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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!
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