There are many forms of martial arts today, some formed from ancient practices and others brewed up in recent years. The common question that comes from this is: What is the best martial art? When presented with so many choices, individuals may find it hard – at least initially – to decide which one would fit their personality and preferences the best.
It may be hard to point out what is the best martial art, but here is a list of some of the most popular martial arts today.
Mixed Martial Arts
It’s a little known fact that the practice of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been in existence many centuries. The art was first seen during the ancient Olympics in Greece. In contemporary times, the sport was reborn during the 1900s and was commercially popularized in 1993 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was launched.
This style is often the answer given when people ask “What is the best martial art?”. MMA began as a fighting competition where fighters were able to use and switch between different styles and martial arts as they pleased. As time passed, more and more fighters incorporated the use of multiple fighting styles to create their own, personal style. The common styles used in MMA include, but are not limited to: wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, and Muay Thai. MMA is recommended for those who love unpredictability (as to what kind of fighting your opponent will exhibit) as well as flexibility (as in choosing whichever forms of fighting that you’d like).
Originating from Thailand, this martial art is often referred to as the “Art of the Eight Limbs” because it incorporates the use of all the fighter’s extremities and various points of striking when facing an opponent. As opposed to other martial arts which use a more limited fighting approach (i.e. two points – the use of fists alone; four points – the use of both hands and feet), Muay Thai allows the use of punches, elbows, kicks, and knees in striking. Muay Thai is the martial art recommended for individuals who prefer to have full faculty of their whole bodies.
Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art that denotes “contact combat”. Unlike most martial arts, this is more of a self-defense practice rather than a sport or competitive event. The basic principles followed in Krav Maga necessitate the fighter to eliminate or defeat the opponent as quickly as possible. In order to attain this goal, the fighter must target the more vulnerable and vital parts of the enemy’s body. A good sense and awareness of one’s environment at all times during a violent encounter is taught to help students use their surroundings as part of their strategy. There are little to no rules in Krav Maga, since the main aim is to prepare the individual for real-life situations when self-defense may be required. More than martial art, this is recommended for people who would like to equip themselves with a practical form of defending themselves (and possibly others) in daily life.
BJJ is a fighting style that is all three: a martial art, a form of self-defense, and a combat sport. The main principle promoted by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that the smaller (and possibly weaker) fighter can overcome and defeat the bigger (and stronger) opponent through the proper use of leverage and technique. The most popular techniques are joint-locking and choke-holding. This is a recommended fighting style for individuals who would like to participate in a sport or competitive event that also doubles in real life as a good self-defense technique, especially for people who lack body bulk, weight, or height.
Kung Fu is one of the oldest forms of martial arts. It originates from China, where it is also referred to as Wushu. The practice of Kung Fu did not only necessitate the physical practice of martial art. Rather, the philosophy of Kung Fu also required the individual to perfect and strengthen one’s mind, soul, and body. All of this was attained through long hours of constant practice and perfection of one’s skills. This is martial art for people who value the importance of perfection and mastery, as well as perseverance and the fruits of hard work put into action. Many martial arts enthusiasts and fighters possess this value to defend Kung Fu as the answer to “What is the best martial art?”
Systema is Russia’s contribution to the world of martial arts. This is a fighting style that focuses on the individual’s six body levers – the elbows, neck, waist, knees, shoulders, and ankles. With the use of exploiting pressure points, striking techniques, and weaponry, Systema forms a formidable combat system. The most common techniques include hand combat, knife fighting, grappling, and the use of firearms. Being a more complex form of martial art, this is recommended for senior artists and those with intense training and fighting experience.
So what is the best martial art? There is no definitive answer to this question, as each martial art that is on this list (and those which aren’t) have their pros and cons. It all comes down to how the individual’s own strengths and weaknesses as to which form will fit his preferences the best.