European Fighting Styles

Written by riccardo giovanniello
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European Fighting Styles
Many European fighting styles have medieval roots or are based on Asian martial arts. (Silhouette of a man kicking in the Air practicing martial arts image by Angel-Photos from

Like the fighting styles of the East, European fighting styles developed out of a need for self-defence, either in the military or in the private sector. Many modern European fighting styles have medieval or Asian roots or a combination of the two. Many of the historical fighting styles are still practised today.


Savate is a French kick-boxing style that was developed in Marseilles in the 1700s by sailors. It is believed that the sailors learnt kicking techniques from Asian nations during French trips to Asia. The main characteristic of savate is self-defensive kicks with the leg closest to the opponent.


Nindokai has its origins in Germany. The name is derived from three Japanese characters: "nin," which means "enduring heart"; "do," which means "way"; and "kai," which means "school." Nindokai is a self-defence martial art, both unarmed and armed. It focuses primarily on defending attacks from either a standing, sitting or even lying-down position and on any terrain.


Bataireacht is an Irish stick-fighting martial art. The technique is used with spears, long staffs and even walking sticks. Many styles exist within bataireacht, all of which are based on the length of the stick.

Italian Swordsmanship

The Italian school of swordsmanship has its origins in the 1400s, and today the style focuses on modern fencing while preserving some fundamental techniques. Schools such as the National Academy attempt to preserve the art of swordsmanship both in Italy and abroad.

Combat 56

Combat 56 is a Polish military fighting technique developed by Maj. Arkadiusz Kups and is named after his elite troops, the 56th Company. Combat 56 is designed to be quickly learnt and serves as an attacking style in close quarters. The techniques focus on attacking the weak or vulnerable parts of the body, such as nerve clusters.


Sambo is a Russian wrestling style that has roots in traditional Japanese and Chinese martial arts as well as other wrestling styles of Europe. Sambo began in the 1930s under the name "freestyle wrestling" which changed to "free wrestling" and finally "sambo" in 1946. Aside from wrestling techniques, sambo also uses street fighting techniques. Sambo continues to accept new techniques and styles to further the art form.

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