The global spread of the coronavirus is disrupting travel. Stay up to date on the science behind the outbreak>>

Do it now: Martial arts

From self-defence to the art of Capoeira, why not fly off to try something new?

By Sam Lewis
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:22 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 13:47 BST
Muay Thai training at The Siam

Muay Thai training at The Siam

Photograph by The Siam

Best for self-defence: Krav Maga, Israel
A hand-to-hand combat system used by the Israeli military, Krav Maga is designed to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks. Using a combination of techniques from various martial arts, it's used for self-defence, with a philosophy that the best way to win a fight is not to get into one in the first place. Anyone keen to learn self-defence can book an intensive 10-day course from €1,495 (£1,340).

Best offbeat: Jiu Jitsu, UK
Instructor Nick Tiscoe has launched a series of SurfJitsu camps and packages combining classes in the grappling martial art at his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in Newquay and surf lessons at a school down the road in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. There's a close relationship between the two sports with many jiu jitsu fighters also avid surfers. Prices from £120 for two surf sessions and a week's worth of training.

Best for immersive culture: Karate, Sumo and Ninja, Japan
The origins of karate date back to when the Japanese invaded Okinawa and confiscated weapons, causing people to rely on their hands as defence. JTB can arrange daily training at a local dojo (school) with a master of karate. A tailormade seven-night trip costs around £700, which includes accommodation in Okinawa and daily training.

Best non-combat: Capoeira, Brazil
A martial art for anyone who doesn't like contact, capoeira is an acrobatic movement that combines kicks, spins, cartwheels and handstands. Real World Holidays offers a number of Capoeira experiences priced from £20 for an open class or a private one-hour class from £180 per person.

Best ringside buzz: Muay Thai, Thailand
Bangkok hotel The Siam has its own ring and Muay Thai package, while many operators such as Audley Travel incorporate ringside seats at Bangkok's Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium. A 14-day Classic Thailand tour costs from £2,630 per person including flights, accommodation, transfers and a Muay Thai experience.

Mars attacks

The term martial art means the art of war, and comes from the Roman god of war, Mars

Follow @NatGeoTravelUK

Published in the December 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Read More

You might also like

How to spend a day in Budapest
How South African communities are giving safari luxe an eco overhaul
Green and serene: how electric vehicles are transforming Africa's safari experience
Explore Celtic heritage on a one-week road trip from Wales to Ireland
Where to go on a tapas crawl in Granada

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved