What Martial Arts Are In The Olympics? (Complete List)

Competitive combat and martial arts have been included in the Olympics since their ancient roots in 776 BC which included hand-to-hand sports like boxing, wrestling, and Pankraton.

This is because competing in combat events like this has always been popular enough to constitute competing at an Olympic level.

What Martial Arts Are In The Olympics?

Back in the ancient Olympics however, combat was a lot more violent and a lot less controlled than it is now.

Nowadays, when physical sports like this are included they have strict sets of rules to follow to make sure to avoid injuries. 

While as mentioned, the Olympics has ancient roots, they did not carry on continuously since then, and the modern Olympics we know today were only reintroduced in 1896.

Since then, it has been hosted every 4 years by different countries that vie for the opportunity to do so.

Since the modern Olympics restarted, the lineup of which sports are included has constantly changed, and this includes martial arts.

At this point in time, the 6 martial arts that are included in the Olympics are Fencing, Boxing, Judo, Karate, Wrestling, and Taekwondo. For more information on these Olympic sports keep reading!

Olympic Boxing

Olympic Boxing

Boxing is seen as one of the standard Olympic sports and has been included in almost every Olympic Games. Olympic boxing is overseen by a referee over the sequence of 1 to 3 minute length rounds.

There are also 5 judges that will award points based on successful hits, with the winner having earned the most points.

If they draw the judges will announce a winner based on who performed more closely to the technical rules.

There are 3 main styles of boxing that are included and all of these styles will have different subsections within them. These styles include; outside fighter, brawler, and inside fighter.

Outside fighter is where a boxer keeps a distance from their opponent and strikes are long range and fast. Brawler is also known as slugger where technique is sacrificed for power.

Finally inside fighter is a technique where opponents stay close and use powerful punches (Find out how to do a one inch punch here). These punches include hooks and uppercuts.

Olympic Fencing

While some people may not know that weapon based sports can count as martial arts, fencing is an example of this. Fencing was first played in the Olympics in the first modern Olympics back in 1896.

Fencing is a sword fighting duel between two opponents. Within the Olympics the 3 main styles of fencing are all present.

These three styles of fencing are; foil, épée, and sabre. These forms are named after the weapons which are used. 

In foil the sword is not over 500 grams and can only be aimed at the torso excluding legs and arms. The end of the sword has a small disc to stop any painful stabs and only contact from the tip will count towards points.

In épée the weight is slightly higher at 775g and the whole body is counted for points. But similarly to foil only contact from the point counts.

Finally, in sabre, the sword is the same maximum of 500 grams and all the body above the waist is target excluding the hands. Unique to this form, contact from any part of the sword counts.

Olympic Judo

Olympic Judo

Judo is seen as a modern martial art of Japanese origin and it began practicing in 1882 with origins from Jiu-Jitsu. Points are usually scored by throwing opponents.

Every country can only send one Judo fighter per weight class of which there are 7 for both men and women ending up at 14.

Male weight categories are; under 60kg, 60-66kg, 66-73kg, 73-81kg, 81-90kg, 90-100kg, and finally 100kg. For women the weight categories are; under 48kg, 48-52kg, 52-57kg, 57-63kg, 63-70kg, 70-78kg, and over 78kg. 

Within these categories there are 100 techniques; 68 are throws and 32 are grapples/

Olympic Karate

Karate was intended to make its debut in the delayed Tokyo 2020 games and it features both kata and Kumite events and has over 80 participants.

60 of these players in Kumite events and only 20 in kata. Kata shows the player displaying and demonstrating a variety of offensive and defensive skills to judges.

Kata lets the players choose what they want to use for the fight while Kumite is sparring where players fight against eachother to score 8 point to win.

There are 7 judges present who will judge based on a combination of the athletic and technical performance and these factors are kept in mind when scoring points.

Olympic Taekwondo

Olympic Taekwondo

Taekwondo was included in demonstrative form in the Seoul 1988 games but it was only properly debuted as a sport awarded medals in Sydney 2000.

There are both male and female categories for this iconic kicking martial art form. 

There are 4 weight classes for both men and women; flyweight, featherweight, middleweight, and heavy weight. Olympic Taekwondo matches are on a 8×8 meter court and points are given when target areas are hit.

But points can also be deducted when rules are broken. The points are usually scored by a scoreboard connected to the protective equipment.

Olympic Wrestling

Finally, Olympic wrestling is one of the older Olympic sports and has a large variety of participants from around the world. In modern Olympics there are two main categories each with their own weight restrictions.

Greco Roman wrestling has been included since 1896 and in this form players cannot tackle from under the waist and can not use legs for offense or defense.

Freestyle wrestling was introduced in 1904 and as the name suggests does not have the rule restrictions for legs and below the waist the Greco does.


So these are the 6 martial arts that are included in the Olympic Games! Which one are you most interested in watching, and which one would you like to compete in if you do not already?

Christopher Anderson
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