20 Best Martial Arts Schools in the World

martial arts school

In all my years of learning and understanding different kinds of martial arts, I’ve constantly run into people claiming their martial arts school to be the best. With these types of claims, it can be difficult to work out who is telling the truth.

That’s why I decided to make it easier for you with my list of the 20 best martial arts schools in the world. These are in no particular order and include a broad range of locations and martial arts styles. Read on to find out more!

What To Consider When Choosing a Martial Arts School?

Are you looking to choose a martial arts school? The likelihood is that you won’t be lucky enough to live near one of the martial arts schools on this list. But what are the key features you should be looking for? Here, we’ll take a quick look.

Martial Art – Of course, the first thing you need to consider is what martial art you want to practice. It’s important to find a martial art you truly love. Otherwise, you may lack the patience or motivation to keep at it.

Instructor Credentials and Experience – Not every martial arts school is going to have a legendary teacher. However, it’s important to look at what credentials they have and their experience. The better the credentials, the more likely they’ll be exactly what you need.

Facility and Equipment – A great martial arts school will have an excellent facility that has all the equipment you need to reach your full potential. If a school has equipment that is falling apart or not up to standards, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Reputation and Reviews – All the gyms in this list have a worldwide reputation, and you know they’ll be great. However, for local schools, it’s a great idea to look online, including social media, and ask friends or family if they have any recommendations.

With those main factors to consider, let’s take a look at the best martial arts schools in the world and how they tick all those boxes.

Best Martial Arts Schools in the World

Here are the best martial arts schools in the world. Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to find one in your area. If not, below I’ve written a guide to find the best martial arts school for you. Now, let’s get started with the main list!

1. Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple

Martial Arts: Various Kung Fu Styles

Country: China

Address: Sichuan Province, Jintang County, Chengdu City

Founder: Bodhidharma in 496

Online Courses: Yes

Website: https://shaolintemple.com/

Most people take up martial arts to build up their confidence, fitness, and willpower. The Shaolin temple of Yunnan is the best martial arts school if you want to fully immerse yourself in the discipline of Shaolin kung fu.

With a martial art philosophy that has lasted for centuries and a strict disciplinarian lifestyle, the Shaolin temple is a complete package for self-mastery. The only drawback of training with the Shaolin temple is that it usually requires you to join the training on-site in China.

Still, no other martial arts school can compare to the rigorous training of the Shaolin temple. Hence, practitioners of Shaolin kung fu have outstanding physical and mental fortitude when compared to other martial arts schools.

2. American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)

American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)

Martial Arts: Kickboxing, MMA, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Country: USA

Address: 7012 Realm Drive, San Jose, California

Founder: Javier Mendez in 1985

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.americankickboxingacademy.com/

If MMA is the ultimate fighting sport, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) is the ultimate MMA school. Founded in the 1980s by the world-class MMA coach Javier Mendez, AKA has been home to some of the best UFC fighters of all time.

Its list of great fighters includes UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov all the way to the current UFC Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. There is no surprise it’s seen as one of the best martial arts training camps.

At AKA, you can train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, and MMA for fitness or for professional competition. The AKA provides instructions for practitioners of all levels, so if you’re in California, you can’t go wrong with this school.

3. Renzo Gracie Academy

Renzo Gracie Academy

Martial Arts: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Country: USA

Address: 224 West 30th Street, New York

Founder: Renzo Gracie in 1996

Online Courses: Yes

Website: https://renzogracieacademy.com/

The Renzo Gracie Academy is one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools in the world. The school was founded in 1996 by Renzo Gracie from the infamous Gracie family in the Midtown Manhattan area of New York.

At the Renzo Gracie Academy, you’ll learn the art of BJJ from the direct disciples of the founders. The academy also trains kidjitsu (for kids between the ages of 6-13) and Muay Thai. Even if you’re not in New York, you can connect with the Renzo Gracie Academy via one of their affiliated schools or online program.

4. Japan Karate Association

Japan Karate Association

Martial Arts: Karate

Country: Japan

Address: 2-23-15 Koraku, Bunkyo-Ku Tokyo

Founder: Gichin Funakoshi in 1948

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.jka.or.jp/en/

If you want to learn Karate, there’s no place better than the association that made modern-day Karate what it is. The Japan Karate Association (JKA) was founded in 1948 by Gichin Funakoshi. Students from JKA’s dojos have gone on to win multiple Olympic gold medals over the decades.

The headquarters is in Tokyo, and it has over 1000 affiliated training dojos all across Japan. The dojos might not be accessible for most people outside of Japan, but if you want to be the best at this beautiful martial art, this is the best karate dojo in the world.

5. Kadokan Judo Institute

Kadokan Judo Institute

Martial Arts: Judo

Country: Japan

Address: 1-16-30 Kasuga Bunkyo-ku Tokyo Japan 112-00030

Founder: Kano Jigoro Shihan in 1882

Online Courses: No

Website: http://kodokanjudoinstitute.org/en/

There is no other institute in the world that comes close to the Kadokan Judo Institute when it comes to teaching Judo. It was founded by none other than Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo. With more than a century of legacy, the Kadokan Institute offers the best environment to hone your judo skills.

The Kadokan Institute offers classes at the Kadokan International Judo Centers in Tokyo and Osaka. You might have a difficult time getting to the Kadokan Institute, but if you manage to get there, you’re guaranteed the purest form of judo in the world.

6. Tiger Muay Thai

Tiger Muay Thai

Martial Arts: Muay Thai

Country: Thailand

Address: 7/35 Moo 5, Soi Ta-iad, Ao Chalong, Muang, Phuket

Founder: William McNamara in 2003

Online Courses: x

Website: https://www.tigermuaythai.com/

Tiger Muay Thai is one of the most renowned MMA and Muay Thai training camps in the world. Based in Phuket, Thailand, the Tiger Muay Thai training camp has produced world-class MMA and Muay Thai fighters.

One of the best features of this training camp is that it offers training in BJJ, fitness, Muay Thai, MMA, and Yoga all in one place. The camp also offers accommodation and pricing plans for all interested in joining.

7. World Taekwondo Academy

World Taekwondo Academy

Martial Arts: Taekwondo

Country: USA

Address: Multiple locations in Minnesota

Founder: Byung Yul Lee in 1969

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.wta4u.com/

Ranking as probably the best taekwondo academy in the world, the World Taekwondo Academy has trained Olympic-level taekwondo practitioners over its 54 years of existence. It was founded by the legendary taekwondo grandmaster Byung Yul Lee in 1969, and his legacy stands strong to this day.

The WTA offers classes at its certified location near Plymouth and Maple Grove in Minnesota. The academy offers training programs for all age groups and also holds BJJ and kickboxing training on campus. If you’re searching for the best taekwondo schools in USA, look no further.

8. American Top Team

American Top Team

Martial Arts: MMA

Country: USA

Address: 5750 SR 7, Coconut Creek, Florida

Founder: Dan Lambert in 2001

Online Courses: No

Website: https://americantopteam.com/

The American Top Team is an MMA and BJJ gym that trains only the best of the best. Led by former UFC icons like Din Thomas and Mike Brown, the ATT is a gym that offers training only to pro-fighters. While that’s true, you can still join the gym as an amateur through their affiliate gyms.

Amateurs looking to go pro can join this martial arts training camp by contacting the ATT recruitment staff with their CVs and career records. If you’re looking to make it big as an amateur or professional MMA fighter, you can aim to join the ATT gym.

9. Monster Factory

Monster Factory

Martial Arts: Wrestling

Country: USA

Address: 541 Mantua Ave, Paulsboro, New Jersey

Founder: Danny Cage in 2010

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.monsterfactory.org/

The Monster Factory is a wrestling gym that has produced some of the world’s most famous wrestlers. Among the ranks of their trainees are the WWE superstars Sheamus, Big Show, and even Matt Riddler.

The Monster Factory was acquired by the former American wrestler Danny Cage, who then converted the gym into a wrestling training center. The center continues to help people master the art of wrestling to promote both fitness and careers as wrestlers to this day.

10. 5th Street Gym

5th Street Gym

Martial Arts: Boxing

Country: USA

Address: 1019 5th Street, Miami Beach, Florida

Founder: Chris and Angelo Dundee in 1950

Online Courses: No

Website: https://5thstgym.com/home

The gym that once was home to boxing Hall of Fame legends like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Sugar Ray Leonard. The 5th Street Gym was first opened in 1950 by the legendary boxing coach Chris Dundee and his brother Angelo Dundee.

The boxing gym is open to the public even to this day and has seen celebrities and fighters from all over the world training here. The 5th Street Gym offers both boxing and fitness coaching, making it a great place for hobbyists, amateurs, and pro-boxers alike.

11. Mike’s Gym

Mike’s Gym

Martial Arts: Kickboxing and MMA

Country: The Netherlands

Address: Mikes Gym Skoon 19-21, 1511HV, Oostzaan

Founder: Mike Passenger in 2003

Online Courses: No

Website: https://mikesgym.com/

The Dutch-based gym is one of the world’s finest kickboxing and MMA gyms. Mike Passenger opened Mike’s Gym in 2003 after being a boxing fan all his life. Within a quick few years, Mike’s Gym has produced champion after champion in kickboxing and MMA.

The gym offers fitness training, professional fighter training (as a part of its fight academy), and kickboxing training as a part of its services. The gym offers an exclusive membership deal for women that gives them access to ladies-only gyms and classes.

12. Banchamek Gym

Banchamek Gym

Martial Arts: Kickboxing

Country: Thailand

Address: 5/1 Moo3 Tambon BanPhaow Ampher MaeTaeng Chiangmai

Founder: Buakaw Banchamek in 2012

Online Courses: No

Website: https://banchamekgym.com/

One of the premier kickboxing gyms in Thailand. The Banchamek Gym was founded by the kickboxing legend Buakaw Banchamek. The gym has an entourage of 30 world-class fighters from kickboxing, MMA, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

With so many different kinds of fighters in the same place, the variety of techniques you will encounter during spars will help you develop an adaptable fighting style. Still, keep in mind that the Banchamek Gym sessions are quite physically demanding, so you might want to build up your stamina before you consider joining.

13. Kronk Gym

Kronk Gym

Martial Arts: Boxing

Country: USA

Address: 32150 Dorsey St, Westland, Michigan

Founder: Emanuel Steward in 1971

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.kronk.com/

Similar to the 5th Street Gym, the Kronk Gym was founded by the boxing Hall of Fame coach Emanuel Steward. The gym had trained boxing legends like Thomas Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko. Even today, the legacy of Coach Steward continues as the gym attracts the new generation of boxers.

The Kronk Gym now only focuses on amateur and professional boxing fight training, so you might not be able to join it as a hobbyist. However, if you’re serious about joining the professional boxing scene, the Kronk Gym is a great option.

14. Wing Chun Ip Chun Academy

Wing Chun Ip Chun Academy

Martial Arts: Wing Chun

Country: Hong Kong

Address: Kowloon

Founder: Ip Chun in 2002

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.ipchun.hk/

If you’re looking for the best Wing Chun school, look no further than the Wing Chun Ip Chun Academy. Founded by the son of the legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, the Wing Chun Ip Chun Academy offers training to martial artists at all levels.

The Ip Chun Academy will give you the purest Wing Chun experience in terms of both the philosophy and the techniques. Since the academy is based in Hong Kong, it might be a bit hard to reach, but it’s well worth the effort for those wanting to immerse themselves in Wing Chun.

15. Krav Maga Worldwide

Krav Maga Worldwide

Martial Arts: Krav Maga

Country: USA

Address: 15233 Ventura Blvd, #100 Sherman Oaks, California

Founder: Marni Levine in 1997

Online Courses: Yes

Website: https://www.kravmaga.com/

The Krav Maga is a combat system developed and used by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). It is one of the most effective self-defense systems in the world, and the best place to start learning Krav Maga is at Krav Maga Worldwide.

Krav Maga Worldwide has its headquarters training center in Los Angeles, and they also offer an online learning course for those far away.

16. Venom Training Camp

Venom Training Camp

Martial Arts: Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Country: Thailand

Address: Kopai Soi 12, Pattaya

Founder: Mehdi Zatout in 2016

Online Courses: No

Website: https://venumtrainingcamp.com/

The Venom Training Camp is one of the best Muay Thai and BJJ training camps. It has state-of-the-art equipment, training grounds, and instructors. The camp is often frequented by MMA, boxing, and BJJ athletes to build up their endurance and skill.

The camp offers BJJ, Muay Thai, boxing, MMA, cross-training, and fitness training for professional athletes. Like all elite training camps, you would need a decent level of fitness before you’re able to keep up with their heavy training scheme. 

17. Tristar Gym

Tristar Gym

Martial Arts: MMA

Country: Canada

Address: Montreal, Quebec

Founder: Conrad Pla, Michel Lavallée, and Ron Di Cecco in 1991

Online Courses: Yes

Website: https://tristargym.com/

The Tristar gym is called the home of champions and is one of the best MMA gyms in the world. It is Canada’s No #1 gym led by coach Firas Zahabi. Many UFC champions and top contenders like Georges St-Pierre and Francis Ngannou have trained at the Tristar gym.

The gym offers a variety of MMA conditioning programs to get fighters into shape. It has something for all levels of fighters, from beginners to professionals. If you’re looking for a top-class MMA gym in Canada, this is it.

18. Shaolin Temple Tagou Martial Arts School

Shaolin Temple Tagou Martial Arts School

Martial Arts: Kung Fu

Country: China

Address: Dengfeng City, Henan Province

Founder: Liu Baoshan in 1978

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.shaolintagou.org/

The Shaolin Temple Tagou martial arts school is the largest Shaolin school in China. It has a rich, centuries-old traditional and cultural history. The school provides an immersive training scheme, allowing you to live and train on the school grounds for the duration of your training.

The training will include physical strengthening, martial arts forms, and mental training. During your stay there, the temple’s training plan will help you achieve patience, confidence, and mental fortitude.

19. Systema HQ Toronto

Systema HQ Toronto

Martial Arts: Systema

Country: Canada

Address: 39 Glen Cameron Road Unit #2, Thornhill, Ontario

Founder: Vladimir Vasiliev in 1993

Online Courses: No

Website: https://russianmartialart.com/index.php

Systema is a Russian combat art that rivals Krav Maga. However, due to the war in Ukraine, it might be difficult for you to attend a Systema school in Russia to hone your skills. Luckily, the Systema HQ Toronto is a great alternative to train Systema outside of Russia.

It is led by international Systema master Vladimir Vasiliev, who also popularized the concept of Systema as a martial art in the West. If you want a self-defense system on par with the Krav Maga but with a fluid style, the Systema Toronto should be your stop.

20. Alliance Jiu Jitsu

Alliance Jiu Jitsu

Martial Arts: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Country: Brazil

Address: Estates Unidos Street, #1615, Jardim Paulista, São Paulo

Founder: Romero Cavalcanti, Fabio Gurgel, and Alexandre Paiva in 1993

Online Courses: No

Website: https://www.allianceofficial.com/en/

The Alliance Jiu Jitsu is the best BJJ school in the world. The Alliance Jiu Jitsu team was founded by the BJJ champions Romero Cavalcanti, Fabio Gurgel, and Alexandre Paiva in 1993.

Since then, the Alliance team has produced 13 BJJ champions, making it one of the most successful BJJ schools in the world.

The team has over 300 affiliated schools all over the world, making it very easy for you to be a part of their teachings regardless of your skill level.

How To Find the Best Martial Arts School for You?

Everyone is different, and the best martial arts school for you may be different from the best martial arts school for someone else. Here’s what you need to consider to find your perfect martial arts school.

Goals – What do you want to achieve? Is it to have fun learning a martial art, or do you want to become a pro? If it’s just for recreation, there is little point in going to a hyper-professional school that has high rates.

Location – Your location will dictate what martial arts schools you can reasonably attend. Decide how far you’re prepared to travel, and then make a list of all the martial arts schools that are open in your chosen area.

Cost – Martial arts schools have a wide range of costs. Before looking into other factors, it’s important to know whether or not it falls into your budget. However, sometimes it can be a good idea to pay that little bit extra to get exactly what you need.

Class Schedules – Most of us lead busy lives and can’t just join a class whenever we want. Take a look at the class schedules and make sure that they align with your calendar.

Trust Your Instincts – Feel free to visit the school and take a trial class if they are available. Get a feel for the atmosphere and energy. If you don’t feel as though it’s right for you, don’t be afraid to walk away and try somewhere else.

How To Find the Best Martial Arts School for Your Child?

If you’re looking into a martial arts school for your child, there are a few other factors to consider.

Interests and Goals – As with anyone, you want to think about their interests and goals. You don’t want to put them in a high-pressure environment if they just want to have some fun.

Children’s Programs – Check to see if they have dedicated children’s programs. If so, enquire about timings, class sizes, and if there is a set curriculum.

Instructor Qualifications – You want your children to be in the hands of experienced professionals. Check the quality of the instructors and their track record of being able to develop children’s martial arts skills.

Talk to Other Parents – A great idea is to attend the school and get a feel for the place. Many will offer trial classes, and this will give you an opportunity to talk to other parents and get their views on what the school does well and what it could do better. At the same time, it’s a good idea to observe student and teacher behavior to pick up any green or red flags.

Safety Measures – Ensure they value the safety of your child. This involves them having proper supervision, age-appropriate equipment, and measures to reduce the chance of injury. 

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Kenny Jarvis
Kenny Jarvis
I have been practicing and studying boxing since I was a teenager. I am passionate about the sport, along with many other martial arts. While my fighting days may be over, I love channeling my passion into my writing to provide insightful blogs.