Top 10 Martial Arts Styles in Japan

Martial arts have been practised in Japan for thousands of years. They were first practised by Japanese samurai, but in the modern world, they have taken on new significance for our culture. It does an excellent job of keeping the Bushido ideals that we should all aim for.

People from all around the world enjoy and practise martial arts in Japan. Our post goes into further detail about the well-known Japanese martial arts list. Whether you practise Japanese martial arts or not, you may learn more about the several styles of Japanese martial arts and one of the world’s most intriguing civilizations in this article.

In Japan, hand-to-hand combat is practised.

Weapons aren’t used in a lot of martial arts. Although firearms are occasionally used in training, the emphasis is on numerous philosophical tactics like as locks, kicks, punches, and throws to overcome opponents.

1. Jujutsu (Jujutsu)

Jujutsu is a Japanese martial art.

Jujutsu is an ancient Japanese martial art and way of fighting that use grips, throws, and paralysing punches to bring your opponent into submission. It is similar to Judo in that it uses little or no weapons. During the seventeenth century in Japan, it developed among the military classes.

When any battle may be a possibility for one side, Jujutsu was a required skill. JuJutsu focuses on using methods like punching, kicking, and kneeing to incapacitate your opponent and prevent them from injuring you.

It’s also centred on the word ‘gentle,’ which may allude to bending but has a more particular connotation here, alluding to softening. It happens both physically (by loosening up defences) and emotionally (by allowing oneself to be pushed to the limit) so that you’re less able to target precisely when it’s most required.


Judo is a Japanese martial art.

Jujutsu is the source of Judo. Professor Jigoro Kano came up with the term Judo, which means “soft or giving manner” in Japanese.

Judo was created by Kano as a method of incorporating spiritual principles into combat arts. His theory was that by practising this mild art, one might enhance one’s physical talents and methods while keeping a combat-ready attitude.

Judo was previously an uncommon sport in Japan, but it is now widely practised. It emphasises on complete throws and submissions that put your opponent on the ground while keeping you safe! Police agencies around the country have begun to include Judo into their training programmes because they recognise the value of these abilities in combating someone who appears to have an advantage over you at first appearance.

3. Karate

Karate is a Japanese martial art.

Karate is one of the most well-known and effective Japanese martial arts.

Karate was initially established in Okinawa during its early days as a Chinese trade colony, and it absorbed many styles and methods from Chinese kung fu, which has some parallels to Japanese kung fu as well. This particular design quickly spread throughout mainland Japan.

It was promoted under several names, including “kare-togiate” (empty hand). Karate is a slow-motion martial art focusing on combining quick movements mixed with short-range strikes or blocks to counter an opponent’s vulnerability. It literally means “the route of empty hands” in English.

Karate is a martial art that teaches individuals how to fight better. It has aided a number of celebrities, such VV Mei Yamaguchi and Hiroaki Suzuki-san, both of whom are well-known fighters.

4. Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art and self-defense method that was created in the early 1900s. The combat technique of Aikido combines twisting throws with pressure-like throwing assaults.

Rather of maiming or murdering the opponent, this strategy aims to subdue them and turn them against themselves. Many gestures, however, nonetheless allow one person to control another without causing physical harm.

The main goal of Aikido is to have a better level of control over one’s mind and body in order to master an opponent’s attack. It fosters civility among practitioners, with respect for your partner on the mat as well as opponents outside its borders, similar to other Japanese hand to hand combat sports.

A pupil of Ueshiba’s, Tomiki Kenji, developed a competitive style (known as Tomiki Aikido) that integrates numerous aikido techniques. Both competitors are armed with latex knives that can only cut when struck on cymbals, and one seeks to win points by quickly touching another with their knife, while the other tries not to get touched or disarm them.

5. Sumo wrestling

Sumo (Japanese Martial Arts)

Sumo is Japan’s national sport and a type of wrestling. Wrestlers who leave the ring first or touch anything other than their soles lose. The bouts take place on a clay ring that is bordered by sand and coated with clay. Contests normally last a few seconds, but they might go on for quite a while.

Sumo wrestlers are not limited by weight or class, therefore they may readily compete against opponents several times their own size. As a result, weight growth is crucial in sumo training.

Japanese Martial Arts with Weapons

Weapon-based martial arts were born during Japan’s samurai era. Today, a range of weaponry, as well as particular weapons, are commonly utilised in these activities, which are adapted to meet the training demands of pupils.


Kendo is a Japanese martial art.

Kendo is a martial art that emphasises the use of shinai, or bamboo swords. It was formerly utilised by samurai, thus the term “sword way.” Kendo is a fast-paced sport in which competitors wear protective gear and helmets to avoid harm while aiming for strikes against one guarded region (head/torso). Strikes against one guarded area (head/torso) result in points being scored.

Kendo is not only a physical activity, but also a cerebral one. When practitioners strike to exhibit their spiritual balance, they yell “kiai” to show that they are intellectually and physically balanced.

Because of the strictness and discipline of Kendo, each movement has its own set of regulations. There is a name for each phase. When confronted with an opponent, students’ etiquette and discipline abilities may be used to their daily life.


Naginata | Japanese Martial Arts

The term “naginata” is used to describe both martial arts and weapons. Matches are similar to Kendo, but the manner they are handled allows them to be held like a sword. A blade is linked to a long pole in naginata swords, allowing the warrior to strike at great range from awkward postures, such as when riding a horse.

Martial artists in Naginata work on increasing their response speeds and balance, as well as the principles of stance and Kiai. During the Edo era, numerous schools arose, and unique naginata methods evolved and altered.

In Nagata, students are ranked using the Kyu and Dan systems, and each school determines each student’s level individually.


Kyudo (Japanese Martial Arts)

Kyudo, or “bow method,” is a highly refined martial technique that needs patience and focus.

Archery has been practised in Japan since the 14th century, when it was employed for both military and spiritual training. Because shooting demands attention and superb hand-eye coordination while attempting not to injure or miss your target by mistake, the bow has become a vital aspect of Japanese culture. Chuo Dai Hohone, a traditional kyudo school, has been active since 1874.

Kyudo is a martial art whose attractive appearance comes from the bow used for practise. It differs from Western bows in that it allows persons of differing physical abilities to compete equally, and demonstrations are still held today. Students can advance in rank by taking dan level examinations, which are exceedingly detailed and include several rituals, but are famously tough since they can run up to eight hours.


Kobudo (Japanese Martial Arts)

Kobudo literally means “old way of combat” in Okinawan. When the Satsuma Samurai outlawed the use of firearms and martial arts during the Japanese conquest of Okinawa, it was created as a martial art.

The Okinawans practised in secret and armed themselves with common household items. It was customary for them to create weapons out of almost anything, including household goods and farm implements. The weapons and techniques of ancient Okinawan warriors have mostly been lost. Students learn to wield traditional Okinawan weaponry as part of the Kokusai Rengokai system.

10.Siljun Dobup

Siljun Dobup (Japanese Martial Arts)

This martial arts technique emphasises katana and breathing abilities, as well as flexibility, strength control, and stress management. It is a sword-based martial art that incorporates both Japanese and Korean influences. It is not a sparring method in the same way that Kendo is. The learner is taught how to draw, sheathe, and cut a katana, similar to Iaido.

Siljun Dobup is based on many Japanese sword forms such as Toyama-Ryu and Nakamura-Ryu, as well as Korean sword forms such as Chosun Sebup and Bonguk Geombup. It is distinct from several other types of Iaido. Siljun Dobup mostly begins in a neutral standing stance, thus the learner begins kneeling. This makes it easier for pupils of all ages to practise.

Siljun training starts with wooden “practise” swords (bokken) and progresses to blunted steel swords once the learner has shown competency in sword safety and fundamental moves. Students who have mastered the practise sword can acquire a chicken (a sharp steel sword) and practise cutting skills on tatami mats during the “tameshigiri” exercise.

Last Thoughts

Martial arts are currently employed as an instructional or self-defense technique in Japan, despite their original usage for combat. A practitioner aims to achieve a thorough grasp of the martial art they practise and to improve themselves in all aspects of their lives, including spirituality, mental growth, and physical development.

Because of this devotion to the improvement of mind and soul, martial arts have grown for ages and will continue to do so. Martial arts contests are still held in Japan, so go see one if you can!

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