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Way of the wanderer: martial arts around the world

Way of the wanderer: martial arts around the world

Skyscanner explores the world of martial arts

Number one famous Belgian, Jean-Claude Van Damme, was probably the first on-screen martial arts traveller, in his cult classic – Kickboxer. Determined to enact a horrible revenge on a Thai fighter who has paralysed his brother, he trains in the jungle with a moustachioed guru and spends some time doing the splits and kicking trees.

Much as this remains firmly in the realms of the “very silly, but quite entertaining” category, the intrepid traveller with a penchant for fighting can go all over the world to experience authentic martial arts first hand.

kungfu.JPG1. Kung Fu, China

Bruce Lee brought this fighting style to prominence in the West and remains its iconic figure. There are a number of Chinese martial arts academies which will happily take foreigners to perfect their skills. In the blurb on one, I found out that “Many students who have been studying for 1-3 months have been able to cut a brick in two using their bare hands by the end of their stay.” Not a bad pub trick, I think you’ll agree. Find cheap flights to China

2. Muay Thai boxing, Thailand

This is the Van Damme one and is known as the “art of the eight limbs” – presumably this is when your original four have each been broken. It is Thailand’s national sport, and those keen to get involved will find plenty of training opportunities. One course I found had training starting at 5:30am (with tree kicking from six I imagine) and if this isn’t living out a movie dream, then I don’t know what is. Find cheap flights to Thailand

3. Krav Maga, Israel

Krav Maga is the martial art of choice for everyone’s favourite amnesiac assassin, Jason Bourne, which he uses in the highly successful films. Developed in the late 1940s in Israel, the translation literally means “contact combat”, and it has been incorporated into the training of Special Forces soldiers, the FBI and Mossad to name but a few. I have never seen Jason Bourne lose a fight, so am thoroughly sold. Find cheap flights to Israel

4. Tae Kwon Do, South Korea

There are all kinds of opportunities to study this Korean martial art in its home country whilst also learning Korean at the same time. The combination programmes can last anything from one month to a year, whilst if you just want to study the martial art, then it is possible to train at any level from beginners to those whose skills are at an advanced stage. Find cheap flights to South Korea

karate.JPG5. Karate, Japan

Karate or “empty hand” is probably the best known of all martial arts, and where better to hone your skills than in the land of its birth. Developed in Okinowa, as a self-defence system, this discipline focuses on nurturing spiritual and physical strength. Though, anyone watching films in the 80s will also know it can be learned by painting Mr Miyagi’s fence and washing his cars. Find cheap flights to Japan

6. Judo, Japan

This is another one that many will have heard of. More similar perhaps to wrestling than other fighting techniques, the judoka (one who practises the art) battles his opponent by aiming to throw him or her or grapple with them until a submission hold is achieved. In the past, Westerners were not always welcome to train in Japanese dojos, but these days, things have changed. Find cheap flights to Japan

7. Arnis, Philippines

Head off to the Far East and learn this Filipino martial art which I suspect few outside the country will have heard of. The primary weapon here is a rattan stick usually about 28 inches in length. If sticks aren’t enough for you, there is also the chance to get handy with swords and daggers too. Find cheap flights to the Philippines

8. Bukido, California, USA

Richard “Mack” Machowicz is a former Navy SEAL who now presents Future Weapons on The Discovery Channel. He is clearly a well-qualified chap when it comes to punch ups, and has developed his own martial art. He also has a black belt in acronyms as demonstrated by just two of his training courses, Fundamental Individual Skills Training (F.I.S.T) and Brutally Effective Assualt Survival Training (B.E.A.S.T). Find cheap flights to the USA

9. Capoeira, Brazil

This is an unusual martial art that combines elements of fighting with music and dance. The origin is disputed with some suggesting that it was created in Brazil by slaves brought from Africa, with others suggesting an African influence on traditional Brazilian fighting skills. The acrobatic and graceful moves in this unusual martial art give it a uniquely aesthetic appeal, and it even has a rather attractive name. Find cheap flights to Brazil

10. Yağlı güreş – Turkey

And finally, this is my very favourite option. This Turkish tradition involves large men covered in oil and wrestling in a slippery kind of way. There may be some skill in there, but it is not entirely obvious where. The other benefit of this sport, is that I am not sure it’s entirely necessary to travel to Turkey to do it either. Recreate, your own version at home by putting on your Y-fronts, covering yourself in chip fat, and jumping on the fat bloke next door. Find cheap flights to Turkey