Real World Martial Arts Styles In Video Games

When playing video games, it’s easy to see all the things that you can’t do or see in real life. Yet there are many games with real-world inspirations that you can do and see. You may not be able to shoot electricity from your hands like Delsin in Infamous: Second Son, but you can visit the real-life city of Seattle the game takes place in. This is similarly true of martial arts and the fighting styles of various characters used in video games.

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There have been an overwhelming amount of real-world martial arts featured in various video game series, many of which you can go out and learn right now. Whether you want to learn basic self-defense techniques, or be able to do crazy flips and flying kicks, just because these martial arts appear in video games doesn’t mean they are too far-fetched for you to try in your daily life.

10 Kung Fu/ Bak Mei Style (Sifu)

man standing above another man on the ground

Kung Fu has many iterations, lineages, and branching styles that have sprung up throughout the history of China. Although it isn’t clear what specific branch of Kung Fu is used in Sifu, it seems to be based around the stylings of Bak Mei, or Pai Mei as he is also known, an ancient Shaolin monk and master martial artist.

Bak Mei’s particular style, as old as it is, understandably shares similarities with other forms of Kung Fu and Karate. Emphasizing powerful movements and strong stances, the Bak Mei style is said to derive many techniques similar to the traditional tiger forms of Kung Fu.


a man in a dark room pointing a gun

Metal Gear Solid has many references and nods to real-world and fictional inspirations, but its combat system is perhaps the most intriguing one. Close Quarters Combat, or CQC, is a tactical system of ideas, philosophies, and techniques applied during close-proximity confrontations both referenced and passionately adapted into the gameplay and story of Metal Gear Solid.

Although less of a fighting style and more of a system of strategic best practices, the various techniques and philosophies of CQC make it an incredibly versatile art form practiced by military personnel, police, and even high-level security teams.

8 Hapkido – Scorpion (Mortal Kombat)

A ninja in a fight with a female martial artist

Hapkido is a Korean-based fighting style that incorporates some of the best techniques of multiple styles, combining them into a complete system to effectively combat an opponent. Scorpion’s use of it in Mortal Kombat Deception and Armageddon could be a reference to his moveset being well-rounded and versatile, or due to how widely both the character and martial art are used.

Practiced by a wide range of organizations for its versatility and adaptability, Hapkido is one of the most prominent martial arts used in military training for its fast and effective methods of taking opponents down and quickly immobilizing them.

7 Krav Maga – Estelle Aguirre (Streets Of Rage)

A bio profile on a policewoman

Like many martial arts, Krav Maga combines multiple, effective techniques from other martial arts like boxing, wrestling, and various Japanese fighting styles. Originally created and implemented by the Israel Defense Force with situational awareness and a philosophy on aggressive attacks, Krav Maga has since reached widespread practice throughout the world.

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Streets of Rage 4’s Estelle Aguirre is a perfect representation of how Krav Maga has found its way into the training regimen of more than just Israeli military forces, with it finding a home in US police and military personnel, as well as professional athletes.

6 Muay Thai – Sagat (Street Fighter)

A man delivering a knee strike to a man in a Gi

Muay Thai has seen an enormous amount of growth, popularity, and overall exposure in recent years as one of the key components in the training of most professional mixed martial artists.

Street Fighter’s Sagat, known as the King of Muay Thai, is a fairly spot-on representation of what Thailand’s national sport is all about. This martial art is a form of kickboxing that incorporates both knee and elbow strikes. A brutal, grueling, and intense sport, Muay Thai fighters have some of the most incredible hearts and indomitable spirits.

5 Judo – Blaze Fielding (Streets Of Rage)

A profile bio of a woman in red

Adapted from the earliest and purest forms of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu by Jigoro Kano, Judo, also known as the gentle way, is one of the most influential and versatile martial arts in the world. Blaze shows off some of these skills in Streets of Rage 4, but this is a beautiful style to watch practiced in person.

An Olympic sport for over 50 years, Judo is an explosive, fast-paced fighting style that emphasizes powerful throws and speedy pins and submissions. Judo matches are often quite short with takedowns and maneuvers that can happen at any moment and Blaze’s in-game style is no different.

4 Capoeira – Eddy Gordo (Tekken)

A man performing a wild strike against a female fighter

It’s safe to assume that a lot of things that happen in fighting games are far outside the realm of possibility, from flaming teleport kicks to fireball hadoukens. With all that in mind, you may think the same way about Tekken’s Eddie Gordo, but the Brazilian-born fighting style is very much a real, albeit unorthodox martial art still practiced today.

The style itself is deeply rooted in the history of Brazil, created out of necessity and derived from African ritual N’golo dance fighting. Capoeira was used by African slaves to escape and combat Portuguese soldiers and slave owners.

3 Sumo – E. Honda (Street Fighter)

A man rubbing his hands in sumo attire

Another Street Fighter character who represents their martial art and sport well is E. Honda and the art of Sumo. Sumo wrestling, despite the stigma and stereotype surrounding it, is a martial art and one that can be quite exciting at the highest levels.

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A Japanese tradition steeped in honor, respect, and rich history, Sumo is deceptively simple like boxing, but it is more complex in its execution. The size and shape of the competitors are also deceptive as Sumo takes a level of athleticism and explosiveness coupled with chess-like technique and strategy.

2 Boxing – Little Mac (Punch Out)

A boxer delivering an uppercut to a man in armor

A sport and martial art dating all the way back to Ancient Greece, Boxing is a martial art as basic and instinctual as wrestling, and Little Mac is one of its best ambassadors in the world of gaming.

Often referred to as the “sweet science” for its complexity and nuance, boxing requires more than just the ability to throw a punch really hard. Boxing has continually proved to be more than pure pugilism — it’s a true art with talents like Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, and Muhamad Ali.

1 Wrestling – Mike Haggar (Final Fight)

A large man mid suplex on another large man

It is perhaps the oldest martial art and oldest sport in history with references to it in the Old Testament, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and of course, the ancient Olympic Games.

Adapted into many styles throughout many cultures including folk style, Greco-Roman, Sumo, and obviously the sports entertainment offshoot known as professional wrestling, the ancient martial art remains firmly rooted in society throughout the world. Although Mike Haggar may lean toward the professional wrestling style, he is one of the most famous wrestlers in gaming and does so with all the pomp and circumstance of a WWE Superstar.

NEXT: The Best Martial Arts Games

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