes and so on, its main aim is to specialize in rapid takedowns, locks, and submissions, which lead a practitioner to a dominating position in ground fighting. It is predicated heavily on the belief that virtually any or all hostile engagements will ultimately end up on the ground simply through and by the nature of close, hand to hand conflict. Because of its proven track record, and popularity it is heavily borrowed from by mixed martial artists, as well as other hybrid art forms.
Originating in early medieval Japan, Bujutsu acts as the twin of its more modern equivalent or sister form of Budo. It could be said that both forms are technically the same, or perhaps two branchings of the same path. Bujutsu literally means way of, or path, with the sister form Budo being something of the more civilian branch, while Bujutsu is the more martial. Bujutsu was practiced widely by the medieval Japanese Samurai as their system of primarily unarmed combat, though weapons training does feature. Bujutsu specializes in the “science of defeating an enemy” and thus maintains as its sole focus the application of force in that singular direction, by the most efficient means. As such it features offensive and defensive techniques as well as both unarmed and armed training.
Butthan means “defense with Distinction” and thus this form, originating from Bangladesh, is rooted deeply in defensive tactics and strategies. It leans heavily on meditative practices to form the basis of its system of combat, bearing in mind that one should focus and desire defense and safety over offensive attacks. This art specializes in the focus of force to deflect, or drive away an opponent as opposed to directly or aggressively defeating them for the purpose of domination. As with virtually any martial art it can be used offensively and even lethally by a skilled practitioner proficient in its system. But it should be noted that this particular form, like numerous others of a similar philosophy, stresses self defense, and a defensive mindset over aggression.
Interestingly enough, though designated a form of Japanese Karate, it is actually a derivation of Kung Fu. It’s movements, strikes, techniques and so on, while typifying those found within Karate, and are indeed rooted in it, are also divided as in Kung Fu, into varying subforms, each specializing in it’s own direction or toward its own end, such as hard attacking techniques and soft defensive ones, and so on. The philosophy behind the art is to find one's own limits, in order to explore and expand them. So growth, self awareness, maturity and altruism are all central tenants of the art.
Popularized during the late 1800s in England, this system of wrestling was rooted in the more ancient Greco-Roman style, liberally mixed with localized, folk-styles which were carried around the country through various types of county faire like events. It was ultimately called catch wrestling as a sort of derivation of catch all, or catch if catch can, signifying that the rules were very broadly, or loosely defined, and featured numerous holds, tactics, or maneuvers which were prohibited in other more “civilized” styles of wrestling. What generally began as a form of wrestling based on an honor system, tended to quickly devolve into a brawling style of “get em however you can” form of the sport. For this reason it frequently held a more real world appeal in terms of what was considered truly applicable or effective in a real world “fight” versus a sport.
Canne De Combat
Formed during the mid 1800’s in France. This form was primarily fashioned for gentlemen of cities like Paris, and designed around the common walking instrument, the cane. It was fashioned as a form of self defense for the well to do, who might find themselves in parts of the city, not so well to do. While it is now widely regarded as a sport, it does maintain real world application in terms of self defense as its techniques, movements, and strikes were predicated on precisely that, real world, effective self defense. The sport focuses a great deal on rapid, accurate, lunging strikes and contestants must remain within a given “ring” or zone in order to teach and maintain stance, focus, confidence, and the importance of standing one's ground over retreating, and leaving oneself vulnerable and open to attack.
This 16th century martial art is commonly given a South American heritage, being Brazilian. However it would be more accurate to say its origins are Afro-Brazilian, as the form was in part, great or small, based on African ritual close combat, imported by slaves taken by the Portuguese. It is a form that combines both strikes, as well as a plentiful store of kicks and was believed to have been ambitiously practiced by slaves and taught in an unorthodox if ingenious way as a disguised ritual dance. Many of the moves and strikes are delivered by kicks with the hands placed on the ground as if performing a cartwheel or similar maneuver. This lends some credence to the disguised ritual dance theory, if even there are numerous skeptics to the theory. In any case it is highly regarded as a cultural treasure and tradition of heritage for many Brazilians to this day.
Choy Li Fut
A Wushu style form of Kung Fu which was established around 1836 and interestingly enough incorporates techniques from both Northern and Southern Shaolin schools, as well as a variety of animal forms. These substyles of technique are meant to emulate the strengths of various animals to be utilized in both attack and defense, over 150 of them.
Chun Kuk Do
A hybrid system of combined American Martial Arts and Korean Tang Soo Do created by famed Martial Artist and action star Chuck Norris. In creating the system, he felt that it was more than simply borrowing techniques to fashion a more effective style. It was establishing what he believed was an entirely different art which stood upon its own foundation of philosophy, training, and effect. He incorporated what he felt was a well-balanced form operating in both offensive and defensive spheres as well as featuring both armed and unarmed combat. In recent years it was renamed simply, the Chuck Norris System.
Created in the 1990’s, this system was interestingly enough openly proclaimed by its founder as “not” being a separate martial art, rather it was fashioned specifically as a self defense system. It incorporated numerous techniques that were felt to be the most applicable and effective in self defense, while intentionally leaving out others which it felt were not practical for real life situations such as acrobatic kicks, meditative practices and more. It focuses more centrally on hand to hand combat, strikes, locks, as takedowns, while employing a few, limited kicks. It could be said that the form most closely resembles Jujitsu, and Jeet Kun Do.
Billed as a Russian/Ukrainian Cossack Martial Art, it was established in the mid 1980’s by a Ukrainian descendant of a Cossack family. It incorporates both armed and unarmed combat, more specifically the saber. Its unarmed hand to hand combat is largely formed from folk fist fighting techniques of the region as well as wrestling and brawling. Though there are schools which teach it in the west, and in other areas of the world it is largely relegated and practiced in Russia and the eastern European countries.
An Australian Aboriginal martial art which is largely centered on wrestling. It has been practiced before the colonization of the country and likely for hundreds if not thousands of years before. It forms the basis also for a great deal of ritualism surrounding the art and though it can and has been used self defensively, it is also noticeably practiced by Aborigines for fun and camaraderie as well.
Established in the late 1960’s by a Vietnamese national, the form incorporates numerous elements from Japanese, Chinese and southeast Asian martial arts. The goal was to create what could be termed the most effective use of techniques within these arts for self defense and combine them under a singular system or style. It utilizes both unarmed and armed training methods as well as a strong balance of both kicks and strikes, and offense and defense. Though it has made significant inroads in western countries, and maintains a loyal following it is largely still practiced in the Asian countries, most notably Southeast Asia.
Daido Juku Kudo
Established in the early 1980’s in Japan. It is generally considered to be a hybrid form of Karate, with combined elements of other arts, like Jujutsu, Judo and more. Its goal is to fashion the most useful and effective techniques which can be applied to real world situations and self defense. It is meant to be easy to learn, and adaptable as well as welcoming to new members. It is practiced both as an art of self defense as well as a competitive sport and is actually quite popular in Russia as well as other European countries.
Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu
Said to have originated with one of the prominent Samurai clans of the warring states period of medieval Japan. It naturally incorporates both armed and unarmed systems. It features a number of locks, submissions, and takedowns as well as rapid, powerful strikes and kicks. It did not become widely known outside of the clan and a limited and localized area until the 20th century when a descendant opened the practice to non clan members.
This Nigerian, African art has been practiced for hundreds, if not a thousand years or more. It is a heavily ritualized combat sport intended to ready warriors for battle, and to instill the desired traits necessary for battlefield combat. It features heavily with kicks and strikes, and is typically held within a designated arena or ring. Because of its brutal nature, serious injuries are common.
Established in the 1920s by an American. It styles itself as a hybridized form of Judo heavily influenced with Hawaiin culture and techniques. It incorporates a great deal of philosophy and meditative practices. As with Judo it utilizes a great deal of throws, submissions and locks as well as a variety of strikes. Due to its nature and familiarity with Judo it is designed to allow smaller practitioners to overcome and defend themselves against larger or more powerful opponents.
Another very recent art, created in the early 2000’s, Defendo was created in Europe, and specifically designed for the needs of law enforcement officers who frequently risk close up hand to hand encounters. Though its origins lie in Europe and remains popular there it has since spread also to North America as well as other regions of the world. The system specializes in swift, powerful strikes, locks, and takedowns, while reserving kicks to a minimum. Its goal was to give law enforcement officers an edge in self defense and aggressive control of an engagement with the purpose of ending an encounter as swiftly as possible.
Not to be confused with its Continental relative above, this British system was created before WWII for the purpose of aiding military servicemen in combat. It has combined elements of boxing, street fighting and Jujitsu and was fashioned specifically to be easy to learn and adaptable. Like Defendo, it was created for the purpose of mastering and ending engagements as quickly as possible, however this system utilizes what the British called “Ungentlemanly” techniques to achieve that end. As it was designed for military use, it thus specializes in being swift, brutal, and frequently lethal.
Practiced by the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands for centuries, if not longer, it is a traditional wrestling form which utilizes power and leverage to achieve its ends. It focuses heavily on the application of locks, strikes, and power advantage to push or maneuver an opponent into a desired position. These powerful attacks are derived through the use of headbutts, sharp elbow strikes, and other close-in tactics. It also teaches the use of the environment as a means of aiding a practitioner in exerting control over an opponent.
Created in the 1970’s, this form is as it sounds, founded on the principles of Kickboxing. However it utilizes the techniques taught within kickboxing in a different way. It specializes more in strikes and momentum to dominate and engagement and is recognized by its persistence on forward movement and aggressive domination. It can sometimes be difficult to recognize the training patterns between Kickboxers, but once it is done it becomes easy to identify one trained in Dutch Kickboxing.
Eagle Claw Kung Fu
Developed in early medieval China, this stylized form of Kung Fu was known for its effectiveness in close combat. The system is centralized around locks, pressure point strikes and takedowns. It was meant to be utilized against armed opponents whose only contact points might be at the joints, between plates of armor. It has since, over time, been divided into three distinct schools, each with slight but noticeable differences to the overall style, while still retaining its methods.
Founded in the 1980’s, this “hard” form of Karate was built around a system centered on aggressively using an opponent's momentum and power against them, and amplifying it with one's own. The idea was that an opponent could be countered and flanked, thus hitting them from an unprotected direction. It actively employs swift, hard strikes to take advantage of an opponent’s vulnerability in being open after a throw, submission, lock, or jamming up of their attack.
Eskrima, Arnis, Kali
Developed and in use long before the colonial period, this Filipino martial art was favored by its local lower classes, as opposed to the nobility. It was widely used in conflicts between various clans and castes to resolve disputes over precious resources, or alleged injury between clans. It incorporates numerous styles of both armed and unarmed combat, and was particularly renowned by the Spaniards as being extraordinarily dangerous, to such an extent that it was determined locals were simply best dispatched from a distance, with a firearm rather than risking close combat.
Developed as a competitive sport in the 1800’s, this art is centered around the use of three types of swords, the foil, epee and saber. Each possesses its own distinct set of rules, but all are firmly rooted in the very real, and effective use of the weapons in self defense. Additionally the techniques can be effectively adapted to real world use in terms of canes, rods, sticks, and other similarly utilized weapons. With that said however it is largely considered a sport, rooted in a once more martial form.
Fu Jow Pai
A style of Kung Fu developed in more modern times, but based on centuries old Shaolin teachings. It is the “Tiger Claw School” of Kung Fu, with several notable schools which claim lineage. The form is centered on powerful, and swift raking, or striking blows which resemble the attack of a Tiger. While there are kicks included within the style, the powerful ripping attacks formulate the mainstay of this style.
Originating from the Punjabi region, and practiced by Sikhs for centuries, this form is largely centered on weapons training, sword, staff, knives, as well as others. But also prominently features hand to hand techniques. Indeed, many of its techniques have been utilized in the formation of other styles such as the British WWII combat system of Defendu. It should be noted that among Sikhs, the practice of this martial art is heavily rooted in spiritual belief and development which, by their estimation, must be attained in order to achieve full proficiency physically. Proficiency in one cannot be achieved without the other in equal measure.
An Icelandic, highly ritualized style of wrestling which dates back to the medieval founding of the colony. It revolves around achieving position to deliver a powerful throw to one's opponent. To obtain this one must learn stance, position, and strength combined tactically with leverage.
Formulated in the 1990’s, this Korean martial art draws heavily from Hapkido, Jujitsu, and other similar Korean and Japanese arts. The form is centered around achieving a swift, free flowing momentum of strikes, locks, and take downs utilizing speed, strength and surprise. Since its founding the art has grown rapidly in popularity both inside and outside Korea, with Australia being a significant outside base of support and popularity.
This Korean form of weapons training finds its origins in medieval Korea and was avidly practiced by warriors. It is almost wholly concentrated on Archery, and combat archery in particular. For this reason it incorporates both mounted, as well as footman archery techniques.
Following Gungsol, this Korean art developed in medieval times is centered exclusively on the use of the sword in combat and as such was practiced by warriors of various clans. During the late 19th to mid 20th centuries this art began to find its way out of Korea and into the popular spectrum of other countries, becoming wildly popular particularly in Europe where it still retains over 500 schools to this day.
A Japanese art centering on the cane, or walking stick, or staff. It’s been practiced for at least a thousand years in one distinct form or another. And indeed has often been seen as a necessary precursor to weapons training in other forms, such as the sword. Many weapons masters of the past utilized it as an introductory discipline before training in sword techniques as the movements, and even strikes can be similarly used or transmitted between arts
Han Mu Do
Established as a modern conglomeration of traditional Korean forms, Han Mu Do was intended to take the most useful elements of Korean and Japanese forms and combine them into a singular art that could well serve the self defense needs of a modern society. It provides a platform of balanced stability in terms of its training, incorporating both offensive and defensive techniques, along with meditative practices to enhance quality of life and peace of mind. Han Mu Do also offers armed as well as unarmed styles of training.
Created in the early 1900’s in Korea, it was designed to utilize traditional Korean forms combined with elements of Japanese influence to create a system of efficiency in terms of the most effective methods of self defense. It specializes in strikes, locks, and ground fighting takedowns. As with many other traditional Korean forms it incorporates armed combat training as well as unarmed. A meditative philosophy is also central to the core beliefs of the system, meaning that only by providing a balance between mind, body, and spirit can one excel at the art.
HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts)
A modern institution focused on the recovery of and practice of traditional European fighting forms. Weapons training is by and large the central focus, with medieval weapons like the sword, ax, mace, and more as well as the proper utilization and care of armor. It is widely considered a sport by many, however there are devoted practitioners who see it as a legitimate and highly effective form of self defense in terms of its modern applicability. The underlying message of HEMA is that while much of the world viewed European warriors as possessing no real martial art per say, this is incorrect and it is as viable and effective as any Asian form or system.
Developed as a method of using rope to effectively immobilize and restrain captive Samurai in medieval Japan, this system is generally considered to be more of a curriculum of advanced study within other martial arts, as opposed to being a martial art itself. It is frequently utilized by law enforcement officers within Japan.
Originating in the 17th century China, this system was rooted within the Southern Shaolin style of Kung Fu and incorporates many “strong” or “Hard” hand styles with powerful strikes, and grappling. It is believed to have been derived from even more ancient styles of Kung Fu specifically for countering the martial arts practiced by invading Mongols and other tribes. And is still practiced by devoted students to this day.
An Indian martial art originating from the Manipur region, and practiced since ancient times. While it does incorporate many techniques of unarmed combat, it largely focuses on the weapons proficiencies of sword and spear, which were traditionally used by warriors of that region.
Hwa Rang Do
Although this form was developed in the 1960’s for the needs of a modern martial arts community, it is actually a recovered or revived form of a more ancient Korean martial art. In truth it represents a system that is far more than merely armed and unarmed combat. It is actually the training and philosophies of what the west might call a knighthood. It was composed of philosophies, meditative practices, fighting styles, moral and ethical conduct and an overall way of life for members of the aristocracy.
A Japanese sword art which is deeply rooted in philosophical and religious meditative practices. It centers itself almost exclusively on the singular act of properly drawing a sword, making a cut, and replacing it, so that the entirety forms one motion.
As with its contemporary, and previous entry, this art consists of the proper and most effective way to draw the sword. However, this art expands its teachings to a fuller sense of sword play as opposed to limiting itself to a singular act. What others might consider a more wide range of swordsmanship is considered here.
This derivation of Aikido was practiced by notable Samurai clans during the medieval period. Since that time it has gone through several revivals as the form fell into disuse and came back again. But in varying forms it has always been maintained. It focuses its training on throws, locks, powerful strikes as well as weapons training. While it is billed now as a form of self defense it was used by Samurai in its day specifically for combat.
Crafted during the Japanese medieval period and perhaps even earlier. This form is actually a subset of other arts which focuses specifically on swordsmanship. It was widely practiced in Japan during the warring states period and was among the most popularly respected arts. It is still practiced to this day by devoted students of swordsmanship and is still regarded highly.
Created within the US prison system by inmates during the 1960’s to 1970’s. It was a semi codified method of self defense which utilized “street fighting” techniques combined with elements of other martial arts cobbled together. In practice it most closely resembles certain types of French Savate. Because of its origins and nature it is not a widely known form, and has generally been kept alive as a form by a minority of students or practitioners.
Jeet Kune Do
Formed in the 1960’s and possibly earlier, by famed martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee. It was regarded by him as merely being an extension of Kung Fu and other arts he had learned as opposed to being a separate form itself, which it is today by its practitioners. It was heavily influenced by certain Bhuddist and Zen principles of meditative thought and philosophy with the theory being one must be like the water. Bruce meant that one had to be fluid and like water in thought and practice. The form itself is centered around parrying and counter striking, or jamming up an opponent's attack and then striking him before he can recover, and in essence making the parry, and counterstrike a singular motion or attack of its own.
Finding its roots in ancient times, this Japanese art of staff fighting was more firmly established as its own distinct form in the 1600’s by a student of swordsmanship. It focuses its training on the use of a short staff, and one which could easily be utilized as a walking stick. It is notable in that many swordmasters claim that training in the staff is a wisely utilized preparatory practice for swordsmanship itself as many of the techniques are easily transferable between the two.
Established as its own distinctive martial art, as well as widely practiced sport. This Japanese form is unique in that it almost exclusively focuses on utilizing momentum to throw an opponent, deliver locks and submissions, and with few strikes. It is massively popular and indeed has become an Olympic event. It is also notable for having been a required part of training for Japanese law enforcement.
Fashioned during the Japanese warring states period, this form centered on utilizing swift, brutal strikes, joint attacks, locks and throws to disarm, paralyze and kill opponents. While it does feature some weapons training, it does so in small order, with its main goal being a system of combat a warrior could rely on without a weapon.
A derivation of Japanese spear fighting. It was used to apply its techniques to the use of the bayonet for the modern Japanese military as it made the transition from medieval weaponry to firearms and the application of the bayonet with the rifle.
Created in medieval Japan, this art focused its efforts on training with the Jutte, which is a type of dagger utilized by Samurai as well as others. The intent of the art was to allow a person to successfully defend themselves against an opponent armed with a sword. It focuses its training on jamming up or interrupting the sword attack and successfully counter attacking.
Originating in Hawaii and founded during the 1940’s by five martial artists who came together. Its goal was to incorporate elements of Judo, Jujitsu and other arts to create a form that would be most useful and applicable to the streets and self defense. Only one rule was followed in the fashioning of the system. If a technique was efficient and practical and successfully used on the streets, it stayed within the system. If it was not, it was discarded.
An ancient Indian martial art originating on the southwest coast. This art incorporated numerous techniques of strikes, locks, takedowns, and more as well as varying forms of armed combat. The system heavily relies upon Hindi meditative practices, and is still practiced today.
An Israeli martial art widely used by the military and often confused with Krav Maga. Like its counterpart it is considered a close quarters combat system of self defense and defensive tactics. And also like its counterpart is favored by elite Israeli military units.
Taken from much earlier practices. Karate is the discipline of unarmed combat, and was more fully customized into its own distinct system in the 1600s during a time when carrying weapons was prohibited by law. Its focus lies in defensive unarmed tactics and strategies, utilizing a variety of strikes, kicks, holds and throws.
Like Karate and other forms, it was based on much earlier practices, but codified only in modern times. This form was created specifically during post WWII Japan, when the country was under martial law and outbreaks of violence were common. It was designed for police and law enforcement and focused its strengths on the use of the baton, or nightstick and allowed a law enforcement official to successfully defend themselves against street fighting, and small weapon attacks.
A modern compilation of ancient Japanese sword fighting. It is actually rooted in numerous different forms and which ultimately became an honored sport. It is highly ritualized and widely practiced by devoted students of the art of the sword. It is generally practiced with a bamboo sword replicant while practitioners wear a traditional form of armor.
This ancient Japanese form of swordsmanship resembles Kendo in a sense that it contains a degree of ritualization, but unlike other swordsmanship arts, it comprises the “scientific” study of swordsmanship without the heavy reliance of philosophy or meditative practices. This isn’t to say it doesn’t utilize some of those aspects, it simply means that it devotes itself more toward a practical application of making wielder and weapon one body.
Kenpo actually contains several strains of the same art. But the larger and most popular form is American Kenpo which was formed in Hawaii, and contained strong elements of Japanese, Chinese and Filipino martial arts. It maintains a strong balance of unarmed techniques and is often referred to as American Karate.
This system was created in Portugal in the 1980’s and styles itself as a method of self-defense applicable for the real world. Its roots lie in street fighting techniques and promotes self-awareness and rational, instinctive tactics and strategies. It offers no weapons training and has no belt system or ranking.
The origins of this system could be said to have developed simultaneously throughout numerous cultures, as the methods utilized, mainly kicking and punching, were easily adapted by anyone. Since that time, it has become a combat sport with obviously real world applicability. Additionally, there are numerous substyles if the term could be used, such as Muay Thai, Savate and others.
Taken largely from Aikido, this form was created by a French Parisian native in the late 1800s, who had studied Aikido and felt it’s methods and forms could be adapted to a new substyle which relied heavily upon meditative practices and focused energy, as well as harmony with one's surroundings. It is not largely known, nor as popularly embraced as Aikido, however it does maintain a legitimate body of practitioners and a modest popularity.
This subform of martial arts has no country of origin, but rather developed itself simultaneously through the practice of multiple arts and the application of “dirty” fighting. In essence is it regarded as “effeminate” in the sense that it is essentially an uncodified practice of dirty fighting utilizing “female” methods of attack, like biting, scratching, the raking of nails, and other “catfighting” tactics and strategies. It was brought to wider attention by an article in Black Belt magazine in the 1980’s.
Developed and codified around the late 1500s in Japan. This form was actually the system of traditions regarding the use of early firearms, bladed weapons, armor, and equestrianism.
Originating simultaneously through its parent art, Karate. This system concerns itself chiefly with the application of Karate toward real world engagements and self-defense. It discourages tournament and sport practices and seeks to develop its students into proficient, defensive fighters capable of surviving real world encounters through the use of Karate.
Developed in ancient times in Thailand. This form specializes in weapons proficiencies, and with only the smallest portion of its training profile to unarmed combat. It closely resembles other weapons forms, particularly in Southeast Asia.
Codified in the late 1980’s, but actually compiled over the course of decades, this Israeli martial art was initially taught only to military units. However, after a number of decades it was eventually opened to civilian training. It now maintains schools in dozens of countries and has attained a significant degree of popularity. The form is noted for being an effective defensive system of combat well suited for real world situations. It specializes in locks, brutal strikes, escapes, and take downs.
Kuk Sool Won
Created in the late 1950’s, this Korean art focuses its efforts on joint manipulation and attack. It was meant to be the platform by which the most useful tactics and strategies in unarmed combat could be combined and refined to establish a system well suited to real world engagements.
This Korean contemporary of Japanese Kendo was established in the late 1800’s for the purpose of codifying and unifying several Korean martial traditions, mainly sword, archery, and mounted combat. It has since been highly ritualized with the purpose of preserving these traditions, and as such has become significantly popular.
This Chinese martial art is easily recognized as perhaps one of the most popular in the world, next to Karate. Kung Fu was the chosen martial art of Shaolin monks who devised these systems thousands of years ago, and since has divided itself into Northern and Southern styles with multiple branches from these trees. It incorporates both unarmed and armed tactics and strategies and employs a wide array of kicks, strikes, locks in both offensive and defensive forums.
Kung Fu Toa
Created in the mid 1950’s by an Iranian martial artist, this form combines strong elements of Kung Fu with Yoga to create a platform by which a student develops self defensive skill sets under a wide range of meditative practices meant to enhance a student’s mental, and spiritual faculties alongside the physical.
A southeast Asian form which combined elements of other forms as a result of cross cultural exchanges and diffusion over thousands of years. It formed primarily in the Archipelago’s of Asia and is still practiced today. It combines both unarmed and armed training with proficiencies in the weapons which were used traditionally and locally.
This Japanese form emerged during the medieval times and was centered almost completely on what was termed “field archery” by the Samurai. It is singularly devoted to the perfection of combat archery and while ritualized today to a great degree, still preserves its martial roots in medieval Japanese warfare.
Like its sister art Kyudo, this Japanese form specializes in archery training and centers its efforts on the wielder and bow becoming one instrument. Also like its contemporary it is ritualized to some degree in efforts to preserve its traditions.
Kyuk Too Ki
This Korean art combines Muay Thai and Tai Kwon Do in order to achieve an art devoted largely to kicking strikes, complemented with boxing and well timed strikes. It is not as widely known or practiced as its contemporary arts, but does retain a devoted following in Korea.
This Japanese art derives its origin from multiple points and in truth was developed alongside numerous other Japanese arts. It specializes in pressure point attacks and neutralizing an opponent through these strikes and attacks. It presently bills itself as a defensive art devoted to self defense, but historically was used more offensively.
This ancient Senegalese African martial art has been practiced for thousands of years. It now maintains itself as a highly ritualized form of sporting combat wherein students utilize swift leveraging and locks to overcome an opponent.
An ancient Bengali, Indian form of stick fighting which has been practiced and maintained for thousands of years. It does incorporate some unarmed combat but is primarily geared toward the use of sticks, rods, or staves as weapons
A Taiwanese hybrid form of boxing which is widely and routinely taught to that nation's law enforcement community. It incorporates a great deal of meditative practices and philosophies surrounding the employ of locks, swift strikes, and holds to dominate an opponent and force submission.
Leopard Kung Fu
This notably southern style of Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the five major animal forms which utilizes powerful raking strikes and blows. It is significant in that it rests on a foundation of meditative practices meant to employ great power behind one's attacks and is significantly more utilized in offense rather than defense, however with that said it is practiced in modern times with the goal of self defense.
An ancient form of boxing originating in Burma, Indochina. It incorporates many techniques of Muay Thai and other contemporary southeast Asian boxing arts. And while not as popularly well known as Muay Thai it still retains a significant presence locally and nationwide.
A Samoan, Hawaiian martial art centered largely around wrestling, submission, locks, and powerful take downs to dominate an opponent. It is highly ritualized and often regarded as a sport as much as a system of self-defense.
Linh Quyen Dao
An ancient Vietnamese martial art centered on delivery of powerful strikes and locks, as well as strong take downs and submission. What makes this form particularly potent is its proficiency in sharp bone breaks and is frequently rated as particularly lethal in practice.
A Polynesian, Hawaiian martial art developed over the course of thousands of years, but significantly popularized during the colonial period. This form specializes in bone breaks and sharp paralyzing pressure point blows. It incorporates both armed and unarmed techniques and employs a wide variety of attacks.
A Brazilian form of freestyle wrestling which typically allows a great deal of freedom in attack and defense. It was practiced before colonial times, but was popularized during them. As with other wrestling forms it is centered on the goal of obtaining submission through locks, and takedowns.
Developed over thousands of years but not fully codified until the 1200s A.D. This form of Indian wrestling combined a heavy reliance on meditative practices with a freestyle wrestling strategy geared toward obtaining swift domination through submissions and takedowns as well as locks.
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program
Developed and codified in the early 2000’s, this United States form of martial arts was designed by and for the Marine Corps and was based on successful employment of techniques and tactics in both armed and unarmed combat derived from all of its previous wars and engagements. It was meant to create a platform of proven proficiencies in wartime.
This ancient New Zealand, Maori martial art incorporates both unarmed and armed methods, but is primarily weapons based. It bases its methods on locally utilized weapons and was employed by clans throughout periods of warfare.
Military Martial Arts
This entry mainly refers to the martial arts programs developed by competing modern military services for use on the battlefield. Virtually every country with a standing army employs and develops some system specifically for combat, and often utilizes techniques and tactics rooted in more ancient forms from various countries.
Mixed Martial Arts
Popularized in the late 1980’s and 90’s, through televised competition. In this art the student typically decides for themselves which forms they wish to draw from to create their own individual, hybridized martial art. It stands at the moment one of the most popularly embraced forms of martial arts ever. It is practiced both as a combat sport and legitimate martial art useful in self defense and real world application.
Monkey Kung Fu
A Southern style of the art which is intentionally deceptive in its display. Through maneuver and carefully designed movement it is meant to deceive an opponent into thinking one is off balance or defenseless. Attacks are then focused on vulnerable areas such as the throat, eyes, joints and so on to deliver swift strikes.
Actually an umbrella phrase meant to include all martial arts forms of Thailand prior to industrialization. Its overarching terminology indicates a focus on “Thai Boxing” techniques.
The more proper title for Thai Boxing which utilizes aggressive momentum to deliver strikes, elbow strikes and knee strikes as well as kicks. It has been popularized through movies and now enjoys open schools in more than a dozen countries across the world. It is also a form which features heavily in MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts.
The Naginata is a medieval Japanese polearm similar to a European Glaive. This art devotes itself to the effective and deadly use of the weapon. It is primarily an armed, weapons form with little area of study outside of it, thus making it a very specialized school.
Nam Hong Son
Created in the late 1800’s this Vietnamese art is often, arguably termed a derivation of Kung Fu, while others maintain it is indeed its own individual art. It focuses its efforts on both armed and unarmed combat systems as well as a distinct method of offensive and defensive tactics and strategies.
Created and codified in the late 1980’s in South Vietnam, it seeks to combine all Vietnamese martial arts in a single unified method of combat systems. It offers training in both armed and unarmed, and has since maintained a modest but growing popularity in other countries, mainly Europe and Asia, with some gains being made in North America, though it is still not as widely or popularly known here.
Formed in medieval Japan during its warring states period, this art incorporates unconventional tactics and employs a wide variety of weaponry. Made tremendously popular in the 1980’s through movies and books, it relies heavily on stealth, misdirection and confusion. Because of the explosion of popularity it attracted a number of “pretenders” or people attempting to cash in on the art and thus, not ironically, earned something of a tarnished reputation among more serious martial artists and schools. However, with that said, it is inarguably as lethal and effective when utilized by a legitimately skilled practitioner proficient in its systems.
A Japanese art fashioned in the 1930’s, this art was most generally considered a combat sport which incorporated what it felt were the most effective techniques from Karate and other similar arts in an effort of unification, or bringing them all in under one roof. It features largely in unarmed combat, however for advanced students there are some weapons proficiencies.
Niten Ichi Ryu
A school of swordsmanship dedicated to the disciplines of Japan's most famous swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. Its main goal is the attainment of perfection between sword and swordsman and to bring harmony to one's inner self through the practice.
An ancient Indian martial art specializing in unarmed combat systems which some have claimed to be the origin point for Kung Fu, Judo and other arts. It is well suited to the goal of self defense and has only recently been revived as an art, having fallen into disuse for many centuries and practiced by only a small devotion of students. It is now seeing a revival of popularity interested in its progression and preservation.
Specializing in the employ of the Nunchuk, this Japanese discipline is actually a subset of Karate, and is generally practiced by students already advanced in that form.
Similar to the previous entry, this discipline studies the same weapon, but from slightly different perspectives, being open to students who are learning Karate simultaneously.
Fashioned in the 19th-20th centuries by a Canadian national, this martial art combines elements of Native American fighting systems with that of TaeKwondo and Judo. It is not widely known however efforts are being made to increase its popularity and visibility. It incorporates both armed and unarmed training methods.
Practiced for much of its history, this localized Filipino art incorporates unarmed and armed tactics and strategies, but it offers special emphasis on trapping limbs, locks, joint attacks and pressure point attacks. For this reason it has in the past been regarded as especially lethal and in some cases was prohibited by foreign powers, but has since been revived in popular practice.
The ancient basis of Greco-Roman wrestling, it was popularly engaged in during the Olympics. It was at the time highly ritualized and considered a combat sport, which was utilized during times of battle. Like many other wrestling forms it was meant to instill the characteristics which were believed to be necessities for a good strong warrior.
An ancient Indian art with strong Persian influence, it was practiced widely by the Mughals. It incorporates strong meditative practices including a system of lifestyle choices and traditions surrounding its practice. While it is now regarded as a combat sport it was utilized to deliver killing strikes to opponents once they were locked up, or within a submission hold.
A codified system of combat sports which incorporates methods from many Indochinese forms. It utilizes swift powerful strikes, take downs, locks, and ground fighting as well as armed styles to compliment its unarmed techniques.
This Cambodian form of freestyle boxing incorporates many elements of similar forms of kickboxing, elbow strikes, knee strikes, and aggressive forward movement combined with timed attacks. It is now a highly ritualized and popular combat sport in Indochina.
Praying Mantis Kung Fu
Both Northern and Southern Shaolin styles feature a Praying Mantis form, and each with its own distinct methods and techniques which ultimately remain true to the overall form or style. It specializes in close in, close quarters combat with its strength lying in swift, short, powerful blows and misdirected attacks.
A form of staff fighting originating in the British isles and widely utilized by the lower classes who could not afford a sword, much less professional level training in it. It provided a basis for armed self-defense against wealthier or more well-armed opponents as well as other threats
Quan Ki Do
Created in 1981 in France, this Vietnamese art combines elements of both cultures to form a method of self defense meant to provide both armed and unarmed systems. Like other similar arts it incorporates meditative practices to obtain what it feels is the proper state of mind to utilize the systems proficiently and effectively.
A Russian combat sport which is actually divided into several subcategories ranging between self-defense, ritualized sport, and combat application. It borrows from Greco-Roman wrestling as well as other arts which provide a basis for grappling, take downs, brutal locks and joint attacks as well as take downs. To a great extent many of the substyles require their own schools and the skill sets employed are not always easily interchangeable.
A form of Chinese kickboxing with a freestyle element. It is highly ritualized and regarded as a combat sport. It incorporates many elements of other kickboxing styles with a greater emphasis on use of kicks and kicking attacks.
Created in the early 19th Century in France. This form finds its roots in street fighting techniques, but has become more formally recognized as a style of kickboxing. It relies on powerful sweeping kicks, long range attacks combined with close in punching. It is in many circles considered lethal and devastatingly effective, and maintains a position as a self defense art which is even taught to law enforcement officials as part of regular training.
A type of Swiss folk wrestling with strong freestyle elements. It has become a popular European sport which incorporates swift takedowns, locks, submissions and control. Though it is difficult to date at best, its origins are thought to have come from early medieval history.
Shaolin Kempo Karate
A hybridized form of Asian wrestling with influences from Kung Fu and Japanese Karate. It was meant to employ the techniques of control in ground fighting and was practiced by monks for centuries before becoming more popularized.
Shaolin Kung Fu
Practiced by monks since ancient times in China. This form of Kung Fu was notable for incorporating animal forms, or specific subsets of systems designed after particular animal attacks and utilizing their offensive and defensive strategies in unarmed and armed combat. It became hugely popular and well known outside China’s borders in the latter half of the 19th century and well into the 20th. It now employs schools all across the world.
English Shin Kicking
Less a codified martial art as much as a traditional form of folk wrestling, or sporting. It involves two opponents grappling and instigating kicks to one another's shin until one loses their balance and takes a fall. It is ritualized and regarded as a celebrated sport in many regions of the British Isles.
Shinden Jinen Ryu
A form of Japanese Karate which is strictly codified and reliant on meditative practices to achieve balance within mind, body and spirit. It is these days much more a combat sport as opposed to a popularly practiced method of self defense, although it does maintain a position here, just not as well known, or practiced as other forms or styles of Karate.
Developed in the 1960s, this form of Karate is heavily reliant on meditative practices and indeed styles itself more as a meditative practice than an art of aggressive self defense. It is intended as a means of teaching new students to transition into a place of spiritual enlightenment whereby they can apply other methods of self defense to a level of proficiency. It might be as apt to say it is a free standing philosophy as much as any type of martial art.
A form of mixed martial art with a highly ritualized basis. It incorporates many techniques of Kickboxing and grappling to force submission of an opponent, and is generally regarded as a combat sport.
Established in the 1980’s in Japan, it is a combat sport with strong roots in mixed martial arts, employing many different styles of Asian, mainly Japanese styles and methods. It is popularly regarded as one of the first mixed martial arts styles which gave rise to the more popularly known systems practiced in the west.
Created in post WWII Japan, this form is a Japanese answer to Kung Fu and actually considered to be a derivative of it. It combines influences from Karate, but employs the sweeping techniques of Chinese art.
An ancient form of Chinese wrestling which is highly ritualized and centered around close quarters grappling and hand movements. Its main strength is that it teaches students how to control and dominate close-in engagements wherein one counters a punch, lock, or strike and delivers its own. With that in mind it is widely considered to be a highly effective means of teaching close quarters hand to hand combat.
An American form of Karate which was created as a system of self defense in post WWII Japan. It draws heavily from similar Japanese arts and was intended as a means of instructing westerners and introducing them to the Asian systems and methods of self defense. It has since developed its own curriculum of systems and drawn its own popular following.
A uniquely Korean martial art which was established in the mid 20th century. It draws within its sphere many Chinese and Japanese influences to widen its applicability and allow for competition against those styles. It today forms a combat sport which is largely popular in Korea and the surrounding region.
A traditional form of Filipino fighting which consists almost exclusively of sweeping kicks, though it does employ some striking techniques. It is considered a sport by many, however it was utilized as a combat system during the Spanish Colonial period.
An ancient Indian form of staff fighting Because of its ancient origins and employment of the staff it is believed to have been a martial art created by or utilized more widely by the lower classes in self defense and even to ward off animals.
A method of self defense heavily reliant on knife fighting, this Indochinese martial art is widely practiced across the entire region. It incorporates methods drawn from numerous other arts in the region and unifies them into a simplified system of combat and self defense.
This Japanese form of ancient sword fighting is centered around drawing from other styles to create the most efficient, and practical methods of sword fighting. It is gaining in popularity among foreign students however it is not widely known outside of Japan.
A form of stick fighting originating in late medieval British Isles. It was meant as a type of sub-form of armed combat aimed at providing an introduction to sword fighting for sailors. It mainly utilized techniques and methods one would employ in the use of the cutlass, a popular weapon among sailors valued for its powerful slashing attacks.
Small Circle Jujitsu
Created in late post WWII Japan this form centers its efforts around codifying the most useful and practical methods of counter attack and counter strike. It employs a robust system of hand to hand, close quarters combat methods and provides a stable balance of strikes as well as kicks.
Perhaps the earliest recorded form of Japanese spear fighting, it is strictly an armed combat system which although refined through numerous different schools is not widely practiced today and only very few disciplines remain.
Soo Bahk Do
Noted for being the oldest form of Korean martial arts, it centers its efforts on the generation of power for delivery through strikes and kicks. It seems to maintain certain methods which are similar to Japanese Karate and there may be some influence from one direction to the other but this has yet to be satisfactorily defined by experts.
Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary System
A combat system developed by and for the US Navy SEALS and other special forces units. It employs, as its name implies, aggressive systems of explosive strikes, locks, joint attacks and more specifically for the purpose of disabling or killing an opponent. It has since been modified in certain schools to be applied as a self defense system available to civilians, but marketed under other names, and with more lethal movements or attacks suitably modified.
A modern derivative of more ancient arts which promoted introductory methods to learn swordsmanship. In the past it utilized wooden stand ins for swords, but has since in more modern times been replaced with soft or inflatable weapons to promote full contact. It is today a popular sport in Japan.
An ancient system of Korean folk wrestling in which the contestants attempt to generate the most power from leverage and thus deliver a deciding throw to down an opponent. Like most other forms of wrestling it was meant to instill or create the desirable traits of a warrior and to fashion camaraderie among fighters.
An ancient form of wrestling which has become a time honored tradition and sport in Japan, as well as the wider world due to its popularity. It is a system of wrestling in which practitioners seek to generate the power and leverage to force their opponent out of a ring through sheer momentum, and movement. It maintains a strong basis in philosophical and meditative practices which are generally not widely known by people outside the sport.
A Russian martial art largely codified during the Soviet Era. It incorporated both unarmed and armed methods of combat and was indeed designed specifically for war. It was meant to provide soldiers with an advantage should they find themselves without their firearm, and to give them access to an aggressive form of self defense. It has generally been divided into numerous sub-schools depending on the branch of combat being explored.
A curious form of Korean wrestling and grappling in which movement is strictly codified. Its origins are ancient to be sure but it is thought that rather than being its own martial art it was more a form of sport meant to instill the characteristics desirable for learning the martial arts.
Easily the most recognizable Korean martial art. It is characterized by strong, high kicks as well as swift strikes and ranged attacks. It is inarguably the most popular martial art behind Karate and operates schools all across the world. It is divided into both sport and martial arts of self defense and the methods used within each are easily transferable.
An Arabic or perhaps more accurately an Egyptian stick fighting system of ancient origin. It provided a platform of meditative practices meant to instill or create virtuous thought and right mindedness. It is thought to have been largely the practice of the lower classes, as throughout numerous other cultures the staff or stick was more easily accessible to them. It is now regarded as a ritualized combat sport popular in that region.
A Chinese form of self defense influenced by Kung Fu and deeply rooted in philosophical and meditative practices. Indeed, it has become widely popular for its proposed mental and spiritual benefits to such an extent that it is frequently practiced for those benefits alone with little attention paid toward self defense.
A form of Karate developed in the 1950’s. It is unique in that it centers on concepts of acrobatic springing and rapid movement to deliver its attacks. It offers a wider range of kicks than perhaps other forms of Karate and is practiced worldwide by numerous schools. There is arguably a great deal of Chinese influence within the form.
A method of self defense created specifically for and by Japanese police during its feudal period and practiced still to this day. It provides methods for armed as well as unarmed self defense and is regarded as having its roots in real world situations with a proven track record or effective methods.
Tang Soo Do
This Korean martial art maintains strong elements of Chinese and Japanese influence and offers itself as a counterbalance to forms often found there. It is considered a well balanced system suited for self defense and in a variety of both offensive and defensive techniques. It also features both armed and unarmed systems.
An ancient form of Japanese knife fighting techniques blended and unified into a single system. It was widely practiced by Samurai during the medieval period and is still practiced today for self defense. It specializes in locks, joint attacks and counter strikes to offset the advantages of a more well armed opponent.
Developed in the mid 20th Century and based on earlier forms, this martial art was created specifically as a combat system for South Korean special forces units. It incorporates both armed and unarmed methods with a special emphasis on knife fighting, locks, pressure point attacks and kill strikes.
Established during the early Japanese medieval period, this is a weapons form specifically focusing on the war fan. It was often employed in both offensive and defensive actions and provided a quick and effective counter to often heavier and larger weapons like the sword. It is recorded in the Annals of Samurai battles that several notable Samurai warriors utilized the fan to defend themselves against sword attacks
Thien Mon Dau
A uniquely Vietnamese martial art, regarded as traditional, and yet was founded by a Chinese immigrant. It is regarded by many to be a derivative form of Chinese Kung Fu with incorporated local elements combined to form a powerful and impressive system of self defense. It existed for many centuries in a state of disuse but has recently seen an effort to popularize and celebrate the form as a national treasure.
To Shin Do
Founded in the mid 1990’s by Ninjutsu practitioner Stephen K Hays. It was meant to act as more of a refinement of the original Ninjutsu upon which it is based. It is a modern system incorporating a greater emphasis on fighting styles over a wider range of activities like Guerilla warfare, espionage and unconventional tactics which the traditional Ninja were employed in.
Modern Army Combative Program
A combat system developed by the US Army to be specifically applicable to a modern battlefield and act as a system of self defense and combat art provided to soldiers. It incorporates many of the methods employed by other military martial arts with an emphasis on swift, disabling attacks and killing strikes. Like many other martial arts systems employed by militaries it has since given rise to numerous civilian offshoots, modified for that use.
Undoubtedly rooted in street fighting, this combat sport is popularized as a no holds barred competitive fight in which there are few rules. Because of this many techniques and methods of self defense have codified if, as such the system itself has not been. It is in large part very comparable to Mixed Martial Arts, and indeed, would factually be called such.
Similar to Tai Chi, this Tamil, Indian art shares methods in that it provides far more than a simple basis for martial arts. This system incorporates a vast platform of meditative and philosophical ideals that are utilized to find good health and balance in one's life. With that said however it places strong emphasis on pressure point manipulation which can be used to heal or harm.
A Vietnamese martial art which sees heavy influence from other arts such as Muay Thai. It incorporates fluid and aggressive forward movement meant to develop momentum and deliver power through strikes, elbow and knee strikes as well as kicks.
A notable southern Style of Kung Fu which focuses its energies on hand to hand close quarters self defense and mastery. Because of its concentration on hand to hand combat it incorporates many small weapons forms as well and was developed in the 1930’s for the purpose of defending oneself against an armed attacker.
Won Hwa Do
Derived from ancient Korean martial arts, this particular form relies heavily upon proper movement and rapid deployment of the body against an opponent to remove oneself from attack and open an opponent to the same. It utilizes both armed and unarmed methods and is considered a rapid and fluid art which utilizes the full breadth of both offensive and defensive strategies to achieve victory.
The art of wrestling has been practiced since recorded history and by virtually every culture and people. It is strongly centered on grappling, take downs, locks and submissions. It is highly ritualized in many different cultures and is meant to instill the virtues and characteristics of the warrior. However ritualized many of these arts are, they still maintain many methods that are useful in real world situations provided one is trained and proficient in the applications.
This ancient Chinese form is actually a category encompassing many different martial arts under a single roof. It is popularly regarded as a combat sport with a strong basis of rules and conduct. With this said however it is also widely utilized as a competent system for self defense in both armed and unarmed schools.
Xtreme Martial Arts
Created in the late 20th century this form is more theatrical than applicable to self defense in terms of practical civilian use. It combines martial arts with acrobatics with a strong center toward showmanship and awe.
This ancient Japanese art came into fullness during the medieval period and is specifically related to the art of mounted archery. It requires a great deal of skill, proficiency and dedication to master even the basics as it calls upon the combined fields of horsemanship as well as archery, with each being largely demanding.
This Japanese art is almost exclusively aimed at weapons proficiency, primarily the staff, however it does incorporate some forms of other weaponry. Like many other staff fighting forms it’s methods probably lie within the lower class usage as it was more readily available.
A type of Kickboxing created in the Philippines in the 1970’s as a counter to Kickboxing. It has since its inception proven extraordinarily adept at providing an answer to that form. The secret lies within the usage of body positioning and momentum generating kicks as well as striking blows meant to deliver the most power in the most concentrated point.
A modern Korean offshoot of the more traditional Taekwondo. It incorporates methods from other forms such as Hapkido and Aikido to provide a greater arsenal in terms of what can be delivered, offering the addition of grappling and take down techniques which Taekwondo did not originally explore in great variety.
Like the previous entry this form combines what it considers the most useful and applicable methods and systems from other forms in the Japanese catalog to create an effective and streamlined system for self defense. It is becoming quickly popular if it is still not widely known outside the region.
A substyle of Kung Fu called “Drunken Fist” which is centered on utilizing misdirection and confusion to confound an opponent's attacks as well as leave them open and vulnerable. It exploits the psychological aspects of the martial arts to a far greater degree than others and can be especially devastating when a high level of proficiency is achieved.
Zulu Stick Fighting
This African form of stick fighting is both highly ritualized as a combat sport as well as a combat system utilized in warfare by the tribe. Like wrestling and other forms of ritualized combat sports it was meant to instill the virtues desirable in warriors and to increase camaraderie and brotherhood.