Martial Arts refers to the various traditional and modern combat systems practiced around the world. Some martial arts are rigidly structured with organized traditions and practices for combat, self defense and spiritual development. While others martial arts are amorphous styles of combat designed specifically for sport competition or self defense.
MARTIAL ARTS STYLES
Martial arts include a wide range of styles such as Karate, Kung Fu, Jiu-Jitsu, Capoeira, Filipino Kali, Bando, Silat, Savate, Kendo and much more. There are actually hundreds of different martial arts styles in existence today. (For a complete list of martial arts styles, see below). Regardless of its style, martial arts are generally divided into one of four categories:
- Traditional martial arts
- Modern/eclectic martial arts
- Sport combat martial arts
- Reality based martial arts
TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ARTS
Traditional martial arts are practiced in their pure, unaltered state. Traditional martial arts or classical martial arts train and practice the exact same way they did hundreds of years ago. In traditional martial arts, to change or alter a technique or maneuver is considered heresy. For example, traditional shotokan karate which is still practiced in it pure, unaltered form is considered by many to be one of the quintessential traditional martial arts.
MODERN/ECLECTIC MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts that have been modernized by stylistic integration are considered to be modern/eclectic. These non-traditional martial arts are a hybrid or an amalgam of several different martial art forms. Unlike traditional martial arts, modern/eclectic martial arts are not “fixed” or locked into set methods and patterns. Many traditional techniques and movements have been either modified or discarded to meet the specific needs of their particular innovator. Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do is a good example of an eclectic martial art that utilizes stylistic integration. If you would like to learn more about this process, please see my article on martial arts innovation.
SPORT COMBAT MARTIAL ARTS
Sport combat martial arts or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are modern/eclectic martial arts designed specifically for sport competition. It involves both striking and grappling techniques from a variety of different martial arts styles such as boxing, submission fighting, catch wrestling, jiu jitsu, judo, thai boxing, karate as well as others.
REALITY BASED MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts which focus exclusively on real world self defense scenarios are considered to be "reality based". And just about every reality based self defense system will have street fighting techniques integrated into their curriculum. Like modern/eclectic styles, reality based martial arts or reality based self defense (RBSD) are also not locked into traditional methods and they regularly employ the concept of stylistic integration into their own combat methodologies. While all reality based martial arts are considered modern/eclectic not all modern/eclectic martial arts are considered reality based. My Contemporary Fighting Arts system is one example of a reality based self defense system.
ARMED AND UNARMED MARTIAL ARTS
Martial arts are also classified as either armed or unarmed systems. Armed martial arts are weapon-based systems that train in the use of various hand held weapons such as the sword, staff, knife, stick, kubotan, nunchaku and bow and arrow. Armed martial arts include styles like Kendo, Kenjutsu, Kyudo, Arnis and Silat. Some armed martial arts will teach several different weapon systems such as knife fighting, stick fighting and sword fighting.
Unarmed martial arts are weaponless systems that focus exclusively on either striking or grappling techniques. Unarmed martial arts can be further divided into either striking, grappling or hybrid styles.
Striking martial arts rely heavily on kicking, punching and various unique arm and hand strikes known as pressure point fighting. Martial arts that are striking oriented include Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Wing Chun Kung Fu, kickboxing and boxing.
Grappling martial arts focus on a variety of fighting techniques such as clinching, throwing, pinning techniques, joint locks and submission fighting. They include Judo, Sambo, Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and Catch Wrestling.
Finally, Hybrid martial arts are those that combine and merge both the striking and grappling styles.
List of Martial Arts Styles
What follows is a list of different martial art styles and systems, this is considered to be a brief list and does not include every martial arts.
NOTE: If you have a legitimate martial arts styles that you would like to add to this list, you may contact us at the following email address.
Train hard and good luck!
Founder & President
Contemporary Fighting Arts
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