8 Killer Martial Arts From Southeast Asia That Could Save Your Life

But you've probably never heard of them before!

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1. Arnis, the official sport of the Philippines

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Also known as Eskrima or Kali, Arnis is part of FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) and was declared the official sport of the Philippines in 2010. Arnis fighters often utilise weapons like daggers, sticks, and swords in pairs, while also training in hand-to-hand combat.

2. Bokator, the way to pound a lion

Translated literally as "pounding a lion", this Cambodian fighting system mimics the movements of 10 different animals, including crab, crocodile, and lion. With over 10,000 fighting techniques including strikes, throws, and submissions, seasoned Bokator fighters have limitless ways of bringing their opponents to subjection.

3. Lerdrit, how the Thai Royal Army fights

Lerdrit is a Thai martial arts style used by the Thai Royal Army. Designed for life-or-death situations, the emphasis of Lerdrit is to attack swiftly and end the fight (with the intention of killing) with one strike. In the game, Street Fighter credits M. Bison as the creator of Lerdrit, but it's safe to say M. Bison was the one who stole a few moves.

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4. Pencak Silat Mande Muda, the Silat with a sarong

You've heard of Silat, but have you heard of Pencak Silat Mande Muda that uses sarong as a weapon? Believe it or not, the sarong is actually a powerful weapon that can be used to hold and lock opponents, or even defend against blades. Originally founded by Pak Uyuh in Indonesia, it has now become a martial art open to outsiders as well.

5. Bando, the path of the black panther

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Bando is a fighting style from Myanmar. Unlike the previous martial arts mentioned above, Bando prioritises self-defense over offensive measures. It also incorporates animal-like movements, with the highest level being the black panther. Maybe that's how T'Challa got all his moves.

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6. Lethwei, the art of nine limbs

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Lethwei is another martial art from Myanmar that emphasises bare-knuckle boxing. That means, instead of wearing boxing gloves, Lethwei users just wrap their hands with gauze and tape. What's more, there are no holds barred, meaning users can fight with their fists, elbows, knees, feet and even their heads! This is why Lethwei is also known as "The Art of Nine Limbs".

7. Vovinam, the hard yet soft fighting style

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Vovinam is the largest and most developed martial art in Vietnam based on the principle between hard and soft. Users are not only trained in terms of physical fighting, but are also taught to shape their minds. In fact, some Vietnamese are even using Vovinam as a treatment to curb gaming addiction and other disorders.

8. Krabi-Krabong, the Thai weapon-based martial arts

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If you're into swords, bladed staffs and clubs, Krabi-Krabong is a weapon-based fighting style from Thailand. This same style was used by the Siamese warriors on the battlefield as well as the royal bodyguard corps. There is also an unarmed version called Muay Boran that makes use of kicks, locks, and throws.

If martial arts seem a little too overwhelming for you, here are some other ways you can #stayfit: