a black belt wrapped around a folded gi, attire used in all of the most popular styles of martial arts

5 Most Popular Styles Of Martial Arts

There are many different styles of martial arts that focus on different goals and outcomes. For instance, some serve more practical purposes, while some are more popular when it comes to sport and entertainment. Some might include weaponry, while others are more focused on hand-to-hand techniques. Below are five of the most popular styles of martial arts and a little bit about what makes them so popular.


This Korean martial art draws from Karate, the Chinese martial arts, and Taekkyeon. It’s mostly a stand-up or striking martial art with some joint-lock maneuvers. TaeKwonDo places a heavy emphasis on spiritual development and creating harmony between mind and body. The International TaeKwondo Federation and World TaeKwonDo Federation have helped popularize this martial art on a global level. It was also introduced as a sport at the Olympic games in 2000.


Karate is a striking martial art with a heavy emphasis on self-defense and counter strikes. It’s known for kicks, punches, and maintaining a wide strong stance. Karate also focuses on creating a spiritual practice. The popularity of Karate in the US increased with Bruce Lee’s stardom in the 1960s. Chuck Norris later helped further that popularity with his action movies. After the Karate Kid was released in the early 1980s, there were many kids looking to learn the martial art.


Drawing its roots from Jiu Jitsu, this martial art focuses on takedowns, joint locks, and limited striking. One principle of Judo is a maximum and efficient use of energy and shows students how to use an enemy’s strength against them. The idea is that flexibility can overpower rigidity in an opponent, and evading attacks can keep an opponent off balance. Judo came to popularity when it became the first martial art to achieve medal status in the 1964 Olympic games.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a term that encapsulates many Chinese martial arts that have been developed over the centuries. The founding of Kung Fu is said to have taken place in a Buddhist monastery in 527 A.D. The goal was to improve the health, strength and vitality of the monks that lived there. Kung Fu is defined by flowing circular movements, which differentiate it from Karate. While it’s gotten some notoriety in the US, it hasn’t benefited from Hollywood the same way Karate did.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA is a practice of hybrid martial arts which blends all forms of combat, with an increase in popularity due to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Bruce Lee is often seen as the founder of the modern MMA style. Lee’s martial art of Jeet Kun Do combined Kung Fu, Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, Jiu Jitsu and more.

Enroll In Martial Arts Classes

The martial arts have permeated American culture and become a big part of who we are. If you’re looking to explore further, TM Martial Arts offers adult and children’s martial arts classes. Contact us today to find out more!