In our most recent article we discussed short histories of fighting styles and the translations of martial arts names. We told you how judo is most often translated as “gentle way,” Muay Thai most likely means “to make things united,” and karate means “empty hand.” Jiu Jitsu, in addition to having multiple spellings and hyphenations, can mean “gentle art,” “flexible art,” “pliable art,” or “yielding art.”

We really enjoyed telling you about each of them, because martial arts is as much about knowledge as it is about sparring. If there were no knowledge associated with martial arts, the strongest person would win every time by simply flailing and kicking! So we thought we’d bring up a few more martial arts and let you know where their names come from. And we’ll finally answer the question: what’s the proper spelling for kid’s kids’ kids martial arts.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu is kind of a tough one to define. That’s because most people think of it as a martial art, while the original term has had a more all-encompassing definition in China. Use strictly, it simply means something that takes time, energy, and patience in order to complete. Until recently no one in China would refer to it as the martial art that has become popular in movies. In the modern sense, there are many styles of Kung Fu, such as Shaolin, Wing Chun, and Tai Chi.

Where did the term come from? Again, it’s a bit tricky. The two most common translations are “achievement of man” and “work of time.”


In most cases, Ninjutsu isn’t any one style of martial art. It’s a combination of skills that allow someone to engage in strategic and unconventional warfare…and yes, that means being a ninja (shinobi). Ninja were practiced in taijutsu, which is unarmed combat, but there are seventeen other skills that were also important to these pre-renaissance renaissance men.

There are eighteen skills that the ninja would seek to master: tactics, horsemanship, espionage, disguise, escaping and concealment, pyrotechnics, spiritual refinement, stealth, meteorology, water training, and the aforementioned unarmed combat. Ninja as focused heavily on weapons combat, such as throwing weapons, polearm, chain-sickle, swords, and staff (bo).

Ninjutsu comes from two Japanese words, nin (stealth) and jutsu (science or art).


Capoeira is an interesting martial art, because it can be a sport but it can just as easily be a dance. It’s part show and part “kicking your butt because you didn’t see it coming.”

Capoeira was developed in Brazil in the 16th century. Slaves would escape into the jungle and would need a way to defend themselves when people came looking for them. Slaves who congregated in new settlements would teach it to others, meaning that these new villages would stand a better chance against the slave trackers. Dance because a martial art, and the martial art has become a dance once again as capoeira of today is less about fighting and more about demonstration.

The most commonly held belief is that the word capoeira comes from an extinct language of the area called Tupi. It breaks down into “jungle it was,” referring to the jungle to which the slaves would escape and learn the martial art.


Aikido is a relatively new martial art to the world, having been developed just over a hundred years ago. Like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, aikido uses many different types of throws and joint locks that often use the opponent’s momentum against them. The word aikido is formed from ai (unify), ki (spirit), and do (way). Basically, it’s “way of unifying the spirit.”

Aikido is interested in disarming an opponent while avoiding serious injury. That’s in stark contrast to an even newer martial art, namely…

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a martial art that was created by the Israel Defense Force. It’s a military self-defense and fighting style that has taken many of its cues from boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo, karate, and other martial arts. The idea is to take the most efficient moves from each and incorporate them into a style that can be easily learned by new military members. These moves are based around scenarios in which real-world practitioners might find themselves.

Krav Maga’s basic idea is to avoid physical confrontation if possible, but if that’s not possible then the fight should be ended as aggressively and quickly as it can. Krav Maga pulls no punches; the most vulnerable parts of the body are targeted first and some means of diffusing the situation can cause permanent injury or death.

The definition is relatively simple and comes from the two Hebrew words that make up its name: contact combat.

Mixed Martial Arts

Obviously, mixed martial arts is simply the combination of three English words. Because it was developed in the United States and comes from a combination of many martial arts, it makes sense that it wouldn’t have an Asian or South American name. Because it’s kind of generic, who knows, in 30 years perhaps it will have its own name. Maybe we’ll be calling it “Kicky Punchy Grapple.” Perhaps “Boy My Shins Hurt.” Or “Ouch My Stuff.” What would you call mixed martial arts if you could rename it?

Kids Martial Arts

Our martial arts program for kids doesn’t focus on just one martial art. It’s a younger version is mixed martial arts, in which case we’ll teach the most efficient and effective part of all martial arts including Taekwondo, Muay Thai kickboxing, Karate, wrestling, Judo, and boxing. To ensure that kids aren’t held back or intimidated by the size of their opponent, our classes are broken down in ages 4-6, 7-10, and 11-14.

You can probably figure out where these words came from: Kids. Martial. Arts. Pretty simple, right; it’s martial arts for kids, no problem? It’s pretty obvious what each of these words mean. The real question is a grammatical one: where does the apostrophe go? Interestedly, the word kids seldom requires an apostrophe at our martial arts school. Much like homeowners insurance, kids martial arts refers to the type of martial art it is. The kids don’t own the martial art, so it’s not possessive and doesn’t require an apostrophe. On the other hand, if you have one child you could say “I have to get to my kid’s martial arts lesson.” Similarly, if you have two kids you’ll need to get to your “kids’ martial arts lesson.”

Which Will You Choose?

At SubForce BJJ and Dragon Spirit Kids Martial Arts, we’re ready to introduce you to the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing, and martial arts for kids around. Check out our schedule right here!