Wang Chun. Muay Thai. Jiu-Jitsu. It sounds like I’m ordering a feast from the local MSG-laden Asian fusion restaurant down the street. With all the unfamiliar sounds and words, is it any wonder Aikido sounds like something served over rice? 

Where do you even begin to understand the difference between the various martial arts? How do you choose what’s best for you? Not all of us can be an 8th degree Black Belt Grand Master and the creator of our own martial arts style, but we can find one that fits our needs. Here are five martial arts you should consider trying.


This Japanese martial art excels in muscle memory, strikes, and kicks. While the physical aspects of karate are rife with power and control, this martial art also focuses on discipline and persistence. In karate, each student is driven not to compare themselves to others’ progress, but to strive for their personal best—excellent mental and physical training for our lives.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Focusing on takedowns, ground control, and submissions, BJJ is the smaller fighter’s dream. The entire system was designed to control and subdue stronger, larger fighters by utilizing proper weight distribution and leverage. This sport is the perfect combination of practical use and goal-attainment for those that thrive on friendly competition.

Krav Maga

The Israeli art is more of a self-defense method than a traditional martial art. Originally designed to help people of any age, gender, and ability to survive a street fight, Krav Maga specializes in simultaneous attack and defense. It is frequently customized to students’ needs—from military forces to wheelchair-bound citizens—and helps build self-confidence and strength.


Two words: Chuck Norris. A total mind-body synchronization, this Korean martial art converges at the apex of speed, agility, and the coordination of your hands and feet. Not only do you train your muscles to react at the drop of a dime, you train your mind to stay calm and coordinate your movements with little effort. 


Another Japanese martial art, Aikido takes both the defender and attacker’s wellbeing into consideration. The aim of this practice is to find a peaceful resolution through redirecting an attacker’s energy and using it against them with very little effort from you. Don’t let the videos fool you—as easy as it looks, it takes time to master the techniques, but it’s more than worth the practice.

In the end, each martial art and self-defense system has its advantages and drawbacks. All of them can be adapted to the situation, though many focus on particular obstacles to overcome (size, strength, disability, etc.). If you’re still not sure, search for local dojos and facilities that offer free trial classes and give them a whirl. I guarantee, one will stand out above the rest.