An Introduction to the Different Types of Martial Arts

The different types of martial arts

There are many associated benefits with practicing martial arts from increased physical fitness to improving focus and mind-set. Many martial art disciplines have Asian origins and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with them in towns and cities near you.

Here’s the low down on some of the main ones so you can get set to decide which one might be right for you.

Muay Thai Boxing

As the National sport of Thailand, Muay Thai is practised widely throughout South East Asia. It is also known as “the art of eight limbs” because the entire body is used. Shins, knees, fists and elbows can all be used as points of contact, whereas only two are used in traditional western boxing (the fists).

Like many modern day martial arts classes, you don’t necessarily need to go in with the mind-set that you’ve got to fight. Most training clubs will have options to get you in great physical shape without the requirement of getting in the ring.


With origins from Japan and influence from China, karate is another great option for those seeking to take on a form of martial arts. Originally born as a form of self-defence, karate uses knees, elbows, punches and kicks. 

With benefits ranging from flexibility and balance to co-ordination and muscular strength, karate can provide an excellent full body workout that will also challenge the mind. 


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art with a strong emphasis on kicking techniques. Variations include jumping and spinning kicks, and board breaking techniques are also taught. With such a strong focus on kicking, a narrower stance is used, when compared with many other martial arts. This creates a less stable posture, but increased agility and speed.


Judo is an Olympic sport originating in Japan. Meaning ‘gentle way’, the main objectives behind judo are to throw the opponent down onto the matted area or to pin them into a position where they can’t move. Grappling and throwing are the most common techniques in the sport, and striking is also used.


Another martial art originating from Japan, Aikido is centred on a philosophy of self-defence that also aims to prevent the attacker from getting harmed. It uses turning movements, throws and joint locks and focuses on an understanding of the movements of the attacker in order to counter them without excess force or effort.

Working closely with the energy of the attacker, Aikido aims to create an internal harmony, along with a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA is a combat sport that combines a variety of martial arts techniques to achieve dominance over an opponent. Techniques include striking through punches and kicks and grappling via takedowns, throws, joint holds and more. 

The rules of MMA have evolved over the years and generally more restrictions have been added over time, but these will vary between organisations. 

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Fitness, Muay Thai & Martial Arts

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