Types of Martial Arts

​At Master H C Kim’s World Class Tae Kwon Do Center we teach the martial art of Tae Kwon Do (or Taekwondo). Tae Kwon Do is characterized by its focus on kicking techniques; however, it also involves blocks, punches and open-handed strikes. For self-defense training there are different take-downs, throws and joint locks that students learn. Below is a list of other popular martial arts and their characteristics.

Martial Art         Country of Origin      Features









Krav Maga


Kung Fu



Muay Thai


Tai Chi


















Aikido uses the attacker’s movements against him. The practitioner follows the attacker’s motions flowing with his momentum and redirecting it with turning techniques. The practitioner is then able to follow up with various throws or joint locks using little physical strength.

Hapkido practitioners take control of their opponents by using non-resistant movements like footwork and body positioning to gain leverage. This martial art focuses on using circular motions and also involves weapons training. Although seemingly similar to Aikido, they differ greatly in philosophy, responses and techniques.

Judo is a relatively young martial art only being created in 1882. Practitioners of judo throw or takedown their opponents then use grappling moves to immobilize them. Strikes with the hands or feet show up only in Judo’s forms and are not permitted during matches.

Jujitsu is a martial art that practices defending oneself using a short weapon, or no weapons at all, against an armed opponent. This martial art also uses the opponents force against him and uses pins, joint locks and throws to neutralize both the opponent and his weapon.

Karate focuses on upper body strikes using the hands and elbows. This is the primary difference between Karate and Tae Kwon Do as Tae Kwon Do focuses on lower body strikes, primarily kicks. Karate also uses the lower body for kicking and knee strike techniques, but they are not as prevalent in the martial art.

Krav Maga is a hand-to-hand combat system used by the Israeli armed forces. It involves arm and leg striking techniques, wrestling and grappling and is known for its relatively brutal counterattacks. The goal of its practitioners is to neutralize the opponent, armed or unarmed, as quickly and efficiently as possible using any means necessary.

Kung Fu is not a single martial art, but rather means Chinese martial arts in general. There are many different styles, but there are some common themes. Some styles mimic movements of different animals while some are based on Chinese philosophies, religions or legends. Internal styles mainly focus on the harnessing of qi (energy) while external styles focus on developing muscle and cardiovascular fitness.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full contact sparring sport. The goal is to knock out the opponent using a strike or submit the opponent using different grappling chokes or holds. Those who participate in the sport train in multiple martial arts in order to be effective on the feet (striking) and on the ground (grappling/wrestling).

Muay Thai is a martial art that uses hands, feet, elbows and knees for striking techniques. Its practitioners focus on strikes and clinch techniques in order to submit an opponent.

Tai Chi is a Chinese internal martial art that many people have heard of, but the westernized version (tai chi chih) is different than the Chinese version (tai chi chuan) in that it does not include the martial art aspect. Some forms have become popularized due to their slow movements. It is practiced in China both for its self-defense training and health benefits.