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Top 5 Martial Arts Disciplines for Fitness & Weight Loss

by Jed Chiu

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If one has yet to try martial arts, it is impossible to understand just how dangerous it would be during a confrontation or physical attack. Training in martial arts is an excellent way to become fitter and shed weight - but it could even potentially save lives. 

The reason why martial arts training is ideal for enhancing physical fitness is that it combines functional movements with cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, mobility and flexibility, agility, gross motor control, and spatial awareness.

If our goal is to lose a significant amount of weight or improve our level of fitness, we need to do something more exciting than just running on a treadmill to stay motivated. And the practice of martial arts definitely fits the bill.

Below are the top five martial arts disciplines that I believe are the best for weight loss and improved physical fitness:


Muay Thai


Muay Thai fighters in the ring

Muay Thai, the national combat sport of Thailand, is distinguished by its brutal kicks, elbows, and knees. It is a style that is straightforward and doesn’t include a lot of ‘fancy’ or ‘flashy’ techniques such as joint locks, throws, and so on.

Training for Muay Thai focuses on developing kicks, punching, knee hits, fight strategy, movement skills, and conditioning. Workouts might be very tough but its sparring sessions are even more demanding for the body.



Wrestling is a physically demanding discipline

Another type of martial arts discipline that is appropriate for weight loss and fitness is wrestling. It starts in a stand-up position, but the rest takes place mainly on the ground. It features top position control and devastating takedowns. It doesn’t include kicking or punching since it is all about controlling the opponent.

Though those who practice wrestling are prone to back and neck injuries. But in general, it is effective when it comes to improving physical fitness because it has a large emphasis on strength and endurance.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in action

One of the most popular and recognizable martial arts styles in the world, BJJ is characterized by devastating takedowns, throws, joint locks, and limb manipulation, sweeps, chokes, and controlling positions.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training combines aerobic and anaerobic exercise and is therefore very physically demanding. It conditions practitioners in a unique way. Sparring is a primary in nearly every practice and this requires most of the physical demands.


Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)


MMA combines various martial arts disciplines

Combining various traditional styles into cohesive methods of its own, most top MMA athletes tend to be experts in Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo.

Many training camps or MMA gyms allow the practitioner to go through rigorous training without ever having to go through the experience of fighting in the ring. That said, light sparring is sometimes required.

MMA training is very challenging since there are so many techniques and many positions that strongly emphasize strength, speed, agility, and endurance. Because of this reason, MMA athletes are among the fittest athletes in the world.

Olympic Taekwondo


Taekwondo practitioner

It is important to emphasize that there are different styles of Taekwondo, and the Olympic style differs from traditional versions. There is no board breaking, no kata, no throws, etc., it is only about improving the most devastating kicking strategies possible while using one of the widest impressive arsenals of any martial arts style.

Olympic Taekwondo emphasizes both power and speed while utilizing spatial awareness and flexibility to provide many techniques in rapid succession to both head and body. The training is considered more demanding compared to many other disciplines since it only focuses on improving the largest groups of muscle in the body - the legs.


Key Takeaways

Regular practice of at least one martial arts discipline can offer an abundance of physical benefits. It is ideal for people wanting to lose unwanted weight, improve muscular tone, increase cardiovascular endurance, as well as to boost their overall coordination, flexibility, and balance.

If you’ve been looking to become fitter and leaner, I strongly recommend training in one or more of the disciplines that I’ve shared above!


Ready to take your physical fitness to the next level without breaking the bank? Be sure to check out our wide selection of budget martial arts training camps located all over the globe! 

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