What is Martial Arts?

martial arts

Martial arts is a combination of several forms of combat used in self-defense and is deeply rooted in many countries’ cultures. Martial arts originated in China, Greece, and India as far back as a thousand years BC. The practice has now spread throughout the world. The sport can be split into two groups: striking and grappling. Mixed martial arts combines these two aspects. The most popularized professional mixed martial arts league is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Types of Martial Arts

types of martial arts
  • Karate: A striking martial art originating in East Asia. The martial artist uses striking, kicking and blocking with the arms and legs. The emphasis is to concentrate the body’s power at the point of impact. Timing, tactic and spirituality are just as important as physicality.
  • Mixed Martial Arts: MMA incorporates many different martial arts into one. Fighters are able to grapple and strike. This is also sometimes referred to as cage fighting since the competition takes place in a caged environment, like in the UFC.
  • Judo: Judo originated in Japan in 1882. The objective is to throw an opponent to the ground, pin them, or submit them through a lock or choke.
  • Kung Fu: Also known as Chinese martial arts. Similar to karate, kung fu is a martial art derived from patience, energy and discipline.
  • Taekwondo: A Korean martial art with an emphasis on unique styles of punching and kicking such as head kicks, spinning punches and fast-kicking techniques.
  • Jujutsu: A Japanese martial art focusing on submission and grappling. Jujutsu has been used to develop other combat sports such as judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • Muay Thai: A striking martial art originating in Thailand. Participants strike using fists, elbows, knees and shins.
  • Wrestling: A grappling sport using clinches, throws, takedowns, locks and pins.
  • Boxing: A combat sport using fists. Boxers are able to utilize headshots and body shots.
  • Ninjutsu: A modernized form of martial arts derived from the training of ninjas.
  • Krav Maga: An art developed in Israel that focuses on reflexes. It is a combination of judo, aikido, boxing, wrestling and karate.
  • Aikido: Art that uses throws and joint locks rather than punching and kicking. It focuses on using an opponent’s energy to gain control of or throw them away.
  • Kickboxing: Kickboxers use both punching and kicking. It is a mixture of boxing and karate.


Virtually every culture across the world has practiced martial arts as a form of combat and self-defense. Around the year 600 BC, when Indian and Chinese trade flourished, it is believed an Indian monk named Bodhidharma brought his martial arts practice and insight to East Asia. There are many other beliefs about how mixed martial arts began. Eventually, the sport underwent many modifications and has spread even further across the world.

Martial Arts Equipment

Martial Arts Equipment

Martial artists use various equipment to practice striking accuracy, submission techniques, strength, and stamina. Martial artists will use heavy bags, double-end bags and kicking pads to improve striking. Fighters also use protective equipment to be used during sparring. Sparring is done to practice the aforementioned skills as well as simulate a real fight. This is usually done with a training partner. Some practices of martial arts involve weapons. For training purposes, rubber versions of these weapons will be used before someone becomes skilled enough to use real weapons.

Here is the essential martial arts equipment you should have:

  • Body Opponent Bag (BOB)
  • Double End Bags
  • Focus Mitts
  • Heavy Bags
  • Kicking Bags
  • Kicking Paddle
  • Kicking Shield
  • Muay Thai Belly Pad
  • Rebreakable Boards
  • Reflex Bag
  • Speed Bag
  • Tennis Ball Double End Bags
  • Tennis Ball Punching Bags
  • Thai Pads


Martial Arts Lingo

Here is the common lingo and slang in martial arts:

  • MMA: Mixed martial arts.
  • Submission: When an athlete taps out or verbally concedes due to pain or avoid being choked out.
  • Tap out: When an athlete taps his opponent, the ground or him to signal a concede to the opponent.
  • KO: Knockout. When an athlete is knocked unconscious.
  • TKO: Technical knockout. When an athlete is unable to continue either due to injury or ref stoppage.
  • Choke: When an athlete creates pressure on the opponent’s neck to force a tap-out. Examples include triangle, rear-naked and guillotine chokes.
  • Octagon: The ring in which mixed martial artists compete.
  • Dirty boxing: Boxing from the clinch, which is allowed in some martial arts but not in boxing.
  • Ground and pound: Striking an opponent who is on the ground while the attacker is in a dominant position.
  • Guard: When an athlete is on their back but keeps the opponent in between their legs.
  • Mount: When one athlete is controlling and on top of the other.
  • Guard pass: A move one athlete uses to get out of the opponent’s guard and into mount.
  • Armbar: A submission lock technique that hyperextends the opponent’s elbow.
  • Flying knee: A jumping knee strike.
  • Superman punch: A lunging punch strike.


Martial Arts Athletes

Many athletes have contributed to the growing popularity of martial arts. Itosu Anko is widely credited with helping karate become a popularized sport. Helio Gracie, who is credited with founding Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and his son Royce Gracie, who won three of the first four UFC tournaments, also brought martial arts into the mainstream. Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris were also martial artists who brought the art to the eyes of many.

Here are the most famous martial arts players you should know:

  • Itosu Anko
  • Helio Grace
  • Royce Gracie
  • Bruce Lee
  • Chuck Norris
  • Dr. Jigoro Kano
  • Masahiko Kimura
  • Yip Man
  • Chojun Miyagi
  • Mas Oyama
  • Gichin Funakoshi
  • Ken Shamrock
  • Dan Severn
  • Randy Couture
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Kazushi Sakuraba
  • Daniel Cormier
  • Henry Cejudo
  • Daniel Cormier
  • Amanda Nunes
  • Ronda Rousey
  • Conor McGregor
  • BJ Penn
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Jon Jones
  • Georges St. Pierre
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Anderson Silva

Events and Competitions

Martial Arts Events and Competitions

There are five martial arts included in the Olympics: boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, wrestling. The two largest MMA promotions are UFC and Bellator. The UFC has eight men’s weight classes: heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight, and flyweight. The women’s weight classes are featherweight, bantamweight, flyweight, and strawweight.

Here are the most popular tournaments in martial arts:

  • Olympics: Boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling will all be included in the Olympics.
  • UFC: Largest MMA promotion.
  • Bellator: Second largest MMA promotion.