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Martial Arts are an integral part of most action-oriented shounen and seinen manga. From real martial arts like Karate to fictional ones like the Water Stream Rock Smashing Fist from One-Punch Man, the art of hand to hand combat makes action sequences exhilarating for every reader.
This list is an updated top 10 list. As such, the entries will be entirely different from the old one. Be sure to check that one out for more good martial art manga recommendations. Not only that, but this list will also focus on manga that has been officially licensed in English. That means you can easily find any manga on this list in your favorite book store, or any other licensed distributor. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here is our list for the top 10 best martial arts manga.
10. One Punch Man
- Authors: ONE (Writer); Murata, Yuusuke (Artist)
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-fi, Seinen
- Volumes: 23+
- Published: Sep 2015 - Present
One Punch Man tells the story of Saitama, a bald man who decides to become a hero as a hobby. In a society filled with heroes and monsters, not many people know about Saitama. But what everybody doesn't realize is the fact that Saitama is one of the strongest human beings on Earth who can kill any monster with just one single punch.
From laser beams to psychokinesis, there are all sorts of powers in One Punch Man, including martial arts. The most prominent martial artist in the series is the S-Class hero Bang, and his disciple, the hero hunter Garou. They both use Water Stream Rock Smashing Fist, which is a martial art that puts a heavy emphasis on rapid and fluid hand movements. In the hand of a master, this technique can be used to attack, parry, and even counter any attacks coming from all directions.
Martial arts may be just a small part of what makes One Punch Man such an exciting read. However, characters like Bang and Garou are such a crucial part of the overall story that it is hard to imagine One Punch Man without them. Not only that, but their fighting scenes also provide some of the most thrilling action sequences in the series.
9. Tokyo Revengers
- Authors: Wakui, Ken
- Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Shounen
- Volumes: 25+
- Published: Oct 2018 - Present
Takemichi Hanagaki is at the lowest point in his life when he hears about the death of his former girlfriend, Hinata Tachibana, at the hand of the notorious Tokyo Manji Gang. With a head full of regrets and heart broken to pieces, Takemichi suddenly finds himself going back 12 years in the past when the Tokyo Manji Gang was still in its infancy. Determined to change the future, Takemichi infiltrates this ruthless gang and tries to slowly destroy it from the inside.
Rather than proper martial arts, what Tokyo Revengers has to offer are lots of raw street brawls. There are few to no one-on-one duels in this series. Every problem is solved through street fights involving tens, if not hundreds, of people. In a way, this kind of street brawl can be said to be the reason why all kinds of martial arts were developed in the first place. This brutal display of grudges, anger, and vengeance is what makes the fighting scenes so interesting to see.
8. Dragon Ball
- Authors: Toriyama, Akira
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Shounen
- Volumes: 42
- Published: May 2003 - June 2006
Dragon Ball is the story about a boy named Son Goku who strives to be the strongest martial artist in the world. We follow his journey from when he’s a 12 year-old-boy who knows nothing about the world, all the way to when he becomes a grandfather and has fought the likes of aliens and androids.
Goku was raised by his grandfather to be a highly skilled martial artist, especially in something akin to Chinese Kung Fu. From Dragon Ball Z onwards, Goku often fights with his energy beams and special moves, but during his childhood times, we see him fighting against dangerous opponents purely using his martial arts skills.
As a matter of fact, there are multiple tournament arcs in the early part of Dragon Ball where we can see all kinds of martial artists, including Goku, battle it out to be the strongest fighter under heaven: the disciples of the Turtle School vs the Crane school, a world class boxer vs the strongest wrestler, and even something absurd like a monster vs an alien. Needless to say, those are some of the most fun storylines in the entire Dragon Ball series.
- Authors: Nakata, Haruhisa
- Genres: Action, Martial Arts, Sports, Seinen
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Sep 2019
In an alternate timeline where the world is run through the power of steam, the sport called boxing takes on an entirely different format. The fighters are equipped with steam-powered mechanical arms and they will fight until their opponents can no longer move.
Levius is a boy who lost his right arm in the previous war. He has always been fascinated with mechanical boxing. With the help of his uncle, Levius begins his journey as a boxer with his medical artificial right arm against boxers who use either custom-made or military-grade tech on both of their arms.
The fighting scenes are actually not that different from regular boxing. However, the additional explosiveness through the steam-powered mechanical arms turns the intensity of the fights all the way to eleven. Needless to say, the higher Levius climbs the ladder, the crazier the fighters and their powers get. And all of these incredible fights are rendered through the exquisite and highly detailed illustrations of Nakata-sensei.
6. Tenjou Tenge
- Authors: Oh! Great
- Genres: Action, Romance, Martial Arts, Seinen
- Volumes: 11
- Published: Jun 2011 - Feb 2013
Souichiro Nagi and his best friend, Bob Makihara, entered the Toudou Academy with the sole purpose of becoming the strongest people in the school. After all, Toudou Academy is the most famous martial arts school in the country.
Unfortunately, Nagi's dream is totally and instantly crushed by his seniors. So they decide to join the Juken club and receive proper martial arts training by one of the strongest fighters in the school, a bombshell girl called Maya Natsume. But the path to the top is way more difficult and dangerous than they ever thought.
Most characters in Tenjou Tenge use a mixture of street brawling and fictional martial arts. Nagi himself uses a blend of his street fighting and the Forged Needle attack that he learns from Maya. Each character uses a distinct style of martial arts and there are tons of one-on-one fights here. All of them start with a punch to the face and end up with broken walls and concrete.
- Authors: Kazuyoshi, Ishii (Writer); Hanamura (Artist)
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Martial Arts, Seinen
- Volumes: 8+
- Published: Jun 2022 - Present
Kazuyoshi Ishii, the former leader of the K-1 martial arts organization, is hit by a truck and dies. Just before he moves on to the higher place, a mysterious cat appears and offers him a second chance in life. Suddenly, Kazuyoshii wakes up in the body of a high school girl named Kei Ichinose who's been in a coma for the past three days.
After some digging, he finds out that Kei is the heir to a rundown karate dojo that was left by her late father, along with mountains of debt. So begins Kazuyoshi's effort to restore Ichinose dojo to its former glory, and also revitalize the nation's interest in karate at the same time.
Other than proper karate techniques, there are also countless insights into the Japanese martial arts business in Dollkara. But the highlight of the story is definitely the fighting scenes. From karate to kickboxing, Dollkara showcases all kinds of real martial arts fights, clashing in highly dynamic action sequences.
4. Abyss Rage
- Authors: Narita, Nariaki
- Genres: Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 7
- Published: Jan 2019 - Feb 2021
Shinobu has been blind since birth, but his love for his childhood friend, Mikoto, motivates him to learn Mikoto's family martial arts, the "Mibuchi Toshujutsu". Mibuchi martial arts used to be a deadly technique that targeted vital areas like the throat, joints, and the genitals, but the one that Shinobu is learning is the non-lethal version of it. And thanks to his keen hearing, echolocation technique, and years of daily training, Shinobu finally earns the right to inherit the Mikoto dojo.
That is when a mysterious man appears, beats up Mikoto's father, and kidnaps her. The man then invites Shinobu to participate in his death game. He will be put into a prison and tasked to kill 100 men if he wants to save his girlfriend. Thus begins his deathly match against numerous dangerous martial artists within the lawless prison.
Other than the aforementioned Mibuchi martial art, most of the martial arts shown in Abyss Rage are real-life martial arts, such as Sumo and MMA. The fighting scenes alone are already exciting to watch, but the fact that Shinobu is a blind fighter creates a whole different dynamic in the action sequences.
3. Hinomaru Zumou (Hinomaru Sumo)
- Authors: Kawada
- Genres: Action, Sports, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 28
- Published: Jan 2019 - Oct 2019
One of the most unique things about Sumo is the fact that there is actually no weight class division in this ancient martial art. Therefore, the bigger athlete will clearly have the upper hand against the smaller one. With a height of just around 5'2", Hinomaru Ushio is obviously not a good fit for the sport. However, his unwavering love and determination for Sumo allowed him to face opponents far bigger and stronger than he is using his own brand of fighting. And this is the tale of his journey to be the highest ranked sumo wrestler in the country, the Yokozuna.
Sumo is an ancient Japanese martial art, and for the most part, the rules and principles behind the sport remain relatively unchanged till this modern day. Hinomaru Sumo is great because it clearly lays out the path of somebody who strives to be a professional sumo wrestler - from school competitions all the way to being a professional athlete. Not only that, but every sumo fight in the series also looks so intense and thrilling. It truly is a one of a kind martial arts story.
2. Sun Ken Rock
- Authors: Boichi
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Romance, Seinen
- Volumes: 25
- Published: May 2020 - Jul 2021
Kitano Ken is a brutal guy who won't hesitate to plunge himself into any fight against anybody. But when it comes to the battle of love, he lost miserably. His first love, Yumin, flatly rejects his confession and returns to Korea in order to become a police officer.
Feeling that there's nothing in his life that is worth fighting for, he saves up and buys a one way ticket to South Korea to meet Yumin. One thing leads to another, and Ken ends up becoming the leader of a small gangster group and the protector of their neighborhood.
In a way, Sun Ken Rock is the mature version of Tokyo Revengers. After all, most of the action comes in the form of street brawls with fists and baseball bats. The only difference is in the scope and details. Every fighting scene in Sun Ken Rock is drawn with an exquisite level of detail. You can feel the movement through every line in the pages. It is brutal, ruthless, raw and also mesmerizing at the same time.
1. Kengan Ashura
- Authors: Sandrovich, Yabako (Writer); Daromeon (Artist)
- Genres: Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 27
- Published: Oct 2021 - present
Ever since the Edo period in this world, every dispute between merchants and the noble factions has been settled through something called the Kengan fights. Each party chooses a fighter to represent their cause, and whoever wins the fight wins the dispute. This unique tradition has been kept alive all the way through to this modern time.
Tokita Ohma is the fighter that represents the Nogi Group conglomerate in a dispute over the ownership rights for a building. Compared to the other fighters from other companies, Tokita is a young man with an average build. And yet, he somehow always manages to overwhelm his opponents and beat them up until he finally finds the one monster that he's been looking for all his life.
Similar to other entries on this list, Kengan Ashura showcases a mixture of both real and fictional martial arts. All of them are presented in a highly exaggerated, yet somehow still believable and incredibly exciting way. From the unique premise to the creative and fast-paced action sequences, Kengan Ashura is definitely one of the best and most interesting martial arts manga to read.
Some of the manga on this list will give you the excitement and entertainment of high level martial arts fights, while some others may have the ability to awaken your interest into the rich world of martial arts. And that is a testament to the power of a well-written manga.
Have you read any of the manga on this list? Or maybe you know other titles that deserve a spot? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
It goes without saying that martial arts have played a major role in the formation of many eastern cultures over many generations, and to this day it still continues to leave a commanding impression in society. With hollywood stars such as the late Bruce Lee captivating the world with his high flying kicks and stylish flare, martial arts have become a way of life for many and in our top ten list we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the various styles that now exist today. Whether you love the combative style of mixed martial arts, or the more refined and seamless style of karate, this list is sure to please your appetite and leave a nice kick of entertainment.
- Mangaka: Saruwatari, Tetsuya
- Genres: Action, Martial Arts, Sports, Seinen
- Volumes: 39
- Published: July 2003 - July 2012
Tough looks at the life of mixed martial arts specialist Kiichi, whose father was nearly killed in a fight by his brother Kiryu and Kiichi desperately tries to restore him back to full health. Before he could spend more time with his father however, a major fighting tournament is conducted and he finds himself squaring off against opponents with various martial art styles. Now Kiichi must put all of his pain behind him and fight his way to the top to claim the championship.
It’s not often that you come across a manga that specializes in mixed martial arts, since the style itself is still flourishing and making a name for itself in the world. Tough really provides a very deep and philosophical view on the various martial arts that are included in the series, and provide the reader with insightful information about styles and their history. It’s a lot of punching, kicking, and blood stained gloves in this very action packed series. The story is a continuation of Koukou Tekkenden Tough which focused on the much more younger Kiichi prior to his rise to fame, so be sure to read that to know more about Kiichi’s life.
9. Dragons Rioting
- Mangaka: Watanabe, Tsuyoshi
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Martial Arts, School Life, Shounen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: November 2012 - Present
At a very young age, Rintaro had been diagnosed with a serious condition known as Hentai Syndrome, a condition that potentially kill him if he ever were to become sexually aroused. As a solution to prevent this fatality from happening, his father instructs him on the martial art of Koei Sougetsu which would help Rintaro to balance his mind and spirit during times of distress. Ten years later he enrolls into an all girls school which he initially thought was all boys, and he learns that the first rule of the school is to abide by the laws of nature which has transformed the school into a warzone. Now with his mind set on transferring out, it seems like the 3 Dragons of the school aren’t willing to let that happen.
This ecchi martial arts comedy looks at Rintaro desperately trying to keep his hormones in check as he must team up with 3 curvaceous women who will stop at nothing to excite him, but also put an end to all of the chaos ensuing on school grounds. At first you’ll probably be scratching your head at all of the foolish antics that happen in the beginning, but once you start to see Rintaro in action with his overpowered Koei Sougetsu, things start to get interesting. It’s a lot like Ranma ½ but with a ton more oppai, lots of butt kicking, and more laughter to keep you coming back for more.
- Mangaka: Itagaki, Keisuke
- Genres: Action, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 11
- Published: March 2014 - Present
After an incredible conclusive battle that pitted Baki up against his father, Baki finds himself bored and in need of new action. So he decides to continue fighting in an underground syndicate and devotes himself entirely to leveling up his ability, but nothing seems to excite him as he constantly yawns during bouts and shows no effort. Things start to turn around once the Prime Minister of Japan enters the fray and attempts to clone the legendary Musashi Miyamoto, widely considered to be of the fathers of martial arts, to take Baki on in a battle.
For those who haven’t read Grappler Baki, we highly recommend doing so to get an incredibly detailed backstory on Baki’s life, before he became the beast that he is today. Bones are broken, backs are snapped in two, and jaws are turned into jelly in this truly amazing continuation of the Baki franchise. While it may seem weird that Baki has to go up against a cloned Miyamoto, it’s still full of excitement that will keep you hungry for the next battle. If you’re a fan of Baki, and Hanma Baki then this sequel should be a great way to bring the story together, and it really maintains its incredible realism pertaining to the various fighting styles which is sure to excite the enthusiasts out there. Be sure to check out the upcoming anime of this series as well, which is slated to air real soon!
7. All Rounder Meguru
- Mangaka: Endo, Hiroki
- Genres: Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Sports, Seinen
- Volumes: 19
- Published: November 2008 - March 2016
Meguru only has one thing on his mind at the moment, and that’s to raise his strength and push himself to the next level in mixed martial arts. He decides to join a gym in hopes that he can reach his goal, but is then caught off guard when he meets a childhood friend who also practices the same shooto style as he does. However this friend has a deep dark secret that he’s held from Meguru for years, and now Meguru is about to find out.
If a realistic representation of the mixed martial arts realm is what you’re looking for, All Rounder Meguru is your pick. While much of Meguru’s back story is somewhat vague in comparison to his friend Takashi and other supporting characters, it’s Meguru’s determination to overcome his weak points by self reflection that make this a winning piece. You remove all of the over exaggeration that you find in other titles and what you’re left with is pure passion, devotion, and a willingness to exceed everyone’s expectations to become the best fighter in the ring.
6. Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru
- Mangaka: Baba, Yasushi
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Martial Arts, Romance, Sports, Seinen
- Volumes: 50
- Published: March 2000 - August 2012
Minoru attends a college that’s reputable for its dedication to sports rather than focusing on academic success. He tries his luck out as a gymnast alongside his good friend Nana, but is immediately shunned by his peers so he quickly makes his exit. One evening after practice Ryuuji witnesses Minoru being attacked and bullied by his peers, so he immediately comes to rescue and takes care of the issue quickly. Totally inspired by Ryuuji’s karate prowess Minoru decides to take up karate with him, but along the way he meets new friends who reveal their dark pasts with one revealing a shocking death and is determined to take revenge.
Minoru enters a new environment which at first is totally foreign to him, but once he learns about his friends and what they had to go through, he grows closer to them since he could somehow relate to their pain. It’s an emotional story of a young man who must overcome his own demons not only outside of the ring, but inside as well. The manga incorporates a lot of realism pertaining to techniques used to really support what takes place during each fight scene, so you’ll feel involved as you read through each page. If you love Judo, Karate, Tae Kwon Do and more then give this manga a shot!
5. Change 123
- Mangaka: Sakaguchi, Iku
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, Martial Arts, School Life, Shounen
- Volumes: 12
- Published: June 2005 - April 2010
Motoko is a young girl who must deal with her triple personality, which had been placed on her through her 3 adoptive fathers who taught her various training methods. Each personality is equipped with her own martial art but when she finds herself engaged in battle, she simply doesn’t know which one to choose. Motoko must now come up with solutions to somehow master these techniques and put them all to good use before she finds herself flat on the mat.
Motoko is clearly very traumatized by her earlier experiences growing up, since it’s severely affected the way that she fights in battle but she constantly strives to combine everything together to become the strongest fighter possible. There are moments of laughter since the main male lead is so weak willed and Motoko has to come his rescue majority of the time, but it’s the great mixture of action and laughter that truly elevates the experience while reading and keep you involved in the fight scenes. You’ll truly fall in love with each of Motoko’s personalities because they’re all epic in some way or another, especially her Fujiko persona.
4. Souten no Ken
- Mangaka: Buronson | Hara Tetsuo
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Martial Arts, Mature, Seinen
- Volumes: 22
- Published: May 2001 - August 2010
The story takes place in the early 1930’s of Japan and China. Kasumi Kenshiro is forced to leave his current teaching job, in order to settle a beef with a gang that just can’t seem to let go of their old grudges. Putting his teaching aside, Kenshiro must now fold up his sleeves and take to the streets as he must now learn new techniques from a mysterious old man that will help to guide him on his treacherous quest for the truth.
Surprising that Souten no Ken is the prequel to the famed Hokuto no Ken series because it released almost two decades after the original, but it still maintains all of the high flying action you’d expect from the series. This manga reminds us of the very early Bruce Lee films where one man must now try to restore peace to a corrupt city riddled with crime, and must use everything his master taught him to ensure his close friends don’t suffer further pain. Everything down to the very traditional chinese style of clothing for that era is used with sheer detail, with the techniques heavily illustrated to show incredible realism. A different era, a different reason to kill, but in the end it’s still Kenshiro kicking arse and taking names for the sake of humanity.
- Mangaka: Oota, Moare
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Martial Arts, Sports, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: November 2008 - July 2015
Natsuo is one of those rare specimens that can pick up any sport and master it with relative ease, but because of this gift she often finds herself bored and in need of challenge. That all changes when receives a special invitation to join a martial arts club run by a very upbeat young girl. Out of irritation of this girls suspiciously upbeat attitude, Natsuo decides to accept the invitation just so that she could wipe the smile off of her face, but she’s about to receive another surprise that will change her outlook forever.
It’s always great to see female leads demonstrate brute strength and dexterity in a world that’s usually fixated on overpowered men, and perverted antics. Natsuo is arrogant yet she backs it up with her incredible skills, but you realize that much of her facade is all due to the fact that she’s a loner and she just wants to be noticed. She carries a lot of heavy burdens from her past which conflict with her current life, such as emotional and mental issues but this is what creates the impact to create a powerful story. Every one of Natsuo’s fights are exceptional because she’s not only fighting for pride, but she’s fighting to overcome her pain and so many of us can relate to that.
- Mangaka: Kishimoto, Masashi
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 72
- Published: September 1999 - November 2014
Naruto is arguably considered to be one of the top manga of all time and we don’t disagree, simply because Naruto showcases not only martial arts but also their historical backstory to provide some authenticity behind it. From Ninjutsu to Karate, a lot of various styles are demonstrated in a very provoking fashion with all of the high flying acrobatics that we’ve come to love. Of course much of the series is exaggerated, but it’s that added flare that brings out the art even more, and tie that in with the emotional events that take place and you have a wonderful story.
Sadly the series came to a very emotional end in 2014 but you can clearly see how much of a global impact the series has had on people, and with every anime convention you go to you’re bound to see a horde of Naruto cosplay around. Spin offs such as Boruto have now taken over and continue to bring the hype for one of the best mangas out there, so if you’re looking to continue with Naruto’s legacy then be sure to watch his son in action.
1. Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi
- Mangaka: Matsuena, Syun
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 61
- Published: August 2002 - September 2014
Kenichi has a passion for books and just can’t seem to put them down, but because of this he’s often bullied by others around him at school. One day a new transfer student named Miu enrolls into his class and the two immediately clicked, as both were seeking new friendship. While getting to know her, Kenichi comes to know of her incredible strength which sparks his interest in her even more and his willingness to fight alongside her.
This is the martial arts manga that fans of the genre should definitely read, because it incorporates just about everything into one package and manages to retain realism at the same time. Kenichi at times is a complete moron but it’s his total dedication to master his craft and increase his power that have you rooting for him. What truly sells this manga though is just how pure everything feels, pertaining to the true hand-to-hand combat that you experience while reading and there’s no fireballs, lightning bolts, or any godlike ability of that sort. It’s just true, honest, and magnificent martial arts at its finest.
Martial Arts will always continue to evolve as younger generations continue to find new ways of developing various styles, and marketing it to a global audience. The sport has now become a great way to not only defend oneself, but it’s now transformed into a way of staying in shape which is excellent for just about anyone. We hope you got a kick out of our list and that it left a lasting impression for you to share with others. Leave your love and comments down below, and be sure to tweet out our articles to keep the community buzzing!
As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.