Compare martial arts This is a board comparison, to give you a feel for the arts. It is based on the official founding dates and original principles as dictated by the founder/s.


Martial ArtFounding DateGrandmasters/LineageBreakaways/splitsPrinciplesCompetitiveOrigin
Ninjutsu (Togakure)Mid 118034 Gradmasters unbroken lineageA few in modern times but most have association with current lineageUnderstanding reality & falsehood, selfawareness, stealth, balance with nature and natural movement principlesNot at allIga prefecture Japan
Ninjutsuvarious clans traced back around 2000 yearsMany lineages many now endedHardly any as most clans were family groups and disloyalty usually resulted in deathUnderstanding reality & falsehood, selfawareness, stealth, balance with nature and natural movement principlesNot at allIga & Koga prefecture Japan
Nihon Jujutsuvarious clans traced back around 1500 yearsNo one lineage, many unbrokenManyMany variations, weapons, striking, grappling, throws, locks etc. Some similar methods to Ninjutsu.Now days mostly yesJapan
Judo1882Kodokan unbroken but a few splinter groupsA fewModern form of Japanese Ju Jutsu with just throws and ground work, developed for sport.yesJapan
Aikido1917 - 1930unbroken but a few splinter groupsA fewModern form of Japanese Ju Jutsumostly noJapan
Karate1922 from Japan (Okinawan Te much older)No one lineageMany3 main systems - Traditional, Modern Sport & Modern Contact.mostly yesOriginally Okinawan Islands (1922 Japan)
Tae Kwon Do11,04,1955No one lineageManyPower punches and kicks, sport orientated.mostly yesKorea
Wing Tsun Kung FuMid 1700No one lineageA few, most notable Bruce LeeCenter line system, initially 'upright' fixed stances then dynamic at advanced levels.mostly yesChina
Kung Fu (Various)various styles traced back around 3000 yearsNo one lineageManyAnimal forms and various other formsmostly noChina
American Kempo1960No one lineageManyMix of Chinese, Korean and Japanese Karatemostly yesAmerica
Brazilian Jujutsu1940No one lineageManySport form of Japanese Ju JutsuyesBrazil
Kick Boxing1970NoneManySport form of Karate cross boxingyesAmerica
MMA1980NoneManySport form of Ju Jutsu, kickboxing & boxingyesAmerica

Note: these details are researched, sought from text from each arts organisations members, many concise history books and online from head organisation websites. Facts are facts, remember these are broad comparisons.

Yes, most arts have their history or their foundations dating back hundreds of years before the 'founding dates' stated above but as we practice them today we must acknowledge the 'new' systems evolution or devolution and structural changes from the original foundations. 

Note: there are many styles being merged now days usually to fill limitations in their core art, e.g. modern Karate systems often add judo or jujutsu for throws and ground work and Samurai swords and weapons.
Many of these 'freestyle' or MMA evolution's call themselves by names usually connected to the Samurai of Japan like 'Bushi', 'Budo jujitsu', 'Bushido' and 'Bujutsu'. However this appears to mainly be a marketing thing as traditional Karate from the Okinawan Islands south of Japan had no connection to the Samurai, in fact Japan only gained control of the islands in 1879 prior to this they were ruled as a kingdom and were a tributary of both China and Japan, trading with both. 

Karate history: In 1477 when King Shō Shin (Ryukyu Kingdom - Okinawan Islands) came into power, martial arts practice was banned. Tō-te and Ryukyu kobudō (weaponry) was then taught in secret (kind of like Ninjutsu!).  in 1609 After Okinawa was invaded by the Satsuma Domain of Japan the ban was continued contributing to the development of kobudō which uses farming implements and common household items as weaponry. The Okinawans combined Chinese martial arts with the existing local variants to form Tōde (唐手 Tuudii, Tang hand, China hand), sometimes called Okinawa-te (沖縄手 Uchinaa-dii).

Different types of Te had developed in three different villages by the 18th century – Naha, Shuri, and Tomari. The styles were named Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te, respectively.

Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te and tii 手 in Japanese and Okinawan for "hand". Te often varied from one town to another, so to distinguish among the various types of te, the word was often prefaced with its area of origin; for example, Naha-te, Shuri-te, or Tomari-te.

Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te belong to a family of martial arts that were collectively defined as Tode-jutsu or To-de.

When Gichin Funakoshi took the system to main land Japan in 1922 ‘Karate’ was a term originally referred to as ‘China-hand’, then from 1935 it was altered to mean ‘empty-hand’ with the characters used for the word 'empty' (Kara) meaning to: ‘render oneself empty' in Zen Buddhist philosophy.
He wrote of this: ‘so must the student of karate render his mind 'empty' of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately toward anything he might encounter’.

So . . . if you hunger for the next ‘belt’, simply desire a black belt to impress others, need to win that next sparring session or tournament or get that title/trophy or have been told or believe that 'Karate' simply means ‘nothing or no weapon in your hand’ . . . then maybe you should develop a better understanding of your art!

Karate has only been systematically taught in Japan after the Taisho era (after 1926).

And that's just Karate some other arts have similar misconceptions . . . understand what it is you are learning!