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Top 10 Martial Arts From Outside The Orient

When someone says “Martial Arts,” it conjures images of ancient Chinese warriors locked in combat or Samurai and Ninjas fighting it out in a bamboo forest. While it’s true the most popular martial arts originate from either Japan, China or elsewhere in Asia there are many forms of martial combat from other parts of the world. Here’s a list of ten of the coolest.


Highland Wrestling

Doug Leonard

The Scots have been known as fierce fighters, but few would compare Jackie Chan and William Wallace even though most scotsmen had a good amount of martial arts training. Highland wrestling is the first kind of fighting taught to young Scots, often family techniques are handed down from father to son. It’s recorded that often English knights would be caught off guard by the skill of an unarmed Scotsman who could drag fully armored knights off their horses with ease. Highland wrestling is mainly used today by reenactment societies, and “living Historians” since many of the actual techniques are lost to history.



46390979 E77A3C886C

The ancient Greek Olympics were brutal in general, but the most brutal of the events was the Pankration, which roughly translates to “Anything goes”. This fierce combination of boxing and wrestling allowed almost anything, from groin punches, to eye gouges, even finger breaking. The intention of all the Olympic games was to keep every man in the city ready to serve in the military, and the art of the Pankration came in mighty handy when fending off the barbarian hordes. Today, the Greeks still practice Pankration as a sport and the techniques developed thousands of years ago still make it into Mixed martial arts events.


European Fencing


Swordsmanship in western Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries was an important skill for any young man to have, as most gentlemen of noble upbringing carried their rapiers around at all times and were prone to calling for a duel at the drop of a hat. European Fencing is a surprisingly sophisticated and complex fighting art, producing literally thousands of manuals and guides printed all over Europe. Fencers were known for precision strikes, delicate footwork and full body control on par with any Samurai. Each country and region in Europe had a distinctive style, as well as a different style for a number of swords.


Apache Knife Fighting

Apache Chieff Geronimo (Right) And His Warriors In 1886

The Apaches mastered the use of many weapons for attacks against settlers or other Native American Rivals, and while many of those weapons were terrible to face, the Apaches were deadliest with little more than a knife. Every Apache had at least one knife at all times as that they were useful for any number of things in a hunter/gatherer society, but in battle Apaches would carry as many as a dozen knives on their person. They could throw them with fearsome accuracy, or cut down men with close, surgical strikes to the chest, throat or Achilles tendons. Currently the US military employs several trainers of Apache ancestry to teach special forces troops survival and knife fighting. It is no wonder navy SEALS are considered the best Knife fighters in the world.




Sambo is a relatively modern martial art, combat sport and self-defense system developed in the Soviet Union and recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee in 1938, presented by Anatoly Kharlampiev. There are three generally recognized competitive sport variations of Sambo: Sport Sambo, which is stylistically similar to amateur wrestling or judo; Combat Sambo which was utilized and developed for the military and resembles modern mixed martial arts, including extensive forms of striking and grappling; and Freestyle Sambo which uses a uniquely American set of competitive Sambo rules created by the American Sambo Association.


Nguni stick fighting


The bedrock of the Zulu’s legendary fighting skill is the art of stick fighting in which two Zulus armed with fresh cut saplings attack each other with only a small hide shield to defend themselves. While the sticks don’t cause a lot of damage to the body aside from shallow cuts, being whacked with one is extremely painful and in a fight you are guaranteed to get whacked a number of times. Combat with the sticks help the Zulus shrug off pain and fear, which is the reason they could charge straight into British gunfire without flinching. Famous South African leader Nelson Mandela stated he participated in stick fighting as a child.


Krav Maga

Krav Maga 004

This deadly fighting art from Israel had it’s origins on the streets, developed by Jewish vigilantes who defended their neighborhoods from anti-Jewish gangs. Krav Maga differs from most martial arts in being focused on ending a fight as quickly as possible by using “Overwhelming Force”, making Krav Maga techniques some of the most downright lethal of any martial art. Today it is considered a martial art reserved for Military and police use, and is utilized by US Special Forces and the FBI.




Many falsely identify Jeet Kune Do as an Eastern Martial art, but in truth it was developed in America, by Bruce Lee (An American Citizen) because he admired the simplicity of Western fighting styles Like Boxing and wrestling. Tired of the overly complex methods of Kung fu, Bruce Lee stripped combat down to it’s most basic elements when he developed Jeet Kune Do, teaching that the most important move is the one that wins the fight. Many celebrity friends of Lee practiced the Art, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Saxon, Jim Kelly and Steve McQueen.




Developed in France during the 19th century, Savate was developed by street fighters who used to put on their old heavy boots and try to kick each other in the head, in fact the word “Savate” is an old slang term for an old shoe. Savate moved from the street into boxing schools and is still a popular form of unarmed competitive fighting in France, known for brutal kicks to the head and face meant to down a man in one blow. Savate schools have also started teaching weapon styles. Typical of a martial art that originated in street fighting these weapons include walking canes, short knives and strangely enough: the wooden chair.



M Capoeira

A combination of Combat and dance, Capoeira is possibly one of the most beautiful fighting styles to watch. Capoeira started in Brazil with African and Native American slaves who taught themselves to fight with only their feet while their hands were shackled. After slavery was abolished, the Emperor of Brazil deemed Capoeira techniques too dangerous for freed slaves and forbade its practice. The Capoeria community then began to disguise training matches as “Games” and set them to music to look like a dance. To this day Capoeira matches are always set to music and look like a highly acrobatic dance but Capoeira involves many impressive kicks, throws and take downs that can be quite useful in a real fight.

Honorable Mention: Mau r?kau, Kaparjutsu, Gilma, Dambe, Gouren and Bandou

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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    What about boxing?

    • randell1985

      boxing isnt half as effective of any of these systems

  • justinjeest

    The fact you did not put Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tells me you know little about martial arts. It is by far the most effectively used martial art when it comes to fighting. There is a reason most mma style fighters use it . Also what is your definition of western ? do you mean not Asian? because Russia is not that western to me. All in all, good try Samurai.

    • randell1985

      russia makes up 45% of europe and 100 of northern asia, and bjj isnt even jui jutsu the gracies learned kodokan judo from mitsyu maeda who had never learned jui jutsu.
      anyways bjj isnt the most effective style of martial arts no style is more effective then any other style

  • Charlotte

    Men fighting in skirts is neat

  • Clark


  • oouchan

    Cool list, Joshua the Samurai! I think that number 9 was similar to cage fighting. Kind of sounds like it. The stick fighting one looks very brutal.
    My brother teaches martial arts and defense training to probation officers. One of the techniques he uses is one that delievers a hard punch to a vital point on the chest. Knocks the oponent over so that they may be taken into custody quickly. It’s kind of neat to watch that one. :)

  • calm_incense

    I’m not sure if Africans and, culturally speaking, Native Americans are considered “Western”.

  • calm_incense

    Also, Russia has long considered itself to be Eastern, despite its obvious ties to the West.

  • Unknown

    Hi Sevag

  • calm_incense

    And, of course, Israel is in the Middle East. Not exactly Western, either.

  • calm_incense

    Neither do many consider South America to be part of the West.

  • Stephen

    I believe that political leaders should solve their conflicts through Nguni stick fighting rather than war.

    Anyway. Can someone make a “Greatest Radio Talkshow Hosts” list? Please include Rush Limbaugh.


  • nnotdead

    Russia, Middle East, and Africa not really considered the West. i think non Orient(China, Korea, Japn, etc) would be a little more proper.

    No Boxing and no BJJ is just a shame.

  • DJ

    Very interesting, I particularly enjoyed the origin of Capoeira.

    • cap

      The “history” presented here is false. Africans alone developed that art from n’dolo. this is evidenced by similar styles around the caribbean. so-called Native Americans had very little to do with the development of Capoeira.

  • Joanne

    Love these kinds of lists, but I agree with the general consensus here regarding the list name.

  • deeeziner

    Thank you for the interesting list Joshua the Samurai.

    I’ve loved martial arts all my life…even when my brother used to practice his moves on me during his “Enter the Dragon” phase.

    There was a really cool form of fighting featured in the movie “The Rundown”. Does anyone know if this fighting was an example/derivative of item #1-Capoeira?

  • Turnipshade

    Hello all-Davy style comment- ‘Nice list by the way,Joshua’

  • deeeziner

    @oouchan (3): Wow..fancy seeing you here so early in the comments…wanna meet here later to heckle trolls? JK :D

  • BravehisTickle

    @justinjeest (15): i read that Jujitsu or jiujitsu was developed in China and Japan..

  • BravehisTickle

    What I meant that it was derived from jujutsu or the Japanese form,but your point is valid according to this list.

  • SnampyVersion2000

    Many of the styles on this list are not Western. Good idea for a list though…

  • justinjeest

    @ BravehisTickle i agree you are correct, but i said Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a type of Jiu-Jitsu ” created” within the gracie family, who combined and changed many classic Jiu-Jitsu moves, and called it Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

  • justinjeest

    most martial arts can find there roots in another martial arts, one derives another.

  • justinjeest

    Sambo is really good, it is the style Fedor Emelianenko uses, and he is considered the baddest man on the planet.

  • @Stephen (10): I am totally with you on that – let’s see our politicians use stick fighting to determine policy. The outcome can’t be any worse than what we already get!

  • In light of some of the comments above, I have renamed the list – stating that the arts come from the West is not so clear. The author intended the list to include martial arts that did not originate in the orient (as is clear from his opening statement). The new name is more apt.

  • BravehisTickle

    @jfrater (25): Thanks pardner

  • placeres

    We have a Big problem. The moderns europeans forgot the major part of the our martial arts ,with the discover of the Gunpower. It´s very dificult for us understand how that systems really works with very few remaining engravings.

    But it´s pretty sure that all knights in the middle´s age need to know ground fighting, as good as, the fighters from the east

    Forgive my bad spelling, I can´t write well in english. .

  • Rob

    Savate is number 2? I could understand if it was number ten…you know, the author couldn`t think of anything and needed filler. But number 2??? Seriously? I have competed against Savate fighters and it ie NOT effective. Oh, it looks good, but like Capoeira it needs a lot of space to be of any use. The best fighting styles can be used in ANY situation. Krav Maga is one of the best examples.

    I liked the entries on the apache knife fighting and fencing. Good work. Also, you forgot to mention that Pankration fighters fought butt naked. All your sensitive bits were exposed to damage and easy targets for a bit of psychological warfare before a fight.

  • Kibey

    Some of these look really gay.

  • Rufus

    i think some of these can make great scenes in movies =P

  • donald


    hahahahah. thatd be so funny. obama wielding a stick, I think hed actually kick ass..

  • L
  • L

    @donald (31):

    stick is good, 2 tres are better

  • Jasmine

    Love the present tense in number 10. I’ve never come across this family “secret moves” though in all my years in my native country, Scotland.

  • Ahmad

    You forgot Silat – a martial arts form indigenous to the Malay archipelago. There are various types of silat such as silat gayong and silat angin.

  • BigJay

    I passed the fighting style Jay-Kwon-Do down to my younger brothers. It consisted of wedgies and upon occasion the administering of a lethal fart to the head of an unsuspecting victim. I’m still waiting for the military leaders around the world to call me so I can teach their soldiers to be incredibly obnoxious. HiYa!

  • @L (33): Yeah – clearly Bush is going to win. He has his wits about him :)

  • rain

    Capoeira for the win!
    Eddy Gordo style of fighting is really cool.

  • Andy V

    There is a very famous martial art originating from India called Kalaripayattu.

    You can read about it and see a video on or at

    It is a very very famous martial art. Do read/google about it.

  • WiseMenSay

    great list, but you forgot the ancient Lancastrian art of ecky thump! :P

    also, is it capoeira that Nani uses as part of his goal celebration? i remember there being a bit of talk about it back when people thought he might be any good.

  • Beans

    The chinese have perfected many techniques of martial arts over many centuries and have mastered the body in anatomy and spirit, none of the above arts compare except for Bruce and america can hardly claim it as theirs..

    Westerners have no idea at the some of the techniques they are forbidden to see and be taught

    Awesome list though very intersting please do one on Asian arts for us

  • NickMatrix

    Jim Kelly? Former Bills QB Jim Kelly? He can kick ass literally too?


  • oouchan

    @deeeziner (17): hahaha. Insomnia sucks. I was playing games to try and tire me out, then decided to pop in here for a peek. I might have been first but I wanted to add more to the list than a one-liner.
    Will heckle trolls with you anytime!

    @jfrater (25): Thank you. Didn’t want to get too nitpicky on it, but it flows better now.

    Forgot to add earlier (being ready to drop dead at that point) that I found the number one to be quite beautiful to watch.

  • tripsyman

    You forgot the ancient fighting art of ecky thump from the north of england. Look for it on youtube it is well worth it!

  • nzall

    I personally ADORE watching martial arts, especially the likes of drunken boxing and other jackie chan-esque styles.

    seems like this capoeira thing is something i will need to look out for.

  • tripsyman

    @WiseMenSay (39):

    Just noticed your post after I posted – greatest fighting art ever

  • Chanchita

    What is the definition of a “martial” art? Does it basically just mean fighting?

  • Bill

    very good list

  • Jaryuki

    I do different kinds of weapons among hand-to-hand combat. Longsword, dagger and rapier for now. Wrestling is fun – especially the medieval kind >:D

  • bucslim

    Is it just me or do those Greek dudes come off a little gay? I’d put money down that the next fresco in that series is a depiction of two sweaty naked dudes doing some sort of ‘groin punch,’ right? The other guy in the picto-graph is either the ‘referee’ or some pervy tutor deciding which guy deserves to be taken under his wing.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    @NickMatrix (41): Sorry to break it to you Nick, but the Jim Kelly reference isn’t the former Bills QB. Just watch Enter the Dragon and you’ll see the ultra cool Afro-Ass Kicking – Turtleneck Wearing – Platform Boot Kicking – Soul Brother Jim Kelly delivering awesome one liners like “When it does happen, I won’t even notice. I’ll be too busy lookin gooood!”

    @BigJay (36): My older brother used to engage in that fighting style and would always conclude the proceedings with what he called a ‘Bean Lock.” That was a maneuver where he would trap my arms on the ground with his knees and scorch my face with a nasty fart. Either that or he’d snort up a giant goober and string it out so that it almost touched my mouth and at the right moment where I was screaming for mercy, he’d either slurp it all up or just let gravity take over. I don’t think the military needs any training help with those techniques, all we have to do is make sure they are populated with nothing but big brothers. It’s instinct.

  • DiscHuker

    What about Rex-kwon-do? I wouldn’t like to get a roundhouse kick to the head from those pants.

  • Davy

    Good list, Joshua. I haven’t heard of many of these martial arts, like Capoeira, Nguni stick fighting, and Highland Wrestling. I myself do judo and karate, so I know much more about the Asian martial arts.

  • Davy

    @Turnipshade (16):

    Hmm… I wondered if someone would notice that.

  • bucslim

    @DiscHuker (50): Awesome!!

  • Metalwrath

    One could add that Fedor Emilianenko, a Russian considered to be the number 1 champion in free fighting, is a master in Sambo.

    Nice list.

  • Woyzeck

    “Highland wrestling is the first kind of fighting taught to young Scots, often family techniques are handed down from father to son”

    Neither of those statements are true. Maybe they were once, but they aren’t today.

  • archangel

    Imagine a Capoeira fencer, or a Krav Maga savate? Wow… devastating.

  • Cubone

    Great list!

  • Swapie

    wonder if those scots are wearing underpants while wrestling? just imagine the hairy asses and sweaty balls…ugh!

  • Nauplius

    While you enjoy your martial arts list be sure to take some time out for some nice BAJ:

    Ah, tastes like strawberry :)

  • Cat Skyfire

    I liked this list a lot. A lot of people forget that a martial art is ANY combat based sport/style…by definition.

    I am a casual fencer, and someone asked if I ever had done any martial arts. I replied yes…fencing, and then had to explain that it qualified.

    It’s nice to see a reminder that not all fighting styles come from the orient.

  • Randall

    I’m afraid this list FAILS because it neglects to mention the greatest martial art of ALL…

    ECKY THUMP!!!!

  • Randall
  • oouchan

    @bucslim (49): You older brother story brought back horrible flashbacks for me and my brother. *shudder* He was very good at torture, mind games and ambush.
    Thanks for that reminder.

  • GTT

    OK, that´s it. I think I really need to learn Krav Maga. It sounds so interesting. Though I might have to opt out if training includes actually getting punched in the face…. I have a very low threshold for pain…

    @calm_incense (9): ??? What in the world was that supposed to mean? What part of the world are we then?

    @bucslim (49): Ah yes, the scorcher fart… My brother always pressed the window lock in his car so I couldnt open the damn thing before he let one rip. More than once I evaluated the possibility of just jumping out of the moving vehicle to avoid the smell…

  • Randall

    As you can see, it consists in the main of striking your opponent solidly with a black pudding.

    The genius of the British race shows no bounds.

  • mom424

    Great list. Cool stuff that I didn’t know. Well except for the Krav Maga – someone took lessons from the Israelis for a movie. The only reason I was familiar. Don’t remember the actor or the movie – maybe someone else does?

    I appreciated the inclusion of the knife and stick fighting; betcha almost every ancient culture had a distinct form of stylized hand to hand combat.

    @placeres (27): Your English is better than much of the twitter-speak we’re subjected to. And they are native English speakers. Good job. Your point is valid too. :)

  • flamehorse

    Whre’s the Keysi Fighting Method? That was developed in Spain. Used in the two new Batman movies.

  • Ingi

    In the honourable mentions you mention Gilma. If you are referring to the scandinavian fighting style, it is called Glima

  • bucslim

    @oouchan (62):

    Sorry about the rewind on the whole childhood big bro torture memorex. I had to go through it, as many other babies of the family. That being said, I had two older brothers and looking back, I’m convinced that their daily routine went something like this: wake up, eat breakfast, find some new way to make little buc cry, piss his pants, run for his life, make him cry some more, embarrass and humiliate him, eat lunch, slap buc, do the old chestnut of pushing him over the other brother behind him on all fours, de-pants him in front of the neighbors, ‘noogie’ his cranium, eat dinner, chase buc around with threats of wedgies, catch buc and deliver the wedgie until they heard underwear fabric tearing, a few of the aforementioned ‘Bean Locks,’ make him cry in front of his parents, wind up a wet towel after a shower and snap buc’s naked pasty white ass cheeks, wait for him to sleep and put his hand into warm water and drift off to sleep.

    Those of you who think I’m kidding have never had the pleasure of two older brothers and a football coach dad who constantly reminded you of how big of a pussy you were.

  • oouchan

    @bucslim (68): hahaha! Laughing now, but with my older brother (me being the sister) he could come up with some nasties of his own.

    Hanging my girly items on the lamp post out front, sticking my head in the waterbed (lifting a corner of it, sticking my head in and letting go), coming in carefully in the morning, lifting my still sleeping form up, walking me outside and launching me into the pool…at 6AM and getting my stuffed animals wet and then putting them in the freezer.
    Or the best one ever:
    I came home from school on day and he was there saying there was nothing he could do and it was a tradegy. He said to look in my room. Upon entering, I see an overturned chair below my hanging lamp and hanging from it was my cabbage patch doll, noose around her neck and a note pinned to her shirt that said “Goodbye cruel world”. I cried for a week. My dad thought it was hilarious and my mom said it was ingenious. No wonder I’m messed up.

  • bucslim

    Jeez, I wonder why I have a fetish for Neo-Con Domiinatrix’s who snap my ass with a wet whip and have bad gas? Hmmmmm . . . .

    Oh shit, did I just say that?

  • Randall

    @bucslim (68):

    I MIGHT have given money to have your childhood, my friend.

    I had two older brothers–MUCH older. 15 years and 13 years older. Rather than picking on me… they ignored me. Football-playing, airplane-flying, WWII bomber pilot tough guy father died of cancer 8 months after yours truly born, so never knew him. Older brothers crushed into callous, cold-hearted silence by his death. I think IN RETROSPECT I might have preferred older brothers who toughened me up by taunts and regular beatings. Instead, got utter absence. Not to mention mother in near-permanent state of grief.

    Older sister, however, picked on me instead. (she was only TEN years older). Imagine growing up with the resentment towards female power figures that THAT kind of experience leaves you with.

    Grass is always greener, I guess.

  • Randall

    @oouchan (69):

    Actually, oouchan…. that IS kinda funny. Ya gotta admit. I mean… it requires the contempt for Cabbage Patch dolls, I guess….


  • Randall

    @bucslim (70):

    You know perfectly well what you said, and you know WHY you said it. It is a solicitation. I bet by 5pm you’ll have a half dozen offers waiting in your email Inbox.

  • oouchan

    @Randall (72): It’s funny now, but then it was devestating to a 10 year old girl! My brother still tells that story. *sigh*

    @Randall (73): How did you know I sent him an email? :)

  • Renegade

    @oouchan (69):

    O_O; I don’t know whether to be disturbed or impressed to be honest. When I was little my mom used to take my favorite stuffed lizard and hang him from the ceiling fan. I kinda feel your pain.

  • Randall

    @oouchan (74):

    Well, see… things are funny because they happen to someone else.

    “How did you know I sent him an email?”

    I’m a shrewd piece of work. ;-) But good for you! buc deserves happiness. By one dominatrix experience at a time.

  • Randall

    @bucslim (68):

    Actually, sorry about the serious aside/tangent. I should have “comedy’d” that one up a bit.

  • bucslim

    @Randall (71): Sorry dude, that sounds rough.

    Then again you were never tricked into drinking pee.

  • Randall

    @bucslim (78):

    “Then again you were never tricked into drinking pee.”

    Uh… no.

    Yeah, that’s not good.

    ON THE OTHER HAND! Prepared you for life-saving situations at sea, should you ever be cast adrift in a lifeboat and need to drink your own urine to survive. Always a silver lining!

  • Hugh Jass

    Gracie family is dissapoint. I was waiting for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as number one, wtf!

  • randomprecision24

    I feel the pain buc…whenever my older sister and I started fighting, it always ended up with her sitting on top of me. But I also deserved it most of the time. My cousin and I once buried her car in snow after a light flurry. Took her a half hour to get out of our driveway…oh, the good ol’ days.

  • Alex

    i like most muay thai :)
    where is it ? or kyokushin? these are martial arts.. not those….. my advice : get muay thai ! it`s healthy and fun

  • El the erf

    @oouchan (3): The martial arts your brother teaches…that’s Wushu, right ?
    I saw Jet Li in the Fearless delivering the fatal punch to the heart of Qin (in the film it was right through it!).
    For me, marital arts remains pulling hairs and digging my nails into my enemy and it always works! That way I also leave my mark serving as a reminder not to mess with me..(punches and kicks don’t work for me at that time I dunno why)

  • GTT

    @Randall (61): WTF was that? :lol:

    OK, I´m going to have to admit I had a pretty tame childhood compared to some of the stories I´m hearing. I was the youngest (and only girl) out of a family of 4 siblings… My three older brothers are a lot older (13, 11 and 8 years older) so I was more a play thing than a torture magnet. They´d sit me on the sofa cushions and push me down the stairs in their own version of “sledding” (no real sled, no snow). Or the aforementioned car farts, or my own personal favorite (and a classic): holding my favorite toys out of reach while I jumped up and down screaming GIMME.

    @oouchan (69): I´m so, so sorry but that was the funniest sibling cruelty story I´ve ever heard of…. :D

  • oouchan

    @El the erf (83): That sounds familiar, but I can’t be sure. I wish I could remember what it was. However, I’m not asking my brother, since I now have bad memories floating in my head about him.
    The world may never know.

  • El the erf


  • ames801

    @bucslim (49): Ahhh yes, the “loogie dangle”. That was horrible. My brother put his own spin on the ‘Bean Lock’: he would fart into a mason jar and hold it to my nose while holding the back of my head so I couldn’t get away. *sigh* I’m #8 out of 12 kids so at least I didn’t suffer these tortures alone…

  • Disc Huker

    my older brother was more of the master mind rather than the muscle. he would bring over his 3x state champ wrestler friend to try new and interesting moves on me. once i was in the submission position, he would either do the knuckle to the breast bone thing or drop his pants and fart on my nose.

  • Randall

    @GTT (84):

    Believe it or not, that comedy skit (from the British TV show “The Goodies,” which co-existed with Monty Python for a time) actually killed a guy. Not on the show. In the *audience.* A man watching the show laughed so hard he DIED of a heart attack.

    I guess ya hadda be there.

  • agginym

    did the first few people not realize that the list isn’t called top 10 martial arts from outside the east. Its outside the orient, there for krav maga fits quite well.

  • psychosurfer

    Joshua the Samurai:
    While the idea for the list is great, I found the choices included here rather incongruent, for example, Sambo, Krav Maga and Jeet Kun Do are definitely and clearly based on oriental techniques. Capoeira on the other hand is originally from Africa so I don´t understand why you picked the Brazilian spin off.
    I think your bonus choices were far more interesting and you should have based this more on a specific region such as Europe or the Pacific Islands, or focus on the history and background of really interesting martial arts such as Indian Kalarippayattu or Samoan Lima Lama.
    For this matter Brazilian Ju Jitsu is one of the most effective techniques and it also matches the criteria while (let´s be honest)Capoeira is utterly useless in a real fight, unless you get your opponent off-guard.

    For the Samurai vs. Medieval fighter debate I found this great article:

    You as a Samurai should acknowledge your superiority :)

  • oouchan

    @agginym (90): Did you not read the comments from JFrater? He changed the name.

  • lrigD

    Interesting list =) I rather liked it and I’m kind of motivated to learn how to fight now… beyond the ‘regular’ street fighting that is. Not that I’m so great at that, but it was kind of necessary in the neighbourhood I grew up… Though I haven’t suffered from sibling attacks often =)

    Anyway, I would love to see capoeira once!

  • Juxpat

    Where is Philippines Yaw-yan, that martial art is too damn deadly….

  • El the erf

    @Juxpat (94): ‘Yaw-yan’. My my. Now how exciting is that.

  • JTA

    I’m glad to see BJJ didn’t make the list and a little bummed to see Sambo did. They’re both so similar to jiujutsu that the only thing that makes them non-Oriental is the folks who ‘created’ them.

  • Gauldar

    @mom424 (65):

    A good 12 years ago I took lessons in a form of Krav Maga for a couple years but then stopped due to a broken ankle (was from doing something stupid I might add, but it turned out I was going through a growth spurt in that area so it healed up well). It’s a good martial art to learn for self defence as opposed to tournaments, it’s very no-nonsense techniques and very versitile. It was addapted from Judo mostly.

  • Boner

    All you sissies and your “I had a tough childhood” wah wahs! My oldest brother shot be in the head with a bazooka, set the room on fire and then drove a bull dozer into the wall to knock down the burning room right onto what was left of my face. “My brother farted on me”- WAHHH!!! MINE KILLED ME AND MADE ME COME BACK AS A FLY! He then caught me, put me in a glass bottle and then put me in the microwave oven on low for 10 minutes! Ever smell your own burning pancreas?? I BET NOT you “my dollie was hanged” wussies! My youngest brother swatted me and then put my dead lifeless fly body into his butt and made my ghost linger in there while he was at wrestling practice! “My brother blew boogers on me!” I WISH I HAD SUCH LUXURY! MY brothers poured burning hot lead in my butt to make a model of my colon! I couldn’t sit down for years!
    Bunch of cry baby whimps all of you!

  • ames801

    @Boner (98): I feel like you kind of deserved all that…

  • Arsnl

    @oouchan (69): woow your bro would make a great pimp and i guess your parents arent peacefull hippies. I had 2 older sisters and id get smacked on the head every time id tried nasty stuff
    @Randall (79): you dont drink your own pee if you’re in the middle of the ocean cuz it contains salt and it would only make it worse
    @El the erf (83):i really think you meant marital arts cuz the pulling hairs and digging nails sure sounds like marital stuff. Some like it rough right?? you nasty nasty man:)))

  • Scratch

    @Arsnl (100):

    Why would your pee contain salt when you’re in the middle of the ocean and not contain salt when you’re on dry land?

  • crispin

    @Scratch (101): Salt osmosis, of course ;)

  • RedMan

    Native maerican wrestling should have been on here. BJJ is actually a variation of the old japanese style which is why it was probably eliminated from this list. Whoever on here said savat is not effective is an idiot. Any martial art is effective if one knows how and when to use it. While fencing looks fun and entertaining it would not be effective against most other styles do to the brittle structure of the swords used. Pretty nice list over all though. Maybe a list should be made of unusual martial arts weapons and their origins. I remember hearing from my instructor that he met a bando fighter who claimed he kick a man in the head while both were standing side by side in a phone-booth. I would have to see it before I claim it’s true however if it is true it’s pretty neat. Oh and krav maga was not adapted from judo it is an art all on it’s own.

  • Arsnl

    @Scratch (101): i meant that you dont drink pee if you’re in the middle of the ocean ( salt accelerates the process of dehydratation. Not that it contains salt cuz you’re in the middle of the ocean. But its true that the concentration of salt increases in your urine when you’re in the middle of the ocean because your organism tries to retain all the water it can

  • Randall

    @Arsnl (100):

    Listen, I’ll drink my own damn urine whenever I goddamn well want to.

    And listen up, further, Arsnl. Drinking one’s own urine in an emergency drought situation (such as you would face if you were cast adrift on a lifeboat without any freshwater) is a recommended survival strategy. Yes, urine is salty, but the salt content of ocean water is dangerous not just because of sodium chloride (what we know as table salt) but because it ALSO contains other mineral salts in abundance–which are in such a quantity that our bodies cannot possibly metabolize them, and we would therefore die if we tried. There are far fewer quantities of these types of salts (in fact, unless I’m mistaken, some aren’t even there) in urine—or, at any rate, the percentage of salt in urine is less than that which you’d get if you drank the same amount of seawater. There ARE dangers in drinking urine on a sustained basis–you can’t live on it indefinitely (and anyway, if you’re not drinking fluids, your body is going to produce less and less of it, and what it does produce is going to become more concentrated and toxic over time).

    It’s not an appetizing thought, but if you’re desperate, and the choice is drinking your pee or drinking nothing, the choice is clear.

  • Scratch

    @Arsnl (104):

    I like crispin’s explanation better. It makes more sense.

  • Randall

    Excuse me…. I made a slight error. Our urine is only SLIGHTLY less salty than seawater (though what salts, exactly, urine contains, I’m unsure of) but the key there is still LESS. So if you have to drink, it makes sense to drink the yellow stuff than the sea water all around you.

  • Davy

    Haha MY parents would get at me if I laid even a finger on my little brother (or my sisters), but when they weren’t looking…

  • Shannon

    Reading all the big brother stories makes me realize what all I missed out on growing up as a virtual only child. I have a half-brother 12 years younger, but we never lived together.

    Anyway, the lead instructor where I learned TaeKwando was the youngest child and ONLY girl of 14 children. All of her siblings were spaced about 11 months apart — sort of “Duggars before the Duggars were Duggars, I guess.” She was the meanest, baddest black belt fighter I’ve ever seen. Five feet nothing and maybe 100 pounds, but she was utterly ruthless. Her favorite story was about when she started dating, all her brothers (who were also black belts) would come over to the house, even the ones who had left home, and wear their gis and sit around casually watching her date. Then the oldest would stand and bow to him and ask what time he intended to have their sister home. Lizzie said more than one guy just turned around and left in white faced fear.

  • Shannon

    @Randall (107):

    Is it true that urine fresh from the body is more or less sterile? I’ve heard that, but don’t remember where and thus have no idea of the veracity of the claim.

  • Randall

    @Boner (98): \

    “MY brothers poured burning hot lead in my butt to make a model of my colon!”

    WHY did they want a model of your COLON? In LEAD? Who does that? PLASTER I could see…

    School science project? Something with radioactivity maybe? “Our Friend Uranium” or “Our Glowing Buddy, Radium”?

  • Arsnl

    @Randall (107): Well if you take out the charts and all the chemical compounds found in ocean water im sure you might think tht drinking urine is the thing to do. But i dont advise it cuz you can use ocean water and sun light to evaporate it and put some material so the vapores can condense on. This way you get good quality water. No pee crap and you survive can stand a chance cuz we’ll how much pee can you get after you start drinking you own pee( plus i bet it gets really toxic after a while but im not an expert)
    i really dont recommend the yellow rainbow:-p

  • Randall

    @Shannon (110):

    Yeah, I believe that’s true. I’ve certainly heard it, and if I recall, I’ve read somewhere that it is so, in some scientific publication or other. Whatever scientific publication there is that talks up urine, that is.

    Having no intention to ever drink my own urine, I docketed the info and then forgot about its source and provenance. But I believe it’s so.

  • Davy

    My sisters were really scared of ‘the monster under the bed’ so I hid under the bed one night and made growling noises. One of my sisters was so scared she peed in her pants!
    As for my brother – when he was 9 he used to collect all sort of useless junk, like old compasses that didn’t work, bits of string that he found on the street, broken pieces of shell etc., so when we had a yard sale I got a whole load of his ‘shit’ and gave it away for free. Unfortunately, my dad then made me pay to my brother in cash for all the stuff I had given away. :(

  • Randall

    @Arsnl (112):

    “No pee crap and you survive can stand a chance cuz we’ll how much pee can you get after you start drinking you own pee”

    Since that sentence makes me wanna ask if you were *drunk* when you wrote it, I am going to stand on my recommendation and claim the high ground on this question, since I am coherent, and you… are not.

  • Arsnl

    Sorry im writing on an iphone. Its murder since im also using another app so im on and off. :)) i promiss im not drunk nor have i drank pee from a drunk person. Also english isnt my first language.
    The thing is i just dont think one should drink pee since fairly good almost fresh water can be obtained. But hey you can do whatever you want. I just know that what ive told you( drinking condenst water ). Now im pretty curious how much salt do those water vapours contain
    my question for you is: how much “drinkable” can you get after you drink pee twice. The amout of water in your pee decreases. Imagine how yellow it is after you havent drank water all day in summer. Now after a few days. I really dont think its the wise decision
    ps im not sure if i havent made again some mistakes in the logic of my statements. Desole again

  • Arsnl

    @Davy (114): you should have been nice to your sisters. I was and now i always get home made goodies from them. From my sisters not yours
    @Shannon (110): i know that some
    people say its good to drink your wee but they ive heard one shouldnt drink the first and last drops:p and ive read on a sampling bag the the urine to sample has to be collevted in the middle of the process. When you start peeing its not very clear but it becomes transparent after a while. I guess for a guy its easy to check:)) and i get bored pretty easily. And no i havent a fetish with peeing. But i do like to pee in uncommon bruxelles you can pee on the side of a church and the smell is quite powerfull not for the weak hearted
    yesterday pooping now peeing. I think we covered all the basics.

  • ianz09

    Good God I’m gone for a couple hours and come back to find that the martial arts list has been taken over by inquiries into whether not one should consume one’s own urine. Damn, I love Listverse!

  • ames801

    @ianz09 (118): Well…? Should we or shouldn’t we?? :)

  • ianz09

    @ames801 (119): Well, I do…

    Just kidding.


  • Maggot

    @ianz09 (118): the martial arts list has been taken over by inquiries into whether not one should consume one’s own urine.

    Makes one reflect fondly back to the bygone days (i.e. yesterday) when everyone was politely staying on-topic by discussing how they go poo…

  • ames801

    @Maggot (121): Actually the first list I’ve commented on in a while…now I’m talking pee. What a sick-o I am.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    @Randall (105): Plus Lyoto Machida does it so it must be badass.

    This is a sweet list. Only thing is Pankration should be 1 and escrima and BJJ should be on here somewhere.

  • kertamen

    Very rarely do you guys have good lists, but this one, for once, was good. At least better than f-ing Best Bathroom Reads…

  • Arsnl

    @Maggot (121): think of this as the normal sequel to yesterdays list. And its also about survival

  • pizzavortex

    Picture 8 shows an illegal move in sabre.

  • GiantFlyingRobo

    @psychosurfer (91): I’m sorry, man, but if you EVER try to mug a guy and he reacts by dancing AND kicking the everloving crap out of you at the SAME TIME, I’m pretty sure you’d be too busy pissing yourself to fight back whether or not you saw it coming.

  • bucslim

    @ames801 (122):

    Yeah, so you can thank me for introducing the whole drinking pee thing here – way back up in comment 78. Sorry about that. My brothers handed me an open can of Mountain Dew that was a little warmer than ‘just out of the fridge’ Dew.

    Boy was that EXTREME!!!!

  • bassbait

    A lot of people don’t realize that bruce lee is from Seattle, (at least I think that’s the city), nor do realize that Hendrix was from washington either. Cool to see the martial arts king is on the list.

  • nuriko

    Great list! I would love to learn fencing and capoeira… :)

  • katary

    thanks for mentioning mau rakau! love to see anything from nz

  • Iakhovas

    Chuck Norris should be on this list. Anyone who can do a round house kick in tight jeans deserves his own style. It could be called Chuk No Ris or something.

  • Kenny

    Good list except your #1. That art should be #10 at best, never works in MMA. Sorry, horrible choice for #1. Jeet Kune Do should be #1 for it’s simplicity and formless style.

  • Arkzist

    oh and pankration predated kung fu by a couple hundread years as well

    oh and :134: chuck norris does Jeet-Kune-Do and was taught by bruce lee

  • ianz09

    @Maggot (123): Only on Listverse

  • naruchan

    psychosurfer, capoeira actually did start in Brazil, not Africa.

  • wondersquid

    Point #1: Unless you have a urinary tract infection, urine is sterile. Point #2: It’s still not good to drink it.

  • Joshua the Samurai


    I recognize Brazilian Ju-Jitsu as an amazing martial art, but it’s merely a style of Ju-Jitsu (A Japanese Martial art) that was developed in Brazil. The rest of these Martial arts are original to their countries of Origin, not versions of another martial art. Hundreds of styles of Oriental martial arts have their origins in other countries, here I was trying for combat arts with deep cultural roots.

  • Joshua the Samurai

    Capoeira is not from africa, is was developed by Africans (Angolans to be exact) but Africa didn’t have anything like it and doesn’t to this day. I was developed in south America exclusivly.

    And Savate is a very powerful art, while a bit showy some of the besk kickboxers in the world trained in Savate. The first UFC had a Savate fighter that Won both matches by knockout. A Savate kick is very, very powerful if it lands.

  • Joshua the Samurai

    @Andy V (39): I did read about the Many Indian Martial arts out there, and considered including them. Many argue that the Indian fighting arts traveled to China with Buddhists and Originated Kung-fu. I didn’t include it because some consider India part of the Orient. All in all, I may do a sequel to this list

  • Joshua the Samurai

    @PETER (4): I did consider boxing, but it’s not so much a combat art as it is a kind of controlled fighting sport. These other styles are intended for real-world use. Very few people take boxing classes so they can fend off muggers, most do it because they want to box competitively.

  • anuragv

    @Joshua – Comment # 142
    India part of the Orient? Sorry, but I cannot digest that.

  • Anonymous

    According to Oriental Studies and basic geography, Israel is an EASTERN country.

  • Anonymous

    144 anuragv – Orient does not just mean “Far Eastern” – in formal terms, it refers to Asia and North Africa.

  • ames801

    @bucslim (130): Well then thank you, bucslim.

  • GTT

    @Randall (91): :lol:

    I cannot believe it… Yeah, I admit I was laughing but it was more of a nervous, what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here kind of laugh….

    Kind of like I am am now reading all the various pros and cons of drinking your own pee…

  • psychosurfer

    @naruchan (138):
    You are so right I´m sorry, still, as much as I appreciate Capoeira as a cultural expression, a magnificent display of physical skills, an hypnotic and mesmerizing ritual that can lead to a mystical trance (etc, etc.), even as an art form; I have serious doubts about considering it “Martial” in any way.

  • psychosurfer

    On the other hand who cares about technicalities when you can read about Buc´s pee drinking affection, oouchfan´s evil genius brother or Randal´s tortured past.
    Priceless, thnx guys :)

  • Acula

    Well, Capoeira is hardly a style of fighting, it’s much more of a dance than a fighting style and isn’t very effective in a fight at all. The most effective styles on the list are probably Krav Maga and Combat Sambo.

  • sexysmell

    @ calm_incense

    The list is about non-oriental martial arts. non eastern does not = western.

  • sexysmell

    @ Acula

    Caporeia developed as both a dance and martial art because the original practitioners were not allowed to develop fighting styles(they were slaves i believe). It seems to have phased out alot of the fighting and become more of a tourist attraction but that doesn’t mean there isnt someone out there who could use it to kick your ass.

  • me

    off the list

    i know vaguely about

    8. european fencing
    4. krav maga
    3. jeet kune doo
    1. capoeira

    and capoeira reminds of Tekken

  • Christian

    What? No Bartitsu?

  • Fenriz218

    What I miss on this list is Systema, a Russian martial art that has developed from numerous Russian Folk MAs, including stuff from the Cossacks. It is used today mainly by the military, Spetznas and such but is also getting more popular in Europe. I’ve been practicing it for a few years now, really an amazing art.

    Also included should be some of the Indian martial arts, such as the Sikh fighting of Gatka or Kalaripayat, which is practiced more in the south of India. Very hard to learn but very deadly.

  • zoethaeque

    “Krav Maga differs from most martial arts in being focused on ending a fight as quickly as possible by using “Overwhelming Force”, making Krav Maga techniques some of the most downright lethal of any martial art.”

    If you haven’t known yet, every martial art IS focused on ending a fight as quickly as possible. What you see today on ancient martial art like kung fu, karate, etc has already been mellowed. A real kung fu kills in as few moves as possible.

    PS: I use kung fu as example here, but I mean every martial art.

  • Shane

    What? No Teras Kasi? :)

  • robhansman

    Great list but my understanding of Jeet Kune Do is that it is not a martial art in itself, rather a philosophical approach to martial arts. You can’t practise the teachings of Jeet Kune Do without a good working knowledge of other martial arts.

    Bruce Lee studied philosophy and martial arts (obviously!), which was how it came about.

  • kenpo_man

    You failed to mention kajukenbo, a style developed in Hawaii by Adriano Emperado as a way to teach Westerners in Hawaii to defend themselves. It is considered by many to be “dirty street fighting”, but is a very effective mixture of Eastern and Western fighting styles.

  • mordechaimordechai

    Did anybody say Systema? russian martial art. the only built around a christian moral. i’m practicing it for a year and it has rocked my soul.

  • Kel

    I had been meaning to learn Capoeira anyway (you can thank Death Note for that) but it’s number one spot here definitely clinched it.

  • Julius

    @Joshua the Samurai (143): I kind of doubt that more people learn highland wrestling and capoeira to defend themselves than boxing?
    The most effective is definetely Krav Maga, Jiu-Jutsu originated on the battlefields thats why it has so much grappling because a strike /kick is ineffective when your opponent is wearing armour. Krav Maga was developed in the 1920s by Imi lichtenfeld, to defend against multiple opponents as quick as possible, which is badass. It is not restricted to military/police btw anybody can learn and and the good thing about since you are just using natural movements (no jumping roundhousekicks to the head) you can learn it really quick.

  • Bobo

    I thought Savate was made by french sailors…i could be wrong

  • helmi

    for me,silat is the best martial art in this world…

  • deepethiopian

    In no. 5 … ‘Nguni stick fighting’you have a picture of the Surma people from Ethiopia. And the stick fight is called ‘Dunga.’

    In Dunga, people DO get hurt, massive injuries can occur and there have been occasions where people have died.

    It is best portrayed in the the British ex-marine Bruce Parry’s documentary movie, “Tribe.”

    Deep Ethiopian.

  • vic

    BAH! Ask any Navy SEAL to test his knife fighting against a Cali\Escrima\Silat master and they will go home in shreds every single time.
    On that note, why are none of these styles even given a mention? They are amongst the most efficient and deadliest styles in the world.
    Also, if you’re going to include Jeet Kun Do, you also need to include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and American and Hawaiian Kempo.
    One more point, where is American Catch Wrestling?

    • Gideon

      Careful about such claims about 'deadliest styles in the world'. Also, Navy SEAL training in knife fighting has a huge halo around it. They get maybe a weeks worth of combat knife training. Now, there are some Navy SEAL's that are extremely good with a knife, mostly due to factors outside their training.

      Also, no disrespect to the Apache, but it seems more romanticized legend bolstered by dime novels. There is probably something to their level of ability, but if the 'martial art' ever existed…the remnants are all basically all gone.

  • allan

    whers boxing at? of filipino martial arts :P

  • troller

    then again, JKD was based on mostly Oriental martial arts…

  • asdddasd

    Systema should definetly be on the list and likely at first place

  • Ciwei

    Jeet kune do may not really belong on this list. Majority of its core concepts are oriental in origin. The punches employed by Bruce Lee himself were closer to wing chun than they were to western boxing (vertical fist). Center-line control and etc. were taken from Wing Chun.

    While it is true that Bruce Lee was an american citizen at that point and did develop it in the west, it still is quite rooted in the orient. Speaking superficially, though, one could say that it falls within the title as it was "made" outside the orient… but this identification is iffy at best.

    To be honest, the JKD "revelation" felt rather forced. Good list though.

  • lrigD

    Regarding the #4 entry, krav maga – I am not sure if you are talking about the USA only when you say that learning krav maga is restricted to military and police use (you do mention the FBI and US Special Forces after it), but here in the Netherlands anybody over the age of 18 can practise krav maga – even before you are 18, in some cases. I have been practising it for several months now, am going to take my first exam next week – and I assure you I am neither military nor police.

    • p1t1o

      No age restriction on any martial art here in the UK as far as I know, and you definitely dont have to be military or anything fo KM either.

      There was even quite an amusing scandal a while back about an MMA tournament for very young kids, single digit age I think. It did seem a bit seedy (it was a ticketed public event) at first, but as it turns out it was pretty much all above board, it was very limited, I dont think any kind of strike was allowed and most of the crowd were parents of the kids.

  • gfdgdf

    There called Kilts you dumb fuck.

  • Vitali Rostoff

    How in the world is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu not on this list?

    How the hell is Sambo not number 2 and Pankration not 3? I’ve rolled all three and I would bet cash a student of Sambo, Pankration and BJJ could mess up a heavyweight boxer with 1 year of training.

    • p1t1o

      Perhaps BJJ was passed over due to its links with jiu-jitsu?

      If you ask me, boxing is a sport, not a martial art, which limits its practicality.

      (Before anyone starts, I’m absolutely aware that boxing would come in useful in a brawl, but its still not a complete fighting system, it has rules and regs just like any sport. And dont even get me STARTED on Capoeira…)

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  • william james fountain jr

    what do it take to know the art of jeet kune do

  • Jonathan Sharma

    Thanks my friend for an interesting and enlightening piece here. Just a thought, would you consider adding or mentioning the ancient fighting arts of India, there are an array?

    Thanks again,