List of 6 Most Popular Korean Martial Arts Styles

Korean Martial Arts

Hapkido

A cross between Korean and Japanese martial arts, Hapkido is well known among Korean martial arts. It involves a variety of kicks, punches, hand strikes, and joint manipulation. The standing locks for wrists and elbows, and several throws in this fighting style are also based on joint manipulation.

The origins of this style are disputed but it is commonly believed that Choi Yong-Sool started teaching a style that later evolved into Hapkido. This style incorporates elements from Judo, Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do, and Aikido. The main purpose of this style is to disable the enemy through quick striking followed by a throw or a lock.

Hwa Rang Do

Hwa Rang Do can be translated as “way of the flowering manhood”. This art was taught to young men of aristocratic families in medieval times, and it is still a popular Korean martial art. This style incorporates armed and unarmed fighting techniques along with spiritual elements, and intellectual and artistic training.

The nine virtues taught in Hwa Rang Do are humanity, justice, courtesy, wisdom, trust, goodness, virtue, loyalty, and courage. The students also get to learn fighting with nunchucks, swords, and staffs. In Hwa Rang Do, hard and soft techniques are combined in a way that the fighter can overcome any obstacle thrown in his or her path.

Kuk Sool Won

Kuk Sool Won is a relatively new Korean martial art and was created in the 1960s by Hyuk Suh. It can also be called the Korean MMA, as it borrows the best elements from all Korean martial arts. It involves throws, hand and foot striking, and locks. It also involves weapons techniques, healing techniques, and meditation.

Those looking for overall conditioning and an all round style should really look into Kuk Sool Won. It is Korea’s second largest martial art, and is becoming increasingly popular at a global level. The students willing to learn this art have to pledge to adhere to the rules of martial arts, strive for world peace, to be better at teamwork, and to be loyal to their country.

Tae Kwon Do Korean Martial Arts


Tae Kwon Do (taekwondo) is one of the most popular types of martial arts in the world. It is the most well known among Korean martial arts, and is included in the Olympics and other major sports events. Its origins go all the way back to ancient times, but the modern version is an amalgamation of moves from several styles.

The reason why taekwondo is so popular is that it has a scientific approach and has the ability to absorb new techniques from different styles. Its organic nature can be attributed to the fact that it was not created by one person, but was formed naturally after collaboration of many schools over a long period of time.

Taekkyon

Taekkyon is one of the oldest Korean martial arts and is totally based on unarmed combat. This style includes a variety of hand and foot strikes, and joint locks. Some of the techniques taught in this school even involve head butts. Taekkyon concentrates on development of strength and speed, and the fighting style involves a lot of fluidity and movement. Some of the moves can be described as ‘dance-like’.

This art was taught to warriors before they were trained in weapons. There was a time when Joseon Dynasty banned public teaching and practice of Taekkyon, but the art survived and is now considered a cultural heritage of Korea.

Tang Soo Do Korean Martial Arts

This style concentrates on character building, as well as a variety of kicks, hand strikes, and blocks. There are a few varieties of wrist grabs included among the several moves taught by this school. There is a great emphasis on breathing techniques (i.e. when to exhale and when to inhale during a fight), and light contact sparing.

I also recommend you to read Korean Martial Arts Handbook

Korean Martial Arts Handbook

  1. The Korean martial arts styles are some of the most popular in the world today. Since these martial arts have many techniques, becoming a master in any one requires a long-term commitment.

  2. Well i was actually wondering which Korean martial arts styles are the best well practiced???? How about the least practiced????

    1. I’m pretty sure that Taekwondo has the most practitioners amongst Korean martial arts styles(70 million practitioners in 190 countries around the world https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taekwondo)

      I don’t think that anybody knows which one is the least practiced Korean martial art style, there are many new and small styles, that nobody even practice outside of Korea.

      1. Wow…. i did not know that!!! Is Haedong kumdo widely practiced aswell????
        I’m going to move away from the city i currently live in….so ill stop my martial art training and start elsewhere. I have my doubts on the dojangs in where im going to move, to be frank none of them have got too far in international competitions.(west against asia….)…… do you think im being too paranoid???….or should i review the movements on my own????

        1. Yeah, Haedong Kumdo is quite popular around the world. Although I have never tried it before. So I can’t really recommend you anything. Well. it depends where are you moving to? I know it can be hard to find a good new dojo, when you are moving to a new city, I’ve experienced that myself. But I think any dojo is better than just practice on your own. How long have you been practicing Haedong Kumdo?

          1. no, i dont practice haedong kumdo….. but i practice Taekwondo (Wtf style). I havent practiced for six months due to sickness…..
            Ill be moving to south america…… And in the country where i’ll be going does not seem to hold a very good record when it comes to sparring with the other side of the world(against European and Asian countries )but when it comes to sparring with countries of the americas (north south and central america) they seem to be doing fine.
            I saw a video of a dojang in where im going to move, and even though i still hold my suspicions on how reliable they are, i would like to know what another martial artist has to say:
            https://youtube.com/watch?v=mhbzgg4sTUE&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dmhbzgg4sTUE

            What surprised me is that some movements that i just saw the red belt girl do were movements that i’ve never learned in her level (im one step away from being a black belt). And even i haven’t learned the leg swiping movement….. So, do you think it will be good for me if i continue my training there???(the things they’ll teach me might be different in what they taught me here)

            Or learn another martial art that could help me with an aspect that i cant do well in taekwondo; like learning capoiera (will help keep my flexibility) or kendo (will help with my breathing)

            So i ask to you a fellow martial artist what’s your opinion on what i should do???

          2. It’s really hard to judge from this video. But it looks fine, although I don’t see many high level students in this video. Which girl are you talking about? The one at the end of the video who are defending herself? Plus it’s just a demonstration program, would be much better to see a real competition where they are taking a part.

            If you are one step from the black belt, it’s possible that this dojo might be not good enough for you. I guess you have to go to that dojo and try it your self. You don’t have what to loose right?

            If I were you, I would try other martial arts. But it depends what is your goal. If you want to be of the best at Taekwondo you better stick with it, if you want to be better martial artist in general – try something new. But it’s just my opinion. Follow your heart 🙂

          3. hmmm… you make a good point…. But, like i said im very suspicious because alot of people don’t teach “real” martial arts….. But, the good thing is that ill come back in a year and ill be able to resume training 🙂 What do you think??

            My goal is obviously to be great at it…. But, i thought that if i learn capoeira, i could become more acrobatic…….

            Do you think it’ll begood for me to not do taekwondo for ayer and do capoiera… and then come back and countinue training???? But all i worry about is that I’ll forget alot…
            What do you think???

          4. I think, If you feel like learning Capoeoira, then go for it. I don’t think that you going to forget Taekwondo in one year. It’s too short time to forget. It’s been 5 years since I last time trained Karate, but I still remember almost everything. So don’t worry about it, you will be fine! 🙂 And you can still practice Taekwondo moves while you will be doing Capoeira. You can also ask your current dojo instructor what he thinks would be better for you.

          5. thanks for the advice man!!! I’ll see through it…….
            One more question……. If i learn first KIF kendo will it be faster for me to learn kumdo??? And will it be easier to learn another kendo style from another federation???

          6. No problem dude! I’m glad I can help you.

            These Kendo styles are pretty similar, so yes it would be easier to learn one after studying another. The same with Kumdo. Even if you study completely different styles, you will learn faster if you already have martial arts experience.

          7. ive noticed that people say that taekwondo is a popular martial art. Does popular imply that alot of people practice it?? or people just know about it??

          8. wow thanks ill see what to do…

            You know i was wondering that if you learn kendo first will it be easier to learn kumdo later??? And what is the case of different kendo styles (from different organizations) will it be easier to learn them after learning KIF kendo???

Leave a Reply