There was likely a time in our childhoods when we would stare in awe at anyone who was able to bust some incredible martial arts moves. To the eye of an outsider, it almost looks as if all of them are pretty much the same thing, doesn’t it? Well, obviously enough, that’s not true. There are numerous types of martial arts, all of them with their own quirks and particularities. In fact, there is enough personality to every sway, hit, and blow that they can often make for fantastic reflections for a character’s personality.
Many types of martial arts have been featured in media over the time, but there are some of them that just stood out and have been associated with some iconic characters. Here are a few examples.
Associated Characters: Hayate (Dead or Alive), Heihachi Mishima (Tekken), Hitomi (Dead or Alive), Johnny Cage (Mortal Kombat), Kesuke Miyagi (Karate Kid).
A highly popular fighting style originating from the island of Okinawa, Karate is quite possibly among the most widely known types of martial arts. Translated, the name means “empty handed” which accurately describes its formula that invokes lack of weapons in favor of sharp blows and hits.
Early forms of the style are believed to have existed as early as the 1300’s, though it was hardly the kind of activity people at the time were eager to engage in because of its poor defensive techniques. Fortunately, these issues were solved at the start of the 1900’s by the founding father of modern karate, Anko Itotsu.
#2 Kung Fu
Associated Characters: Zuko (The Last Airbender), Iron Fist (Marvel), Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chun-Li (Street Fighter), Raiden (Mortal Kombat), the whole cast of Kung Fu Panda basically.
Kung Fu is one of the oldest types of martial arts in the world, having its roots in China curtsy of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi who introduced this style during his reign. Above being a really spectacular looking fighting style, Kung Fu is mostly known for its health properties and the strong accent it places on its ability to enhance meditation and spiritual balance.
The last two concepts have been in develop for thousands of years before they took a final shape, using the idea of Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who took the style and polished it as a means for his students to learn better concentration. Kung Fu is extremely popular these days especially because of the way it has been represented in media.
#3 Tae Kwon Do
Associated Characters: Desmond Miles (Assassin’s Creed), Morpheus (Matrix), Sonya Blade (Mortal Kombat), Nick Fury (Marvel), Dick Grayson (DC), Nightcrawler (Marvel).
Tae Kwon Do is a martial arts type that started growing and developing after the end of World War II, which also took Nippon occupation away along with it. It became popular among Koreans rather quickly for its quirky particularity – the fact that it places great accent on the importance of strong kicks and leg usage.
The name translates to “the way of hand and foot” and the best way to represent this is to think of all those people who manage to swiftly break bricks in two with just one punch or just one kick. It’s regarded as the most popular of types of martial arts and it’s even become an Olympic sport.
#4 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Associated Characters: No one memorable. Seriously, someone needs to change this. Imagine how awesome a superhero that practices jiu-jitsu would be!
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was heavily inspired by Japanese Judo in the sense that it relies a lot on fighting on the ground, clinging, and grappling others. It’s a pretty useful style to learn for self defense because it puts those who practice it in some awkward situations and teaches them how to make their way out of them.
The practice was carried over to Brazil by Japanese Jiu-Jitsu master Mitsuyo Meda, who passed the knowledge of the arts to Carlos Gracie who, in turn, started giving it its own unique twist and spreading it across the land. The Gracie family is considered to be the founding family of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Associated Characters: Akuma (Street Fighter), Smoke (Mortal Kombat), Paul Phoenix (Tekken), and a ton of Marvel and DC characters.
Speaking of the grandmother of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu… Judo was the invention of Japanese educator Kano Jigoro who was so tired of being the victim of bullying and unable to fight back that he took existent types of martial arts at the time and twisted them into something more advantageous.
The result was a style which involved using an opponent’s strength against them, turning Judo into a practice that didn’t require the user to be big, strong, or particularly physically potent.