In this post, I will be sharing with you the best martial arts anime of all time that can even help you learn some of the best martial arts for self-defense.
Being a hardcore fan of martial arts anime, I have watched these anime series repeatedly, so it's safe to say I am an expert here.
Let's kick off this list!
The Ultimate List Of The Best Martial Arts Anime
It is impossible not to recognize these popular anime characters. At some point, you have imagined yourself like them, a martial art expert. Don't worry; you're not weird -- we've all been there. This ultimate list of martial arts-themed anime shows will keep you entertained until the last episode.
8 Epic Martial Arts Anime Series
These cartoon series will get you back during those times you daydreamed, defeating evil characters using God-like fighting skills.
We can't get enough of this iconic fight scene between friends-turned-enemies, Naruto and Sasuke. Who doesn't want to run top-speed on water like these two like it is no big deal? I'm sure everyone here wants to.
2. Dragon Ball Z
Who doesn't know what Dragon Ball Z is? Almost every episode is action-packed and will keep you at the edge of your seats. You can even feel every punch at the other side of the screen for some reason.
3. Baki The Grappler
Not all characters in Japanese cartoons have big cute eyes and colorful hair. Sometimes, they can also be like Baki -- overly muscular and stoic but talented. Baki Hanma is a master of mixed martial arts or, specifically, "grappling." This series may not suit young children as it contains bloody scenes and violence. But for those who want to learn mixed martial arts, you might want to check this series out.
4. Samurai X
"Samurai" is often synonymous with Kenshin Himura, the main character in Rurouni Kenshin, more popularly known as "Samurai X." A former assassin, Himura lived as Hitokiri Battousai before and became a ronin. Himura's sword technique is called "Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu," an ancient style of kenjutsu that lets the user strike enemies down swiftly before they get the chance to react.
5. Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)
This series follows the story of Tanjiro Kamado, whose family got murdered by a Demon. He and his sister, Nezuko, survived the bloody massacre -- except that Nezuko turned into a Demon herself. Tanjiro goes on a journey to turn his little sister back into a human and defeat the Demon King who killed his family. Tanjiro turns out to have natural swordsmanship skills and superhuman abilities like a heightened sense of smell and exceptional intellect.
6. Hunter X Hunter
Gon Freecss sets on an adventure to become a Hunter and find his father, who abandoned him as a child. He meets friends along the way: Leorio, who joined the Hunter exam to earn money and fund his medical education; Kurapika, who seeks revenge for the death of the Kurta clan; and Killua, who runs away from his family to become a Hunter. They meet various creatures and monsters they need to fight to become legendary Hunters.
7. Ranma 1/2
If you love action-comedy-romance stories, then this one is for you. Ranma Saotome is a skilled martial artist at "Anything Goes School of Martial Art School." He and his father's (Genma Saotome) lives turn upside down when they accidentally fell into a cursed spring while training in China. As a result, Ranma becomes a girl when splashed with cold water and a boy when poured with hot water.
Ranma also discovers that Genma agreed on an arranged marriage with Soun Tendo's daughter, Akane, to secure Tendo dojo's future. Akane is also a skilled martial artist but is also a hardcore man-hater. Hilarious and action-packed adventures ensue in this classic 90's martial arts series.
8. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
JoJo's Bizarre Adventures starts with Jonathan Joestar, and his evil adopted brother, Dio Brando. The story goes beyond Jonathan's descendants, Joseph, and the entire Joestar clan. They have to defeat their enemies through Stands and using the Hamon technique. As with other martial arts-themed series, this one is an epic watch and will keep you hooked.
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6 Cool Martial Arts Anime Movies
Martial arts are everywhere -- even on video games and movies. You can binge-watch them with friends or even by yourself during weekends. You can also prepare movie trivia questions about your favorite martial arts movies for added fun.
9. Tekken: Blood Vengeance
It follows the story of the ongoing father-son feud between Jin Kazama and his father, Kazuya, and their corporations, Mishima Zaibatsu and G Corporation, respectively. A lot of drama, action, and kick-ass martial arts scenes you should not miss.
10. Monkey King: Hero Is Back
Voiced by the one and only Jackie Chan, Monkey King: Hero is Back is one of the highest-grossing animated films in China. The film follows the story of Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King, who was imprisoned in an ice cage by Buddha after angering the Gods. Five hundred years later, he was accidentally released from the curse. Action-packed adventures as well as meeting new friends along the way ensues.
11. Tenjou Tenge: The Past Chapter
Before you watch this particular movie, you should watch the entire Tenjou Tenge series first or read the manga version as well to understand the movie's "Flashback arc." Anyway, you'll still get to enjoy the action-packed scenes and eye-popping visuals throughout the 90-minute film.
12. Street Fighter II: The Movie
Imagine getting ready for bed when some random guy attacks you out of nowhere. Good thing Chun-Li knows how to seriously kick some butt, albeit with some injuries in between. We all know how Chun-Li knows her fighting skills, and this clip shows how skilled she is in martial arts.
13. Boruto: Naruto the Movie
During this time, Naruto is already the Seventh Hokage, and Boruto (Naturo's son) is set to join the Chunin exams together with Sarada Uchiha (Sakura and Sasuke's daughter) and Mitsuki, who turns out to be... If you want to know the rest of the story, better check this movie out!
14. Kung Fu Panda
The Kung Fu Panda franchise is set in a fictional ancient Chinese world populated by animals skilled in martial arts. Po, a clumsy martial arts fanatic panda and the main character of the film franchise, undergoes rigorous martial arts training and meets friends along the way (also animals skilled in martial arts).
10 Martial Arts Anime Video Games
Imagine life without the Internet. No social media, no Google, no online games... you get the idea. Despite the ongoing pandemic, which pretty much affected our social life, at least we still have a lot of things to do online when bored.
15. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition
Experience the One Piece saga in video game form. The game's plot is similar to the original series, with scenes starting from Fuschia Village to the island of Dressrosa ruled by the "Heavenly Demon," Donquixote Doflamingo. You can also choose from 37 playable characters, including Luffy, Usopp, Nami, and Sanji, among a few.
16. Pokken Tournament DX
Pokken is a portmanteau of Pokemon and Tekken, two of the most popular video game titles of all time. It is a Tekken-style fighting anime video game where two fighters battle each other using different Pokemon characters. This game is available in Arcade (JP), Wii U, and Nintendo Switch.
17. Persona 4 Arena
This 2D fighting game is available in arcades, Playstation 3, and Xbox. It features 13 characters and is divided into several player modes: Story mode, Challenge mode, Training Mode, Arcade mode, and Score Attack mode. Somehow, the game format is reminiscent of the Tekken video game series. The story is set following the events in Persona 3 and 4, so it is often advised to finish these games first to avoid spoilers when you play Persona 4 Arena.
18. Jump Force
Who would have thought you could experience playing your favorite characters in one video game? This is what Jump Force is all about, a crossover fighting game featuring your favorite characters from Dragon Ball, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, Hunter x Hunter, and more. You can also customize your character's outfits and skills, which you can earn as you play the game. Unfortunately, Bandai Namco announced that it would discontinue and shut down its servers by August 2022.
19. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst
This fighting game is based on the popular series of the same name and is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It follows the story of Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke during the Fourth Shinobi World War, where they also have to fight against the Akatsuki. You can choose from among 106 fighters within the Naruto universe and even get your character to wall-run during battles. Running on walls in real life like Naruto? That's one of my childhood dreams, so to say!
20. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Another fighting game based on the Dragon Ball saga, the playing format is similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series. You can choose a team of three playable characters -- one that is your main character, then switch with the other characters any time you want. The team with the least overall damage wins the game, of course.
21. Dead Or Alive 6
This game is based on the events that occurred on its predecessor, Dead or Alive 5. You can choose from among the 31 playable characters, including the lead character, Kasumi, and the other newcomers, including Diego, the first DOA character of Mexican descent, and Tamaki, an aikido fighter.
22. The King Of Fighters XIII
This video game series is set following the event from The King of Fighters XI and concludes the story arc of Ash Crimson. New features are added: the EX mode, HyperDrive mode, and Drive Cancel. Other modes available include Arcade, Challenge, and Practice. The entire character roster from the game's predecessor, The King of Fighters, are back, including Kyo Kusanagi, Elisabeth Blanctorche, and Iori Yagami, among a few.
23. Guilty Gear Xrd
Guilty Gear Xrd is a fighting video game based on the Guilty Gear game series. It features 4 main playing modes: Story Mode, Battle Mode, Practice Mode, and Network Mode. The last mode lets you connect with other players through the PSN (PlayStation Network). You get to learn different combos and other basic controls, which will make your gaming experience more enjoyable.
24. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle
As the name suggests, this video game features all of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure universe characters -- from Phantom Blood up to JoJolion. You can choose from a total of 41 game characters to play with. It also has several game modes, including the Story Mode, Campaign Mode, Practice Mode, and Versus Mode, among a few.
7 Famous Combat Artists Of All Time
These famous martial artists are popular in their own right. You might even be a fan of these people.
1. Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan became globally known for his slapstick action-comedy films that often showcase his amazing martial arts skills. He started his career as a stuntman until a film producer named Lo Wei cast him in his first few kung-fu films in the late '70s.
Two decades later, he started to become known in the Western market, of which his movie series, Rush Hour, became a blockbuster hit. He also received awards for his contribution to making martial arts more mainstream.
2. Bruce Lee
This man is a pop culture icon. He developed the art of jeet Kune do, a mix of boxing, fencing, kung fu, and philosophy. He has an impressive punch speed and did 200 push-ups with two fingers. Lee also popularized martial arts films in the '70s. He appeared in the TV series, The Green Hornet in 1966-67 as the sidekick Kato.
Because of his superb skills, he became a household name in the world of martial arts. Sadly, he died in 1978 while working on his last film. Even after his death, his legacy lived on as a martial arts superstar.
3. Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris is no Asian, but he also became known for his martial arts skills. Before becoming a movie star, he first served in the US Air Force and opened a karate studio upon returning home. He eventually found his way into movies, starred alongside Bruce Lee in the film Way of the Dragon, and eventually became an action-film star.
He may not be as active in films and TV as before. Still, his beyond-human martial arts skills won't be easily forgotten.
4. Jet Li
Jet Li is a Chinese-born actor, martial artist, and film producer. He was also a former Wushu champion but returned from competing at 19. After that, he became popular as an actor and has been in several martial arts movies such as Shaolin Temple (China), Romeo Must Die, and The Expendables (US), among a few.
According to Li, he doesn't consider himself the "best fighter in the world." He added, "If someone learns martial arts solely to pick fights on the street, to lean on it as a keystone weapon in conflicts, to use it to bully and intimidate others - then that person, in my opinion, cannot be considered a true martial artist." Li is not as active in movies unlike before as he is reportedly focused on charity work, and claims he is "never bored in his free time."
5. Jean Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme is an actor, fight choreographer, and martial artist. His father enrolled him in martial arts classes when he was 10 and eventually paved the way to join various competitions. Later on, he moved to the US to become an actor.
Before landing a breakthrough in his acting career, he worked on various films as the lead star in "Bloodsport." Van Damme became a household name in the '90s when it came to action/martial arts movies. He starred in some action films in the 2000's playing supporting roles in films such as Kung Fu Panda and The Expendables.
6. Donnie Yen
Donnie Yen is considered one of Hong Kong's top action stars and a reputable martial artist. Yen is also credited for popularizing mixed martial arts in Asian movies. He also helped popularize Wing Chun, as seen on the Ip Man film series. Ip Man is also Bruce Lee's Wing Chun master.
Aside from Wing Chun, Yen is also adept in other forms of martial arts such as Taekwondo, Tai Chi, Judo, Wushu, and Karate, among a few.
7. Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh is a Malaysian-Chinese-born actress best known for her roles in James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yeoh originally wanted to become a professional ballet dancer, even enrolling at the Royal Academy of Dance in the UK.
However, fate has other plans. Due to a spinal injury, Yeoh had to drop her dream of becoming a ballet dancer and instead focused on getting a degree in Creative Arts with a minor in Drama. She started her acting career as Michelle Khan and did all of her action stunts in her films.
11 Martial Arts Anime Trivia Questions
When we are interested in a certain topic, we do more research. We get invested with the characters and the storyline, and we simply can't get enough of them. It makes you feel like a connoisseur when you know the answers to these best video game trivia questions.
1. Who is the main character of Dragon Ball?
Son Goku is the main character of the Dragon Ball saga. His real name is Kakarot, and he was born as a Saiyan. As an infant, Goku/Kakarot was sent off to destroy Earth. However, a head injury wiped off all of his destructive instinct and turned out to be among the strongest defenders of the Earth.
2. What year was "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood" first released?
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood is a manga series first released in 1987 and created by Hirohiko Araki. It is the first part of the entire JoJo's Bizarre Adventure saga. It follows the story of Jonathan Joestar, who has an adoptive brother named Dio Brando who wants the Joestar clan's money for himself. Jonathan eventually learns Hamon, a sunlight-based martial arts technique to defeat Dio and his evil plans.
3. Which band name isn't a Stand in "JoJo's Bizzare Adventure"?
In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure saga, there is what they call a "Stand," also known as the "Ghostly Ripple," which is a manifestation of the life energy of the Stand User. A "Stand" is a supernatural figure that hovers near the User, enabling that person to have superhuman abilities. Pop culture references often comprise Stand names, including classic band names, but AC/DC is not one of them.
4. The manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is split into how many parts?
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is split into 8 parts, namely:
Part 1: Phantom Blood (1987-1988)
This tells the story of Jonathan Joestar, who has an adoptive brother named Dio Brando, who then transformed into a vampire using an ancient Stone Mask to fulfill his evil plans. Jonathan tries to stop his adoptive brother's evil plans by learning the martial arts technique, Hamon, and his roller-coaster of adventures ensue.
Part 2: Battle Tendency (1988-1989)
An expedition awakens a humanoid which is the creator of the Stone Mask. That humanoid, called a Pillar Man, went on a killing spree and escaped to awaken the other Pillar Men and take over mankind. Jonathan's grandson, Joseph Joestar, continues the saga with new allies and learns Hamon to defeat the evil Pillar Men.
Part 3: Stardust Crusaders (1989-1992)
Dio is back with a vengeance. He was reawakened when his tomb was salvaged from the ocean. Dio managed to get Jonathan's body, which also triggered the awaking of Stands in Jonathan's descendants: Joseph, his daughter Holly, and grandson Jotaro. Joseph, Jotaro, and the rest of the gang must defeat Dio before Holly dies.
Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable (1992-1995)
The Joestar family discovers Joseph's illegitimate son, Josuke Higashikata, and that the latter learns about the Bow and Arrow. The protagonists' journey to finding the Bow and Arrow must also defeat serial killer Yoshikage Kira.
Part 5: Golden Wind (1995-1999)
Dio's son, Giorno Giovanna, aims to become a mafia boss to eliminate drug dealers who wreak havoc on children. Together with his Stand-using team, they have to protect Giorno's daughter, Trish Una, and defeat mafia boss Diavolo as well.
Part 6: Stone Ocean (2000-2003)
Jotaro's daughter Jolyne was wrongfully accused of murder and was imprisoned. While in prison, she works with her father and other Stand-using inmates to hunt down Father Enrico Pucci, the prison's chaplain and a Dio loyalist, who wanted to create their universe.
Part 7: Steel Ball Run (2004-2011)
In an alternate world, protagonists Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli uncover US President Funny Valentine and his hidden agenda to find parts of a holy corpse through a cross-country horse race. Also, to ensure they won't get killed by Valentine's assassins.
Part 8: JoJolion (2011-2021)
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami devastated the town of Morioh. At the same time, faults appeared within the city due to the said devastations. Meanwhile, a college student named Yasuho Hirose finds a young man trapped in the rubble and nicknames him "Josuke." The latter takes on a journey to discover his past and other adventures along the way.
5. In Dragon Ball Z, who was the first character to go Super Saiyan 2?
Goku's son, Gohan, is the first to go Super Saiyan 2 during the "Perfect Cell saga." Future Trunks, Vegeta, and Goku, followed suit.
6. What Jutsu is Naruto most proficient in?
Shadow Clone Technique
This type of Jutsu (also known as Kage Bunshin no Jutsu) lets users clone multiple copies of themselves. The user's chakra is evenly distributed between the clones and themselves. In the case of Naruto, he can create hundreds of clone versions of himself because he can access the Nine-Tails' chakra without worrying about his chakra reserves getting depleted rapidly.
7. In "Hunter x Hunter," what are members in Killua's family known for being?
Killua's entire clan is said to be the most infamous and deadliest assassins in the world, which they consider as their "family business." So much is their chilling reputation that the mention of their family name alone can cause terror and fear in the underworld. Although they are labeled criminals, authorities seem not to do anything about them.
8. How many times did Naruto fail the graduation test from the Academy?
Poor Naruto failed the Ninja Academy exam three times before earning the much-coveted title of Genin. The start of the series shows Naruto taking the exam for the third time, together with the other main characters, Sakura and Sasuke. The two passed the exam later on, but Naruto failed once again, unfortunately. Naruto failed the exams because of his inability to use Kage Bunshin no Jutsu.
9. Who is the strongest character in Tekken 7?
Devil Jin first appeared in Tekken 3. He is the evil version of another Tekken character, Jin Kazama, who inherited the Devil Gene from his father. This bad character aims to be the most powerful in the universe and will do everything to achieve that.
10. Who is the bad guy in Tekken?
Heihachi Mishima is Jin's grandfather, an expert in Mishima Style Karate, and a charismatic but manipulative CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu. He has a never-ending desire for power through world domination, attempting to gain eternal youth, and even plotting against his relatives for his interests.
11. Who is the oldest Street Fighter character?
Oro, he is 140.
Oro is a popular Street Fighter game character who is more than 140 years old. He is an ancient hermit who has discovered the secrets of immortality. He seeks someone worthy of inheriting his fighting style called Senjutsu, which he spent time learning and mastering during his time of reclusion.
Downloadable and Printable List of Best Martial Arts Anime
Here is a downloadable and printable jpg/pdf list of best martial arts anime (right-click the image and select Save Image As…):
Frequently Asked Questions
There's a lot to learn about martial arts. Watching it in cartoon and video game format makes the science of martial arts easier to understand. Not to mention, more enjoyable to watch.
Which martial arts do anime often use?
Some of the most popular forms of martial arts often featured in Japanese anime shows include:
- Kung Fu
- Weapon-based (ex. Swords, nunchaku, shuriken, guns, etc.)
- Grappling-based (ex. Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, MMA, etc.)
Which is more fun to watch in anime, martial artists or swordmen?
Why not watch both? Learning martial arts and the ways of the sword takes some time to master -- both fiction and in real life. There is no denying how enjoying and satisfying it can be to watch our favorite characters fight their all, whether using a sword or their bare hands. It is a matter of personal preference at the end of the day.
Is it awkward for adults to still watch kids' anime?
No, anime is for everyone, whether you have kids or watch them yourself. There are lots of shows suitable for children and mature audiences. If you still watch anime as a working adult, don't worry -- you are not alone.
What makes animes, so fun to watch that you won't get tired of watching them through the years?
First of all, it's entertaining and visually appealing. It also has compelling storylines that you won't afford to miss every episode. Whether you like adventure, romance, comedy, or dark plots, there is always an anime show for you to enjoy.
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You can never go wrong with martial arts-themed movies, films, and video games when it comes to entertainment. Knowing interesting trivia about pop culture, in general, can help break the ice and make you the center of everyone's attention.
- Are you an 80's kid who grew up with Michael J. Fox and the rest of the Back to the Future gang? Check out these Back to the Future trivia to satisfy your curiosity and add to your stock knowledge.
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The titles mentioned above are some of the best martial arts anime series and games you can binge on during the weekend. Other popular martial arts-themed manga and anime shows not mentioned in the list, but are also worth the watch include:
- Jujutsu Kaisen
- Kengan Ashura
- Yu Yu Hakusho
- Cowboy Bebop
- One-Punch Man
- Samurai Champloo
- Afro Samurai
Watching anime is more than a source of entertainment. Being a fan knows no age -- there's always an anime show no matter what your interests are. Enjoy!