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Advertisement The world of martial arts is rich. Numerous martial arts styles have roots in...

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The world of martial arts is rich. Numerous martial arts styles have roots in different parts of the world. Over 190 styles exist, and each has its unique approach. Here is a glimpse of some martial arts and how they differ from one another.

Aikido

This Japanese martial arts style capitalises on flowing with the attacker’s motion. In Aikido, the fighter redirects the attacker’s momentum by utilising throws and holds. There is minimal striking since the objective is to defend yourself while bringing the least harm to your opponent. This is contrary to most fighting styles that aim to render lethal strikes and harm the opponent before they harm you.

Aikido holds up to its name, which loosely translates to ‘the way of the harmonious spirit’. It’s an excellent style for self-defence and requires little strength. Some fighters consider Aikido the superior martial arts style since it’s more than a combat technique; it’s a way of life.

Karate

Karate is a unique martial arts style that has gained worldwide recognition and has been part of competitive sports for years.

The style developed in Okinawa, Japan, and focuses on hard strikes. Unlike Taekwondo, Karate focuses on hand strikes rather than kicks.

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Taekwondo

This Korean martial arts style uses different kicking and punching techniques. It’s over 2000 years old and remains the most widely practised style in the world. Taekwondo emphasises fast kicking hits like spinning kicks and head-height kicks. Fighters not only use their hands and feet to fight but also defend against attacks.

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Jiu-Jitsu

If you are looking for a martial arts style with hand strikes, grappling, and joint locking, Jiu-Jitsu is the style of choice. It’s a Japanese art that uses the fighter’s centre of gravity as leverage against the attacker. Traditionally, Jiu-Jitsu was used to combat soldiers clad in heavy armour. The objective was to take them down before unleashing strikes on weak points around their armour.

There are several variations of Jiu-Jitsu, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which emphasises joint locking.

Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is an unconventional martial arts style that was purportedly practised by traditional Japanese assassins (ninjas). The style incorporates techniques from several schools of Japanese martial arts, including Taijutsu, Sojutsu and Bojutsu.

Stealth and deception are the primary principles in Ninjutsu. Moreover, the style welcomes using weapons, pyrotechnics and unarmed combat. Although several schools have come forward as legitimate heirs of Ninjutsu, the style’s true origin remains under dispute.

Judo

Judo loosely translates to ‘the gentle way’, which is a good description of the fighting style employed. It’s the closest style to Aikido but derives a lot of technique from Jiu-Jitsu. The style focuses on using minimal energy and exerting strength through techniques that unbalance an attacker.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a unique martial arts style that combines different techniques with a common theme. It has roots in China and has developed over the centuries into one of the world’s most popular martial arts styles.

Kung Fu styles are inspired by different Chinese religions, legends and philosophies. Some popular styles include Wing Chun, Shaolin Kung Fu and Hung Gar. Kung Fu also has unique styles that mimic animal movements like the Praying Mantis and Eagle Claw.

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Muay Thai

This is a unique style with roots in Thailand. The main techniques are punches, kicks, and elbow and knee strikes. These form an eight-point contact instead of the four-point (hands and feet) contact used in other styles. The techniques employed in Muay Thai also feature in modern styles like mixed martial arts.

Tai Chi

This is a Chinese martial arts style that is practised for both its defence techniques and health benefits. The latter has made it a popular style in the West.

Tai Chi has unique movements that aim to redirect force and use an attacker’s movement as a weapon. The style also serves as a meditation technique that relieves stress and preserves the body’s homeostasis. In some traditional schools, it’s used as curative therapy for diseases. 

Capoeira

The first thing that is striking about capoeira is the fighting technique. It’s a Brazilian martial arts style that combines dance, music and acrobatics. The style is known for its complex maneuvres like inverted kicks and flips. However, the focal point of capoeira is Ginga, the rocking step. This is a contrast to fixed stances used in other forms of martial arts.

Capoeira has its roots among enslaved Africans in Brazil. The use of dance movements and music was a clever tactic employed by fighters to disguise their practise sessions as celebrations. Currently, capoeira is recognised worldwide and holds the protected status of intangible cultural heritage.

Sumo

Sumo is a full-contact Japanese wrestling style where fighters try to force each other out of a circular fighting ring. The style is famous for its big fighters who put on weight and use strength to best their opponents.

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The main techniques in Sumo are shoving, throwing and pushing. However, beyond the ring, the life of a Sumo wrestler is guided by ancient traditions. The wrestlers stay in communal sumo training stables where every aspect of their lives follows the ancient practices.

In Japan, Sumo is a national sport and sumo wrestlers are highly decorated members of society.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a unique military self-defence fighting style developed in Israel. It was developed for the Israeli security and defence forces to handle real-world combat situations efficiently. The style combines several techniques used in Judo, Karate, Aikido and boxing. It also incorporates street fighting approaches and emphasises aggression and offensive maneuvres.

Few organisations teach Krav Maga since most practitioners are in military service. However, the style is categorised into different factions. One is reserved for the security forces, while the other is for civilian use.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

As the name suggests, MMA incorporates a wide variety of fighting styles. Striking and grappling techniques are all used in the sport, and most fighters are trained in more than one martial art style.

The beauty of martial arts is the uniqueness of each style. The different forms practised worldwide only illustrate the rich history of fighting techniques and the unique future that awaits martial arts.

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