The best martial arts in Japan

When you ask someone where does martial arts come from most people will answer “Japan”. Now that’s a pretty uneducated answer as no one really knows the original starting location of martial arts. Having said that Japan certainly has made it famous. For such a small country it has many different types. Here’s a breakdown of the best of them.



Sumo dates back 2000 years ago and has always been seen as a sport rather than a real life fighting technique. While sumo has always been associated with large competitors, it is not always size that matters. Some of the greatest sumos of all time are much smaller. Sumo is also Japan’s national sport.


Jujutsu translates to “Soft Skills”.  While most martial arts involve the use of the striking with the leg or hand Jujutse is more about the use of using indirect force, such as joint locks or throwing techniques. It was developed because many of the Japanese enemies from centuries ago involved people wearing armor, which made striking pointless.


Kenjutsu means “the art/science of the sword”. In it’s oldest and simplest form of training and consists of two partners with swords drawn, practicing combat drills with wooden katana.



Originally the most important skills of the Japanese warrior were proficiency at horse riding and the use of the bow, this eventually gave way to Swordsmanship. The development of the sword is paralleled by the development of the methods used to wield it. Warriors trained with the sword, and invented different ways to implement it. Then during war, these theories were tested and those that survived, passed on what worked and what didn’t.


Naginatajutsu is the Japanese art of wielding the naginata. Naginata were used to train women and ladies and because of this, most naginatajutsu styles are headed by women and most naginata practitioners in Japan are women. This has led to the outside world that naginatajutsu is a martial art that was not used by male warriors, which is not true.

There you go, there is the list of the most popular of the martial arts in Japan. Japan has one of the more difficult martial art mix. Much like it’s language there are many aspects to it. Practice will make your martial arts of choice much easier.

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