149 Types Of Martial Arts Styles (Master List)

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Martial arts, with their deep roots in global cultures, have evolved from survival techniques to a diverse array of disciplines, each boasting unique philosophies and techniques.

From the high-flying kicks of Taekwondo to the strategic holds of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, these arts span a spectrum of history, culture, and self-defense.

Yet, beyond the popular styles featured in movies and MMA, over a hundred lesser-known martial arts offer their own fascinating stories and methods.

This article not only explores the most common martial arts but also ventures into the hidden corners of this vast world, unveiling styles you may have never heard of. Let’s dive in.

Most common martial arts styles

There are many different martial arts styles, and these are the most common we’ve found or experienced ourselves from training, competition, or popularity.

1. Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) combines all martial arts into action. It’s the jack of all trades of martial arts. In MMA, you can use Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Muay Thai, and more.

Each fighter uses this combination differently, creating several types of MMA to utilize in the cage.

MMA has become a sport nowadays. The largest MMA organization where athletes can fight for a living is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, more famous as UFC. 

MMA is the youngest sport on this list. It was established in 1993. Several fighters, such as Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre, became famous as the sport grew.

2. Boxing

Boxing is one of the most well-known combat sports. It involves the use of your two hands to strike. Punching is associated with head movement and footwork to evade attacks.

Boxing is probably the easiest to learn on this list despite being one of the biggest combat sports. This is because everyone with hands can throw a good punch. 

With this, only add a few months of dedicated, proper Boxing training, and you can call yourself a Boxer. Some famous Boxers are Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, and Andy Ruiz.

3. Judo

Judo is a close-quarter combat martial art that originated in Japan. In Judo, you’ll learn to grab and throw your opponents to the ground. You can also choke your opponents.

You can easily interchange Judo and Jiu-Jitsu because they both wear a Gi. You can differentiate the two with their moves. It’s more on throws such as the Judo Hip-throw.

Judo is included as one of the combat sports in the Olympics. Some greatest Judo practitioners to step on land are Kanō Jigorō, Yasuhiro Yamashita, and Yasuhiro Yamashita.

Some people even consider this martial art to be good against striking martial arts because of the ease in tripping people off their feet.

For example, Judo can be very effective against Muay Thai in the right scenario.

4. Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu involves a lot of takedowns, chokes, and locks to win. Jiu-Jitsu originated in Japan; however, the famous style is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) which originated in Brazil.

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Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most practical martial arts you can learn for self-defense. In Jiu-Jitsu, you can learn to manhandle guys more significantly than you with proper technique.

A lot of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have transitioned to MMA. Some of them are Shinya Aoki(One FC), Charles Oliveira(UFC), and Tom DeBlass(Bellator.)

5. Karate

Karate is a martial art that focuses on the utilization of kicks with some punches. In Karate, you’ll throw your strike with immense speed to be elusive from counterblows.

Karate will be the answer when asking kids about martial arts because of the movie Karate Kid. It’s globally famous because of that movie. Moreover, Karate has 9 belts, white (lowest) to red (highest).

There are unique styles of Karate, too, like Kenpo Karate which has been used by UFC fighters.

Some world-renowned Karate martial artists are Lyoto Machida and Stephen Thompson. There’s also a fast-rising Karate fight promotion called Karate Combat. It’s like the UFC of Karate.

By practicing this art, you’d create a ton of mobility in your hips and limbs, but Karate can be challenging for your joints, so it’s important to keep injury-free with mobility training.

6. Tae kwon do

Taekwondo is the national martial art of Korea. Taekwondo is similar to Karate, focusing on lighting fast kicks and punches combined with a wide stance. 

Almost every Asian rich child has experienced being enrolled in a Taekwondo class. That’s how widely accepted Taekwondo is in Asia compared to other parts of the world.

Taekwondo doesn’t only offer combat sport. Practitioners also do Poomsae; it is more of a choreographed showcase of synchronized Taekwondo maneuvers done by multiple practitioners.

As this art relies on kicks and isn’t very defensive, Taekwondo doesn’t stand up well against BJJ or other grappling styles.

7. Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a martial art that originated in Thailand. In Muay Thai, you’ll use a variety of moves such as elbows, knees, and heel sweeps to defeat your opponents.

Muay Thai is also called Thai Boxing. Similar to Boxing, Muay Thai is also done in a roped ring. Muay Thai fighters also use the same kind of gloves that Boxers use.

One of the biggest organizations that offer Muay Thai fights on the international level is One Championship. Some famous Muay Thai athletes here are Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Jonathan Haggerty.

8. Kickboxing

Kickboxing is simply Boxing combined with kicks. However, as the sport grew, other people allowed the use of knees, making it similar to Muay Thai.

Unlike Muay Thai, Kickboxing fighters are not allowed to sweep and catch some kicks. Kickboxers also use a glove with thinner padding for extra flexibility.

Kickboxing is one of the foundations of MMA. Some famous Mixed Martial Art fighters with high-level Kickboxing skills are Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira.

9. Wrestling

Wrestling is a martial art that first started in ancient Greece. Wrestlers’ main goal is to tackle or take their opponent down to pin them by all means possible.

When we say Wrestling, it’s not WWE. Wrestling is a martial art that’s done on a mat. It’s not staged and doesn’t include jumping from 10 feet above the air.

Some high-level Wrestlers transition into professional fighters and succeed. Daniel Cormier, Chad Mendes, Frank Mir, and Rampage Jackson are good examples.

10. Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on throwing, joint locks, and striking your opponent. It’s pretty much the Mixed Martial Arts of ancient Japan.

Aikido teaches you to use your opponent’s overall body momentum to convert a successful throw. However, some say that Aikido is impractical in real-life situations. I say it depends.

A famous action star named Steven Seagal uses actual Aikido moves in his renowned action movies. He is a 7th Dan Black Belt in Aikido.

11. Kung Fu

One of the most famous martial arts styles for all ages because it’s used during action movies. Kung Fu originated from China during the Zhou dynasty (1111–255 bc).

Kung Fu has been the reason why other youngsters try martial arts for the first time. This is because of the Chinese movies by Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

Kung Fu is a collection of different styles. Some good examples of Kung Fu styles are Wing Chun, Shaolin, Monkey style, Drunken Kung Fu, and more.

12. Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do is a Chinese martial art that is mainly adapted to the teachings and philosophy of Bruce Lee. It involves kicks, punches with speed, and good movement flow.

Jeet Kune Do is present in all of Bruce Lee’s movies. A famous move from Jeet Kune Do is the finger jab, where you’ll land a jab with your fingertips.

Jeet Kune Do, often called JKD and is believed to be effective during a street fight because of the practicality and speed of its move set.

13. Kendo

Kendo is a weapon-based martial art from Japan. In Kendo, you will use a long katana-like stick that will act as your primary weapon for attack and defense. 

Kendo and Fencing have an excellent resemblance to the armor they use. Kendo is different from Fencing. Fencing uses a thin metal sword with a round end.

In Kendo, fighters aim to hit their enemy on specific body parts such as the head, torso, etc. Performing a successful hit corresponds to a point.

14. Krav Maga

Krav Maga is sometimes considered the most dangerous martial art in the world. Krav Maga is used by various Military groups worldwide due to its diverse and practical move sets.

Krav Maga has no professional or amateur tournaments because it is dangerous. Krav Maga teaches bladed weapon handling, body throwing, lethal hand-to-hand combat strikes, and more.

Krav Maga is not made for competition; its moves are developed for soldiers and civilians to defend themselves from real bad guys.

Less commonly known martial arts styles

We’ve pulled together a master list of all other martial arts in existence, but that you might not have heard of before.

Martial Arts StyleOriginDescription
EngoloAngolaUnique kicks and open hand techniques
TahtibEgyptFighting with wooden staves
DambeWest AfricaFist fighting with bound hands
Lutte TraditionnelleSenegalTraditional folk wrestling
Senegalese wrestlingSenegalWrestling with ground grappling
IstunkaSomaliaBare-knuckle punching and kneeing
Nguni stick-fightingSouthern AfricaFighting with long hardwood sticks
Nuba fightingSudanRitualized bare-knuckle boxing
Bajan stick-lickingBarbadosFighting with short wooden sticks
CapoeiraBrazilDance-like fighting with kicks and sweeps
Huka-hukaSurinameGrappling wrestling
Esgrima CrioulaBrazilFighting with knives and machetes
Luta LivreBrazilGrappling and submission wrestling
Vale TudoBrazilFull contact fighting with minimal rules
DefendoCanadaSelf defense techniques against weapons
SPEAR SystemUnited StatesTactical self defense and combat skills
Wen-DoCanadaSelf defense for women
Colombian grimaColombiaRough and tumble street fighting
Juego de maníCubaGrappling wrestling
Tire machètHaitiFighting with machetes
American KenpoUnited StatesEclectic martial art with striking and grappling
ChulukuaMexicoAncient Mesoamerican wrestling
Collegiate wrestlingUnited StatesFolkstyle wrestling
CombativesUnited StatesHand-to-hand combat techniques
Emerson Combat SystemsUnited StatesKnife fighting and self defense
Gouging (fighting style)AppalachiaEye gouging and biting
Jailhouse rock (fighting style)United StatesImprovised dirty fighting
LINE (combat system)United StatesClose quarters fighting for military
Marine Corps Martial Arts ProgramUnited StatesHand-to-hand combat system
Model MuggingUnited StatesSelf defense training for women
ShootfightingUnited StatesFull contact fighting allowing diverse techniques
Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary SystemUnited StatesMilitary self defense and hand-to-hand combat
10th Planet Jiu-JitsuUnited StatesGrappling focused on rubber guard
Bangladeshi martial artsBangladeshIndigenous fighting styles of Bangladesh
ButthanBangladeshKickboxing style
BokatorCambodiaAncient martial art with knee and elbow strikes
Pradal sereyCambodiaKickboxing with elbow and knee strikes
Shaolin Kung FuChinaExternal and internal martial arts from Shaolin temple
BaguazhangChinaInternal martial art focused on circle walking
Tai chiChinaInternal martial art focused on slow movements and meditation
BajiquanChinaExternal martial art noted for explosive power
Wing ChunChinaInternal martial art focused on close range combat
Shuai JiaoChinaGrappling and throwing focused wrestling style
Choy GarChinaSouthern Chinese martial art emphasizing power
Fut GarChinaSouthern Chinese martial art with linear explosive movements
SandaChinaFull contact kickboxing with takedowns and throws
Mardani khelIndiaAncient folk wrestling
Malla-yuddhaIndiaTraditional South Asian wrestling
KalaripayattuIndiaAncient Indian martial art incorporating strikes, grappling and weapons
Vajra-mushtiIndiaTraditional Indian wrestling style
AdimuraiIndiaAncient martial art that combines vital point strikes with weapons
GatkaIndiaFighting with one or two swords, sticks, or spears
Pencak silatIndonesiaIndigenous martial arts from Indonesia and Malaysia
Tarung DerajatIndonesiaFull contact fighting style
KapapIsraelMartial art focused on self defense, gun, knife, and stick disarms
SumoJapanFull contact wrestling
NinjutsuJapanMartial arts practiced by ninja utilizing weapons and unconventional tactics
KenjutsuJapanSword fighting
SojutsuJapanFighting with a spear
NaginatajutsuJapanFighting with a naginata polearm
BojutsuJapanFighting with a bo staff
Okinawan kobudoOkinawaFighting with traditional Okinawan weapons
IaidoJapanSword drawing art focused on smooth reaction and cut timing
KusarigamajutsuJapanFighting with kusarigama hand sickle and chain
KyudoJapanRitualistic archery
TessenjutsuJapanFighting with iron war fan
ShurikenjutsuJapanFighting by throwing shuriken
BajutsuJapanFighting from horseback with weapons
JujutsuJapanGrappling focused on joint locks, throws, and submissions
TaidōJapanFluid grappling martial art
KūdōJapanHybrid full contact striking and grappling sport
Choi Kwang DoKoreaEclectic martial art focused on self defense techniques
SsireumKoreaTraditional Korean wrestling
Hwa Rang DoKoreaKorean martial art incorporating striking, weapons, and grappling
Kuk Sool WonKoreaEclectic Korean martial art
TaekkyonKoreaTraditional Korean martial art with fluid kicking techniques
Tang Soo DoKoreaDisciplined kicking and striking art
Hap ki doKoreaMartial art combining hand strikes, circular movements, and joint manipulation
Muay LaoLaosKickboxing style similar to Muay Thai
SilatMalaysiaIndigenous martial arts incorporating strikes, grappling, and weaponry
Mongolian wrestlingMongoliaJacket wrestling style
LethweiMyanmarFull contact bareknuckle Burmese boxing
BandoMyanmarMartial art from Myanmar incorporating strikes, weapons, and grappling
BanshayMyanmarWeapons-based Burmese fighting style
NabanMyanmarTraditional chinlone-inspired Burmese boxing
Pongyi thaingMyanmarBurmese boxing combining martial arts techniques with mantras
Yaw-YanPhilippinesKickboxing martial art from the Philippines
AngamporaSri LankaAncient indigenous martial art of Sri Lanka
Cheena diSri LankaTraditional Sri Lankan martial art
Krabi–krabongThailandWeapons-based Thai martial art
LerdritThailandTraditional Muay Boran bare-fist fighting
Muay boranThailandAncestral unarmed fighting style that preceded modern Muay Thai
Silat PattaniThailandWeapon-based martial art from southern Thailand
MatrakUzbekistanTraditional Uzbek grappling wrestling
Oil wrestlingTurkeyGreco-Roman wrestling practiced with oil
SayokanVietnamVietnamese martial art that incorporates elements of karate, kung fu, and tai chi
Nhất NamVietnamVietnamese version of kung fu incorporating elements of other arts
Hokutoryu Ju-JutsuUnited KingdomCombination of jujutsu with aikijutsu and kenjutsu
Canne de combatFranceFighting with a short walking stick
GourenFranceTraditional jacket wrestling from Brittany
Qwan Ki DoFranceMartial art combining karate, taekwondo, and Vietnamese martial arts
SavateFranceKickboxing developed from street fighting
German Ju-JutsuGermanySelf defense and close combat system
RingenGermanyTraditional grappling style
UnifightGermanySelf defense system incorporating elements of karate, judo, and jujutsu
Ancient Greek boxingGreeceAncient Greek sport of fist fighting
Greek wrestlingGreeceCompetitive folk wrestling
PankrationGreeceAncient full-contact combat sport combining boxing and wrestling
GlimaIcelandIndigenous Icelandic wrestling
BataireachtIrelandAncient Irish stick fighting style
SamboRussiaGrappling style with throws and submissions
SystemaRussiaCombat style using movement and breathing
Real AikidoJapanRedirecting the force of the attacker
Leonese wrestlingSpainWrestling style with belts or ropes
Lucha CanariaCanary IslandsWrestling style with slam throws
SchwingenSwitzerlandWrestling style with short wrestling pants
Combat HopakUkraineMartial art incorporating acrobatic kicks
Bare-knuckle boxingEnglandPunching without boxing gloves
BartitsuEnglandMixed martial art incorporating jujitsu and boxing
Catch wrestlingEnglandGrappling style with painful submission holds
Combat pistol shootingVariousShooting discipline for defensive pistol skills
Cornish wrestlingEnglandJacket wrestling style from Cornwall
Cumberland and Westmorland wrestlingEnglandWrestling style from Cumberland and Westmorland
DefenduEnglandClose quarters combat system
Devon wrestlingEnglandJacket wrestling style from Devon
Lancashire wrestlingEnglandWrestling style from Lancashire
SuffrajitsuEnglandMartial art incorporating jujitsu and women’s self-defense
SinglestickEnglandFencing style using a wooden stick as a sword
Shin-kickingEnglandContest of kicking opponent’s shins
Scottish backholdScotlandWrestling style starting with rear body hold
CoreedaWalesWrestling style from Wales
Mau rākauNew ZealandMāori stick fighting style
KajukenboUnited StatesHybrid martial art from Hawaii
Kapu KuialuaHawaiiNative Hawaiian martial art with joint locks
LimalamaHawaiiUnarmed Native Hawaiian self-defense style

FAQ on types of martial arts

Due to the vast number of martial arts present, it’s unavoidable for different questions to arise from the public’s curiosity. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.

How many types of martial arts are there?

It is believed that more than 150 practiced martial arts are scattered around the planet. Most originated from Asian countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, China, Japan, and Korea.

However, there’s a chance that various tribes and ethnic groups have some undiscovered style of martial arts.

What are the most popular types of martial arts worldwide?

The most popular types of martial arts worldwide are Boxing, Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai, MMA and Taekwondo.

Each of these martial arts offers unique techniques, philosophies, and training methods.

Karate focuses on striking techniques such as punches, kicks, and knee strikes. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes ground fighting and submission holds, making it highly effective for self-defense. Muay Thai, known as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” incorporates punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes. Taekwondo is distinguished by its emphasis on high kicks and rapid spinning techniques.

These martial arts are not only popular for their combat effectiveness but also for their fitness benefits and the discipline they bring to a practitioners life.

How many types of Chinese martial arts are there?

There are a total of 4 discovered Chinese martial arts: Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Baguazhang and Shuai Jiao. These main variations are further subdivided into dozens of sub-styles.

Kung Fu is a martial art divided into styles such as Shaolin, Long Fist, Eagle Claw, and Monkey Style.

Baguazhang is an internal style of martial arts. It is very similar to Tai Chi. It involves various breathing techniques and meditative drills.

Shuai Jiao is a Chinese martial art focusing more on pure stand-up fighting.

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