Best Martial Arts For Striking (Explained)

It can be difficult to find the right martial arts for you. There are so many different styles, and even seasoned martial arts practitioners can learn something new from every new teacher, school, and class they take. So which martial arts are right for you? The best and most effective striking martial arts across the globe are Boxing, Aikido, Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Kung Fu and Krav Maga. This article will rank the best martial arts for striking across the globe, explain why they are the best, and offer the pros and cons of each style.

What is striking martial arts?

Striking Martial Arts are any combat sport or fighting art where a practitioner attempts to strike another person with their hands, arms, feet, knees or elbows. Some striking arts also include weapons such as sticks, maces, cudgels (bō), war clubs, swords, daggers, spears etc. They may require one partner (fighter) to strike another (opponent). These martial arts are often employed on an empty hand basis but not always. If used against a weapon, it must follow the rules of engagement for grappling.

These Are The Best Striking Martial Arts

1) Boxing

Boxing is one of the most popular striking martial arts today, with over 200 million people practicing it worldwide. First of all, it is a sport and an art form, with its roots going back thousands of years. It has been around since at least 1500 BC when Greece was known as the cradle of boxers because of this ancient tradition. While boxing is not considered a traditional combat martial art by some, it still provides many benefits if practiced correctly. As far as strikes go, there are 4 main categories – head, body, roundhouse kick, and hook punch.

The Pros of Boxing

• One of the easiest styles for beginners to practice.

• Easy to learn, especially for kids.

• Has long history and tradition behind it.

• Great general skills/techniques for self-defense purposes.

• The science behind it is very well understood and has many proven health benefits if done properly.

The Cons of Boxing

• Doesn’t allow much room for variation or creativity, making it less interesting than other more creative forms of striking.

• More likely to induce injuries due to the strike being thrown towards the face.

2) Aikido

Aikido is the only Japanese martial art known to focus on non-aggressive techniques. Its primary goal is to develop a sense of understanding and empathy with your opponent. It emphasizes harmony between oneself and others through proper posture, balance, and movement and develops this knowledge through experience. Like other striking forms, it focuses on the ability to move in concert with an attacker, which opens up the possibility to counterattack in real-life situations. However, based on principles of “non-violence”, aikido is a system of internal strength training.

Using leverage and pressure points to control an opponent’s movements trains students to respond quickly and efficiently while under attack. While it does not teach how to fight, it seeks to develop the physical, mental, and spiritual qualities necessary to defend yourself and react to violent situations in the most appropriate way. Unlike other more traditional martial arts, Aikido does not aim to win fights quickly.

Instead, it aims to make your opponent submit so that you won’t end up hurting anyone. Aikido has seen great success in many sports, including professional wrestling and American football, with a great focus on technique and movement. Despite being a very technical martial art, it can be easily learned by any person willing to put in some time. Some studies have shown that regular practitioners see reduced rates of heart disease, depression, stress, and anxiety. In addition, the sport gives you many options for training outside the dojo.

The Pros of Aikido

• Provides a safe environment for learning how to deal with conflict.

• Teaches good habits of personal discipline and responsibility.

• Excellent for developing a strong understanding of physics and how to apply it in everyday life.

• Very effective against multiple attackers.

• Allows for multiple simultaneous attacks from different angles.

• Good for teaching about timing.

The Cons of Aikido

•The method of practice requires commitment and dedication. You must dedicate both time and energy to the art. It will take several months to master the basics.

• Takes a long time to respond to violent encounters effectively.

3) Karate

Karate began as a fighting form within a religious group called Shotokan. This was developed into what we know today as modern karate. In this religion, they believed that all things could be mastered and thus the name of the style; Shito Ryu. In Japan, karate has become one of the most popular ways to improve overall fitness and offer excellent conditioning for use in martial arts.

It teaches the same concepts found in boxing, such as blocking, punching, kicking, and throwing kicks & punches. However, unlike boxing, its emphasis is on speed and agility. It is often used as a sport for young people looking for an active form of exercise. It also provides excellent self-defense skills since it combines kickboxing and judo elements. Karate offers a wide variety of classes taught at different levels, from beginners to advanced. Many schools offer lessons in unarmed combat and weapons such as swords, sticks, knives, chains, etc.

A key element of karate is the sparring session or Kumite. These sessions consist of controlled matches with no contact except for blocking moves and strikes. The objective is to test one’s skill and endurance while improving reaction times and hand/foot coordination.

Unlike other styles, karate teaches the concept of “no pain, no gain.” It is common to hear people say, “You should never feel pain doing anything. If you do, then you haven’t done enough.” This philosophy is derived from the belief that if someone gets hurt during these tests, it means he hasn’t worked hard enough. So instead of getting discouraged or quitting when you get hit, it is important to keep hitting back.

The idea behind this approach is that it helps you build confidence and improves your level of self-trust. Because of this, many competitions exist where competitors must compete without holding back. During these events, rules may require competitors to touch each other as little as possible to maintain the illusion of complete freedom.

The Pros of Karate

• An excellent self-defense system.

• Teaches balance, concentration, footwork, stamina, accuracy, and speed.

• Improves coordination through repetition.

• Provides great cardio fitness.

The Cons of Karate

• The training demands high energy and focus. It can get exhausting, especially when learning more complex skills such as throwing techniques and block combinations.

• Not everyone will be able to master any technique in just a few months because it requires years of dedicated practice. There is always something new to learn.

4) Muay Thai

Muay Thai is another ancient art that has been around for thousands of years but was introduced to us by the early Egyptians and Greeks. As with Okinawan karate, there were strict monks involved in teaching its principles who did not want anyone to learn the secrets of their art. Today, almost every martial artist knows at least some of what is going on inside this kickboxing method.

What sets it apart from others is the total immersion and dedication required to achieve mastery of this style. Each workout includes various aspects of striking, including boxing, clinching, leg kicks, kneeing, knees, elbows, mule kicks, knee sweeps, throws, takedowns, ground fighting & submissions, clinch work, counterattacks, armlocks, headlocks, chokeholds, and body lock controls.

All students take so long to reach proficiency because the Muay Thai techniques are incredibly effective in real life. Another factor is that those who try to learn Muay Thai using books alone usually fail because they lack experience and the proper instruction.

The Pros of Muay Thai

• A very physical, full-contact sport based on striking the opponent without much rule enforcement making it suitable for beginners and professionals alike.

• A good way to develop hand/eye coordination, flexibility, core strength, endurance, speed, power, aggressiveness, and most importantly, confidence.

• Has an aggressive nature which makes it fun to train.

• Allows practitioners to work on all parts of their bodies simultaneously, improving muscle tone and coordination.

The Cons of Muay Thai

• Requires a lot of conditioning since it involves running, kicking, punching, and clinching.

• Since it isn’t regulated like other forms of competition, injuries due to sparring accidents are common.

5) Taekwondo

Taekwondo is an amazing sport that combines the best of kickboxing and wrestling into one exciting fighting system. Its roots go back hundreds of years to Korea, where it became so popular that people would travel great distances to compete against each other via taekwondo tournaments during feudal times.

Today, you’ll find no end of styles within the art. Some people still prefer the original techniques while others embrace new ideas from the Korean culture, such as arts such as Hapkido or Gung Fu. Regardless of your interest, one thing remains constant – a firm belief that taekwondo should allow its practitioners to improve their fitness, agility, balance and movement.

When it comes to the basics, it’s fairly easy to grasp how taekwondo works. Taekwondo is a combat sport that relies on three main elements: kicking, throwing, and grappling. While these actions are used throughout the entire practice session, emphasis is given to developing certain skills over others. The goal is to become proficient in these basic components and use them simultaneously with different variations.

You often see people trying to be better fighters than athletes when they practice taekwondo. They’ve become interested in developing their defensive abilities only to neglect their offensive abilities. They may get frustrated and begin training just for pleasure instead of practicing correctly.

To truly progress and become a confident fighter, one must first master the ability to move efficiently and effectively within a specific range. This means gaining a strong foundation in the fundamentals – namely kicking and throwing – so that one can build upon them. Then, you need to become comfortable with grappling and moving away from the centerline. Finally, one needs to learn how to utilize both hands at once.

By mastering these concepts, even if you’re not competing in any competitions, you will always remain safe while providing more opportunities to strike, throw, defend, and escape. In short, it gives you options to keep you alive!

The Pros of Taekwondo

• It requires mental focus as well as physical conditioning. It helps develop reflexes, strength, speed, stamina and flexibility.

• Its self-defence aspects are excellent because it allows you to use almost all body parts as weapons.

• It provides you with the opportunity to work out various muscle groups.

• It develops your sense of awareness by requiring you to observe the opponent and react properly.

• It trains you to think quickly and respond appropriately.

• Once mastered, it teaches you patience by allowing you to wait until your time has come before attacking.

• As a martial art, it promotes respect for others.

The Cons of Taekwondo

• Like most sports, it’s hard to stay motivated in practice. After two weeks of consistent practice, you might find that you feel like you haven’t made much headway. But don’t despair because there are many ways to make learning taekwondo fun and challenging. Remember, the longer you put in consistent effort, the greater the reward.

• Many schools require students to wear protective equipment (i.e. mouth guard). If this bothers you, check out some local schools or ask the instructors about alternatives.

• There are limited choices outside of school activities.

6) Kickboxing

Try this high-intensity martial art if you want to make sure your body gets a solid workout. Like boxing, kickboxing has been around for a long time. It was introduced to European gyms by Chinese immigrants trained in the graceful art of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Once practiced as a self-defense technique, kickboxing eventually evolved into a real sport. Nowadays, there are several varieties based on traditional and modern karate.

No matter what style you choose, kickboxing offers many advantages, including but not limited to being very accessible, requiring little equipment, and allowing anyone of any age to participate.

One major advantage of this type of exercise is that you don’t have to worry about hurting someone else because you aren’t allowed to hit another person. Instead, you focus on striking a target dummy moving in different directions. This makes it impossible for you to land punches and kicks accidentally.

Plus, since you have a lot of control over which parts of the body you’re hitting, you can take away those annoying “strikes” by focusing on areas that cause pain. As a result, kickboxing provides a fantastic strength and conditioning program. You’ll be able to work out every muscle group without worrying about damaging anything.

The Pros of Kickboxing

• Anyone can do it. Of course, if you’re older than 14 years old, you may need to work with an adult instructor. However, even if you’re younger, it will still be easy to learn the basic movements and techniques.

• Since you’re only using your feet, your hands also get plenty of attention while you continue working out.

• In addition to improving your overall fitness level, kickboxing also improves coordination, quickness, agility and balance.

• Even though it doesn’t protect you from injury, it gives you options when practicing on your own at home.

• While doing it alone won’t help prepare you fully for life-threatening situations, you’ll improve your ability to defend yourself. After all, nobody wants to get kicked right in the face!

The Cons of Kick Boxing

• Though its popularity has grown in recent years, kickboxing isn’t mainstream yet. Because of this, finding suitable instruction locations can sometimes be difficult.

• When compared to other types of martial arts, kickboxing isn’t very durable. Most instructors recommend wearing protective gear similar to that used during standard sparring sessions.

• The footwork is complex, so this could be a challenge for beginning students.

7) Kung Fu

Kung Fu is one of the oldest styles of martial arts. Its history traces back to ancient China, which became popular among soldiers and warriors. Today, it serves as a form of self-defense and a means of personal development. Kung Fu has become extremely popular today due to the simplicity of learning it. Practitioners typically start by learning stances (the postures that define the position of their bodies), then move on to strikes (moves that use force or pressure). Finally, they finish their training regimen by learning forms (the patterns that practitioners follow when performing certain exercises).

Many people believe that kung fu is less effective than other martial arts styles. They say that the training regimens tend to be too long and complicated. While these criticisms are partially true, there’s more to it than that. First, many beginners who try kung fu quit after just a few months. If you want to master the basics of kung fu quickly, it’s best to choose something like Wing Chun instead. Second, most people who complete their training regimen never use kung fu for real attacks.

Instead, they practice the skills needed to perform specific tasks such as self-defense or recreational activities. As a result, kung fu is perfect for anyone who wants to develop their confidence but finds themselves overwhelmed by how much knowledge they need to acquire.

The Pros of Kung Fu

• It teaches you a great deal about basic body alignment. This makes it ideal for self-defense because you need to know the correct posture before putting an opponent into a vulnerable situation. In addition, it helps build flexibility, which is important if you plan on fighting someone bigger or stronger than you.

• Since it focuses heavily on kicks and punches, it’s easy to learn. A significant portion of lessons involves moving through various stances and attacking opponents. This results in quick and efficient physical growth at the expense of endurance. However, you don’t need to experience martial arts to receive adequate instruction. You also aren’t required to participate in traditional drills or exercises.

The Cons of Kung Fu

• Some people have trouble mastering the stances and movements within a class. They may feel intimidated when participating in group classes because they don’t understand what everyone else is doing.

• Many traditional schools require extensive travel. You’ll need to invest hours upon hours commuting each week to learn kung fu techniques. And if you live far away from the nearest school, you might not even have access to them!

8) Krav Maga

If you’re looking for something more realistic, you should consider learning Krav Maga. This dynamic system incorporates both grappling and striking into one comprehensive method. Not surprisingly, most forms of MMA (involving mixed martial arts) incorporate some aspects of Krav Maga.

Krav Maga starts by teaching you how to use hand strikes and elbows to keep opponents restrained. Next, they teach you to escape certain holds, such as joint locks, chokes, or bear hugs. Finally, you learn to use weapons like sticks and knives. By combining these skills, you become capable of defending against multiple attackers. Overall, this means you’re ready to handle almost any situation where you might need to fend off multiple aggressors.

As a bonus, the training methods employed by this form of combat are designed to make you better prepared to protect yourself once the time comes to fight back.

The Pros of Krav Maga

• It’s not hard to master.

• It’s highly effective.

• You can start enjoying this style immediately after completing the basic classes.

• It teaches you how to utilize weapons best.

• It prepares you to react quickly in stressful circumstances.

The Cons of Krav Maga

• There are many places around the country where you can train.

• There aren’t too many styles available.


These are the best martial arts for striking that you can choose from. If you’ve already learned another style but want something new, you’ll probably fit in. They all offer excellent benefits, and none of them presents the usual drawbacks associated with other martial arts programs.

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