Martial arts have been practiced for as long as humans have been fighting, and unique and distinct styles come from every corner of the world. No matter where you are or what your focus is, there’s a martial art for you.
Whether you want to learn self-defense, improve yourself, or are just curious, here’s a complete list of 200+ martial arts styles.
Table of Contents
How Many Martial Arts Are There?
How many forms of martial arts are there or how many styles of martial arts are there? These are almost impossible questions to answer.
You can’t get a list of all martial arts as new ones are created all the time. Many are basic, hardly known, and don’t have much of a curriculum.
While that’s true, here I wanted to create a martial arts types list of all of the recognized martial arts in the world that are well-known and unique. As we go through these martial art names, you’ll see the wonderful variety of fighting methods that are enjoyed around the world.
Complete List of Martial Arts
Here is my complete list of martial arts. I’ve decided to separate them in their respective continents while also mentioning specifically where they’re from in the description. Let’s get started by going through the martial arts names.
Martial Arts from Africa
Engolo – Hailing from Angola, engolo (also known as n’golo) is a traditional martial art of the Bantu. While there are elements of combat, it mainly has a focus on music and dance.
Dambe – This is a form of boxing practiced by the Hausa people of Nigeria. Competitions were traditionally held during harvest festivals, where people would fight as part of the celebration.
Istunka – Istunka is a martial arts festival celebrated in the Somalian region of Afgooye to mark the start of a new year and the beginning of harvest season. Combatants are divided into teams and equipped with sticks for a melee mock battle.
Lutte Traditionnelle – A traditional form of folk-wrestling from Western Africa that includes several regional variations, including Laamb, Boreh, Kokawa, and Evala.
Moraingy – Moraingy is a striking martial art originating in Madagascar that utilizes punches and kicks. Fights are typically accompanied with traditional music, dances, and cheering audiences from each fighter’s village.
Nguni Stick-Fighting / Donga –A weapons-based martial art practiced by the Nguni people of South Africa. This martial art is incorporated into ceremonies and special events.
Nuba Fighting – This is a wrestling sport practiced by the Nuba people of southern Sudan. Wrestling is closely tied to the cultural identity of the Nuba, who have held on to the tradition through periods of civil war.
Senegalese Wrestling – The national sport of Senegal, and is sometimes included under the umbrella of Lutte Traditionnelle. This form of wrestling allows strikes with the hands as well as grappling.
Tahtib – A martial art and folk dance from Egypt that uses sticks as weapons. Both the dance and fighting form are practiced in modern Egypt.
Martial Arts from the Americas
10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu – A subsystem of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu designed for use in Mixed Martial Arts competitions. This system only counts submissions, and doesn’t use the point system of other Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions.
American Kenpo – A hybrid martial art that combined aspects of Judo, Karate, Boxing, and other martial arts. Kenpo was designed to borrow from many martial arts to develop an efficient self-defense system.
Bajan Stick-Licking – A martial art from Barbados that teaches stick-fighting. This martial art is believed to have roots in Africa, reaching Barbados through the slave trade.
Bakom – Sometimes spelled “Bacom,” this is a Peruvian martial art that combined indigenous and Spanish fighting techniques during colonial times. This martial art was modernized in the 1980s to include deadly street-fighting techniques.
Bojuka – A self-defense focused martial art. Preemptive strikes and situational awareness to avoid fights are two fundamentals.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – A popular grappling martial art for self-defense and MMA competitions. It was originally derived from Japanese jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and judo.
Capoeira – An Afro-Brazilian martial art originally practiced by slaves as a way to defend themselves and stay connected to their culture. It was disguised as a dance when banned by the colonial government.
Capoeira Angola – A sub style of Capoeira designed to be closer to the traditional Engolo that Capoeira is thought to be based on. This style doesn’t use weapons, and has a heavier focus on traditional music.
Chulukua – A hybrid martial art combining fighting techniques from several Native American tribes with Karate, Judo, and Jiu-Jitsu. Chulukua teaches unique American weapons and techniques.
Collegiate Wrestling – A popular combat sport at high schools and colleges in the United States. This style of wrestling has a higher focus on takedowns and leg holds than other popular grappling martial arts.
Colombian Grima – An Afro-Colombian weapons-based martial art that teaches the use of the machete. This style was influenced by Spanish Fencing techniques and resembles sword-fighting.
Combatives – The fighting system used by the military and law enforcement in the United States. This style draws on many other martial arts to form an aggressive self-defense system.
Defendo – A self-defense system developed in Canada designed for law enforcement. It was modified from other fighting systems to be effective, but not lethal, making it a good choice for police.
Emerson Combat Systems – This combat system is one of the fighting styles used by military and law enforcement. Developing a combat-mindset is one of the focuses of this martial art.
Esgrima Crioula – A weapons-based martial art developed by the Gaucho people of South America. Machetes, knives, daggers, and other traditional regional weapons are used.
Gouging (Fighting Style) – Gouging was a type of street fighting practiced in the rural North American South during the antebellum period. Techniques considered “dirty fighting” in other systems, such as eye-gouging and hair-pulling, were allowed.
Huka-Huka – An indigenous form of wrestling from Brazil practiced by the Xingu people. This style of wrestling starts from a kneeling position rather than from standing.
Jailhouse Rock (Fighting Style) – A fighting style from mid-20th century urban America practiced by African Americans. It is said to have developed in the penal system by blending boxing with other martial arts.
Jeet Kune Do – A hybrid martial art developed by the famous martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. This martial art specializes in intercepting strikes and parries.
Juego De Maní – A martial art and dance from Cuba that uses sticks as weapons. It’s believed to have origins in West-African traditions and came to Cuba with the Mid-Atlantic slave trade.
LINE (Combat System) – A close quarters fighting system used by U.S. Marines and Special Forces. It was designed to be deadly and possible to perform in full combat gear.
Luta Livre – A style of freestyle wrestling from Brazil. In addition to grappling, Luta Livre teaches students striking techniques.
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program – A hybrid fighting system that draws from a long list of martial arts for maximum effectiveness. In addition to fighting techniques, this martial art also teaches the warrior ethos and builds morale.
MMA – A full contact combat sport that allows martial artists from different disciplines to compete against one another. Both striking and grappling are allowed, with a few restrictions for safety and sportsmanship.
Model Mugging – A style of self-defense training that simulates high adrenaline attack scenarios to train students to defend themselves. Instructors often wear padded equipment.
Okichitaw – A martial art based on fighting techniques of the Canadian Plains Cree people. It includes grappling, striking, and tomahawk techniques.
Rough And Tumble – A style of street fighting used by the lower class in rural 18th and 19th century America. Techniques such as eye gouging, biting, and even severing body parts were used in this fighting system.
Shootfighting – An early form of sparring competition between different martial arts, similar to MMA but with stricter rules. It was popular in the United States and Japan.
SPEAR System – A Canadian self-defense system whose name stands for Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response. It focuses on training reflex actions into useful self-defense techniques.
Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary System – This martial art was a self defense system originally designed for use by the U.S. Navy. It specializes in strikes to vulnerable nerves to control attackers.
Tire Machèt – Originating from the Haitian Revolution, Tire Machèt is a style of fencing that uses machetes instead of swords. Sticks are sometimes used in place of machetes for safer practice.
Vale Tudo – A Brazilian precursor to MMA, where different martial arts could be pitted against each other. This style originally had fewer restrictions than modern MMA, and was considered more violent because of it.
Wen-Do – A Canadian martial art designed specifically for women’s self-defense. It focuses on teaching students how to defend against sexual harassment, domestic assaults, and rape.
Martial Arts from Asia
Adimurai – A a striking martial art from India that specializes in strikes to pressure points called Varma Adi. There is also a variation of this martial art called Adithadi that was designed to be less lethal.
Aikido – A Japanese martial art that was designed to use the strength and momentum of attackers against themselves. Throws and joint locks are common Aikido techniques.
Angampora – This martial art originated in Sri Lanka, where it remains popular as a connection to the region’s cultural heritage. Angampora incorporates striking, grappling, pressure points, meditation, and traditional dancing.
Baguazhang – An internal martial art from China that uses footwork in a circular pattern. Open palm strikes are a signature strike in Baguazhang.
Bajiquan – An aggressive striking martial art from China. This martial art uses elbow and shoulder strikes to knock opponents off balance.
Bajutsu – An equestrian martial art from Japan that taught the use of traditional weapons from horseback. Both the martial artist and the horse were trained for fighting in this historical martial art.
Bak Mei – A Chinese martial art said to have been developed by and named after one of the legendary Five Elders that survived the destruction of the Shaolin Temple. This martial art specializes in close ranged strikes.
Bando – A self-defense based martial art originating in Myanmar. It specializes in counter attacks, and discourages student from throwing the first blow.
Bangladeshi martial arts – Bangladesh is home to several martial arts, including the striking art Butthan, the weapons-based Lathi Khela, and the grappling art Boli Khela
Banshay – A weapons-based martial art from Myanmar that teaches traditional weapons. Swords, spears, and staffs are popular Banshay weapons.
Bojutsu – Bojustu teaches students how to fight with a traditional bo staff. This Japanese martial art has some overlap with Okinawan Kobudō.
Bokator – An ancient martial art from Cambodia. It was almost exterminated by the Pol Pot regime, and the practice has only recently returned to Cambodia.
Butthan – A martial art and combat sport from Bangladesh. Despite its aggressive nature, this martial art has a heavy emphasis on internal self-development.
Chang Quan – An external martial art from northern China. It focuses on long distance strikes using fully extended arms and legs.
Cheena di – A Sri Lankan martial art that has roots in Shaolin Kung Fu. It combines aspects of both Chinese martial arts and Angampora.
Chin Na – Chin Na is the Chinese name for joint locks. These grappling techniques can either be used as stand-alone techniques, or incorporated into other martial art styles.
Chinese martial arts – Chinese martial arts are often grouped together under the umbrella terms Kung Fu or Wushu. There are hundreds of different styles, each with their own specialties.
Choi Kwang Do – A modern martial art from the United States with South Korean influences. It incorporates yoga-like stretches for increased flexibility.
Choy Gar – A style of Kung Fu popular in southern China. It uses compact movements and strikes modeled after snake attacks.
Choy Li Fut – A hybrid style of Kung Fu. It combines powerful Southern striking techniques with the agility characteristic of Northern styles.
Chuo Jiao – A form of Kung Fu that specializes in kicking. Its signature moves include jumping kicks named after falling meteors.
Combat Sambo – A subsection of the Soviet martial art Sambo. Combat Sambo focuses on techniques useful to the military, rather than ones best suited for competition.
Ditangquan – A style of Kung Fu known for its unique tumbling movements. These grappling-like movements are often combined with striking attacks.
Drunken Boxing – Drunken boxing is a category of Kung Fu styles modeled after the swaying and erratic movements of intoxicated people. These styles are popular in Kung Fu movies.
Duanquan – A Northern style of Kung Fu that specializes in explosive close-quarters combat. It uses quick and efficient movements.
Emeiquan – A style of Kung Fu that combines internal and external techniques. It focuses on swift movements, and is sometimes associated with women martial artists.
Filipino martial arts – Filipino martial arts originate on the Philippine Islands, and include Arnis, Kali, and Eskrima. They are best known for their stick fighting techniques.
Five Ancestors – Five Ancestors is a hybrid form of Kung Fu that combines techniques from five other famous Kung Fu lineages. It borrows techniques from Taoist style, Luohan, Emperor Taizu, Fujian White Crane, and Monkey style to create its own distinct style.
Fu Jow Pai – A style of Kung Fu derived from Shaolin Kung Fu. It features powerful strikes modeled after fighting tigers.
Fujian White Crane – Fujian White Crane is one of the animal-styles of Kung Fu. It teaches blocking techniques that resemble a bird flapping its wings.
Fut Gar – A Southern Shaolin style of Kung Fu. It specializes in low-angled kicks and evasive footwork.
Gatka – A traditional Indian martial art from the Punjab region. It’s best known for its stick fighting techniques, which are modeled after sword fighting.
Hankumdo – A weapons based Korean martial art that specializes in swords. Techniques are modeled after letters of the Korean alphabet.
Hapkido – A Korean martial art that specialized in defecting attacks. Grappling, joint locks, throws, and high kicks are also popular Hapkido techniques.
Heihuquan – A style of Kung Fu from northern China that translates to “Black Tiger Fist”. It uses wide, low stances and elaborate footwork.
Huaquan – A sub style of Long Fist Kung Fu that originated in the Shaanxi Province of China. Huaquan teaches both striking and weapons techniques.
Huiyen Lallong – A traditional Indian martial art from the Manipur region. It teaches striking, grappling, traditional weapons, and war dances.
Hung Ga – A southern Shaolin style of Kung Fu. The extra-wide horse stance is a signature of this style of Kung Fu.
Hwa Rang Do – A Korean martial art that places a heavy emphasis on spiritual and mental development.
Iaido – A martial art that teaches katana quick-draw techniques. The martial artist starts from a kneeling position, draws the blade, attacks, and re-sheaths it all in one fluid motion.
Indian martial arts – Many martial arts originate in India, where different regions developed their own distinct fighting styles over the centuries. Mallayuddha wrestling, Gatka, and Silambam are all examples of Indian martial arts.
Indonesian martial arts – Many smaller regional Indonesian martial arts are included under the umbrella name Pencak Silat. Others not considered part of Silat include Kuntao, Pasola, and other highly distinct martial art practices.
Itto-Ryu – A Japanese school of traditional swordsmanship teaching the use of the classical katana sword. This style focuses on dueling techniques rather that melee tactics.
Japanese martial arts – Japan is home to many martial arts that have gone on to enjoy world-wide popularity. Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo are just a few of the many Japanese martial arts.
Jow Ga Kung Fu – A hybrid form of Kung Fu that combined techniques from three other styles, Hung Ga, Choy Gar and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. These styles blended to form an aggressive and dynamic form of self-defense.
Judo – A Japanese martial art that specializes in throws. It enjoys worldwide popularity, has influenced the development of many other martial arts, and has been included in the Olympic games for decades.
Jujutsu – A Japanese martial art that specializes in grappling, joint locks, and holds. This martial art has contributed to the development of many other modern grappling martial arts.
Kalaripayattu– An Indian martial art that developed in the southwestern state of Kerala. It is considered the oldest surviving martial art from India, and is speculated to be 3,000 years old.
Kapap – A martial art from Israel that predated the well known Israeli martial art Krav Maga. This self-defense system specialized in stick-fighting.
Karate – A highly popular martial art from Japan that has spread all over the world and influenced many other martial arts. Karate specializes in weaponless striking techniques.
Kendo – A form of fencing from Japan modeled after classical katana fighting techniques. It uses a bamboo sword for safe and competitive sparring.
Kenjutsu – A Japanese martial art that teaches the use of traditional samurai swords. Many styles of Kenjutsu were lost to history over the centuries, but some still exist as martial arts.
Kobudo – Kobudo (not to be mistaken for the similarly named Okinawan Kobudō) is a system of Japanese martial arts that teach a wide range of traditional combat techniques, including armoring and horseback riding.
Korean martial arts – Korean martial arts often have a focus on kicking techniques. Some popular Korean martial arts include Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, and Taekkyon.
Krabi–krabong – A weapons-based martial art originating in Thailand. It teaches the use of traditional Thai weapons, such as the krabi sword.
Krav Maga – An intense and deadly self-defense focused martial art from Israel. This martial art teaches students a no-mercy attitude and potentially lethal techniques.
Kūdō – A modern hybrid martial art practiced in Japan. It combines striking and grappling techniques from other Japanese martial arts and uses them in a full-contact combat sport.
Kuk Sool Won – A Korean martial art that specializes in strikes to pressure points to disable attackers. It has deep ties to Korean traditions and culture.
Kurash – A form of wrestling from Central Asia, and is the national sport of Uzbekistan. Wrestlers score point by throwing opponents down on to their backs.
Kusarigamajutsu – A traditional Japanese martial art teaching the use of the kusarigama. This weapon consists of a weighted sickle attached to a chain.
Kuttu Varisai – An unarmed sub style of Silambam. This martial art includes yoga and breathing techniques as well as strikes and grappling.
Kyūdō – A style of archery that originated in Japan. It uses a large, asymmetrical bow, and incorporates slow and meditative movements for internal self-development.
Lerdit – A form of boxing from Thailand that has connections to the widely-popular martial art Muay Thai. This style was designed specifically for military applications.
Lethwei – A highly aggressive full-contact style of bare-knuckle kickboxing from Myanmar. Headbutts are a unique technique of Lethwei.
Luohanquan – Luohanquan is one of the oldest styles of Shaolin Kung Fu. This style has a heavy focus on Buddhist spirituality.
Malla-yuddha – A traditional form of Indian wrestling that had very few rules. Biting, breaking joints, and choking were all techniques used in this martial art, which contributed to its decline in the modern era.
Mardani khel – A weapons-based martial art from India traditionally practiced by women. The Indian patta sword is a popular weapon in Mardani khel.
Matrak – Matrak was a combat sport developed by the Ottoman Empire. Fighters would duel with stick and shields to simulate swordfighting.
Mizongyi – A Chinese martial art that combines aspects of both internal and external martial arts. It’s part of the “Long Fist” category of Kung Fu styles, and utilizes feints and precise footwork.
Mok Gar – A Southern Shaolin style of Kung Fu that specializes in kicking strikes. Close quarters fighting is taught in this style of Kung Fu.
Mongolian Wrestling – Mongolian Wrestling, also known as Bökh, is a style of wrestling practiced by the Mongols. Wrestling is one of the three historic “Three Manly Skills” of Mongolia, along with horsemanship and archery.
Muay Boran – A historical form of boxing from Thailand. It was one of the precursors to modern Muay Thai.
Muay Lao – A historical form of kickboxing from Laos. It was traditionally performed at festivals, as well as being used by the military.
Muay Thai – A popular form of kickboxing from Thailand that is often used by MMA fighters. It teaches student how to use knees and elbows as efficient weapons.
Naban – Naban is a grappling martial art developed in rural Myanmar. It combines strikes and grappling together to make an exciting sport and effective self-defense.
Naginatajutsu – A martial art from Japan that teaches the use of the naginata, a type of Japanese pole-arm. This martial art is especially popular with women in Japan because of cultural connotations.
Nanquan – Nanquan is an umbrella term that includes all southern Chinese martial arts. Wing Chun, Choi Lei Fut, and Hung Kuen are all examples of martial arts considered to be part of Nanquan.
Nhất Nam – A Vietnamese martial art. It was developed in the 1980s as a way to unite several smaller Vietnamese martial arts under one name.
Ninjutsu – A Japanese martial art that was used for espionage, guerrilla warfare, and assassinations in the feudal era. It incorporated stealth and deception tactics in addition to more conventional martial arts techniques.
Northern Praying Mantis – Northern Praying Mantis is a style of Kung Fu inspired by the praying mantis insect. It is an aggressive style where the hands point down like the claws of a praying mantis.
Okinawan Kobudō – A martial art from southern Japan that specializes in improvised weapons. It is said to have originated from a time when peasants weren’t allowed to carry weapons, and had to defend themselves with everyday tools.
Pencak Silat – A martial art that encompasses many smaller martial arts from Indonesia. There are many different variations, with different levels of focus on self-defense, sparring, and cultural connections.
Piguaquan – Piguaquan is a form of Kung Fu from northern China. It specializes in long-range palm strikes and hand chops.
Pongyi thaing – A Burmese martial art designed to be non-aggressive. This martial art has close ties to Hindu-Buddhist spirituality, and teaches a non-violent martial art to be in line with those teachings.
Pradal Serey – Pradal Serey, also known as Kun Khemer, is a style of boxing from Cambodia. Like many other Cambodian traditions, Pradal Serey was almost eliminated by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
Qingping Jian – A Chinese martial art that specializes in the jian sword. The sword forms of Qingping Jian use flowing movements and precise footwork to create a unique sword system.
Sanda – A form of kickboxing from China that is practiced as a full-contact combat sport. It was developed by the Chinese military by combining traditional Kung Fu with Western Boxing.
Sayokan – A Turkish martial art developed for self-defense. This martial art focuses on strategy and situational awareness rather than memorizing routines.
Shaolin Kung Fu – Shaolin Kung Fu is the style of Kung Fu practiced at the Shaolin Temple in China. Shaolin Kung Fu contains many distinct sub-styles, including showy and acrobatic styles that are popular in performances.
Shorinji Kempo – A Japanese martial art developed in the mid 20th century by a Japanese spy who had been studying at the Shaolin Temple. This martial art features flowing movements closer to Kung Fu than to conventional Karate.
Shuai Jiao – A form of wrestling originating in China. Wrestlers in this style of wrestling wear special jackets that can be used to grip opponents.
Shurikenjutsu – A Japanese martial art that teaches students how to use shuriken, or throwing stars. These blades were traditionally thrown at opponent’s face to gain an advantage in battle, but are just used for target practice today.
Sibpalki – A system of martial arts that combines several different Korean fighting traditions. It was organized to preserve historical martial arts in danger of being lost to history.
Silambam – A weapons-based martial art from southern India. This martial art teaches the use of many traditional unique Indian weapons, such as the silambam staff and maru dagger.
Silat – A system of martial arts from Southeast Asia that includes many smaller regional martial arts. Because of the multitude of styles that Silat includes, this martial art has a lot of variety in fighting techniques.
Silat Pattani – A specific style of Silat that was developed in the Pattani kingdom in modern Thailand. The graceful movements of this style are said to be based on the movement of tigers.
Siljun Dobup – A Korean martial art that teaches sword fighting. This martial art doesn’t use sparring, and focuses on sword forms instead.
Snake Kung Fu – A style of Kung Fu based on the movement of snakes. There are two distinct styles, one from northern China and the second from the south.
Sojutsu – A Japanese martial art that teaches student to use the yari, a Japanese version of spears. Today it is primarily practiced as a part of other martial arts rather than as a distinct stand-alone art.
Southern Dragon Kung Fu – A martial art from southern China inspired by stories of dragons. This martial art uses unique hand positions that resemble dragon claws.
Ssireum – A Korean form of wrestling dating back to the 4th century. The objective is to throw the opponent, often by gripping the top of their pants.
Sumo – An iconic form of wrestling from Japan. Sumo wrestlers grapple from a standing positions to force opponents to the ground.
Taekwondo – A Korean martial art that enjoys worldwide popularity. It specialized in high sweeping kicks.
Taekkyon – A traditional Korean martial art that uses footwork in a distinct triangular pattern. This is primarily a striking martial art, although it does include throws and tripping techniques.
Tai chi – An internal Chinese martial art that is well known for its slow, graceful movements. It’s popular world-wide for developing strength and flexibility in a low impact way.
Taidō – A Japanese martial art developed from Karate and Kobudō. It was designed to be more flexible and less linear than its predecessors.
Tang Soo Do – A Korean martial art that served as the foundation to modern Taekwondo. Tang Soo Do is practiced by the martial artist and actor Chuck Norris.
Tarung Derajat – An Indonesian martial art and combat sport that has its origins in street fighting. It is used by both the Indonesian Armed Forces and Indonesian National Police.
Tessenjutsu – A weapons-based martial art from Japan that teaches student how to fight with a war fan. This specialized weapon could be used to deflect incoming blows.
Vajra-mushti – Vajra-mushti is both a grappling martial art and a specific weapon from India. The Vajra-mushti as a weapon resembles brass knuckles with spikes. Dyed rags are used as substitutes for those deadly weapons during grappling training for safe practice.
Vietnamese martial arts – Several martial arts can be traced back to Vietnam, including several developed overseas by Vietnamese immigrants. Võ Lâm Tân Khánh Bà Trà, Qwan Ki Do, and Nhất Nam are all examples of Vietnamese martial arts.
Võ Bình Định – A traditional Vietnamese martial art. Many villages have their own distinct styles, making this a varied and diverse form of fighting.
Wing Chun – Wing Chun is a popular style of Kung Fu that originated in southern China that contains many sub-styles. It was designed to be an efficient form of self-defense to be used against bigger and stronger opponents.
Yaw-Yan – A style of kickboxing from the Philippians. It specializes in long range strikes and utilizing downward kicks for added power.
Ziranmen – A Northern internal form of Kung Fu that incorporates qigong breathing techniques and traditional Chinese medicine. This internal form initially teaches students hard external techniques, and progress to internal ones as they gain skill and proficiency.
Martial Arts from Europe
Ancient Greek Boxing – This ancient combat sport was practiced in Greece dating back to at least the 8th century BC. There were much fewer rules for safety than modern Boxing.
Archery – A popular Olympic sport based in martial art traditions where archers fire arrows at targets with bows. Archery grew in popularity as a competitive sport after guns replaced bows in conventional warfare.
Banot/Juego Del Palo – A weapons-based martial art from the Canary Island that teaches stick fighting. Students practice by alternating between attack and defense techniques during sparring sessions.
Bare-Knuckle Boxing – A form of boxing that predated the Marquess of Queensberry Rules that modernized boxing. Boxing gloves weren’t used in this style of boxing, which has started to make a resurgence in recent years.
Bartitsu – A hybrid martial art made famous from its mention in Sherlock Holmes stories. This martial art blended elements of boxing, Jiu Jitsu, cane fighting, Savate, and other popular martial arts of the early 20th century.
Bataireacht – An Irish form of stick fighting revived by Historical European Martial Arts practitioners. This martial art teaches students how to fight with a traditional Irish walking stick called a shillelagh.
Boxing – A combat sport that specializes in punching. The sport was modernized into its modern form in the 19th century with rules added for safety and sportsmanship.
Canne De Combat – A French martial art that teaches the use of a cane for self-defense. Today, a sport form similar to Olympic fencing is practiced.
Catch Wrestling – A grappling martial art that became a popular attraction at traveling funfairs. This style specializes in submissions and locks, and allows a wider range of techniques than Olympic or Collegiate Wrestling.
Combat Hopak – A martial art from Ukraine that combines several different traditional Ukrainian fighting disciplines. Striking, grappling, fencing, and war dances are taught in Combat Hopak.
Combat Pistol Shooting – A handgun-based martial art designed for police work. This martial art teaches drilling techniques based on real-life scenarios that make students better prepared than only target shooting.
Cornish Wrestling – This form of wrestling originated in Cornwall, England. This type of wrestling teaches students to throw opponents flat on their back to win the round.
Cumberland And Westmorland Wrestling – These are both traditional forms of wrestling from northwest England. Wrestlers start from a backhold position, and then grapple to unbalance, throw, or break the grip of their opponent.
Defendu – A hybrid martial art popular during World War II for hand-to-hand combat. Defendu techniques teach students to systematically target vulnerable spots with powerful strikes.
Devon Wrestling – Devon wrestling originated in Devon, England. In this style of wrestling, hard shoes were worn by the wrestlers, and kicks were allowed.
Duel – Duels were used to resolve disputes through one-on-one combat up through the 19th century. Sword were used in earlier periods, and were replaced with pistols in the later centuries before the practice was banned.
English Longsword School – The English Longsword School is a martial art revived from historical documents by Historical European Martial Arts practitioners. English techniques have been derived from three historical documents, the Ledall Roll, the Man yt Wol, and the Cotton Titus Manuscript.
Epee Fencing – Epee is one of the three styles of Olympic Fencing. Valid hits are counted when the fencer hits an opponent with the tip of the blade on any part of the body.
Foil Fencing – The most common style of Olympic Fencing. It allows thrusts with the tip of the foil to the body to score points.
French School of Fencing – The French school of Fencing was a popular form of rapier fighting in the 17th century. Training techniques for the French School eventually developed into modern Foil Fencing.
German Ju-Jutsu – A hybrid martial art and combat sport popular in Germany. Judo, Karate, and Aikido were the original basis of this blended martial art, with techniques from other martial arts being added over time.
German School of Fencing – The German School of Fencing specialized in the use of the two handed longsword, and is a popular choice among HEMA students. The Liechtenauer tradition is one of the most well-known styles practiced today.
Glima – A Nordic style of folk wrestling. Trouser-grip is a popular version of Glima, where wrestlers wear special belts and use them to throw opponents.
Gouren – A traditional form of wrestling that originated in northwest France. Wrestlers win the match by throwing their opponent so that both shoulder blades hit the ground at the same time.
Greek Wrestling – A popular sport in ancient Greece, and was one of the sports included in the original Olympic games. Like some modern forms of wrestling, only upper body holds were allowed in Greek Wrestling.
Historical European Martial Arts – These are traditional martial arts from Europe that were lost to time, and are being rediscovered through historical documents and practice. Longswords, rapiers, and unarmed fighting are all popular choices for HEMA practitioners.
Historical Fencing In Scotland – Broadswords with unique basket hilts were a popular weapon for fencing in 17th and 18th century Scotland. Today, the martial art is being recreated by HEMA practitioners studying historical manuscripts.
Hokutoryu Ju-Jutsu – A Finnish take on Jiu-Jitsu. It has a less traditional and more modern approach to training than some other Jiu-Jitsu styles.
Irish Martial Arts – Ireland is home to several martial arts, including Dornálaíocht Boxing, Coraíocht Wrestling, and Bataireacht stick fighting. These martial arts are popular with fans of Irish culture and history.
Italian Martial Arts – Italian Martial Arts includes many small regional styles of fighting. Some examples include Istrumpa Wrestling from Sardinia, Bastone Napoletano stick fighting from Naples, and Paranza Corta knife fighting from Sicily.
Jogo Do Pau – A style of stick fighting from Spain and Portugal. These techniques were used both for self-defense, and to resolve disputes through duels.
Keysi Fighting Method – A self-defense system that combines aspects of traditional martial arts with streetfighting. This style continues under the name Keysi by Justo after the two original founders split up.
Kickboxing – A full-contact combat sport similar to boxing that also allows kicks. There are many regional variations of kickboxing, as well as a recently added Olympic version.
Lancashire Wrestling – Lancashire Wrestling was a form of wrestling from northwest England that had few rules and developed a violent reputation. Lancashire Wrestling is traditionally practiced shirtless.
Leonese Wrestling – Leonese Wrestling originated in the Leon region of Spain. In this form of wrestling, the combatants wear a special belt that makes throws easier.
Lucha Canaria – A style of wrestling from the Canary Islands. This style focuses on using momentum to throw opponents off balance and make them fall.
Pankration – A hybrid martial art and combat sport practiced in Ancient Greece. This martial art combined grappling and striking, similar to modern MMA.
Qwan Ki Do – A martial art based on traditional Vietnamese martial arts, but was codified in France. This martial art teaches striking, grappling, and traditional weapons training.
Real Aikido – A modern style of Aikido developed in Serbia. This style modifies traditional Aikido techniques to deal with more modern self-defense scenarios, such as being attacked with a knife or pistol.
Ringen – A traditional German form of grappling that had both a sport and combat form. It could be practiced either unarmed, or combined with German swordsmanship for fighting efficiency.
Russian Martial Arts – Russian Martial Arts include several modern martial arts, many of which have a focus on self-defense and combat training. Sambo, Systema, and ARB (Army Hand-to-Hand Combat) are all included in Russian Martial Arts.
Saber Fencing – Saber Fencing is the third style of Olympic fencing. It allows slashes with the edge of the blade as well as thrusts with the tip.
Sambo – A hybrid martial art designed by the Soviet Union. Modern Sambo is divided into a competitive sport form and a more dangerous combat form.
Savate – A French form of kickboxing derived from street fighting in the 19th century. Only punches and foot kicks are considered valid strikes.
Schwingen – A style of folk-wrestling from Switzerland that uses approximately 100 different throwing techniques. It is typically practiced outdoors, and was traditionally performed at shepherd’s festivals.
Scottish Backhold – Scottish Backhold is Scotland’s traditional form of wrestling. There is no groundwork in this style, and wrestlers start from a backhold position and fight to force opponents to the ground to win points.
Shin-Kicking – A popular combat sport in 18th century England. The objective was to kick the opponents legs out from underneath them. Today it is sometimes practiced at living history events.
Shooting – Shooting techniques are modern martial art practices used by law enforcement and the military. Many countries have their own distinct drills and techniques to maximize the fighting potential of firearms.
Singlestick – Singlestick originated in Great Britain as a training exercise to teach soldiers how to use backswords, eventually developing into its own form of fencing. HEMA practitioners revived this martial art in modern time after it faded from popularity during the 20th century.
Suffrajitsu – A self-defense system practiced by members of the Suffragette movement in the early 20th century. It combined Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and improvised weapons as ways for women to defend themselves.
Systema – A modern Russian martial art developed after the fall of the Soviet Union. This self-defense focused martial art teaches striking, grappling, and modern weapons training.
Unifight – A competitive form of military training that originated in Russia and Germany. It teaches civilians combat training techniques such as obstacle courses, modern weapons, and hand-to-hand combat.
World War II Combatives – A fighting system used by the United States and United Kingdom’s military during WW2 that specialized in close-quarters combat. It included hand-to-hand techniques, modern weapons training, and improvised weaponry.
Wrestling – A combat sport that enjoys world-wide popularity, with countless regional variations. Modern Olympic wrestling includes freestyle and Greco-Roman style.
Yagli Gures – Yagli Gures, also called Oil Wrestling, is a Turkish martial art where wrestler cover themselves in oil to make themselves harder to grip. Matches can last as long as 40 minutes as the wrestlers try to grip and pin slippery opponents.
Martial Arts from Oceania
Coreeda – An Australian style of wrestling based on Aboriginal fighting techniques. Coreeda contains both a dance form as well as a fighting version.
Kajukenbo – A hybrid martial art developed in Hawaii for self-defense. It draws on many different Asian martial arts and Boxing to make a versatile self-defense system that can be adapted to individual students.
Kapu Kuialua – A traditional Hawaiian martial art used by the upper classes. It specializes in joint manipulation, breaking bones, and open ocean warfare.
Limalama – A Polynesian martial art developed for self-defense in the 20th century. It draws on traditional dance movements for its fighting techniques.
Mau Rākau – A weapons-based martial art from New Zealand. It teaches the use of traditional indigenous Maori weapons, such as the taiaha and tewhatewha.
How many martial arts can you know?
Not everyone can be like batman and know every single martial art style! There isn’t a maximum number of martial arts you can know, but realistically you can only get to black belt (or an elite level) in a handful over your career.
How many martial arts did Bruce Lee know?
Bruce Lee knew and practiced many different martial arts, but he was mainly known for Wing Chun, tai chi, boxing, and street fighting. However, as we’ve seen from the above list, he also went on to create his own martial art in the form of Jeet Kune Do.
How many MMA styles are there?
There is not a specific or limited number of MMA styles out there. The beauty of MMA is that any style of martial arts can be used. However, some are more effective than others which I covered recently when looking at the 15 best martial arts for MMA.