Martial arts have been around for centuries, but it has enjoyed some of the most mainstream success it has ever had outside of figures like Bruce Lee in recent years. Martial arts has a rich history in the Olympic games. The 668 BCE Olympics saw the debut of boxing. Pankration was introduced at an Olympic event in 648 BCE. Pankration is a precursor to MMA, which has exploded in popularity thanks to the UFC.

The Olympics this year feature six different forms of martial arts. These include boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, Taekwondo, and fencing. Let’s dive into each of these martial arts.


Boxing features combat using just your hands. The athletes typically wear headgear in the Olympics, but not on the pro level. In boxing, the athletes are not allowed to kick or take their opponents down. Boxing is strictly punching, footwork, and defense. The boxers can also clinch, but will be warned if it’s excessive.


Here’s a martial art that has become quite popular when it comes to high-level MMA competition. Wrestling is not only one of the most effective forms of martial arts, but it’s also one of the oldest. Its roots in the Olympic Games can be traced back to 708 BC in Ancient Greece. In 1896, Greco-Roman wrestling made its way to Athens. St. Louis first witnessed the introduction of freestyle wrestling in 1904.


Judo is a more recent martial art in comparison to others, but its history is still renowned. Tokyo played host to Judo’s first run in the Olympics back in 1964. In 1992, women’s judo events rolled out.


While judo is more of a newer martial art when compared to other disciplines, karate will be making its Olympic debut in 2021. The kata and Kumite competitions will be featured in the 2021 Olympics.


Seoul got to host the Taekwondo Olympic debut back in 1988 but as a demonstration. It wasn’t until the Sydney Games in 2000 that Taekwondo got its due as a full medal sport.


Fencing has been around for centuries. The martial arts debuted at the Olympics in Athens back in 1896. The women began to take part in Fencing at the Olympics back in 1924.