Legend has it that an Indian Monk took Martial Arts to China and without going through all of the developments of Chinese Boxing, you had the establishment of the famous Shaolin Temple and if you haven’t watched the cult 1970’s television series Kung Fu, then you should!
There is also another theory that the Russians were involved in the start of Martial Arts Styles and that most of the Chinese Imperial bodyguards were indeed Russian.
So we can look at the origins of Martial Arts Styles and conclude that they started in the East and then spread throughout Asia, Russia and then to the West. So this has led to the development of many Martial Arts Styles.
Let’s fast forward to the Martial Arts Styles of today and we have everything from US Military Combat systems, Brazilian Martial Arts, Mixed Martial Arts, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and of course Russian Martial Arts (I am a little biased obviously)!
Take Japanese Martial Arts for example – there is Karate, Aikido, Jiu Jitsu, Kendo, and Laido etc. There are many theories (depending on who you talk to) as to the origin of these arts such as they originated from Chinese Boxing, but what you have is a diverse range of Martial Arts from one Country, all of which are very effective.
The Chinese have a huge and wide range of ‘Chinese Boxing’ systems which can for simplicity, be divided into Northern and Southern systems.
Many Northern Chinese Martial Artists were horsemen and had very strong legs, so kicking is favored, whereas in the south, strong arm and hand techniques were the foundation. There is a strong link between Southern Chinese Martial Arts styles and the Goju Ryu style of Karate from Okinawa.
Of course you cannot have any discussion about Martial Arts Styles without including the famous Southern Chinese art of Wing Chun, popularized by the famous Bruce Lee.
The interesting part about this is that Mr. Lee went on to combine many styles and what eventually became Jeet Kune Do, probably the first ‘fusion’ style of Martial Arts and you could even say that it was the foundation of Mixed Martial Arts!
Martial Arts Styles from Russia are diverse and include Russian fist fighting, Sambo and Systema and combine grapping with punching and kicking.
For me, it is never much about Martial Arts Styles, but the person behind it and whatever style you practice you must work hard to develop not only the technique, but the sprit of fighting.