There are many different types of Martial arts from many different parts of the world. Of course we are partial to Taekwondo, but many other popular styles are better known. There are different martial art types but they were never just about defeating enemies but also about self-improvement and discovering inner peace. Here are just a few of the more widespread types and how they differ. We will start with Taekwondo.
Taekwondo: the Korean art of self-defense, one of the oldest forms of martial arts (reaching back over 2,000 years), and the most widely practiced martial art in the world. Training involves learning a system of blocks, kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes, as well as varying forms of take-downs, throws, and joint locks, all of which develop strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, as compared to other martial arts such as karate. In addition to self-defense training, students learn prearranged sequences of techniques known as forms or poomsae (known in other martial arts as kata). Tae kwon do and judo are the only two martial arts included in the Olympic Games.
Judo: a relatively modern Japanese martial art (created in 1882). The goal of judo is to either throw or takedown one’s opponent to the ground and immobilize or subdue them with a grappling maneuver, joint lock, strangle hold, or choke. Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet or weapons are only allowed in pre-arranged forms (kata), and are not allowed in competition or free practice. Judo was derived from Jiu Jitsu but developed more strictly to specialize on the sweeps, throws, joint locks, trips, and chokes.
Judo techniques removed all the deadly methods which made it a much safer martial art for sports and also a great martial art for self-defense. There are some mild striking techniques as well, but in real life combat situation, a simple Judo throw could knock the wind out of your opponent. It is one of the most renowned martial art type.
Jiu Jitsu (Jujitsu, Jujutsu): a Japanese martial art for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon, or only a short weapon. Practitioners neutralize an enemy with pins, joint locks, and throws by using an attacker’s energy against him, rather than directly opposing it (as with other martial arts such as karate). There are five main areas or arts of training: blocking, fulcrum throw, non-fulcrum throw, escaping, and striking.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ is a variation of the Japanese martial art Jiu Jitsu. This type of martial art was improved and worked upon to choose the most useful and practical techniques. Also, to find better variations of it. Unlike Jiu Jitsu or Judo, takedown and throws are not heavily emphasized in BJJ.
This type of martial art prepares you explicitly to use your opponent’s size against them. It’s really useful in combat situations by placing them in joint locks and choke that will neutralize them. BJJ also prepares you for defending yourself when you are on your back. It finds interesting methods to perform a reversal to gain the dominant position.
Karate: a martial art developed in Okinawa, Japan that stresses striking techniques, such as punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands (karate chop). In comparison to taekwondo, karate tends to focus more on hand strikes, whereas taekwondo emphasizes kicking techniques. The major traditional styles of karate are Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Goju Ryu, and Wado Ryu.
Hapkido: a Korean martial art which uses joint locks, kicks, punches, and other striking attacks. Weapons such as sword, nunchaku, rope, cane, and staff are also used, although their emphasis varies. Hapkido focuses on using circular motions, non-resisting movements, and control of the opponent, using footwork and body positioning to gain leverage and avoid strength against strength. Although aikido and hapkido are thought to share a common history, they differ significantly in philosophy, range of responses, and execution of techniques.
Kung Fu (Chinese martial arts): a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. Kung Fu is one of the oldest martial art types that help to refine the body and take enemies down. There are common themes to the various styles (which are usually classified by families, schools, or sects). Each style varies in its more specific techniques, but they all follow the same underlying principle. Strike fast and strike hard. Combining speed with power to quickly defeat opponents is how Kung Fu operates. Some styles include physical exercises that mimic animal movements, while others are inspired by Chinese philosophies, religions, and legends. Internal styles focus mainly on harnessing of qi, while external styles concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness. Some of the more common styles include Eagle Claw, Hung Gar, Five Animals (Shaolin Kung Fu), Monkey, Praying Mantis, and Wing Chun. (The term kung fu is often used in the west to refer to Chinese martial arts, however its original meaning refers to one’s expertise in any skill, not just martial arts.)
Kung Fu practitioners are also taught of various weapon skills as well as utilizing weapons like swords, staffs, and spears to name a few. Kung Fu training also focuses on improving the mind to strengthen the body. So meditation, patience training, breath control, and many such practices are incorporated into its training to show better results in combat.
Aikido: considered a grappling art, aikido is a Japanese martial art performed by flowing with the motion of the attacker rather than opposing it straight-on. This requires much less physical strength, as the practitioner directs the attacker’s momentum with entering and turning motions, followed by various throws or joint locks. Aikido is a peaceful type of martial art designed to neutralize a hostile situation without causing harm to any party involved.
Practicing Aikido requires both the party to remove all forms of resistance to avoid injury with the locks and the throws. Aikido is beautiful to witness in practice, has excellent meditative properties, but its effectiveness combat does not compare with other martial arts.
Krav Maga: a hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel that involves wrestling, grappling and striking techniques, mostly known for its extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks used to keep the practitioner safe and incapacitate the opponent by any means necessary. Generally, there are no rules in krav maga, and it has no sporting federation. In addition, there is no official uniform, although some organizations recognize progress with rank badges, levels, and belts.
Kendo, meaning “The Way of the Sword” teaches its practitioners how to effectively use the katana (the primary Japanese blade used in war) in various ranges and sequences. Kendo is trained with a bamboo sword and protective gear.
Kendo is derived from Kenjutsu which was most popular during the Edo period of Japan. Kendo has more so developed into a sport and has point systems in competitions. But, it keeps the spirit of kenjutsu alive by teaching its students all the deadly sword skills once used by brave samurai.
Muay Thai: a martial art from Thailand which uses stand-up striking and clinching techniques. Easily the most effective stand up striking style in martial arts history. Muay Thai has proven its effectiveness directly with the number of fighters in the various divisions of several MMA organizations. They utilize it as their primary striking martial art. It makes prominent use of punches, kicks, elbow strikes, and knee strikes, using eight points of contact, in contrast to the hands and feet (four contact points) more often relied upon in other martial arts. Numerous techniques associated with Muay Thai can be found in MMA.
Muay Thai uses eight parts of the body to deliver powerful strikes, the hands, the legs, the knees, and the elbows. Along with strikes, Muay Thai also incorporates high pressure clinching techniques that wear out any ordinary person tangled up with an elite. Muay Thai fighters are also trained in sweeps and takedowns to neutralize kicks and gain points in matches.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts): a full contact sport that allows a variety of fighting styles to be used (including martial and non-martial arts techniques). Striking and grappling techniques, either standing or on the ground, are allowed. The early years of the sport saw a wide variety of traditional styles, but as the sport evolved many styles were shown to be ineffective. It is now common for fighters to train in multiple styles, creating a more balanced skill set.
Not always thought of a Martial Art,
Tai Chi: an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. A multitude of training forms exist, including the westernized, standardized version of tai chi (tai chi chih) which has visual similarities to the Chinese tai chi (tai chi chuan), but no martial arts aspect. Some forms are particularly well known because of their slow movement.
These are just a few of the many forms of Martial Arts. While we teach Taekwondo predominately here at the CAMA schools, other forms are sometimes featured.