For the purposes of this article, martial arts styles will be broken down into the following sections: striking or stand- up styles, grappling or ground fighting styles, throwing or takedown styles, weapons based styles, low impact or meditative styles, and the hybrid/ sports style of MMA.
Striking or Stand-Up Styles
The primarily striking or stand up martial arts styles teach practitioners how to defend themselves while on their feet by utilizing blocks, kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. The degree to which they teach each of these aspects depends on the specific style, substyle, and/ or instructor. Further, many of these stand up styles teach other aspects of fighting as well, even if that’s not their primary focus. Some striking styles include:
Grappling or Ground Fighting Styles
The grappling styles in martial arts focus on teaching pracitioners how to take opponents to the ground where they either achieve a dominant position or utilize a submission hold to end the fight. Some grappling styles include:
Throwing or Takedown Styles
Combat always starts from a standing position. The only sure way to get a fight to the ground is via the use of takedowns and throws, and that’s where these throwing styles come in. Please note that all of the grappling styles listed earlier also teach takedowns, and most of these throwing styles teach grappling. Thus, there is a significant amount of overlap. Still, the primary focus with these styles is takedowns. Some throwing styles include:
Weapons Based Styles
Many of the aforementioned styles utilize weapons within their systems. For example,Goju-ryu karate practitioners are taught to use the Bokken (wooden sword). Still, there are martial arts styles that concern themselves with weapons as a primary focus. Some weapons based styles include:
Low Impact or Meditative Styles
Those that practice the low impact styles of martial arts are more concerned with breathing techniques, fitness, and the spiritual side of things than combat, even if all of these styles were once used for combat. Some low impact styles include:
The truth is that most martial arts styles utilize techniques found in others. That said, in recent years, via the popularity of mixed martial arts tournaments, many schools are simply labeling the teaching and utilization of several martial arts styles together as mixed martial arts. Still, the term MMA generally refers to training to compete in a sports style of martial arts that allows for grappling, stand up fighting, takedowns/ throws, and submissions. Beyond the aforementioned, are also other hybrid styles, noted along with MMA below.