What Are the Different Types of Martial Arts That Are Practiced Today?

Martial arts have a long, storied history. Since human development began, people have been finding ways to optimize their physical prowess for worst-case scenarios.

Martial artists are native staples to various Asian and South American cultures — as engrained to their national pride as their flag and capital. While the U.S. doesn’t have a native martial arts culture, many dojos exist in the U.S, meaning that an American can pick from many different types of martial arts.

Kung Fu ruled the 1970s with the prominence of foreign martial arts movies. But what martial arts styles are popular in the MMA/UFC age of the 21st century?

This article will walk you through some of the most popular martial arts styles, so you can figure out the best martial arts for you for optimal health and wellbeing.


Karate is a very popular form of martial arts — so popular, in fact, that sometimes people refer to any martial art as “Karate”.

Karate has its own history and techniques, however. It was developed in Japan and focuses mainly on punches and kicks. While a little simplistic, Karate is wonderfully effective as it teaches you how to hit someone.

Many contemporary fighters enjoy Karate due to its high practical application, and emphasis on conditioning. There are many styles of Karate, but we recommend focusing on a more practical type, such as Goju Ryu. Goju, or the “hard-soft” technique, focuses on real-life battle scenarios.

However, many people criticize Karate for its lack of emphasis on grappling, which is hyper-important in real-world scenarios.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu was all the rage in the martial arts boom of the 1970s. Martial artists such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lo Lieh, and Gordan Liu all trained in Kung Fu Styles.

Kung Fu, rather than one unified martial art, is a series of Chinese martial arts. Some are more practical and contain sparring, some are more based around eastern philosophies, and others mimic the movements of certain animals.

It’s hard for us to tell you whether or not Kung Fu is worth it. We recommend looking for particular styles and dojos that work best for you. If you’re a fan of classic martial arts movies, we highly recommend Kung Fu. However, it might not be best if you’re looking for contemporary martial art.


Judo is one of those contemporary martial arts. While it doesn’t have the same level of history that Karate and Kung Fu do, it doesn’t have the baggage that comes with them as well.

Judo is a style that focuses almost entirely on grappling. While you won’t be focusing on learning how to strike your opponent that much, you can rest assured that if things get taken to the ground, you’ll know how to keep yourself out of danger.

Most fights actually wind up on the ground. Learning how to outmaneuver your opponent and subdue them with submission holds is hyper-important in learning self-defense.

On top of this, the highly ground-based nature of Judo helps one get into great shape.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a step up from many other martial arts because it emphasizes four extra striking points — your knees and elbows. Mastery in Muay Thai makes someone capable of striking someone near and far with many parts of their body. However, it also makes competing in Muay Thai a little dangerous, which is while you’ll want martial arts insurance.


Sambo is one of the most effective forms of Martial Arts out there because it combines the ground-based maneuvers of Judo with the striking attacks of Karate, Kung Fu. You can even trike with your knees and elbows in Sambo.

Developed in Russia, Sambo masters are known to do well in places such as the UFC due to the versatility of the martial art. Famed UFC competitor Khabib Nurmagomedov makes use of tactics he learned in Sambo, something that he’s proud of.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu might seem simplistic at first glance since it mainly focuses on ground-based fitting. However, this matters little, since its tactics are known to be highly calculated. It has a reputation as the single most practical martial art.

Though Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lacks a focus on stand-up fighting, it emphasizes some ruthless takedowns to make sure that any fight can get taken to the ground. While there’s an element of luck in stand-up fighting, grappling is all based on skill. If you want to learn a great equalizing martial art, look no further than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are even many ps4 games developed for jiu-jitsu to play.


MMA stands for mixed martial arts. As the name implies, MMA is not one single martial art, but rather a conglomeration of many.

However, MMA gains a spot on this list because there are dojos that focus on MMA fighting. The emphasis here is on sparring and making use of whatever tactic you need to from whatever discipline in order to win a fight.

MMA is wonderful because it will open you up to many different styles of martial arts and many ways of thinking. It will also encourage you to get into good shape because there’s no way to fake it when you’re actually in the ring.

Understand Many Different Types of Martial Arts

As you can see, there are many different types of martial arts to choose from these days. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, Muay Thai, Sambo, and MMA, and you’re far more likely to find the right martial art style for you.

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