Whether you want to fight off a stranger in a dark alley, karate chop some firewood or do a flying kick as your next party trick, learning martial arts can be beneficial in more ways than one. Defined as a variety of systems of training for combat or self-defence, many of which originated in Asia, martial arts are not just a great way to get fit – there are also numerous mental and spiritual benefits including mental clarity, self-discipline and confidence. Why Hong Kong star Juju Chan gets a kick from Bruce Lee With so many types of martial arts in Asia alone, we’ve broken them down so you can figure out which one is best for you: Kung fu What is it? An umbrella term for more than 100 different styles of Chinese martial arts practised over the centuries, kung fu is characterised by fast and explosive moments that emphasise agility and physical strength. Who does it? Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Jet Li Any safety issues? Due to all the kicking and punching, it is possible to get hurt quite easily. How fit do I have to be? Although you don’t need to be as ripped as Bruce Lee, you definitely need to have a basic level of fitness including physical stamina, speed and endurance. Recommended for? Anyone who wants to realise their fantasy of becoming Bruce Lee (yellow jumpsuit optional). How Bruce Lee inspired China’s UFC champ Zhang Weili Muay Thai What is it? Commonly referred to as “the art of eight limbs”, Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and martial art – the eight limbs refer to the fighters’ fists, elbows, knees and shins. More than just a fighting style, Muay Thai is also seen as a spiritual practice and a way of life that emphasises respect, self-control and compassion. Who does it? Buakaw Banchamek, Tony Jaa, Ryan Gosling Any safety issues? Common Muay Thai injuries include sprained wrists and ankles, bruised shins and possible headaches and concussions if you enter the ring. How fit do I have to be? As a high-intensity sport, you'll definitely need a high level of cardio and stamina to keep up. So, who should do it? Anyone with sharp elbows and knees who is happy to use (or lose) all of their limbs in a fight. Kick-boxing What is it? A mix of karate, Muay Thai and Western boxing, kick-boxing combines the powerful kicks of karate with the agility of boxing. The sport is practised competitively and for fitness, and is seen as one of the best ways to get in shape. Who does it? Jean-Claude Van Damme, Gigi Hadid, Ellie Goulding Any safety issues? The injury rate for kick-boxing is higher than most martial arts, due to the impact created from kicking, punching, grappling and variety of throws and sweeps. How fit do I have to be? Anyone can practise kick-boxing but to excel at it, one should have a high degree of fitness and agility. So, who should do it? Those looking to get into supermodel shape fast. How much would you pay for Bruce Lee’s punchbag? Karate What is it? One of the most widely practised, unarmed martial art forms in the world, karate – which means “empty” (kara) and “hand” (te) – originated in Okinawa, Japan, and employs kicking, striking and defensive blocking with the arms and legs. Who does it? Bear Grylls, Wesley Snipes, Madonna Any safety issues? Compared to other forms of martial arts, karate has a relatively low injury rate with most injuries being cuts and bruises to the limbs. How fit do I have to be? Not very, as karate is slower paced and less aggressive as a sport. Instead, moves are practised repeatedly to improve form and can be seen as a form of meditation. So, who should do it? Karate is great for people of all levels of fitness and want to practise a non-offensive form of martial arts. Taekwondo What is it? Originating in Korea, taekwondo is an unarmed martial arts form that literally means “the way of the foot and fist”. A system of self-defence, the sport is characterised by various kicks, including head-height kicks, flying kicks and fast kicks. All taekwondo practitioners are expected to follow its five tenets, which include courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Who does it? Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chuck Norris, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin Any safety issues? It’s possible to suffer from some sprained ankles and wrists, bruises and perhaps a few broken toes, but otherwise, it is pretty safe. How fit do I have to be? A medium level of fitness would be advantageous for taekwondo. So, who should do it? Those who are looking for a holistic martial arts form with its own philosophy of being. Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather – who lives the fullest life? Judo What is it? Meaning “the gentle way” in Japanese, Judo is actually a dynamic combat sport characterised by throwdowns, chokeholds and joint locks on your opponents until they submit. Unlike other martial arts forms, there is no kicking or punching and the objective is to subdue the opponent as quickly as possible without hurting him/her. Who does it? Guy Ritchie, Vladimir Putin, Albert II (Prince of Monaco) Any safety issues? Due to the throws, judoka (those who practise judo) are at risk of neck, head and shoulder injuries, as well as shoulder and elbow dislocations. How fit do I have to be? Since judo is a combat sport, it helps to be quick on your feet and have a high level of fitness to throw your opponent down, or prevent yourself from being thrown down. So, who should do it? Those who don’t mind getting physical with their opponents and appreciate a good smackdown. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .