Modern-day martial arts are used for anything from strength training to self-defense training to training communication between the mind and body. But most of these martial arts (despite the relatively peaceful adults and kids who practice them inside air-conditioned dojos in strip malls across many countries) have rough roots, starting as deadly forms of self-defense and attack. Some forms included here gave birth to newer forms and some forms have developed within the past century. Regardless, they are all some seriously dangerous and often lethal martial art styles. Since some names such as Karate and Kung Fu are umbrella terms for groups of individual martial arts, they are not included at large on this list. Also, as a disclaimer for all our devoted martial arts practitioners, it’s nearly impossible to truly rank the most dangerous or most deadly martial arts techniques as reliable numbers and definitions of deadliness don’t exist. So this list focuses on 25 of the most dangerous and/or deadly martial arts that exist, not in any particular order (though stronger techniques were placed to the front). What do you think should be number one or in the top five? Share with your sensei this list of the 25 most dangerous martial arts ever created.
Formally known as Pugilism, Boxing is one of the most well-known martial arts practiced today (and one of the oldest – it dates back to Ethiopia in 6,000 B.C.). The ancient Greeks first elevated boxing to an organized sport by including it in the Olympic Games of B.C. 688 and it remains an Olympic sport to this day. Boxing’s focus on striking the face makes it a particularly lethal martial art despite the toned-down events which are broadcast on television today.
Shaolin Kung Fu
Though Kung Fu is an umbrella term for various martial arts, the variety of Kung Fu originating from and practiced at the Shaolin Monastery in China’s Hunan province is one of the best-known (and one of the most lethal). Lawlessness in the surrounding provinces and the monastery’s need to be protected led to the rise of Shaolin Kung Fu, often practiced by the Buddhist monks for up to five hours per day.
Varma Kalai is an ancient Indian martial arts style traced back to the god Shiva and his instruction. More than just a fighting technique, Varma Kalai includes aspects of traditional massage where pressure points are used to heal as well as aspects of Ayurveda to treat paralysis and nervous disorders, among other things. Due to practitioners’ superior knowledge of the body, the combat version – Marma Adi – focuses on striking pressure points in the nerves and organs in order to incapacitate an opponent.
Jeet Kune Do
Jeet Kune Do is the fighting system developed by renowned martial arts expert Bruce Lee (Chinese name: Lee Jun-fan 李振藩). Though more a philosophy than pure martial arts, it is still often considered for discussion in the martial arts world. Using the least possible movement with the greatest possible impact and intercepting one’s opponent as they begin an attack, Jeet Kune Do focuses on speed and a smooth flow between attack styles. Lee often referred to this dangerous style as the “art of expressing the human body”.
The collection of survivalist techniques in war-town feudal Japan, Ninjutsu is practiced by the shinobi (known as ninjas outside Japan). Part martial art, part trickery, Ninjitsu and its practitioners frequently were employed as assassins or spies. Master of stealth, the shinobi were also skilled archers and runners. Though they could fight hand-to-hand, these dangerous warriors often employed weapons such as shurikens and the katana.