Quick reference: martial arts branches

Confused about the scores of martial-arts types and options out there? The list below defines the most popular forms.


Korean: TaeKwon-do is South Korea’s national sport. Loosely translated as “the way of the hand and foot,” TaeKwon-do combines combat techniques, self-defense and sport, while also emphasizing a philosophical component that is meditation-based. The discipline gained popularity in the United States in the 1950’s and ’60s.

Japanese: Karate is a martial art that was developed in what is now Okinawa, Japan, and its origins come from indigenous fighting techniques and a Chinese discipline called kenpo. This striking art incorporates punching, kicking, knee and elbow strides and open-handed methods. Some styles include locks and vital-point strikes as well.

Chinese: Kung Fu embodies various Chinese martial arts and related disciplines that are practiced for self-defense, exercise and spiritual growth. This discipline is widely used to describe numerous contemporary Chinese martial arts.

Western Tradition

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that was developed by the descendants of African slaves in the early 16th century. Capoeira is unique in that it includes dance and music. The practice incorporate sophisticated and quick movement

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