These Forms of Martial Arts Can Lead to Weight Loss

No matter how many times you switch your lifting routine or try a new piece of cardio equipment, working out at the gym has a way of feeling stale. Of course there are other options, but they all seem to appeal to a specific type of person. CrossFit can be pretty intense and endurance sports require a huge time investment. Consider something you may have dabbled in as a kid: martial arts. Deciding to take the plunge is the easy part. Figuring out what type of martial art to choose is where things get a little bit trickier, because there are so many different kinds.

Here are seven of the most popular forms to help you make a decision.

1. Judo

IJF Judo Grand Slam, Tokyo

Judo will keep you toned. | Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

What really sets judo apart from other forms of martial arts is the lack of striking, focusing instead on throwing. About Sports explained this goes back to the founding morals, which stress it as a means of defense. Those of you hoping to land some punches and kicks probably aren’t going to enjoy this style very much. Those who really have an interest in learning how to defend themselves, though, could stand to get a lot out of judo. Men’s Fitness said it’s a high-impact activity that will challenge your whole body, particularly your core.

2. Krav Maga

martial arts

Krav Maga is fast-paced and tough. |

Instead of focusing on just defense, Krav Maga seeks to combine defensive and offensive moves simultaneously. It’s fast and it’s aggressive. If you easily get bored with workouts, Krav Maga could be a great choice. You’ll be in nearly perpetual motion as you protect yourself and try to anticipate your opponent’s next move. Men’s Health UK especially likes this form of martial art as a way to learn practical self-defense while building muscle.

3. Kung Fu

Warrior Monks Of Shaolin Temple, Kung Fu

Kung Fu requires quick movements. | Cancan Chu/Getty Images

While there are a variety of styles, CBS News explained they all focus on striking opponents quickly and forcefully. Those who have always envisioned themselves taking down opponents à la Bruce Lee should look into Kung Fu. It’s typically fast-paced, combining strikes, kicks, and blocks. Practitioners are also known for having beautiful form, so it may be up your ally if you want to look good while getting in shape.

4. Taekwando

2014 Asian Games - Day 11, taekwondo

Taekwando involves a lot of kicking and punching. |

Since its introduction to America in the 1960s, taekwondo has become one of the most popular martial arts in the country. If you live for competition, taekwondo is one of the best choices for you. It’s one of only two types of martial art included in the Olympic Games, so unlike most of the other forms of self-defense, you’ll have tons of opportunities to compete. That being said, it can also be sort of pricey as it calls for a fair amount of equipment.

5. Tai Chi

tai chi

Tai Chi is great for stress relief. | Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

Feeling stressed? Tai chi’s slow, controlled movements may be exactly what you need to chill out. Mayo Clinic recommends this exercise for nearly every type of person since it can increase your strength and flexibility while helping reduce stress levels. Some studies have even suggested it could improve the quality of your sleep.

6. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Championship, brazilian

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a combination of fighting and wrestling. | Francois Nel/Getty Images

Sort of like a combination of martial arts and wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu is for guys who are after an intense challenge. Breaking Muscle said it’s a great way to build strength and general awareness of your body. Since so much time is spent on the ground, it’s not exactly the most practical form of defense. If you’re more interested in learning how to protect yourself from assailants, look elsewhere.

7. Karate

15th Asian Games Doha 2006 - Men's Karate

Karate is a great full-body exercise. | Paul Gilham/Getty Images

This style is unique in that it’s truly a full-body practice, utilizing punches, kicks, elbowing, and throwing. Though there’s room for variation, karate tends to involve a lot of upper body work. That means it’s a good choice for anyone who may be looking to build arm strength and coordination. This style also tends to be less competition-driven than taekwando, so it’s good for those who are most interested in a personal challenge.