When people think of martial arts they tend to think of karate or judo or kung fu, partly because those have been some of the most successful martial arts throughout history and, let’s face it, partly because those are some of the martial arts that are most often featured in mainstream films. But if you’re considering taking up a martial art, nearly every culture on the planet has developed some sort of martial art because there’s not a culture on the planet that has existed without having come into conflict with another culture. Before you sign up for courses for something well-known consider some of these less well-known alternatives:
1. Bokator. At nearly 2000 years old this a martial art with ample tradition. Like a great many martial arts from Asia is focuses on the movements and mannerisms of various animals (lion, snake, elephant, etc). It was developed armies of the Angkor and with more than 10000 documented moves and techniques it’s one of the most comprehensive fight techniques in the world.
2. Lerdrit. Many people have heard of Thai kick boxing and know that Thailand has a unique and ancient traditional of fighting sport and other martial arts. Some may also know of Muay boran which is a term used to describe all Thai martial arts before they were codified in the 1930s, but not as many people have heard anything of Lerdrit, the official combat training of the the Thai Royal Army. Although derived from traditional Thai martial arts, what is different about Lerdrit is that it’s been specifically designed for spontaneous combat and for taking the opponents’ lives or at the very least incapacitating the opponent as quickly as possible. The key principles of Lerdrit involve using the body’s naturally hard parts, such as elbows and knees and the opponent soft parts like stomach or neck or temple to bring the fight to a quick end.
3. Kalaripayattu. Considering that this martial art, developed in Kerala, India, is the oldest in the world at more than 5000 years old (it even predates the invention of writing, making its origin quite difficult to pinpoint), it’s something of a shock that it isn’t better known. For anyone with a yoga background, it might be easier to take up as it shares many common moves and practises.
4. Krav maga. In recent years this martial art has become more and more well-known. It was developed by the Israeli secret service, Mossad. Although it originated as a method of street fighting in confined spaces in Hungary and Czechoslovakia as early as the 1930s it was fully developed and codified when Israel became a state in 1948.