Understanding the most popular martial arts

Martial arts are defined as traditions of combat that are practiced for several reasons including: self defense, physical health, mental wellness, competition, among other reasons. There are many types of martial arts, and the common ones include:


Karate is a Japanese martial art is practiced by millions of people globally. It means “empty hand” because there are no weapons used. The hands are used as the main weapons. It involves kicks, knee strikes, hand and elbow strikes, and punches. It has several sub styles such as shito-ryu, goja-ryu and shotokan.

Kung fu

This martial art was introduced in China by Emperor Huangdi centuries ago. Kung fu is a Chinese word that loosely translates to “achievement through long and hard work”. There are different versions of it practiced all over the world. It focuses on hand strikes, kicks and sometimes uses weapons.


This is a Korean art and it became popular right after WWII. It means “the way of foot and fist” and this basically describes how it is practiced. Taekwondo students are expected to have physical and mental strength to win. After the end of a game, the students break a board with hand or foot to illustrate the strength. It is regarded as the most popular martial art in the whole world, with almost 40 million followers.


Judo has its origin in Japan after a teacher Jigoro Kano who had been bullied as a child introduced it as a means of self defense. The concept of Judo is using the opponent’s strength against himself. It teaches throwing powerful strikes and putting the enemy down. There are also styles that involve chocking and locking them to immobilize them.


This is a Japanese martial art that is different from others because it does not have well laid structures. It allows biting and gouging opponents. It focuses on rolls, throws, grappling and locking the opponent.