Boxing is one of the most well-known martial arts in the world because of its popularity as a sport. It is believed that boxing began in 688 BC at the Olympic Games in Greece, as records show people punching each other at that time. Boxing was also popular in Rome during the same time period, with combatants wearing primitive forms of gloves and contents often ending in death. The sport decreased in popularity after the fall of Rome until the 1700s, as it became significant in England. This popularity continued and new rules were introduced to make it into more of a sport. For example, the hitting of a downed opponent was banned, as were low blows. Eventually, the Marquess of Queensberry rules were introduced that outlined the ring, the use of gloves, and many other rules that are still used today.
Full Contact Kick boxing developed from Thai-Boxing and other Martial Arts influences, the first bouts being seen in the early 1970's. These days however it seems to be lighter contact, with a large emphasis placed on light fast strikes scoring points.
Muay Thai originated in Thailand sometime between 1238 and 1377, as it was prevalent during the Sukothai Era. There are a few different aspects to Muay Thai, including kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. A clinch is also used by many practitioners as a way to expose an opponent to these strikes. Gloves are used by fighters and a good kick boxer can evade different strikes in an efficient manner. This is a relatively new sport, as it was previously used for self-defense purposes, but it has become very popular in a short period of time in various places all over the world.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
One of the more popular grappling arts in the world is called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is mainly based on ground fighting, although it does incorporate takedowns. Submissions are the main weapon used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as practitioners can either choke an opponent out or manipulate, or break, joints using pressure. This is a very effective form of self-defense because experts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are very comfortable on their backs, making it possible for them to defend themselves in a variety of different situations. The guard position is particularly effective, as it is used when trying to prevent an attacker from doing any damage to you.
Wrestling is often recognized as the first martial art, as its origins go back as far as human beings have existed, as cave paintings depicting the sports are as much as 15,000 years old. More modern versions of the sport have been around since around 1100 AD, which was when it began to appear in Europe. Wrestling generally involves takedowns and ground fighting, although various forms exist. Separate martial arts like Judo and Sambo are based on wrestling, as they involve throws and takedowns as well. Catch wrestling is a subsection of the sport that involves submission holds and was popular in the early days of mixed martial arts. Wrestling is also a sport in the modern Olympic Games, with Greco-Roman and freestyle forms being used. The sport remains very popular all over the world and American colleges and high schools frequently have wrestling teams compete against one another. It should be noted that despite the similar name, professional wrestling has very few similarities to amateur wrestling, as amateur wrestling is a legitimate sport.
Japanese Sport - Developed by Jigoro Kano from Ju-Jitsu, infact it was originally known as Kano Ju-Jitsu. These days it's all about competition, it's translated as the Gentle Way, though quite often the gentle side seems to be forgotten and there is a lot of strength used. A sport focussed on taking your attacker to the ground with throws or trips then rolling around trying to immobilise your opponent with locks or pins. Good for Fitness, can be good for flexibility.
A Russian Martial Art, that has split into 3 different areas, it has a pure sport side, that whilst it has been demonstrated at the Olympic Games, has not been recognised by them. A lot of similarities to Judo. It also has a practical self-defence side as well, looking at defensive techniques, lastly it has combat Sambo utilising tecniques from both of the above as well as its own, and applying its own nasty twists.
Sport, Pretty much everywhere - Full Contact Kick boxing developed from Thai-Boxing and other Martial Arts influences, the first bouts being seen in the early 1970's. These days however it seems to be lighter contact, and a big emphasis placed on light fast strikes scoring points.
Karate is an ancient martial art that involves utilizing open hand strikes, punches, elbows, kicks, and knees to gain an advantage over an opponent. Practitioners are also taught to block incoming strikes and execute proper breathing techniques in order to remain successful. In addition to striking, some forms of karate include throws and submission holds. This gives practitioners the ability to defend themselves in any position, which is the end goal of the martial art.
It's my favourite as you might expect, its a Japanese Martial Art, around for a long long time, hard to trace exact origins, but can be traced back to Samurai and long before. Includes everything, pretty much, punching, biting kicking, knees, eye gouge, pressure points, whatever it takes to win a fight. Striking is not something that Ju-Jitsu covers as much as some other arts, due in part to the history, this was a battlefield art, to be used when the weapons had been lost, however seeing as your opponent would usually be wearing armour,hitting them was not the best option, but throws, locks chokes, strangles all play a part. To what level or degree you are taught some of these will be determined a lot by the school that you go to. Over the last few years, and by that I mean ten to twenty there has been a growing resurgence in Ju-Jitsu, but largely focused on the sporting side, due to the huge success of people like the Gracies, but then there are those of us that like to cover all of the other bits as well, the stuff that a sports rules usually stop you learning. Essentially, if you want a good all round Martial Art, one that is highly practical, then this is a good one.
Again a Japanese art. In general terms, quite a modern art founded by O-Sensei Morihei Oeshiba,this is an art derived essentially from Ju-Jitsu, focussing more on dis-engagement safely though, utilises the circular motions heavily, very good at using an attackers force against them. There are a lot of "soft" schools out there, the "flowery" kind, while they have their place, they represent a different thing to the original thing, If you have ever been thrown by someone who really knows what they are doing in Aikido, then it's not soft and it works. I used to think that people just jumped and went with the throws, like Kotegai ish, and to an extent they do, but that's because if they don't go with it a bit, they lose their wrist. A good flowing art, hard on the joints, especially wrists and knees, very traditional.
A Japanese art, usually slow and controlled, covers drawing the sword from the scabbard, striking or cutting the opponent, removing blood from the blade and replacing the blade in the scabbard. A lot of ceremony, I've had it described to me as a control freaks art, I hasten to add this was said by a 2nd Dan in Iaido!
A Chinese art, that has many many forms or styles, used a lot in Films, can be very flashy, but can also be effective if done right. It has become very popular over the past decade or so, thanks to films with Jet Li, Jackie Chan and then big tours by the Shaolin Monks were people have been amazed by the things they do. Good for fitness, flexibility, if done very very well, then it can be good self-defence.
A Chinese Martial art, legend has it that it was created by Yim Wing Chun, and it is excellent as a close quarter combat martial art. Good at close quarters self-defence. Good at the trapping distance where a lot of arts are let down.
An Indonesian collection of Martial Arts, when seen or tried, then some of the movements can seem very similar to some forms of Kung Fu.
A Filipino Art, focussing on stick and sometimes swords. Most modern Escrima you see tends to focus around the stick work, very fast and impressive when done right. Good for the focus.
An Isreali art, focusing on close quarter work, looking at neutralizing any threat as fast and hard as possible and getting out of there, used by Isreali special forces, uses anything and everything to win whatever the cost. Nasty, but effective a good principal pushed here is whatever you do you keep moving forward, once you've started to attack you keep going, and I was surprised how many people struggle with this concept.
A Chinese art, although these days it tends to focus on the healing, gentle non-impact style, it is worth remembering that it is still a Martial Art, and as such it's moves if taught and applied correctly, are still there to actually cause damage. Though more and more this side seems to be becoming diluted and potentially lost. At least in the West. Good for those less mobile, looking at the discipline and health benefits.
Jeet Kune Do
Bruce Lee's art. Say no more! Actually, I will, based on Wing Chun,Kung Fu, it was then developed to incorporate other areas, to attempt to make a "complete" art. So takes the "Trapping distance" that Wing Chun covers better than most others, for example, and develops it and adds extras from other areas. Pretty much the most modern art I'll have listed here, by a long way. A good all around art.
Korean Martial Art. Again worth noting that proper Taekwondo is not what you see in the sports, like the Olympics, I watched a couple of bouts and turned over the TV! Proper Taekwondo is still a martial arts, most clubs you will find today will be focussed on the sport side. Light, fast, and high kicks, as already stated, usually focussed on competitions, around forms or point scoring sparring. Good for fitness and flexibility.