A Martial Artists Guide to the 10 Most Popular Styles

Most Popular Styles

Martial arts are a great way to learn self-discipline, self-confidence, and maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul. However, there are so many different styles and forms out there today that it can be challenging to decide which one is right for you. 

When searching online, you will find hundreds of different forms of martial arts training. Although some may be more popular than others, there is still a vast selection.

There are difficult styles that require a lot of physical or full-body contact. Then there are softer styles that lean towards blocking and deflecting to protects oneself without injuring the opponent.

This article has a great list of the top 10 most popular styles of martial arts many people are practicing today. 

Which one is right for you?

Different Martial Arts Styles Include:


Karate is one of the oldest and most popular martial arts styles practiced today. It is a form of self-defence that does not use weapons. This stand-up form of combating is established on hand-to-hand fighting techniques consisting of kicks, strikes, stances, and blocks.

In every martial arts school, the student must complete each level of training (belt advancements) to move on to the next level in hopes of eventually receiving the final belt- the black belt. To advance in each belt color, students need to prove they understand the basic techniques in each level of the art. 

What Are the Benefits of Karate?

There are many benefits to learning and continuing to learn Karate skills including:

  • Weight Loss
  • Strength
  • Positive self-confidence
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination
  • Self-defense
  • Discipline

Ranks in Karate:

  • White belt(beginner) 
  • Yellow belt
  • Orange belt
  • Green belt
  • Blue belt
  • Purple belt
  • Red belt
  • Brown belt
  • Black belt (Mastery) 


Aikido is considered a soft style of martial arts where you use self-defence techniques to defend yourself but not necessarily injure your opponent, most times trying to use their forces and energies against them. Aikido tries to apply non-disruptive, non-lethal moves to subdue an attacker, such as throws and blocks. 

The art of Aikido is not only about combat and self-defense. It is also about a spirit- bringing oneself harmony and harmony with the world around us. 

Benefits of Aikido

  • Increased strength
  • Improved posture
  • Teaches a sense of timing
  • Quicker reactions
  • Pain relief
  • Cardiovascular health
Aikido is considered a soft style

Ranks in Aikido

  • White Belt (Ungraded)
  • White Belt (Beginner)
  • Yellow Belt      
  • Orange Belt    
  • Green Belt      
  • Blue Belt        
  • Brown Belt     
  • Black Belt (Mastery)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a form of martial arts that is mainly a floor-based style of fighting. Rather than fighting your opponent with strikes, kicks, or a punch, you will be using less aggressive techniques including grappling holds, choke techniques, and joint manipulation.

Aside from BJJ being a great form of self-defense, it is also a great way to work the mind muscles. By training your brain to understand how to make faster, better moves before the opponent, you can learn how to counteract their attack with your own.

Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

  • Self Defence
  • Stress relief
  • Helps with Coordination
  • Promotes problem-solving
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Promotes endurance

Ranks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

  • White belt-(beginner)
  • Blue belt
  • Purple belt
  • Brown belt
  • Black belt
  • Red/Black belt (Coral)
  • Red/White belt (Coral)
  • Red belt (Mastery)


Judo has developed over the years from being a combat fighting style of martial art designed to defend and injure opponents into a more grappling style of fighting today. In Judo, you use your body strength and skills to grapple with and throw your opponent away from you by gripping onto their uniform.

In the art of Judo, you will learn how to counteract an attack or hold in a standing or floor position by picking up and throwing your opponent away from you. It may seem easier than other forms of martial arts, but it takes a lot of strength, practice, and discipline.

Benefits of Judo

  • Full-body workout
  • Cardio fitness
  • Builds endurance
  • Self-defense
  • Teaches Relaxation and meditation
  • Promotes Discipline
  • Teaches respect
  • Aids in self-confidence

Ranks in Judo

  • White belt (Beginner)
  • Yellow belt
  • Orange belt
  • Green belt
  • Blue belt
  • Purple belt
  • Brown belt (Mastery)

Krav Maga

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is an aggressive and more physical and dangerous form of martial arts. These martial arts classes are not designed to “spar” with other opponents. Nor are they designed to move up in ranks while you learn and grow. Instead, Krav Maga focuses solely on self-defence and combat avoidance if possible.

In Krav Maga, you will practice real-life scenarios that may or may not come up while you are in the real world. It teaches you how to defend yourself by any means possible. You will learn how to prevent yourself from getting injured from attacks, grabs, weapons, etc. It will help you with blocks, blows, kicks, a punch, and more.

Benefits of Krav Maga

  • Self-defense
  • Full-body workout
  • Promotes self-respect
  • Aids in confidence
  • Cardio health
  • Peace of Mind

Ranks in Krav Maga

  • None

Kung Fu

Chinese Kung Fu is a form of martial arts and exercise. Kung-Fu itself is a blanket name as there are hundreds of styles practiced all over the world. However, they are based on a slow, steady, and balanced technique. Moves are named primarily after animal names. 

Kung Fu is a mind, body, and soul form of self-defense training students to understand their body and the body of their opponent using skillful and slow movements to outsmart their opponent’s moves. In this martial art, you will learn to meditate and use that to help you focus the mind.

Benefits of Kung Fu 

  • Helps with blood circulation
  • Aids in self-discipline
  • Relieves stress
  • Focuses the mind
  • Improves balance
  • Improves coordination

Ranks in Kung Fu

  • White belt (beginner)
  • Yellow belt 
  • Yellow Black belt 
  • Green belt 
  • Green Black belt 
  • Purple belt 
  • Purple Black belt 
  • Orange belt 
  • Orange Black belt 
  • Blue belt 
  • Blue Black belt 
  • Brown belt 
  • Brown Black belt 
  • Red belt 
  • Red Black belt 
  • Black belt (mastery)

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a very aggressive combat style of fighting. Using strikes, kicks, punches, grappling, and ground fighting to defeat your opponent. MMA is often referred to as cage fighting or ultimate fighting and is a full-body stand-up style of fighting. 

Mixed Martial Arts has developed through combat-style fighting techniques gathered from multiple different types of other martial arts forms, compiling the most intense and effective self-defense and combat skills out there today.

Benefits of MMA

  • Teaches self-discipline
  • Promotes Social Skills
  • Excellent form of exercise
  • Builds strength and endurance
  • Promotes mental strength
  • Teaches confidence

Ranks in MMA

  • None

Muay Thai

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a stand-up martial art style of combat that uses strikes and clinching techniques to defeat their opponent. It is considered Thai boxing as it uses a lot of the same style of fighting as regular boxing. Known as the art of eight limbs, Muay Thai relies on using hands, wrists, shins, and feet to fight.

Although Muay Thai was developed as a form of combat on the battlefield years ago, it is now taught mainly as a sport using boxing gloves, a ring, and timed matches. 

Benefits of Muay Thai

  • Full-body workout
  • Teaches self-discipline
  • Increases cardiovascular health
  • Improves stamina
  • Boosts mobility and balance


Taekwondo is a Korean form of martial arts that uses the entire body to self-defend. This form of self-defence concentrates on punches and kicks, with emphases placed on high-kicking techniques and skills. 

Taekwondo is a systematic form of fighting that not only teaches a student how to fight and win. It also instructs a person how to use their body and mind as one. Every student who practices this art is expected to learn and live by the tenets of Taekwondo, Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and Indomitable Spirit.

Benefits of Taekwondo

  • Aids in building muscle
  • Improve strength and stamina.
  • Builds confidence
  • Improve self-esteem.
  • Increase flexibility.
  • Aids in concentration 
  • Improve self-discipline.

Ranks in Taekwondo

  • White belt- (Beginner)
  • Yellow Belt
  • Green belt 
  • Blue belt
  • Red belt
  • Black belt- (Mastery)

Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do is a Korean form of martial arts. This form of fighting can be seen as a Korean form of Karate where they use comparable techniques such as strikes, kicks, and blocks. This form of martial arts also includes wrist grabs like in jiu-jitsu.

When practicing tang soo do, you are not only learning a fighting style but also a belief system. It gives you a general understanding of history and respect for the people and practice. Tang Soo Do is a softer form of fighting, not focusing on injuring your opponent but defending yourself. 

Benefits of Tang Soo Do

  • Builds mental strength
  • Improves concentration
  • Promotes well being
  • Aids in focus
  • Promotes self-discipline

Ranks in Tang Soo Do

  • White belt- (Beginner)
  • Orange belt
  • Green belt
  • Brown belt
  • red belt
  • Dark blue belt
  • Black belt- (Mastery)


Although many people choose to learn martial arts for self-defence and fighting purposes, there are so many other wonderful benefits to mastering any one of these styles of fighting. Each of them may have a unique style and technique. However, they all promote whole-body well-being and a healthy state of mind.

Keep in mind, never go into any form of martial arts practice thinking you are starting right in with sparring and fighting without first learning the skills and techniques necessary to keep you and your opponent safe throughout the class. 

Self-defense is not only about subduing or injuring your attacker. It is also about learning the ways to avoid the attack and prevent injury. You will learn how to counter an attack, keeping yourself and others safe if a fight happens to occur.