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09 May 2024

Martial Arts in the Olympics Face Dynamic Evolution.

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Martial arts in the Olympics have evolved over the years, with various styles competing on the grandest international stage. Among the prominent disciplines included are judo and taekwondo. Judo debuted in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, emphasizing throws, grappling, and submission techniques. Taekwondo, originating from Korea, made its first appearance in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics, captivating viewers with its striking-focused style.

The inclusion of martial arts in the Olympics is part of a broader strategy to diversify the Games while celebrating traditional and modern sports. Judo and taekwondo represent the successful integration of martial arts into the Olympics, paving the way for other disciplines.


Judo emphasizes leverage, balance, and control rather than brute strength. It has a rich history in the Games since its inclusion in 1964, with various weight classes allowing athletes of all sizes to participate. Judo practitioners, known as judokas, compete by throwing their opponents or pinning them to the ground, and win points based on technique and effectiveness.


Taekwondo focuses on powerful kicks and strategic strikes. Since its Olympic debut in 2000, it has showcased fast-paced, dynamic competition. Athletes, called taekwondoin, aim to outmaneuver their opponents using high kicks, spinning strikes, and defensive tactics.

Karate’s Olympic Journey

Karate made its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021 after years of campaigning by the global karate community. Athletes from around the world showcased their skills in kata (forms) and kumite (sparring), demonstrating the art's technical mastery and sportsmanship. However, despite its successful debut and the overwhelming support from karate enthusiasts, the sport was not included in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. This exclusion has sparked debate and disappointment among karatekas, who see it as a missed opportunity to grow the sport's popularity globally.

The decision to exclude karate resulted from the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) efforts to streamline the Games and introduce new sports that appeal to a younger audience. Sports like surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing were included to refresh the Olympic program and attract new viewers.

Other Martial Arts on the Horizon

The Olympic Committee periodically revisits the inclusion of new sports, and martial arts enthusiasts remain optimistic that their disciplines will return or debut on the international stage. Mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and muay Thai continue to grow in popularity globally, potentially setting the stage for future Olympic inclusion.

Martial arts in the Olympics reflect a fusion of tradition, athleticism, and global appeal, and future editions of the Games could see a broader spectrum of these disciplines, influenced by emerging trends and the demands of a diverse audience.

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