10 Martial Arts Styles You’ve Never Heard of

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Traditional martial arts styles, fighting techniques & professional martial artists. These are martial arts styles you’ve never heard of.

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Number 10 Okichitaw
Okichitaw is a martial art that uses elements from techniques of the Plains Cree First Nations. It was founded by Canadian martial artist George J. Lepine, who is Plains-Cree from Manitoba. From a young age Lepine was taught traditional wrestling and hand-to-hand techniques called “miche che kiske”. Towards the end of the 1990s, Lepine combined his knowledge into the Okichitaw system.
Number 9 Chun Kuk Do
In recent years Chuck Norris has become better known as a meme than for his extensive film and television career. Most Chuck Norris memes give him superhuman attributes with a funny twist. Although these are obvious exaggerations, there is some truth to the man’s mythical reputation. That’s because Chuck Norris is a black belt in six different martial arts, including his own. He subsequently founded Chun Kuk Do. Norris has perfected his system by studying a number of other martial arts, particularly the Korean Tang Soo Do, but also Judo, Kyokushin, Tae Kwon Do or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Chun Kuk Do comes with a code of honor and 10 rules for life, personally developed by Chuck Norris.
Number 8 Colombian Grima
Their skilled movements are performed with extreme cunning and corporal dexterity. The many styles of grima are known as “juegos” and they all come with slightly different tactics, footwork, ranges and choreographed sequences. Traditionally, grima has been linked with the struggles for honor of the country’s Afro-Colombian population.
Number 7
Some fighting styles focus on fluid motions and good timing, others on submissions, trips and throws. There wasn’t much artistry to speak of and it essentially represented a way for people to settle disputes and defend their honor.
Number 6 Glima
Glima is a sort of umbrella term that covers traditional Nordic styles, most of which are centered on wrestling. Its practice most likely pre-dates the 9th century AD, when Norse settlers migrated to Iceland. One version of glima involves grappling with specialized belts that extend from the waist to the lower thighs. Trouser-grip glima is most popular in Iceland, where it’s a national sport. The objective is to take the opponent down, with an emphasis on technique rather than strength.
Number 5
SPEAR was developed by Tony Blauer during the 1980s and is an acronym for Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response. The system is essentially fueled by our natural startle-flinch response.
Number 4 Bokator
The Cambodian fighting style was inspired by nature and implements movements observed in horses, eagles, cranes and other fauna. There are up to 10,000 different moves and only true masters may attain the coveted golden krama.
Number 3
Tire machèt comes from Haiti and traces its roots back to the Haitian Revolution, between 1791 and 1804. They blended European fencing with traditional African fighting styles to create tire machèt.
Number 2 Lethwei
Lethwei, also known as Burmese bare knuckle boxing, originated in Myanmar more than 2,000 years ago. In many ways, it’s similar to the aforementioned martial art of Muay Thai. There is, however, a point where the similarities between Lethwei and Muay Thai end.
Number 1 Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu is often referred to as the oldest martial arts in the world, as it dates back to the 3rd century BC. Elements of yoga and knowledge of pressure points are embedded into Kalaripayattu, the practice of which places an emphasis on physical flexibility. Kalaripayattu practitioners progress from learning hand-to-hand combat to short and long stick fighting. While some modern schools have moved away from specialized iron, they are a staple of traditional Kalaripayattu.

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