While martial arts were once only practiced in the east, a variety of martial arts are now incredibly popular all over the world. Here are some of the most popular ones. 

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts, commonly known as MMA, is a dynamic combat sport. It is based on various traditional fighting techniques including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and boxing. 

Given the intense physical confrontations involved, MMA demands both strategic thinking and peak physical fitness.

In recent years, the popularity of MMA has soared considerably. Enthusiasts worldwide are glued to bouts featuring iconic fighters such as Conor McGregor and Islam Makhachev. The sport draws massive audiences due to its raw nature and captivating competitions.


It also draws more and more people each year to begin their own journeys as mixed martial artists.


Originating from Okinawa, Japan, Karate has become a globally recognized martial art. It is a striking-based discipline that incorporates punches, kicks, knee strikes, and open-handed techniques. 

Karate has been celebrated for its emphasis on mental fortitude and physical prowess.

In terms of popularity, Karate enjoys enormous global recognition. From brand recognition with movies like The Karate Kid to being included in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, this martial art is certainly hitting some high notes. What makes Karate so popular? Besides offering an effective self-defense mechanism, it promotes values of respect and discipline.


Taekwondo, a martial art that initially took form in Korea, is renowned for its focus on high, fast kicking, and spinning kicks. It is not just about physical techniques but also includes a philosophical component and teaches self-discipline.

Its popularity has crossed borders expanding to every continent on the globe. In fact, it is recognized as an official Olympic sport and practiced by millions of people of all ages worldwide.


Originating in Japan, Judo is a popular form of martial art that emphasizes throws and take-downs over strikes. It is about overpowering the adversary by capitalizing on their strength and weight.

Judo has achieved widespread recognition across continents. Notably, it was introduced in the Olympics in 1964 and continues to be part of it, reflecting its global acclaim.

It promotes tenacity, strategic thinking, and respect for one’s opponent, making it appealing to countless practitioners worldwide.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu, a diverse and historic Chinese martial art, involves a wide range of fighting styles, each with its unique set of moves and techniques. Practitioners learn to balance hard (striking) and soft (grappling) techniques for an effective combination.

Globally, Kung Fu has immense popularity. From martial arts films featuring stars like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to well-attended competitions worldwide, its influence is undeniable.

Tips for Choosing the Right Martial Art for You

If you are considering learning a martial art but do not know which one to try, first consider your personal objectives and natural affinities. It is crucial that you identify what you expect to gain, whether that is fitness, self-defense, discipline, or even a spiritual journey. 

Once you have done that, you can explore each martial art in more detail to determine which one pairs best with your wants and needs.

For instance, if physical strength and raw combat thrill you, MMA might be a great fit. For mental toughness coupled with elegant strikes, Karate or Taekwondo could appeal. Though, if tactical thinking excites you, consider Judo.

Use Your Mastery to Teach

If you have already learned and mastered a martial art, you could consider teaching. It can be very rewarding to inspire students and instill in them a sense of discipline, resilience, and self-confidence.

You could start by giving classes at a local community center. Then, over time – and if you want to – you could turn your lessons into a full-fledged full-time business. Just make sure you learn how to run a business and create an effective business plan before you take the plunge.

Also, if you do decide to create a martial arts business, make sure you use martial arts school management software, as it will help to streamline operations like online registration, payments, and communications.

Other Popular Martial Arts

There is a wide range of different martial arts out there besides the few popular ones listed above. 

So, you might like to consider trying other popular martial arts, such as these:

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: This martial art involves ground fighting techniques with an emphasis on submission holds.
  • Muay Thai: This martial art uses punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes.
  • Kickboxing: This martial art combines elements of boxing and karate to form a powerful stand-up combat sport.
  • Aikido: This martial art emphasizes using the opponent’s energy against them.
  • Sambo: This martial art and combat sport integrates judo and wrestling techniques.
  • Capoeira: This martial art is an Afro-Brazilian mix of martial arts, music, dance, and acrobatics.


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