Types of Martial Arts

Published on: Jan 26 2011 by Shenron

Martial art is a term used collectively for several different types of fighting skills with or without the use of weapons. Martial arts are popular all over the world. Martial arts are classified into many different types and each of them is assumed to have their origin in East Asia. All over the world, millions of people practice martial arts with a view of physical fitness, self-defense, for any kind of competition or to find spirituality or mental peace. Martial arts are comprised of about 200 types, each of these types has a specific training or learning, which are called systems or styles.

Although, martial arts are comprised of so many types and styles, yet there are many techniques which are common among them. In order to have a clear idea or definition about them, they are further classified into broad classes or groups. The categorizing of the martial arts is basically depending upon the basic techniques used in different form of martial arts such as striking or grappling.

The various form of martial arts that use striking are dependent upon using blows with hands, feet, elbows, knees or even head. Karate, aikido, taekwondo and kung fu are the examples of striking type of martial art.

The grappling sort of martial arts are the martial arts that involve wrestling, throwing and locking techniques. In this type of martial art, the focus is on neutralizing the aggressive actions of the opponent by gaining control over him/her without using any striking techniques. Aikido, judo and jujitsu are common example of grappling martial arts.

Some of the popular forms of martial arts are given below:


Karate is a type of unarmed self-defense martial arts where the focus is on the directed punches and kicks either with hands or legs from particular position. The basic goal behind karate is to encourage positive thinking, high moral purpose, and self-discipline. In karate, strength, speed and technique are considered as the hallmarks of expertise. Acute sense of timing, surprise and constant alertness are some of the other requirements of karate. The practitioners of karate wear white tunic, called gi, tied with a cloth belt. The color of the belt shows the levels of expertise, i.e. white for the beginners, then green, after that you will get brown and the one who is skilled in karate is given the black belt, called Dan. The instructor or karate master is known as sensai.


It is a type of martial art that has its origin in Korea. Dramatic spinning and flying kicks are the important characteristics of taekwondo. The term ‘taekwondo’ is made from combining three Korean words that is, ‘tae’ means kick or foot, and ‘kwon’ means punch or fist, and ‘do’ means way of life or art. So, collectively the term means ‘the art of fighting with hand and foot’. The practitioners of taekwondo follow a choreographed sequence for practicing their combative moves such as controlled sparring between two people, breaking boards or other materials. They practitioners of taekwondo wear a loose white colored tunic, known as dobok with colored belts (showing their levels of expertise). Like karate, black belt is a symbol of expert.


Jujitsu is a form of Japanese martial art which includes throwing, kicking, choking heads, kneeing. In jujitsu, many different weapons are also used. The term ‘jujitsu’ is a combination of two Japanese words: ‘ju’ means soft or gentle and ‘jitsu’ means art. Jujitsu is a form of martial arts which is thought to be evolved from the types of martial arts from the Asian mainland. There is no particular dress code for the practitioners of jujitsu.


Judo is a form of martial arts that involves balance, leverage and movement and two opponents use all three take control over each other. Judo is a Japanese word which means ‘gentle way’. Like jujitsu where the practitioners first yield to the attack of the opponent and then use the same energy to gain control over him, Judo also works on the same principle. The three most common techniques used in Judo are: ‘atemi-waza’ which refers to striking, ‘katame-waza’ which refers to grappling, and ‘nage-waza’ which refers to standing and throwing. The practitioners of Judo make use of these three techniques excessively in different combinations to gain control over his opponent.


The term Kendo means ‘way of the sword’. Kendo is a style of fencing and its origin can be traced back to Meiji period (1868-1912) in Japan. It is modified form of two handed sword fighting techniques generally used by the samurai, also known as ken. Samurais used Japanese katana back then.  Today, the Kendo is practiced using bamboo swords, called shinai. The practitioners of the Kendo or Kendoka wear protective clothing that includes a ‘gear’, called bogu refers to a mask on the face, ‘do’ refers to a breastplate, ‘tare’ refers to a apron used for the protection of hips and stomach, and ‘kote’ refers to fencing gloves. There is a skirt that reaches up to the ankles of practitioners known as the hakama. The opponent fight against each other bare footed on the smooth floor.

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