Top 5 Martial Arts

Conflict is intertwined with human history and it is of no surprise that many unique and deadly fighting styles have been created from all over the world. Either practiced for military purposes or for sport, martial arts all have one thing in common, they all take time to learn, but once mastered the individual will have deadly capabilities. Here are top five deadly martial arts from different parts of the world. They aren't in any particular order, just five of the best.

Karate

One of the most famous martial arts in the world after Kung fu, Karate is practiced by people of all ages and is very versatile. Karate was developed by the Ryukyu Kingdom which ruled over the Ryukyu islands in modern Japan from the 15th to 18th centuries. When the Chinese came to the island for trade purposes they brought Chinese martial arts with them and they influenced the original fighting style of the Ryukyu Kingdom called Te. Different styles were developed over the years as many people from the islands travelled to China to study martial arts and brought back what they learnt.

During the wars between China and Japan, many forms of Karate emerged and the most common is known as Shotokan Karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi. Like Kung Fu, there is a lot of philosophy behind Karate and its practitioners, called Karateka, are taught to be humble and only engage in conflict when necessary. It is a deep spiritual art and isn't solely based on combat.

Karate was seen as a Chinese martial art until 1935 when it was renamed "Empty Hand" instead of the original "Chinese Hand" as the art actually originated in Okinawa despite Chinese influences.

Kung Fu

When the phrase Kung fu comes to mind people often think of orange robed monks from the Far East and the famous Kung Fu Crane pose, but there is a lot more to this ancient art.

Kung Fu isn't actually one particular martial art, it is an umbrella term for many Chinese fighting styles. The art is divided in to different schools and the most popular types are Shaolin Kung Fu (少林功夫) and Wing Chun Quan (咏春拳). The fighting style is based on ancient Chinese legends and philosophy and follows the five animals mimicry technique. The five animals being Tiger, crane, leopard, snake and dragon but some other styles substitute the dragon and the leopard for the monkey and mantis.

According to the legend, Kung Fu was founded by the Yellow Emperor, also known as Huangdi, over 4000 years ago. The oldest historical record of Chinese martial arts comes from the Spring and Autumn Annals from the 5th century BC where different techniques are mentioned.

Although there are many differences in Kung Fu due to religious and philosophical influences, the main difference to is the fighting styles used by Northern China as opposed to Southern China.

People from the north of China are generally taller due to meat heavy diets and are supposed to have stronger legs due to the mountainous terrain that they are used to. This has led to the "Long fist" style of Kung Fu being created which utilises the longer limbs and focuses on legwork and high kicks.

Kung Fu in the south of China has led to more close combat using fists that are as deadly as weapons.

Muay Thai

Developed in the 18th century, the pioneer of Thailand's national sport was Nai Khanomtom; captured in 1767 by the Burmese during the war between Siam and Burma. Khanomtom was well known for his fighting skills and was given the chance to fight his way to freedom. In a series of contests he beat ten Burmese fighters one after the other. The Burmese were so impressed by Nai Khanomtom that they set him free and he started the sport Siamese Style boxing which is now known as Muay Thai.

At this point, Muay Thai didn't really have a set of rules and was called Muay Boran or simply Muay. Muay was used in warfare but was also practiced during festivals as a sport and as it gained popularity, the once bare knuckled fighters started to wear rope hand raps.

Muay Thai is known as the "Art of Eight Limbs" as it uses eight points of contact including the elbows and shins and anyone who has trained in Muay Thai will tell you that the shin conditioning is exceptionally painful.

In 1868, Muay Thai became a very popular due to personal interest shown by King Chulalongkorn also known as Rama V. The country was at peace during this time and Muay Thai was practiced for recreational purposes.

Suan Kulap built Thailand's first boxing ring in 1921 which was used for Muay and British Boxing. The rope hand wraps were swapped for gloves due to the risk of causing death during a fight as the knots in the hand wrap aided in dealing tremendous damage while protecting the hand of the fighter.

Now Muay Thai is an international sport as is practiced all over the world.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ is an adapted form of Judo and focuses on the ability of a smaller opponent to take down a larger one through grappling techniques. Jiu-Jitsu originated in Japan and was used by the Samurai but in 1925 the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy was opened by the Gracie family who taught their own less violent version of the martial art for recreational purposes.

In 1993, Rorion Gracie and Art Davies started the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC with the idea of showcasing martial arts from around the world. Through UFC Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gained popularity and fighters use it in the ring to this day.

The art uses some sophisticated moves which would be hard to execute in a real conflict scenario but it doesn't negate the fact that BJJ is an excellent recreational activity.

Today the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Foundation (IBJJF) runs competitions every year for people who practice the martial art.

Aikido

Created by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is a Japanese martial art which teaches its practitioners to neutralise a threat without harming the opponent, with moves that redirect their momentum.

The word Aikido can be translated as "the way of unifying with life energy" and the term came about in the twentieth century. As with most martial arts, Aikido training involves both physical and mental aspects.

Aikido is influenced by a range of other martial arts such as Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu and has several religious influences due to Ueshiba's involvement with the Ōmoto-kyō religion.

There are many more great martial arts from a range of different countries but these are five of the best.

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