What Are the Different Types of Martial Arts?

Hybrid, throwing and striking styles make this list

Tae Kwon Do Leap Kick - Woman practices martial arts
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Can you name any of the different types of martial arts? There's far more to them than just karate or kung fu. In fact, numerous arranged and systemized methods of combat are practiced in the world today. While some styles are very traditional and steeped in history, others are more modern. Although there's a significant amount of overlap between the styles, their approach to fighting is unique.

Familiarize yourself with popular martial arts styles with this review that breaks down striking, grappling, throwing, weapons-based styles and more.

Striking or Stand-Up Martial Arts Styles

Striking or stand-up martial arts styles teach practitioners how to defend themselves while on their feet by using blocks, kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. The degree to which they teach each of these aspects depends on the specific style, sub-style or instructor. Also, many of these stand-up styles teach other components of fighting. Striking styles include:

Grappling or Ground-Fighting Styles

The grappling styles in martial arts focus on teaching practitioners how to take opponents to the ground, where they either achieve a dominant position or utilize a submission hold to end the fight. Grappling styles include:

Throwing or Takedown Styles

Combat always starts from a standing position. The only sure way to get a fight to the ground is through the use of takedowns and throws, and that’s where these throwing styles come into play. Note that all of the grappling styles listed above also teach takedowns, and most of these throwing styles teach grappling. Clearly, there is a significant amount of overlap, but the primary focus with these styles is takedowns. Throwing styles include:

Weapons-Based Styles

Many of the aforementioned styles use weapons in their systems. For example, Goju-ryu karate practitioners are taught to use the bokken (wooden sword). But some martial arts are centered entirely around weapons. Weapons-based styles include:

Low-Impact or Meditative Styles

Practitioners of low-impact styles of martial arts are mostly concerned with breathing techniques, fitness, and the spiritual side of their movements rather than combat in particular. However, all of these styles were once used for combat and still can be, as the 2013 Chinese-American film "The Man of Tai Chi" illustrates. Low-impact styles include:

Hybrid Fighting Styles

Most martial arts styles use techniques found in others. In recent years, many schools are simply teaching several martial arts styles together, which is known as mixed martial arts and has been popularized by contests such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The term MMA generally refers to training in a competitive style of martial arts that incorporates grappling, stand-up fighting, takedowns, throws, and submissions. In addition to the aforementioned styles, hybrid martial arts forms include the following: