I'm curious of the mix-ability in various styles of martial arts. Like there are some that seem almost opposite like judo/aikido with throws/holds appear opposite to karate/tae-kwon-do with strikes. But sometimes these opposites seem to complement the other style thus making it a more full martial arts combo instead of the weaknesses of a single style alone. Also there are themes like open hand and closed fist styles as well as various body motion forms that play a part (i.e. Capoeira being fluid and on hands a lot vs. a more rigid style...don't appear to mix as well).

Question: Are there any specific Martial Art combinations proven to be a good complement to each other and if so what are those and how do they best complement each other?


5 Answers 5


Many martial arts with a history, it turns out, are amalgamations of other fighting styles from the past as well. What usually determines when fighting methods will complement each other, or not, is these two basic factors:

Positional Philosophy

How do you enter the opponent's space, and where do you want to be in relation to them? Are you trying to push through their center and take them off balance? Are you flanking to the side, with the goal of taking their back? (Is there an expectation of multiple opponents and a need to keep changing position/direction for safety?) etc.

Power Generation

Where does the power in strikes or grappling techniques come from? Twisting from the hip, dropping weight with steps, forward/backward whipping of the back and spine, pressing off the back foot, hard to read core activations? Something else?

Two examples for consideration

Many styles of Filipino Kali/escrima tend to work well with Western boxing and Muay Thai. This happens to be because all three primarily generate their power from hip rotation and entering space from forward angles. There's no need to shift weight or footwork methods to any serious degree to switch between the techniques and the force generation being the same makes all of them work well. The context for combat more than sport, especially assuming bladed weapons are in play, means you don't see a lot of ground grappling, so not much need to focus on it.

In comparison, you can see a lot of people whose coaches have given them "Muay Thai + Wrestling" without really any thought to how to transition them. The wide stances of wrestling with grounded feet or falling with the opponent vs. the narrow stances of Muay Thai means you often see whether these folks are in "striking mode" or "grappling mode" as they will shift stance before doing each thing. (Smarter training covers this shift with a feint or attack, so the step out to wide stance or the draw in to narrow is less obvious).


(Not much of an answer, but contributed as requested by mutt in comments)

TKD folks often branch into Hapkido - especially if you're from ITF it is a closed fist / linear / hard to open / circular / soft contrast, and that's actually why it adds some value, especially if you're getting older and don't want to rely so much on brute strength.

Still, while the combination is common / popular, and having myself studied Hapkido for several years after a TKD foundation - I'm not convinced Hapkido adds a lot of empty-hand self-defence value to someone with a solid foundation in a more old-fashioned karate-like style of TKD (or of course, someone with an actual karate or other hard, linear striking style background). Hapkido covers so many things - striking, joint locks, throws, weapons, falling and rolling, there's a tendency to produce jack-of-all-trades students who are masters-of-none. It's hard to use joint locks against a serious striker, and the throws aren't drilled like they would be in a judo or ju-jitsu style, so it's unlikely a Hapkido person could often pull off good throws or joint locks against a striker with a similar level of training experience and physical ability.

The most practical thing I took from Hapkido was just a softer attitude towards blocking and controlling the limbs - blending in with the opponent more as I close the gap and cover myself from potential attacks the opponent's in position to deliver. That's not so much a direct application of Hapkido techniques as an improved understanding of the arcing paths around the body that the hands are able to make as my arms come in contact with my opponent's - even if not joint locking, similar tension and motion allows me to trap and jam opponents while I close the gap to strike. I suspect other arts like Wing Chun would be a much shorter path for a karate/TKD practitioner to gain a far better understanding of this space. My tai chi training helps similarly, and with explosive force too.


Judo goes very nicely with shorinji kempo. One starts where the other finishes.

Taikwondo and karate are so close that asside from kata a move could be from either or both.

The only times martial arts don't go well is where one actually has moves or ideas that contradict another's. Eg karate and shorinji kempo have completely different punching shapes. Or aikido and shorinji kempo that use arms length and close to body wrist manipulation respectively.


Judo and boxing make a great combo. Take a look at any Ronda Rousey videos to see them together in action.


Yes some styles of fighting go well together. I mix boxing with tai-chi and jujitsu. But it might also make different openings or weaknesses, but increase and make new strengths.

  • 2
    To make this a useful answer, describe what makes you think these go well together. What openings or weaknesses are there? What new strengths are there?
    – mattm
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 2:32

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