This section looks at the top 10 martial arts styles. These martial arts have the most students or are the fastest growing large martial arts due to their effectiveness and/or strong training & school systems. Popularity is based on Black Belt Wiki page visits. Click on each martial arts in order to learn more about their techniques, kata, history, etc. For information about many other major & minor martial arts (over 170 different martial arts styles), please visit Black Belt Wiki’s section on List of Martial Arts Styles.
What are the main martial arts?
Based on popularity and the number of schools around the world, the main martial arts are Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Krav Maga, Kung Fu, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Muay Thai, Taekwondo and Tang Soo Do. This list is in alphabetical order, not rank order.
Wiki – Top 10 Martial Arts Books
Top 10 Martial Arts Styles – List is in alphabetical order. Click on the style names below to learn more about their techniques, kata & forms, history, etc.
- Aikido – Aikido is a Japanese martial arts focused on redirecting the attack away from you. Aikido concentrates on throwing, joint locks, traditional Japanese weapons, etc.
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a Brazilian martial arts focused on ground fighting (i.e. grappling). Many MMA fighters train in BJJ in order to master grappling and submission techniques.
- Judo – Judo is a Japanese martial arts focused on grappling, joint locks and throws. This is the martial arts that helped Ronda Rousey to become a dominant female MMA fighter.
- Karate – Karate is a Japanese martial arts focused on punches, hand/elbow strikes, knee strikes and kicks. Major Karate sub-styles include Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Kyokushin, etc. Karate is practiced by millions of students around the world. Many Karate styles also practice with traditional martial arts weapons such as the wooden Bo.
- Krav Maga – Krav Maga is a martial arts style from Israel focused on winning in “real life” combat situations. Krav Maga concentrates on self-defense training and does not practice kata or tournament sparring.
- Kung Fu – Kung Fu is a Chinese martial arts focused on hand/arm strikes, kicks and even weapons training (i.e. sword and spear). Major Kung Fu sub-styles include Shaolin Kung Fu, Tiger Claw Kung Fu (Fu Jow Pai), Choy Li Fut, etc.
- Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) – Mixed Martial Arts utilizes techniques from a variety of different martial arts styles (i.e. Wresting, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Karate, Muay Thai, etc.) in order to defeat an opponent. MMA training generally combines stand-up striking techniques (i.e. punches & kicks) with grappling & ground fighting techniques.
- Muay Thai – Muay Thai is a martial arts style from Thailand. It is similar to kickboxing but also involves elbow and knee strikes. Given its powerful kicks and knee strikes, Muay Thai is often an important element of MMA training.
- Taekwondo – Taekwondo is a Korean martial arts focused primarily on punches, blocks, strikes and kicks (i.e. spinning hook kick). Taekwondo is practiced by millions of students around the world. It is also an Olympic sports.
- Tang Soo Do – Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial arts that is similar to Taekwondo and Karate. Chuck Norris is probably the most famous student of Tang Soo Do.
Top 10 Martial Arts Styles – Muay Thai
Image provided by Wikimedia Commons