There are many types and styles of martial arts that are practiced throughout the world today. Some of the more well-known types of martial arts include tae kwon-do, karate, and kung fu, and are practiced by adults, teenagers and kids. Here is a list of definitions for different types of martial arts that will help you learn the differences for each one.

If you’re interested in learning more about martial arts and tae kwon-do and live in the Buffalo, NY or surrounding WNY areas, you can try our classes for free for one month. 


Aikido is a Japanese martial art that utilizes throwing, joint-locking, striking and pinning techniques, coupled with weapon training. It was founded by Morihei Ueshiba early in the twentieth century and is described as an intense physical and spiritual training to perfect human character and develop true wisdom.


Hapkido is known as the “anti-martial art” and is a Korean martial art similar to Aikido that uses joint locks and throws, but adds strong kicking techniques. It is often included in many tae kwon-do schools, focusing on deflecting an opponent’s attacks instead of forceful blocking. For this reason, Hapkido is popular among law enforcement agents and private security professionals throughout the world.


Judo is a Japanese martial art that is mainly throws and takedowns. It is very similar to modern wrestling. Joint locks and chokes are also used for submission.

Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is sometimes known as the “gentle art” and was designed to defend against armored opponents in early Japan. It uses joint locks, pinning, throws and takedown to subdue it opponents.


Karate, which translates to “open hand”, is considered a “hard” style of martial art from Japan. It uses strong punching, kicking and takedowns to attack and defend against opponents.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is an Israeli form of self-defense. It uses strikes, throws and joint locks as its main repertoire.


Kung-Fu is a Chinese martial art and considered a “soft” art. It uses circular movements to deflect attacks and has less emphasis on kicking and punching. Some use kung fu as a form of physical exercise, while others concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai originated in Thailand. It employs strong kicking and punching but also emphasizes the use of elbows and knees. It is sometimes known as kickboxing.

Tai Chi (Tai Chi Chuan)

Tai Chi is the softest of the martial arts. Once a true form of self-defense using deflection and locking techniques, it has become a favorite form of exercise for young and old alike to improve overall physical health. Tai Chi is not often thought of as a martial art, but rather a therapeutic activity that incorporates movement and breathing.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

MMA is a sport that combines different martial arts for competitive purposes.

Kenpo (also Kempo)

Kenpo is a Japanese art with strong roots in Chinese arts. It employs many of the same techniques as other martial arts but was made most popular by American Ed Parker. Kenpo has many variations within its practitioners.


Kickboxing was most popular during the 70’s and 80’s as a sport. Characterized by good boxing skills with kicking added to intensify the sport, kickboxing is practiced for general fitness, contact sport and self-defense in today’s world.

Tae Kwon-Do

Tae kwon-do hails from Korea and is the most practiced martial art in the world. Tae kwon-do literally translates to “foot-fist-way”. It was formalized in the 50’s and recognized as having the strongest kicking and punching techniques, coupled with takedowns, joint locks and strong hand to hand applications.





Fill out the form below to start your free 30 day trial of classes at our school. A member of our team will follow up with you within one business day to discuss next steps and answer any questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you in class!



Your browser is out of date. It has security vulnerabilities and may not display all features on this site and other sites.

Please update your browser using one of modern browsers (Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, IE 10).

WordPress Video Lightbox