Martial arts are defined as systems and traditions of combat practices. They are practiced for a number of reasons, including spiritual development, self-defense, or even military and law enforcement.

Even though the term is usually linked with any type of fighting style originated in Asia, but it actually gets its origins in Europe since the 1550’s. The term actually derives from the Latin, meaning “the art of Mars”, which is the Roman god of war.

The most popular martial art changes depending on the part of the world you find yourself in, so while we know you are probably here for Tai Chi, we have gathered a list with the 10 most popular martial arts in the world, and which country they come from.

  • Karate: Originally from Japan, the word “karate” means “empty handed”, as this is a practice that doesn’t use any weapons. Karate is probably the most well-known martial art, and the first thing that comes to our minds when we think about martial arts. Karate is a great martial art for kids.
  • KungFu: Introduced to China by the Emperor Huang during his reign in 2698 BC. The name of this martial art means “an achievement gained through hard work”. One of the oldest martial arts in the world, it is also very well-known throughout the world.
  • Tae Kwon Do: From Korea, this practice became popular after World War II. It translates to “the way of fist and feet”, and it’s a mixture of both physical and mental strength.
  • Muay Thai: This is Thailand’s national sport, and it can be easily mistaken with kickboxing. Muay Thai’s principle is using body parts as weapons, being legal to strike below the belt.
  • Ninjutsu: The Japanese martial art associated with ninjas, and specifically ones that are teenagers and also mutant turtles. Its origins are quite mysterious, and it is said to be used by guerrilla warriors.
  • Brazilian Jiu-jitsu: As it name states, this art began in Brazil when Mitsuyo Meda taught the Judo fundamentals to Carlos Gracie. After some adaptations made throughout the years, as Gracie passed on what he learned to future generations, the art became its own, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was born.
  • Jujutsu: Another martial art from Japan, known as the “art of softness”, because of its nature. It is said that this is the martial art the disarmed Samurais used, and unlike all the other martial arts, it is way less structured.
  • KravMaga: This practice from Israel is one of the most brutal and violent ones. Used by security forces, this martial art doesn’t have rules, and it targets the injury of the opponent’s vital spots, like the eyes for example.
  • Judo: Yet another Japanese martial art, Judo was founded as the result of a kid that was bullied. Kano Jigoro was abused by other kids during his childhood, so as an adult he created Judo, with the influence of other existing martial arts.
  • Aikido: To finish off this list, the last martial art is also Japanese. Maybe one of the most recent ones, Aikido was created in the early 1900’s. The goal of Aikido is more of a self-defense one, aiming to disarm the opponent, instead of seriously injuring them. See Alkido in action here: