Martial Arts Olympic Sports (All You Need to Know)

Boxing, fencing, judo, Karate, Taekwondo, and Wrestling are well-known Olympic martial arts sports with millions of practitioners and fans worldwide.

Martial arts existed long and were among the first Olympic sports, even in Ancient Greece. This is because many people practice martial arts for fitness, self-defense, improving physical and mental health, and other reasons.

Wrestling, boxing, and other martial arts have competed in the Olympics. Among other things, this article will walk you through the ultimate list of Olympic martial arts. Keep an eye out!

What Martial Arts Are Olympic Sports?

The first summer Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896, with only nine contested sports. Since then, various sports, including diverse martial arts disciplines, have been contested in the Olympics.

Here is the ultimate list of martial arts Olympic sports:

Taekwondo

is taekwondo in the olympics

Taekwondo is a traditional Korean striking martial art that teaches a wide range of kicking and punching techniques. It is now one of the most popular martial arts, with millions of practitioners and enthusiasts.

TKD made its Olympic debut as a demonstration sport in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, TKD was once again a demonstration sport.

Taekwondo first appeared as a medal event at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 and has been an Olympic sport ever since.

Otherwise, Taekwondo has over 20 million practitioners in over 212 countries. Thanks to the enormous efforts of the World Taekwondo Federation (founded in 1973) to improve the TKD sport globally.

Recommended: Why is Taekwondo an Olympic sport?

Judo

is judo in the olympics

Judo is one of the world’s most popular grappling martial arts, with millions of practitioners and fans. It is a classic Japanese grappling sport developed from the jujitsu martial art by Jigoro Kano in the 1880s.

According to the International Judo Federation, there are over 2 million judoka worldwide, with black belts in Asia and more colored belts in Europe.

Judo became an Olympic sport after appearing in Tokyo at the 1964 Summer Olympics. Despite being removed from the program in 1968 and then reinstated in 1972, it has never missed an Olympic game since.

Aside from it, Women’s Judo made its Olympic debut in 1988 as a demonstration sport before becoming an official Olympic event in 1992. Since then, the Women’s Judo Olympic tournament has been an essential part of the games.

This achievement illustrates the dedication of all Judo institutions, especially the International Judo Federation, to improve and regulate this gentle martial art discipline.

Suggested Article: Why is Judo an Olympic sport?

Boxing

olympic boxing weight classes

Boxing is one of the world’s most famous stand-up striking martial arts sports. Boxers fought each other while standing and wearing gloves and mouthguards until the referee ended the bout. 

The Sport of Boxing has been Olympic martial art since the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, United States‎, except in 1912. Women’s boxing has been included in the Olympic program since the 2012 Summer Games.

Boxing matches at the Olympic Games last for three rounds of three minutes each. Then, five judges score the bout, awarding points for successful hits. The fighter with more points wins the match.

Related Article: Olympic Boxing Weight Classes

Wrestling

are there any wrestling takedowns in jiu jitsu

Wrestling has been a feature of the Olympics since the inaugural competition in Athens in 1896. However, it was absent once at the Summer Olympics in 1900. The women’s Olympic wrestling tournament first took place in 2004.

Yet, Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in human history, contested at the ancient Olympic games in 708 BCE. However, ancient Wrestling, known as palé, differs from modern.

Nowadays, Wrestling is a fantastic and popular grappling martial art with millions of active practitioners. From 2006 to 2017, more than 26 million individuals wrestled in the United States, according to Statista. In 2008, Wrestling had over 3.36 million participants in the United States.

Aside from that, three primary forms of Wrestling are practiced in the United States and other places around the globe.

But only Greco-Roman Wrestling (men only) and freestyle wrestling (men and women) are in the Olympics.

Related Article: Why is Wrestling an Olympic sport?

Karate

olympic karate weight divisions

Karate originated throughout East Asia for millennia before becoming systematized in Okinawa in the 17th century. Yet, it debuted in Japan in the 1920s, and numerous Japanese martial arts schools used Karate to develop diverse, effective striking methods and systems.

Today, Karate is a well-known striking combat sport that is practiced all over the world. Consequently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) included this combat sport in the Olympics.

Karate made its debut in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, in 2020 in two forms: Kumite and Kata Karate. There were three main Karate Olympic weight classes for each gender in the Kumite competition and two pools of 5 or 6 karatekas in the Kata competition.

However, this is only a temporary win because Karate was eliminated from the Paris Olympics in 2024 and may get the same verdict in the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

Related: Why Karate was removed from the Paris Olympics in 2024

Fencing

Source: NBC Sports

Fencing has been an Olympic martial art since the 1896 Games in Athens. Otherwise, the women fencing Olympic competition started at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

Fencing weapons include foil, epée, and saber. Fencing consists of both individual and team competitions. 

Conclusion

Summer Olympic Games are among the most prestigious tournaments in which nations compete for gold medals. It is held every four years and includes a variety of sports disciplines, including martial arts.

Aside from that, the Olympic Games were contested in ancient Greece as many as 3,000 years ago. But the modern Olympic tournament started in Athens in 1896.

Here is a recap of the list of martial arts Olympic sports:

  • Taekwondo
  • Judo
  • Boxing
  • Karate
  • Fencing
  • Wrestling

We hope this article has helped you learn the various Olympic martial arts sports.

Recommended: Why is MMA not in the Olympics?

References