Japanese martial arts are hugely popular in Japanese culture and all over the world. There are a large number of martial arts styles which are native to Japan and they are often misconceived as simply a ‘fighting sport’. However, martial arts are a way of life for many, encompassing physical, spiritual and moral empowerment with a strong focus and clarity for continual self-improvement, fulfilment and personal growth. Although there are a diverse range of martial arts styles which are rooted in Japanese history and culture, some of the most famous Japanese martial arts styles are as follows: Judo. Generally more competitive, the key objective in judo is to take your opponent down to the floor by force, immobilise their movement and pin them to the ground. You can also force an opponent into submission by administering a joint lock or chokehold. This martial art translates as ‘gentle way’ and is one of Japan’s modern martial art styles, recently evolving into a combat sport and appearing in the Olympics. A judo practitioner is called a judoka, and students learn much more than the judo fighting style and technique, also learning how to control emotions and feelings and use self-discipline in everyday situations. Aikido. A close cousin of judo, aikido was founded in the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba who adopted the traditional jujutsu style to influence a new kind of fighting style. Following World War Two, the emphasis of aikido changed and the martial art was used to reform humanity and used as a way to resolve conflict without the use of violence. Due to Ueshiba’s philosophical and religious beliefs, aikido was utilised in a way to unify as one ‘harmonious spirit’ with one ultimate goal to defend yourself from attack whilst simultaneously protecting your attacker from injury. Many aikido techniques employ a number of entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of attack, using a throw or joint lock to terminate the technique which is being used against them. Karate. A physically demanding Japanese martial art, karate seeks to develop an individual’s defence skills and shows them how to use their body movements when counterattacking their opponent. Fighting and self-defence are a huge part of this martial art, however the mental aptitude and moral compass which frames the sport is what helps the individual improve their skills. Extreme discipline and persistence is required through rigorous training by a karate practitioner otherwise called a karateka. Karate was originally developed in Okinawa, Japan and was introduced to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between Japan and China. More recently, it is predominantly used a striking art form using punching, kicking, strikes from elbows and knees combined with a number of open-hand techniques such as spear-hands and palm-heel strikes. Japanese martial arts remain a huge part of Japanese culture and history today and there are many enthusiasts all over the world who are influenced both physically and mentally by the specific techniques of self-discipline, fighting skills and mental aptitude involved with a martial art. The Japanese Shop have a number of gifts and memorabilia for the martial arts enthusiast including Japanese letter openers which are manufactured in the traditional Japanese style and beautifully crafted to resemble katana (Japanese swords). We also stock the fearsome Samurai General Japanese Kokeshi Doll, in full battle armour. A striking doll with a stylish, brightly coloured design, the Samurai General Japanese Kokeshi Doll would make the perfect Japanese present for a martial arts fan. Visit our website and browse all our Japanese gifts and accessories to find the ideal gift for you or your loved one. Alternatively, explore our informative blog for more information on traditional Japanese customs and traditions and how Japanese culture has been adopted all over the world.