The styles of martial arts
Types of martial arts are generally divided into “smooth” and “hard”, “internal” and “external”.
According to this classification, those that use circular movements, characterized by the utilization of the opponent’s force (like tai chi,
aikido or ninjutsu), are considered as “smooth”, whereas those that use blocks, blows, kicks, etc (like karate,
taekwondo, muay thai), are considered as “hard”. “Internal” and “external” are more subjective concepts, with certain
parallelism to “smooth” and “hard”, and they are usually used with the reference to the Chinese styles.
Some say that there are so many styles as fighters. The following list shows some of the main
styles. The technical aspects of each one are only mentioned, without taking into consideration
their philosophical or spiritual part.
It is one of the “smooth” styles. It makes emphasis on neutralizing powerful attacks, redirecting their force. In a classic
aikido form, attacks include various stylized strikes and grabs such as shomenuchi (a vertical strike to the
head), yokomenuchi (a lateral strike to the side of the head and/or neck), munetsuki (a straight punch), ryotedori (a two
handed grab) or katadori (a shoulder grab). Many of the -uchi strikes resemble blows from a sword or other weapon.
Also called kenpo karate, it is an eclectic style developed by the Ed Parker from Hawaii. It unites the direct use of
circular and linear movements with kicks and punches, extensively utilizes multiple strikes. American kenpo is an art
considerably oriented to self-defense.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art. It is highly acrobatic and characterized by deft, tricky movements that are often
performed on the ground or completely inverted. Capoeira fighters primarily attack with kicks, sweeps, and head strikes.
Some schools teach punches and hand strikes, but they are not as common.
Korean martial art that combines blocks, pressures, projections, kicks and blows in a practical form of self-defense.
Hapkido unites elements of both "smooth" and "hard" tendencies. Sometimes hapkido is confused with the Aikido, due to
the similarity of the name.
The art of pulling sword out of a scabbard. The objective is to pull sword out of a scabbard perfectly, striking while
it removes, so that an adversary does not have opportunity to defend himself against the blow. Usually one practices it
A good system of self-defense and physical development, based on projections, imbalances, and control of the opponent.
One of the oldest martial arts. It is a complete system that include launchings (projections), keys, kicks and holds,
and many other elements.
Philippine martial art, partly derived from the fight with canes and swords, also uses other arms and includes
techniques of defense with empty hands.
Very eclectic martial art, invented in Hawaii. It is a mixture of karate, judo, kenpo and boxing, from where the art
makes up its name.
One of the most elaborated martial arts systems. Been born in Okinawa and later taken to Japan. Nowadays it is normal to
find its practice divided between “traditional” schools (formal styles of Okinawa) and "schools of competition” (directed
primarily to championships). There is a great variety of styles of karate, but all of them are based on kicks and direct
punches. Hard styles of karate (kyokushinkai karate, etc) can be considered as very effective self-defense systems.
The use of the sword in combat. Normally one practices with wooden swords. The practice in pairs is very developed, and
has a strong spiritual side.
Derivative of the Kenjutsu. Practitioners use protective armors and simulated bamboo swords (called “shinai”).
Kobudo is a traditional martial art of Okinawa. A lot of its elements are focused on working with weapons.
The classic kobudo weapons are:
• bo - cane. Most usual he is the one than it has around 1.80 meters, but there are them of other sizes.
• sai - a species of iron club, with grip in possessor form, normally used by pairs.
• nunchaku - two short wooden sticks united by a cord or chain.
• kama - a sickle.
• tonfa - wood cane with a perpendicular grip, normally used in pairs.
Generic name that includes multitude of Chinese martial arts, “smooth” and “hard”, and “external” and “internal”. It
involves various holds, blows, attacks towards the vulnerable body points and training with different kinds of arms.
Hawaiian martial art with certain similarities to the ju jutsu. Kept during long time in a secret (its education was
restricted to the members of the Hawaiian Royal Family), it makes emphasis on breakup techniques.
Thailand boxing. It includes techniques of punching, kicks and blows of an elbow. It requires a great physical level of
practitioners. It is the national sport in Thailand.
Ninjutsu is a “smooth” Japanese martial art that incorporates armed and unarmed battle tactics and focuses upon the
efficient use of the movement and the corporal mechanics. With a simple use of the movement and the corporal weight,
defender takes control of his adversary or throws him down. Ninjutsu tries to study all the possible battle situations,
and has subdivisions (“schools”) within the art, that must be studied jointly (arms, fight on the ground, blows, and
French martial art, developed in the last century. It combines techniques similar to those of the karate or
taekwondo, techniques of western boxing, and techniques of cane. Their exact origins and the relation with other martial
arts are not clarified absolutely.
Pencak Silat is the set of martial arts of Indonesia, with different styles and schools. Most of the techniques they are
indigenous, although sometimes (according to the zone) they include also technical Chinese or Japanese.
Korean martial art with an emphasis on kicks. Many of its techniques are similar to those of the karate, that had certain
influence on taekwondo development. Physically, taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina.
Tai Chi Chuan
It is a combination of Chinese traditional “external” styles, with the Taoist principles. It has evolved into innumerable
sub-styles. Tai Chi Chuan is characterized by slow and controlled movements. Although the great majority of people practices Tai Chi
for the spiritual development, with the suitable practice and emphasis on technical aspects it also turns out to be an
effective martial art.