Karate, kung fu, and jiu-jitsu – these are some of the most popular martial arts. Studios and classes that teach these art forms flourish around the world. But did you know that there are other martial arts that seek to maim and kill? Here are 10 martial arts that you probably haven’t heard of:

  • 1.Rough and Tumble

Practiced during the 18th and 19th centuries, Rough and Tumble fighters emphasized maximum disfigurement and possessed a ferocity that can only be described as intent to kill. In fact, some fighters filed their teeth into razor-sharp weapons, and a number of men lost their manhood! It was heartless and brutal to its core, and acquiring a life-altering injury was always a possibility.

  • 2.Bokator

This Cambodian martial art goes back to the armies of Angkor who dominated the battlefields of Indochina over 1700 years ago. Its movements are based on various animals, such as snakes, horses, and lions, to name a few. Bokator fighters have over 10,000 techniques in their arsenal, giving them endless options for engagement.

  • 3.Lerdrit

Derived from the traditional fighting techniques practiced by the Thai Royal Army, Lerdrit is similar to Muay Thai and Muay Boran. Its difference lies in the attack strategies, such as attacking without warning and deploying kill strikes that end the match as soon as possible.

  • 4.Bakom

Founded in the 1980s by a former Marine and ex-convict, Bakom is a ruthless martial art that teaches one to quickly disable an opponent as well as the use of hidden weapons. Common techniques include dangerous arm locks and merciless chokeholds, all deployed at breakneck speeds.

  • 5.Systema

The official martial art of the Russian Spetsnaz, Systema’s philosophies are deeply-rooted in the laws of biomechanics and anatomy. Practitioners focus on the natural weaknesses of the human form so that it can be manipulated at will.

  • 6.Dambe

Developed by the Hausa people of West Africa, Dambe fighters use their strong-side fist as their primary weapon. The fist is wrapped in a piece of cloth while the fighter’s favored leg is wrapped in a thick chain.

  • 7.Jailhouse Rock

Jailhouse Rock is no-frills brawling developed by inmates in America’s jailhouses. One of its most notable training methods is the ’52 pick-up,’ where a deck of cards is scattered on the floor, and the trainees are made to pick them up in order while being beaten by three or more people.

  • 8.Silat

Developed by headhunting tribes in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, Silat has hundreds of different styles of combat, which include joint manipulation and grappling. Silat is currently used by several military groups throughout the Malay Archipelago.

  • 9.Kalari Payat

The oldest fighting system in existence, Kalari Payat has many variations and sub-types that specialize in different facets of armed and unarmed combat. One of the most notable is Marma Arti which can instantly paralyze or kill.

  • 10.Okichitaw

This is a hybrid art that combines the fury of the Native American fighting spirit and the methods of popular Asian styles. Similar to aikido, okichitaw techniques are based on the idea that even if the practitioner is empty-handed, his/her strikes are performed as if a weapon is being used.


Have you ever heard of any of these martial arts, or seen them in action?