Types of Martial Arts

A most comprehensive coverage of the martial art world

There are many different types of martial arts in the world, some are well known and some are not.

We will try to shed some light on this vast subject.

In this section of different types/disciplines of martial arts - we will deal with four main subjects:

1. The different categories of the martial arts

2. The difference between types/disciplines* of martial arts and martial art styles

3. The difference between martial art style and fighting style.

4. Information about the types of martial arts

The types of martial arts divide into 4 categories:

1. Striking martial arts

2. Wrestling martial arts

3. Grappling martial arts

4. Weaponry martial arts (including close range fire arm fighting)

*medium and long range fire arm fighting/battle is a different doctrine.

In general there are 3 kinds of “physical affecting weapons” in the martial arts:

Striking / hitting – punch, kick, elbow, knee, palm, shoulder, head butt (we refer to eye gouging as striking although it can also be used for submission)…

Forcing / causing someone to fall on the ground – tripping, pushing, pulling, joint lock manipulation, throwing…

Submission – joint locks, chokes and pressure points (We refer to biting as a form of submission)


• Pure or only striking martial arts – Boxing, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Savate some forms of Kung fu

• Pure or only wrestling martial arts – Greco-Roman wrestling, sport Judo…

• Pure or only grappling martial arts – Brazilian Jiujitso, Sambo –They are the closest to pure from the grappling sense, although they also have a stage of wrestling - they start from stand up position.

However the wrestling part is not substantial, because the fight ends in submission and rarely do we see someone submitting after a throw.

• Pure or only weaponry martial arts – Arnis, Escrima, Kendo…

* Interesting is that the weaponry martial arts use the same “physical affecting” mechanism as the empty hands do – Striking, throwing, submission.

- Many of the martial arts have some sort of mixture between the categories – Muay-Tai, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, some Kungfu disiplines ,Ninjitsu, MMA

The difference between disciplines*/ types of martial arts and styles of martial arts

If we go back to the homepage – "what is a martial art"section – We notice that, usually, the difference between disciplines occurs in the theory stage or to be more precise the defenition and strategy section.

The difference in style, however, occurs in the tactics and techniques section of the theory and the system stage


Taichi – styles like Chen, yang, sun, wu – are all tai chi, they share many concepts, and strategies, even a few tactics and techniques. However, their techniques vary in execution, and so does their training system and method.

Boxing - also has many styles – American, Soviet, Cuban – all boxing styles share the majority of the theory aside from the parts mentioned above - tactics, techniques and training system.

Karate - as well – Gujo-Ryu, Kyokushin, Shotokan…

In these examples – Karate, Tai-chi, Boxing – would be the type/discipline

* Styles are usually created when there is a very popular teacher, who has many followers and devotees.

The difference between martial art style and fighting style

A fighting style is a way/characteristic of how a fighter fights. It’s specific for the fighter himself, with no regards to the type or style of the martial art.

In boxing we have several fighting styles – player (Muhammad Ali), hitter (Mike Tyson), counter, right hander, left hander…

Nevertheless even though these definitions come from the boxing world they can be used for,karate fighters, MMA fighters, and even street fighters and weaponry fighters although in the last two the fighting style “liberalism” is a bit narrowed.

The fighting style, depends on the character, talents and true nature of a fighter. For more information – Mental Training in a Martial Art

Information about the Types of Martial Arts:

Expand your knowledge about:

Kungfu, Wushu - Chinese Martial Arts

Japanese Martial Arts

Learn more about specific martial arts - Tai-Chi, Karate, Here's a great site about Taekwondo

Or learn more about:

Martial Arts Styles

We've gathered a detailed List of Martial Arts practiced in the world today

Physical Training in a Martial Art

Martial Arts Techniques Training

Return from - Types of Martial Arts - to the Home Page

* We know that some may refer to a discipline as a style and not as a type of martial art – and we don’t have any substantial dispute – It’s only semantics – The important thing is that the essential differences be understood.

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