10 Martial Arts That Will Leave Your Head Spinning

Ever since Bruce Lee burst onto television and movie screens in the 20th century, martial arts entered the public consciousness and is here to stay. We all know about Kung-fu and Karate, but besides these popular few, there are in fact hundreds of martial arts variations, each with its own unique twist on concepts of striking and wrestling. Check out these 10 amazing martial arts — you can even practise many of them right here on home soil!

  1. Systema
HT: Systema Singapore

Unlike other martial arts, Systema, a martial art form originating in Russia, does not rely on techniques or the knowledge of biomechanics. Instead, it conditions the body and psyche to respond naturally to any disturbance such as an attack. Systema will crush any misconceptions you have about martial arts being fraught with age-old traditions of memorising fixed movements, patterns or forms, as practitioners are taught to be flexible and readily adapt to various situations.

Sound good to you? Systema has a school right here in Singapore! Find out more about Systema Singapore, and book a slot in their upcoming classes here.

2. Bokator

The term Bokator translates as “pounding a lion”. If that doesn’t give you an idea of how intense this Cambodian martial art is, perhaps this next piece of information will. Unlike the more common martial arts, there are absolutely no rules in Bokator. That’s right, anything goes. At the same time, Bokator is still a martial art steeped in culture and tradition. When fighting, Bokator exponents still wear the uniforms of ancient Khmer armies.

3. Kapap

HT: Kapap Asia

Employed by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli National Police and their special operations and anti-terrorist units, Kapap is a Hebrew acronym for face-to-face combat. Unlike traditional martial arts such as Taekwondo, Karate, or Muay Thai, Kapap is easy to learn, and takes only mere hours to become proficient in. This is because Kapap relies on intuitive, gross motor responses rather than complex and elaborate moves that do not work well in street situations. As such, it can be learned by almost anyone across a diverse range of ages and physiques.

Check out Kapap Academy Singapore, and learn to protect yourself no matter the scenario.

4. Krav Maga

HT: Combat Krav Maga International

Just like Kapap, Krav Maga is a self-defense and military hand-to-hand combat system that was developed in Israel. It came to prominence following its adoption by various Israeli Security Forces. Today, it is not just used by military and law enforcement personnel, but has also been adapted by civilians around the world as an effective form of non-brutal self defence.

Want to find out more? Check out Singapore Krav Maga Force by Maximum Wellness for an introduction to this awesome martial art.

5. Aikido

HT: Aikido Shinju Kai

Did you mistake this for judo? Aikido is in fact a Japanese modern form of martial art, translated as ‘The Way of Harmony with Ki’. Also known as ‘or ‘Moving Zen’, Aikido movements are characterised by by flowing, almost dancelike, circular motions to overcome and control the strength of the opponent. However, don’t overlook this martial art’s power. Aikido movements appear soft and smooth, but can be devastating once additional force is applied. Hence, it is a popular sport for people of all ages, including children, ladies and the elderly.

But don’t just hear about Aikido from us! Aikido Shinju Kai, a Singaporean dojo, has a team of 70 instructors, 100 assistants, with over 10,000 members including more than 2000 children.

6. Kendo

HT: Bestfon

Kendo is also a Japanese martial art. However, unlike Aikido, Kendo, or ‘The Way of the Sword’ focuses on swordsmanship and weaponry rather than hand-to-hand combat. With samurai origins, Kendo is today considered a discipline in which mind and body meets in challenge in a sport-like manner. Fortunately, contemporary Kendo utilises only wooden swords for training purposes. Phew!

7. Kali Majapahit

HT: Kali Majapahit

Here’s something a close to home! Kali Majapahit (KM) is a Southeast Asian martial art that was developed in 1998, with the first 2 schools located in Moorea and Tahiti. In 2006, the Founder of KM, Fred Evrard, took a trip around the world for further studying fighting arts and traditional medicines. The third KM school was opened in Singapore.

Due to the large number of influences other martial arts have had on Kali Majapahit, the curriculum of this art is extensive, with aspects of sword and knife training, Filipino boxing and even Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do incorporated into the art!

8. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


You can’t be faulted if you believed Jiu Jitsu to be a Japanese martial art. In fact, the roots of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (also known as BJJ) indicate that it is a modified form of traditional Japanese jujutsu and Judo. BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground, and then applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the opponent.

9. Dambe

HT: Jane Hahn for Slate

Far cry from the comfort of the air-conditioned boxing rings we know, Dambe is a West African martial art where competitors aim to knock down their opponent using kicks and punches. Here’s where it gets interesting: in a three-round Dambe match, fighters wrap their strong arm in rope, much like the way boxers protect their hands with gloves. Previously, although the practice has since been banned, the wrapped arm or ‘spear’ used to be dipped in resin and broken glass for that little extra oomph to the punch. Ouch.

10. Coreeda

HT: FightSports.GR

Moving halfway around the world, we arrive at Australia. Meet Coreeda, or Kangaroo boxing, a combination of traditional Aboriginal dance with a unique wrestling game inspired by the fighting style of — yes, you guessed it — Kangaroos. Unlike other martial arts, Coreeda is a team sport that combines a three-segment dance component with a four-round combat element. During combat, the attacker must force the defender outside the boundary of a sun circle pattern on the ground by means of pushing, throwing or rolling them all within a time limit of 20 seconds. In turn, the role of the defender is to restrain the attacker within the sun for longer than the 20-second time count.

“To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.”
Bruce Lee

Join the HERO community at www.thisishero.com
We have the latest sports content, groups, and games around you!