An Overview of Basic Martial Arts Techniques

Females sparring.
Two female martial arts practitioners engage in sparring. John Moore/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Martial arts techniques are not magical, in the way that some movies might lead you to believe. Beginners sometimes really seem to believe that black belt practitioners can jump over four cars and take out three attackers along the way before they even hit the ground. In reality, those flowery 360 degree kicks and the like are fun to watch on film, but are oftentimes not the most effective self-defense techniques in reality based combat.

In the end, the sheer variety of martial arts techniques available to practitioners is numerous. Thus, an overview of these in category form seems an appropriate beginning step for readers looking to understand a little bit more about the moves that truly make martial arts special.

General Martial Arts Techniques

Blocks: The act of stopping an opponent's attempt at striking, usually with the arm. However, other limbs are also used for blocking purposes.

Footwork and Stances: Footwork is one of the most underrated skills a martial artist must possess in order to effectively defend themselves. Professional fighters work on these martial arts techniques to a great extent. In addition, stances are important to both sport and traditional martial arts. One example of a stance utilized in more traditional martial arts styles like Kung Fu and karate is the Horse Stance.

Stick and move, people!

Strikes: Striking in martial arts generally refers to the stand up offensive game.

In other words, punches, kicks, elbows, headbutts, knees, and the like. Of course, strikes can also be used in ground fighting as well.

Submissions: Submissions basically refer to joint locks and choke holds. Generally, these are done on the ground—though some can be executed while standing—and the idea is to cause an opponent to give up or submit.

Of course, if they don’t give up when a submission hold is employed then serious damage could occur.

Takedowns: Takedowns refer to the act of taking an opponent to the ground. This can be done either through wrestling moves such as single and double leg takedowns or throws. 

Throws: Throws are a specific type of takedown that is more defensive in nature. These can generally be defined as martial arts maneuvers or techniques whereby a practitioner locks up with someone and uses their own strength against them to take them to the ground. Throws are very connected with the martial arts styles of judo, aikido (both are Japanese martial arts style), as well as hapkido (a Korean martial arts style).  

The Styles that Make Up the Moves:

No overview of basic martial arts techniques would be complete without looking at the styles that make up the arts.  Check out some of them below.  Maybe one of these is exactly the correct style for you!