When it comes to taking up a new sport or hobby, many people think of martial arts before being put off by it. This is usually because there are so many different types of martial arts that people don't know where to start or which one is best suited to them.

We've put together the basics of each one so that you can decide which is the right fit for you.


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

  1. Karate
  2. Kung Fu
  3. Jiu-Jitsu
  4. Aikido
  5. Judo
  6. Taekwondo
  7. MMA
  8. Boxing

Karate

row of people practicing karate

Possibly the most well-known type of martial arts is karate. Originating from Okinawa in Japan, it is designed to teach discipline and self-defence. The moves focus a lot around punching and kicking, as well as open-handed techniques, knee and elbow strike to your opponent. No weapons are needed for karate, and it is a great way to learn how to defend yourself safely with minimal harm.

Like many martial arts, your level of skill is shown by the colour of your belt, going up in colours as you learn and become more experienced. Karate is very popular globally and is a great overall workout if you are looking for something that will burn calories but still be fun.

Kung Fu

Another popular martial arts form is kung fu, which originates from China. When learning kung fu, each fighter will have an area of focus; either arm work or acrobatics and leg work. Many of the physical exercises are inspired by animal movements, Chinese philosophies, religions and legends.

Because of the different aspects of Chinese culture, when learning, there is a lot of focus on understanding your opponent. Depending on the area of kung fu, this can be achieved through the path of force and strength or the path of relaxation and visualisation.

Jiu-Jitsu

A less known type of martial arts is Jiu-Jitsu which, like karate, also originates from Japan. It also focuses on teaching self-defence and discipline as well as incorporating other forms of martial arts. It is a good form of martial arts as it can be used alongside most other types such as boxing and karate.

Aikido

two people kneeling before starting aikido

Even less known than Jiu-Jitsu is Aikido. Originating from Japan, Aikido is a form of martial arts focused on the idea of channelling spirit energy. Completely different from most other martial arts forms, Aikido focuses on non-aggression. Instead it uses the moves and force of your opponent against them as self-defence.

Aikido translates into "The Way For Harmony" or "The Way of Unifying Life Energy".

Judo

Again originating from Japan is the martial arts form Judo. However, instead of using punches and kicks, Judo focuses on pinning an opponent to the ground through a number of intricate moves and throws. It is one of only three martial arts forms that is included in the Olympics.

Taekwondo

two people doing taekwondo

Another form of martial arts included in the Olympics is Taekwondo. Unlike all of the others, this one originates from Korea. It was developed with a specific aim of teaching people self-defence, and in Korea, it is referred to as "one of the oldest" when it comes to martial arts. Taekwondo focuses on striking techniques in combination with blocks and take-downs to beat your opponent. Because of this, it can be a difficult form of martial arts to master.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

MMA, or mixed martial arts, has become a very popular form of martial arts, particularly among children and young adults. It is a full-contact sport that utilises many different fighting styles and focuses on striking and grappling moves to beat your opponent. Many professional MMA fighters will train in several different fighting types to create a more balanced skill set against their opponents.

It doesn't count as a self-defence martial arts and is most often used by cage fighters.

Boxing

woman kicking a boxing bag

If you've never heard of any of the above martial arts forms, you will have heard of this one. Boxing is possibly the most well-known form of martial arts and is the final of the three that is included in the Olympics. It focuses on calculating head movements and footwork, as well as targeted punches to take down your opponent. Due to its popularity, it is probably the most accessible form of martial arts as you can practice it in your own home.

This isn't all of the martial arts forms, but it is the most well-known types. So check out the options and see which works best for you. They are all very different, and there really is something for everyone. If you can't decide, try a few out, you'll be sure to find something that suits you.


general

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