7 Most Popular Martial Arts From Around the World


Today, there’s a variety of martial arts. Thus it may be challenging to pick one to train. Because of that, knowing which martial art do people prefer may assist us in choosing one to learn. Yet, many solid fighting styles aren’t on that list. 

Here are the most popular martial arts in the world. (#1 = Most popular)

  1. MMA
  2. Boxing
  3. Wrestling
  4. Karate
  5. Judo
  6. Kung fu
  7. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I know how difficult it is to choose a fighting style to learn. Because of that, knowing what people consume and prefer is valuable information. Thus we’ll have to examine the search traffic for each martial art. That way, we’ll know which are the most popular fighting styles in the world. 

I encourage you to check out an article about the best age to start learning martial arts. It has practical insights into this issue. 

How I decided which martial arts are the most popular worldwide

The indicator I chose was google trends. Essentially, it measures a term’s search traffic in a region. However, I set it to measure worldwide traffic. Thus we can compare the distinct fighting styles to make a list. 

I started with five random martial arts. I switched the least popular one with another random one. If the number were lower, I would switch it back again with another martial art; while keeping in mind the previous number. However, if it were higher, I would write the lowest one again; while switching with another martial art.

Once I figured that out, I repeated the process until I was out of martial arts. Then, we had the seven most popular martial arts in the world. 

popular martial arts in the world
5 Most popular martial arts in the world

Because you can only compare five search terms at a time, these were the top five. Later, I continued my research and compared additional fighting styles. That’s what I had eventually.

7 Most popular martial arts
7 Most popular martial arts in the world

Essentially, the process was somewhat challenging because I had to compare seven when there were only five spots. Although that’s the case, I believe we got an accurate list of the most popular martial arts in the world.

Martial artView count (in accordance to google trends)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu2
Kung fu4
Martial arts and their google trends ranking; compared to MMA

7. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Although Jiu-Jitsu is a broad martial art, the sport, which is the Brazilian style, was the most popular. Because of that, we can understand that people prefer to watch the sport rather than the fighting style itself. That’s predictable. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ- is a fighting style that utilizes ground techniques, grappling, and submissions. Such movements are incredibly effective for self-defense and for fighting in general. The sport of BJJ is entertaining to watch. Thus it’s popular. 

Knowing how to maneuver your opponent will lead to you winning every street fight. Although people believe you need to send powerful punches or kicks to win in self-defense. While it’s partially correct, other techniques perform better in said situations. 

Picture yourself submitting an attacker. That’s a movement one cannot escape. If it were a friendly roll, one would’ve tapped out. However, in a dangerous situation, the attacker would’ve passed out. Now, what’s more of a win than ensuring the hostile cannot move. 

To train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at home, you must buy this one piece of essential equipment known as a grappling dummy. I recommend you to buy this one (Amazon) as it’s the best on the market currently. 

Yet, knowing how to send a fierce strike is crucial. If one knows Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu well- but doesn’t understand how to punch appropriately, one’s chances of winning will decrease. Because of that, becoming a solid fighter; is all about dynamic techniques. 

Eventually, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is of the leading martial arts in the world. Today, many are familiar with this term known as Jiu-Jitsu. At first, I wasn’t searching for the sport; but for the martial art itself. Post-research, I realized the sport, known as BJJ, is more popular than Jiu-Jitsu. 

I’ll include a video of a police officer neutralizing a hostile using Jiu-Jitsu techniques. You’ll notice how familiar the officer is on the ground. Thus the attacker can’t escape the position they’re currently in it. I highly encourage you to watch the video. 

6. Kung fu 

Although I’m a big fan of Kung fu, I wasn’t sure it would make it to the list. I train in it, and it has changed my life. However, most people aren’t aware of the benefits of it. When I realized- it entered the list of the most popular fighting styles, I was relieved.

Kung fu is a broad term for many styles of martial arts. It’s a Chinese fighting style, and in China, Kung fu is the action of doing anything that requires patience and practice. It utilizes many advances and fundamental techniques, such as kicking, striking, and grappling. 

The Shaolin monks have been practicing Kung fu since their early days. It’s a part of their routine and lifestyle. If you’re not familiar with them, I encourage you to read this article discussing which martial art they practice and its influence

The Shaolin monks practice Shaolin Kung fu. They’re the most peaceful group in the world. Because of that, we can interpret that Kung fu is positively influencing them. Indeed, that’s the case. 

“Martial arts apprentices turned out to present a statistically significantly lower level of hostility and of the general aggression index than combat sports athletes.”


If you learn Kung fu, you’ll become one hell of a fighter. Because it utilizes various techniques suitable for self-defense- you’ll know how to fightThe Shaolin monks are fantastic fighters. The following video shows precisely that. 

Additionally, a primary part of Kung fu is meditation. Not only will you better your physical aspects, but you’ll also develop your inner-self or QI. As a result, you’ll become calmer, less stressed or bothered, and with better self-esteem.  

I highly recommend you read an article about the five reasons martial arts is more than just fighting. In it, I express how essential it is to understand what it’s all about. It’s not solely about fighting; but about developing your inner-self, hence becoming a better person and individual. That’s what Kung fu is here to show us. 

5. Judo

Today, many people are familiar with Judo. Although it’s less about the martial art, the sport is thoroughly widespread. Because of that, others have begun their training journey in Judo. However, most people aren’t aware of the consequences and benefits training it provides. 

Judo is a martial art that became an Olympic sport in 1960. It utilizes pinning, throwing, or mastering your opponent to win the match. Because these techniques are relevant to today’s world, Judo is a suitable fighting style for self-defense and as a sport. 

Although many are familiar with Judo as a sport, the martial art is somewhat different. While the sport has many limitations rules-wise, the fighting style doesn’t. As a result, you’ll learn all about using it for self-defense and not to win a match. 

Because of that, Judo is highly effective for many purposes in today’s world. In addition, because of its popularity, many qualified schools teach the martial art. 

Picture a scenario where an attacker starts attacking you. To win, you don’t have to throw a winning punch. Instead, you need to master the hostile. Judo will train you to do that automatically and instinctively. As a result, you’ll be capable of using the techniques you learned for self-defense. 

Following that is a video about choking in Judo. You’ll notice how well the athletes execute the movements to master their opponent. In the sport, you can tap out. However, in real life, you’ll conduct the technique until you’re sure you’re safe. Thus you’ll overcome the situation.

Eventaully, I highly encourage you to learn Judo as a martial art. It’s highly relevant for self-defense, and therefore learning it is wise. In today’s world, knowing how to defend yourself is crucial. 

4. Karate

If you’re reading this post, you’re familiar with Karate. Today, many people train in it because of the number of benefits it grants the trainee. Karate practitioners don’t focus exclusively on the physical aspects but the spiritual. As a result, they’re calmer and less stressed. 

Karate is a Japanese martial art that utilizes various movements to beat the opponent. It started as a self-defense system on Okinawa island. As a result, it teaches the fundamentals of fighting. Thus if you’re looking to become a solid fighter, learning Karate is a wise choice. 

Like Kung fu, it conducts meditation techniques to develop its trainees. If you desire to become calmer, peaceful, and with a better mindset, Karate may be for you. Not only that, but you’ll also know self-defense. 

Today, there are many Karate competitions, and therefore you’ll know what to expect to gain from training. Thus if you enjoy watching the Karate competitions, I recommend you begin training in it. It will provide many benefits to you that are simply valuable. 

The following is a video demonstrating some of the techniques you’ll learn if you learn Karate

That’s Kenpo Karate, which is a form of Karate. It’s American martial art, and I’m a big fan of it. Eventually, I recommend you to learn such a fighting style, as it’s one of the most self-developing ones. 

3. Wrestling

Today, knowing to use self-defense is crucial. As I’ve previously mentioned, knowing to punch isn’t enough to win every fight. As a result, knowing other techniques will assist in becoming better fighters. 

Wrestling is a martial art that utilizes grappling techniques to win a match. One fighter must pin the opponent on one’s back with both shoulders in contact with the ground for two seconds to win. As a result, if you can perform the same in a street fight, you’ll win the encounter. 

Many people underestimate the importance of grappling in self-defense. If you manage to pin an attacker to the ground, he won’t be capable of doing anything. However, because you’re on top, you got the advantage. You can throw strikes, elbows, or any other damaging movement. 

“A boxer on his back is a white belt in any martial art.”

Furthermore, police officers with a martial arts background perform better under stressful situations, such as arrests. (Source) We interpret that knowing these techniques will allow us to be better fighters. We’ll function under high/low anxiety environments. Because of that, we’ll understand self-defense to a deeper level. 

Knowing to protect yourself and others around you takes practice. Because of that, you must stay consistent with training. If you won’t, you’ll not know self-defense suitably. 

Although it seems popular, speculation of mine is that it’s not for the martial art; but it’s for other shows that include Wrestling. Yet, because I couldn’t prove it, I kept wrestling in its spot. That said, I’m a big fan of Wrestling and its effects on the fighting community. 

The following video is a compilation of Wrestling matches. I highly recommend you view it, as it explains perfectly what Wrestling is and how it assists in self-defense. 

2. Boxing 

One of the fighting styles that make the best fighters- is Boxing. You’ll learn how to attack and defend. Additionally, receiving punches will become effortless. Thus you won’t be scared to strike in a real fight. 

Boxing is a martial art that utilizes various forms of punching. Because you’ll hit a punching bag many times, it’ll become second nature. As a result, getting hit will become manageable, and therefore you’ll be a solid fighter. Today, it’s highly prevalent, and many good schools teach it.

Additionally, it’s the most straightforward fighting style you can learn. It doesn’t require many sessions to learn the fundamentals of it. In fact, I understood all the basic movements in three hour-long sessions. I wrote an article on easy-to-learn martial arts, and I encourage you to read it. 

Eventually, you thrive while you’re standing up. As a result, if you’re lying with an attacker, you’ll have trouble coming out on top. Thus Boxing has many disadvantages. However, you’ll become a solid fighter- capable of getting punches numerous times without moving an inch. 

According to a study, Boxing has many benefits, including psychological and physical. (Source)

Today, it’s one of the most widespread martial arts worldwide. Because of that, you’ll find many schools that teach this fighting style. Thus training in it shouldn’t cause issues. 

However, martial arts lessons, in general, will get costly over time. Some people aren’t willing to invest money in martial arts classes. Because of that, I wrote an entire article on the complete guide to training martial arts at home. It’s one of my most researched articles, and therefore I encourage you to read it. 

The following video is about the techniques you’ll learn in Boxing classes.

1. MMA

“The professional group had higher scores compared to semi-professional and amateur groups with regard to confidence, positive cognition, and determination.” 


What is better other than a combination of many martial arts? In many of my articles, I advise you to train in the main fighting style while supplementing yourself with techniques from different arts. Consequently, becoming a better, all-around fighter is more manageable. 

MMA or mixed martial arts utilizes distinct movements and techniques from various fighting styles- to create a better manner. Because it’s dynamic, it’s highly effective both for self-defense and fighting, in general. Thus it’s immensely familiar in today’s world. 

Most likely, you’re familiar with UFC. Essentially, it’s the sport of mixed martial arts. Similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Jiu-Jitsu, the martial art. Today, many people are familiar with it. As a result, many suitable schools teach it as a martial art. 

Mixed martial arts is as powerful and relevant because of its dynamic nature. The trainees will be capable of adapting to any dangerous situation they encounter, and therefore it’s as effective as it is. If you want to read more about that topic, I wrote an article on the deadliest martial arts- you should learn

Overall, MMA doesn’t have any disadvantages. Because it combines many fighting styles, you can adapt to your style. Consequently, you’ll become a better fighter than if you were to learn a single art. 

Because of that, MMA is my favorite fighting style. If I assumed where the best fighters are, it’s in the UFC. They’re dynamic, capable of adapting, and solid fighters. Thus learning MMA is wise. 

Solid martial arts that didn’t make the list

Although I’ve mentioned the list of the most popular martial arts worldwide, there are plenty more solid ones. As a result, that’s how I would rank them on their effectiveness. 

The following list is additional fighting styles I recommend learning that didn’t make it to the list. 

Fighting Spiritual
Jeet Kune doTai chi
Gracie Jiu-JitsuQigong
KickboxingWing Chun
Krav MagaAikido
Wing Chun

Lastly, all of these martial arts provide some value. For that reason, whether you’re learning Krav Maga or Tai chi, you’ll develop yourself. As a result, if somebody says you shouldn’t train a fighting style since it doesn’t provide any fighting value, you should ignore it. 

Lastly, way more martial arts exist in the world. However, I shortened it not because the others aren’t good enough. Instead, it’s because I’m confident that these are the best ones.

Why knowing which martial arts are most popular is valuable?

When buying on Amazon, you don’t choose just a product. Instead, you check people’s reviews. It’s similar in our case. When deciding which martial art you want to learn, the most popular ones are usually most effective. 

Knowing which martial arts are most popular is valuable because you’ll know peoples’ preferences for the best fighting style. As a result, it’s an indicator rather than a rule. 

Most popular martial art in the world

The most popular martial art in the world is MMA or mixed martial arts because its search volume was the highest. Many people love watching UFC, as it’s one of the most entertaining sports to watch. However, they’re not as often focused on the martial arts aspect- but on the fight.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

That doesn’t mean that it’s the best fighting style in the world. Although I believe it is, you shouldn’t decide like that. Relatively, it’s the most entertaining sport to watch because it’s two people fighting brutally. As a result, its view count is the highest. 


We went through the most popular martial arts worldwide. Consequently, many follow this list to choose which martial art they should learn. Furthermore, the view count of such fighting styles isn’t an indicator of their value. Instead, it’s their popularity. 

I highly encourage you to pick up a martial art, as it’s one of the best activities you can do. You’ll notice many benefits, such as calmness, peacefulness, increased confidence and self-esteem, and plenty more. If you want to read more about the benefits of doing martial arts, follow the link to an article of mine. 


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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