I’ve heard of many people being turned off martial arts because they went to the wrong school, they did the wrong style, and they just didn’t enjoy the experience and therefore have been turned off martial arts forever. If you’re one of those people, I would implore you to not be jaded, not base your martial arts experience on one bad school or a bad experience. More than likely, it probably wasn’t the right martial arts style for you.

What Are The Different Martial Arts Styles?

Kung Fu is one of the most popular styles of martial arts.  There are hundreds of styles under the banner of Kung Fu. You would have heard of Wing Chun, the one that was made most famous by Bruce Lee, a very simplified, direct and straight line system.


There are the Hung Gar, Choi Gar and Shaolin styles, and our particular style is derived from the styles that were taught in the Shaolin temple.

We also have Karate, which is Japanese.  Taekwondo, Korean, and Jujitsu, which is Japanese. Then you have Krav Maga, which is Israeli.

We have Silat from South East Asia. There is also a style called Escrima from the Philippines.  We have all of these different arts, and they all offer different ways to approach the mastery of Martial Arts. The first place to start is to think about what your outcomes are and then look at the different styles, you will start to narrow down the kind of experience that you’re going to get.

So let’s start with something like Muay Thai, a style which is focused on striking with the fists, elbows, head, knees, feet. It has a great range of striking techniques. Kicking techniques predominantly these days are focused on sport fighting, but is also taught as a method of self defense in some of the schools that teach Muay Thai.

Now, everyone might say that punching and striking is self defense, but again, realistically, is your six year old going to be punching, elbowing and kneeing someone at school as a form of self defense? Probably not. So is your teenage daughter going to elbow, strike, or punch someone that’s 100 kilos and much stronger than them and having it work? Maybe not. So the idea here is to really go deep into what it is that you want to get out of your training.

Karate from Japan originated in Okinawa and was said to be transferred from Chinese White Crane Kung Fu into the Japanese arts of karate. Now, karate, I like to think of some styles that mimic the personality of the people and the nations that they come from. The culture that goes into the background of the arts is super important, and that’s where we’ll get into the spiritual, mental, and emotional side of things as well a little later on. So karate is, generally, its expression  is a little bit more tense and a little bit more hard. The blocks are direct and really forceful and heavy.

So if you’re a bigger person with lots of power and you want to focus on really solid, not very fast flowing movements, but more strong, stable based movements that are really good for self defense as well as sportfighting, then Karate might be the style for you.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an ideal style, if you’re a wrestling type, you want to get down on the ground and wrestle. I have heaps of friends who enjoy their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you find the style that gives you the outcomes that you want, then it’s all good.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is obviously Brazilian and it is based on the Japanese art of Jiu Jitsu and it’s basically mostly taught as a ground art these days,whereas some Jiu Jitsu schools would have striking and stand up work as well.

So again, I’m over generalizing here, so don’t get too wound up about it all. But in your own research you’ll be able to go through and find the different styles and find their definitions, then find what works for you.

Krav Maga
Krav Maga is its marketing tagline. Is it used by the Israeli military?

Krav Maga is a striking and nasty art which is purely focused on self defense, encouraging their students to train under duress under high pressure situations as well, which is helpful. But most of the Krav Maga schools that I’ve seen don’t actually do real live sparring where it’s free sparring. So if that’s something you’re looking for, then you may want to consider something else as well because in my personal opinion, free sparring is essential for actual self defense.

And the next kind of styles that you’d be looking at are Judo, which is a standing grappling and throwing art which is super fun. I really enjoyed doing judo as a child. I enjoyed a little bit of competition in Judo. But Judo these days is practiced as an adjunct for MMA as well as Jiu Jitsu, as well as a standalone sport all of its own.

Tai Chi
So what else do we have? Tai Chi. We could go as far as going to the Chinese art of Tai Chi, which is a really slow, particular art where the idea of learning Tai Chi is to focus in really fine detail on your movement skills. Every move is practiced over and over and over and over in a really slow flowing way. And that is done to refine your movement skills in as quick a way as possible by focusing in on a few movements at a time and working them over and over and over and over and over again.

Also, it’s done slowly so that we can embody the internal energy work as well within the tai chi.

So if you’re kicking around a few ideas, and you’re looking at two or three different arts and you know, the outcomes, the physical outcomes and that sort of thing that you want to get from your martial arts training, well, you’ve probably got three or four, as I said, written down that you want to do some research on.

Read the first part here.