Top Ten Martial Arts in the World

The world is full of different kinds of martial arts and nearly every country has its own fighting style. But what are the fighting styles that put themselves above the rest? What are the most deadly and efficient fighting styles capable of disarming an armed opponent or defeating multiple opponents simultaneously?

Take a look at the top 10 most deadly martial arts in the world.

1. Kung Fu

Kung Fu is an unarmed combat style that originated in China. The principle of this martial art is to attack your enemy with lightning speed and tremendous force before they can attack you. It was used by Chinese warriors as a method to attack as well as in self-defense. Kung Fu is actually the name of Chinese martial arts in general and there are many forms and branches of it. There are many forms of Kung Fu and they all have their own style and started in different ways.

Shaolin Kung Fu was started by the first few Shaolin monks who were rumoured to have a military past before they commit themselves to Buddhism. It combines Zen Buddhism with a mix of martial arts for a really deadly technique that when the monks put their mind to it, can turn themselves into human weapons. In history, Shaolin monks were so powerful that in one clash with pirates in Wengjiagang on 21 July 1553, the monks only took four casualties while the pirates took over a hundred. This is an example of how deadly this martial art is when it is actually mastered.

2. Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as the Art of Eight Limbs, is a form of Thai kickboxing that emerged from the ashes of the Siamese revolution in 1932. Muay Thai uses utilises body parts that aren’t normally used in combat situations such as the elbows, knees, and shins. Its training is based on intense conditioning and the student of this art is required to harden the body in places such as the shins. This martial art also involves very high kicks which means that the student’s legs have to be very flexible.  

When mastered, Muay Thai is a very deadly martial art so competitive players cover their bodies in oil before they fight so their blows slide off and don’t cause too much damage. Muay Thai is the sports version of Muay Boran which is a fighting style used by warriors so it has been adapted in many ways such as the use of boxing gloves and a slight change of technique to make it more civilian friendly.

3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also known as BJJ is a modern version of the ancient samurai hand-to-hand combat system called Jiu-Jitsu. The idea behind this martial art is that a smaller weaker fighter can take down a much bigger one by taking the fight to the ground and using a variety of locks and chokeholds.

The Gracie family used to practice Judo but one of their sons, Hélio Gracie, found it hard to execute many techniques so this led to him creating his own version which is now known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It isn’t really a fighting style that can be used in street brawls but is a very good recreational activity and many BJJ techniques are used in UFC.

4. Karate

Karate was first practiced in the Ryukyu Kingdom which was annexed by Japan in 1879 and a person who learns it is called a Karateka. Karate is actually a very dangerous martial art and the form that is taught to children and people outside of Japan is only a pseudo version of real Karate, as it is meant to be a very sophisticated art that can end one’s life in a single blow.

It can be practiced as a form of self-defense, as a sport, or even as an art as there are many psychological elements involved in Karate. There are many styles of Karate and many regions in the world have developed their own ways to practice the art.

Karate has become very popular over time and will be part of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. It can be said that martial arts movies of the 60s and 70s have really increased the popularity of Karate around the world. Karate isn’t just all about fighting,  people who practice this martial art are taught to be humble and not easily drawn into the fight. Karate was actually seen as a Chinese martial art until 1935 when the Japanese Martial Arts Committee changed the name from “Chinese Hand” to “Empty Hand” and declared it a Japanese martial art as it originated from Okinawa.

5. Vale Tudo

Vale Tudo, which became popular in Brazil in the 20th century, is a martial art and literally means “anything goes”. What makes this martial art so deadly is the fact that since anything goes it is a completely unpredictable fighting style and people who practice this use a variety of different moves.

It is a full-contact sport where everything goes which makes it very dangerous but very efficient for use in street brawls.  Vale Tudo is influenced by BJJ and Muay Thai but it doesn’t stop there, many martial arts are included in this particular style. It isn’t really used as a sport but more as a means of self-defense.

6. Krav Maga

Krav Maga was developed by the Israeli Defence Forces as a form of hand-to-hand combat. It is based on fighting an armed opponent with no weapon and how to disarm them. Krav Maga is an extremely dangerous martial art where the opponent’s well-being isn’t thought off, making it not a sport but a way of turning yourself into a living weapon.

It was started by Imi Lichtenfeld in the late 1940s who used his training like a boxer to develop this martial art and he started to teach it to the IDF. It literally means “contact combat” and a person who masters Krav Maga will be able to end someone’s life with their bare hands.

Krav Maga teaches physical aggression, not to be confused with emotional aggression, and is all about simultaneous attack and defense.

7. Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba and is very different from other martial arts. Aikido follows many religious concepts so people who practice it actually have to keep the attacker's well-being in mind by not being too aggressive. It isn’t about striking fast but more about using the attacker's force against them resulting in the art of having many ways of throwing an opponent off balance and grappling.

Aikido teaches fighters to relax their minds at the time of conflict and to approach every situation with a clear mind. Some schools also teach how to disarm weapons and even firearms so it can be quite a useful skill to learn.

8. Keysi Fighting Method

Keysi, or KFM, is a modern martial art that became quite popular after it was used by Batman in the movies. The principle behind Keysi is for one person to be able to defeat multiple opponents. Since Keysi is a rather new fighting style it hasn’t really been tested properly so it is hard to say how effective it actually is. However, based on the concept itself, if a person can master Keysi it can be quite deadly.

9. Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do, also known as JKD, is a Chinese martial art that was taught by Bruce Lee himself and it is based on his personal experiences and ideas. The idea of this art is minimal movement but maximum effect resulting in fighters ending the conflict as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

Bruce Lee believed that Jeet Kune Do is just a name and the philosophy behind the art is to be able to express the entire human body without any limitations.

10. Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu originated in Japan and is an extremely dangerous martial art that was originally used as a form of espionage and guerrilla warfare in ancient Japan. There are many forms of Ninjutsu and the hand-to-hand combat form is called Taijutsu, the rest of the forms like Shurikenjutsu or Bojutsu include the use of weapons.

Taijutsu contains many forms of throwing and grappling and when mastered can give anybody an advantage in a conflict situation. The Ninjutsu that is taught today isn’t really the same as the ancient form used in ancient Japan during major wars.