While you might be familiar with popular martial art styles, such as karate, taekwondo, MMA, BJJ, and Muay Thai, you can hardly boost of knowing all of the various martial arts styles available in the world. So, how many martial arts are there in the world?
There are about 180 different types of martial arts globally, comprising thousands of fighting styles, techniques, and forms. While most of the renowned martial arts styles originate from Asia, we also have some really popular styles from other parts of the world.
As you already know, martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for several reasons such as self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; physical, mental, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage.
Some martial arts are linked to spiritual or religious beliefs/philosophies such as Buddhism, Daoism, or Shinto while others have their own spiritual/non-spiritual code of honor.
In this article, we shall be looking at the complete list of the various martial arts available worldwide and the region they belong to.
How Many Martial Arts Are There in the World?
There are many distinct styles and schools of martial arts practiced worldwide.
Sometimes, schools or styles are introduced by individual teachers (or masters), or as a brand name by a specific gym.
Martial arts can be grouped by type or focus, or by regional origin.
In this article, we shall be focusing on the regional origin grouping of these unique styles of martial arts.
For Hybrid martial arts (as they originated from the late 19th century and especially after 1950), it may be impossible to identify unique or predominant regional origins.
It is not trivial to distinguish “traditional” from “modern” martial arts.
Chronology is not the decisive criterion. For example, “traditional” Taekwondo was developed in the 1950s, while the “modern” hybrid martial art of Bartitsu was developed c. 1900.
A large portion of traditional martial arts can be categorized as Folk wrestling, although in some cases a folk wrestling style and a modern combat sport may overlap or become indistinguishable from each other once the sport has been regulated.
All Martial Arts Styles
Below is a list of all martial arts practiced worldwide.
- Lutte Traditionnelle
- Senegalese wrestling
- Nguni stick-fighting
- Nuba fighting
- Bajan stick-licking
- Brazilian jiu-jitsu
- Luta Livre
- Vale Tudo
- SPEAR System
- Colombian grima
- Juego de maní
- Tire machèt
- American Kenpo
- Collegiate wrestling
- Emerson Combat Systems
- Gouging (fighting style)
- Jeet Kune Do
- Jailhouse rock (fighting style)
- Kapu Kuialua
- LINE (combat system)
- Marine Corps Martial Arts Program
- Model Mugging
- Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary System
- 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu
- Bangladeshi martial arts
- Pradal serey
- Chinese martial arts
- Shaolin Kung Fu
- Tai chi
- Wing Chun
- Shuai Jiao
- Choy Gar
- Fut Gar
- Indian martial arts
- Mardani Khel
- Indonesian martial arts
- Pencak silat
- Tarung Derajat
- Krav Maga
- Japanese martial arts
- Okinawan Kobudo
- Korean martial arts
- Tae kwon do
- Hap ki do
- Muay Lao
- Mongolian wrestling
- Aka (Burmese martial arts)
- Pongyi thaing
- Filipino martial arts
- Muay boran
- Muay Thai
- Silat Pattani
- Oil Wrestling
- Vietnamese martial arts
- Hokutoryu Ju-Jutsu
- Canne de combat
- French School of Fencing
- Qwan Ki Do
- German School of Fencing
- German Ju-Jutsu
- Real Aikido
- Ancient Greek boxing
- Greek wrestling
- Italian martial arts
Republic of Ireland
- Irish martial arts
- Leonese wrestling
- Lucha Canaria
- Russian martial arts
- Combat Hopak
- Bare-knuckle boxing
- Catch wrestling
- Combat pistol shooting
- Cornish Wrestling
- Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling
- Devon wrestling
- English Longsword School
- Historical fencing in Scotland
- Lancashire wrestling
- Scottish Backhold
- World War II combatives
- Mau rākau
Martial Arts Scope
In terms of scope, martial arts vary widely and may focus on a specific area or combination of areas, but they can be broadly grouped into focusing on strikes, grappling, or weapons training.
Below is a list of examples that make extensive use of one of these areas;
This is not an exhaustive list of all arts covering the area nor is it necessarily the only areas covered by the art but are the focus or best-known part as examples of the area:
- Punching – Boxing (Western), Wing Chun
- Kicking – Capoeira, Savate, Taekwondo
- Other strikes (e.g. Elbows, knees, open-hand) – Muay Thai, Karate, Shaolin Kung Fu
- Throwing – Glima, Judo, Jujutsu, Sambo, Shuai Jiao
- Joint lock – Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Hapkido
- Pinning Techniques – Judo, Wrestling
- Traditional Weaponry – Fencing, Gatka, Kendo, Silambam, Kali
- Modern Weaponry – Eskrima, Jogo do Pau, Jukendo
Many martial arts, especially those from Asia, also teach side disciplines that pertain to medicinal practices.
This is particularly prevalent in traditional Chinese martial arts which may teach bone-setting, qigong, acupuncture, acupressure (tui na), and other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine.
Martial arts are commonly associated with East Asian cultures but are by no means unique to Asia.
Throughout Europe, there was an extensive system of combat martial arts, collectively referred to as Historical European martial arts that existed until modern times and is now being reconstructed by several organizations, while Savate is a French kicking style developed by sailors and street fighters.
In the Americas, Native Americans have a tradition of open-handed martial arts, that includes wrestling and Hawaiians have historically practiced arts featuring small and large joint manipulation, a mix of origins occurs in the athletic movements of Capoeira that were created in Brazil by slaves, based on skills brought with them from Africa.
How Many Martial Arts Are There in MMA?
There are four main martial arts that are used in MMA: Muay Thai (Kickboxing), Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Wrestling. However, MMA is not limited to these styles, and many successful fighters utilize less common styles such as Karate, Taekwondo, Sambo, Judo, and more.
In case you do not know what Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is, it is a full-contact combat sport based on striking, grappling and ground fighting, incorporating techniques from various combat sports from around the world.
In the UFC (and MMA in general), there are many different styles of fighting allowed.
Due to the unrestrictive ruleset, competitors are allowed to train in and use various styles as they wish in competition.
But why are Muay Thai (Kickboxing), Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Wrestling used so regularly compared to others?
Well to put it simply, these are the most effective martial arts in existence. Over the years since the UFC was first started, certain styles of fighting have continued to be a prominent part of most fighters’ training styles. The prominence of a martial art style used in MMA is directly related to effectiveness.
This makes sense right? If someone has a more effective style than you, then simply start training in their style. And this is exactly what happened, starting with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after UFC 1.
How Many Martial Arts Can You Learn?
As a general rule, a person can learn and master 3 to 5 different martial arts thoroughly. And many advanced students are capable of learning two or three martial arts simultaneously. However, beginners should start with one and not add additional martial arts for at least 2-3 years.
And, of course, there’s not really a limit. But it can be hard to master all of them if you’re trying to learn 10.
The effectiveness of learning different martial arts depends on the student’s time constraints and ability to recover from training. A particular martial art may be practiced in 2 to 3 hours of training each week.
These martial disciplines are sometimes related, and other times they are entirely unrelated. Some people want to practice in various similar styles, and some prefer total diversity
How Many Years Does It Take To Learn All Martial Arts?
Considering the large number of martial arts practiced worldwide, one man can’t learn all martial arts. It would therefore take forever to learn all martial arts.
Those with this question in mind are surely ignorant of the number of martial arts available.
Even the best-known martial artists like Bruce Li, Jet Li, Bat Man, and Jackie Chan can hardly boost of having proficiency in more than 10 martial art style.
This is because learning a single martial art style requires time and dedication.
Unfortunately, as humans, our lifespan cannot sustain us enough to learn all 180+ styles.
Hi, my name is Godwin. I am a passionate martial artist with black belts in Taekwondo and Karate. I have over 15 years of martial art experience. I created this platform to enable me to help you learn martial art the right way.