Most self-defense and competitive martial art styles practice owe a lot to different Japanese martial art styles. One of the main reasons Japanese martial art styles are very popular is the fact that most of them are highly formalized, which explains why most of these styles are a staple in most movies and local gymnasiums.

Here is a brief introduction to some of the most common Japanese martial art styles.


Aikido is a martial art style that is known to be peaceful in nature. What does this mean? This style is not combative and is anchored on holds and not strikes. Rather than being an attacker, the practitioners learn how to execute different holds, which essentially means fighting without seriously harming your opponent.


The Iaido is a widely practiced form of Japanese martial art which is often showcased in action movies. Developed by a renowned martial artist, Hayashizaki Jinsuke, this style of martial art is mostly used when countering surprise attacks with beautifully executed sword movements. Because of the huge risk of injury, Iaido martial art is demonstrated in solo performances.


Judo, translated as “gentle way,” is a traditional type of martial art that involves grounding the opponent. Players are expected to pin the opponent with a hold until he or she submits. This form of martial art is widely practiced and this is evidenced by the fact that it has been an Olympic event ever since the 1960s.


Karate is a combative form of martial art. It is largely believed to be inspired by Chinese fighting styles. This style of fighting is very popular and considered one of the most practiced forms of martial art known today. Shortlisted by the Olympic committee in 2015, this sport is expected to feature in the Olympic Games in 2020 thanks to its ever-increasing popularity.