Which Martial Art

Which Martial art should I choose?

So you’ve made the choice to learn a martial art. The only problem is your surrounded by numerous practitioners and authors preaching that their martial art is the ultimate and only choice. There are so many paths to take and the decision can be quite daunting, but which is truly the ultimate martial art? The answer largely depends on what you would like to gain from the art. Each martial art has its own distinct strengths and merits. The following tool is designed to “tailor” a martial art to best suit your needs. Simply click on the radio buttons specifying the level of intensity you would like for each of the named attributes. Select “1” for low intensity or no inclusion, “2” for medium and “3” for high inclusion or intensity. When you’ve completed that task click the “find my ideal martial art” button and you will be presented with a “match score” for each martial art. Under the “Martial Art” column click on the hyperlink of your most compatible martial art for a detailed description. This should set you on the right path in selecting your chosen discipline and get you out of the martial arts maze!

Martial Art Attributes Intensity   Martial Art Match
Discipline: 1 2 3
Striking: 1 2 3
Kicking: 1 2 3
Grapling: 1 2 3
Contact: 1 2 3
Fitness Level: 1 2 3
Weapons usage: 1 2 3
Set movements (Kata/Forms): 1 2 3
Breaking: 1 2 3
  Tae Kwon Do 
Close Contact (Knee/Shin/Elbow/Head): 1 2 3
Throws: 1 2 3
Sparring: 1 2 3   Aikido
    Muay Thai


Karate is predominantly a striking art that comprises of punches, kicks, elbows and knees but the use of throws, grappling and joint manipulation is also part of the discipline. Karate makes good use of sparring (kumite) whilst rules, array of techniques used and levels of contact can vary widely. Set movements called Kata / forms are used extensively as is the used of weaponry. ... more
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Kickboxing as the name suggests is a fighting sport that concentrates on kicking and punching although throws are sometimes used. There are varying degrees of contact from light to full contact. Protective gear is used for sparring. Different martial arts equipment is used depending on the contact level and rules. Kickboxing, predominantly a Japanese and American art can be thought of as a combination of boxing and karate. Some kickboxing rules, mainly Japanese, permit the use of head, elbow and knee strikes however, American kickboxing generally does not employ these techniques. Japanese kickboxing is quite similar to Muay Thai. ... more
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Boxing or Pugilism has its origins in England. Boxing uses only the fists for combat. Boxing comprises of a series of two or three minute rounds until the opponent is either knocked out or cannot continue. If both fighters are standing after a predetermined number of bouts the decision goes to points. ... more
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Mixed Martial Arts or MMA was designed around the concept of determining the ultimate martial art. MMA uses a minimal set of rules and comprises of a wide range of techniques such as striking, grappling, locks, sweeps, takedowns, clinches and throws. Although rules have been formed there is no overall sanctioning body for this full contact combat sport. The winner is determined by a stoppage, submission or judge’s decision following a predetermined time period. ... more
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Tai Chi Chuan is a soft Chinese martial art which makes strong use of set movements called forms. The practice of these forms is said to promote health and longevity. Some styles of Tai chi also use a soft free flowing technique called pushing hands. Weapons are also included in the Tai chi discipline. ... more
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Kung Fu is a traditional Chinese martial art that can be hard or soft. The art encompasses a wide range of activity including breaking, set movements called “forms” and sparring with varying levels of contact. There are many styles of Kung Fu each having a high level of discipline. Most styles of Kung fu, especially those which originate from the south of China use low stances and low kicks. This keeps the centre of gravity low and thus stable. Stability was paramount as most martial arts training and fighting often took place on the paddy fields. Kung Fu uses a great deal of “farm” tools as weapons such as rice flails (or nun-chucks). ... more
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The Japanese combat martial art of Judo is a competitive sport with the established objective of throwing your opponent to ground, immobilise or graining a submission via grappling, hold/choke or arm lock. Strikes are not permitted in competition however, thrusts, kicks and punches do play a part in Kata or set movements. ... more
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Ninja the practitioner of ninjitsu use a set of techniques including but not limited to non-detection, information gathering methods, avoidance and misdirection. Ninja are also masters of disguise, archery, escape, medicines, explosives and poisons. Ninja were often hired as assassins in ancient Japan. Ninjitsu has many disciplines ranging from armed and unarmed combat to horse riding and archery. ... more
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Tae Kwon do:

The Korean Olympic sport of Taekwondo translates to foot hand art. Although many differences exist between different taekwondo organisations (WTF & ITF) the art is famous for its kicking techniques. The Taekwondo syllabus concentrates breaking, forms, sparring, self defence and flexibility. ... more
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Tae Bo was developed by ex Taekwondo practitioner Billy Blanks as an aerobic exercise. The name Tae Bo is derived from Tae kwon do and boxing and also stands for Total Awareness Excellence and Body Obedience. While Tae Bo utilises many of the striking techniques used in Boxing and Taekwondo it is not a fighting art but an aerobic exercise to music. The exercise is designed to improve strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. ... more
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The “Gentle, yielding compliant art” of jujitsu yields to the force of an assailants attack in order to mount counter attack. There are many techniques in the jujitsu arsenal including grappling, joint locks, biting, gouging, kicking, striking, holds, traps and throws. Striking and kicking techniques are limited. Jujitsu also uses weapons in its syllabus. ... more
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The Japanese martial art Aikido has grappling, joint locks and throws at its core. The key point with Aikido is that it a blends with the opposing force so that the blow can be redirected without directly opposing it. With this ethos minimal energy is expunged to thwart an attack. Aikido also makes use of weaponry. ... more
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The Brazilian art of Capoeira is a fight/dance game and a martial art with origins in Africa. The art makes use strikes, sweeps, head butts, elbow strikes and an extensive use of ground work all strung together in fluid display. Opponents “spar” to music and take turns playing instrument and singing. ... more

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The way of the sword or Kendo is a development of Japanese swordsmanship. This mentally and physically challenging art involves participants sparring or fencing with wooden swords. Kendo emphasises the stamping and shouting in its techniques to express its Kiai or spirit. Full body armour is warn at all times. ... more
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Muay Thai:

The form of kickboxing known as Muay Thai has strong roots in Thailand. Muay Thai makes extensive use of hands, shin, elbow and knee strikes with some grappling and clinches. There is a heavy focus on cardiovascular conditioning and weight resistance techniques. This combat sport, also popular in Cambodia has an extremely high level of contact. Muay Thai is regarded as the defacto standard for stand-up fighting. Muay Thai is very traditional with pre-match rituals forming an integral part of the discipline. ... more
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