For many people around the world, self-defense could be nothing more than a necessity, especially if one lives in a tough environment. But for those who appreciate it better than its survival value, martial arts training is an important extension of a local culture.

Every popular traditional martial art known in the world today began somewhere. The disciplines like kung fu, karate, taekwondo, jujutsu, and arnis are each fostered for centuries by its respective nations. Here are the top 5 countries one should visit to learn martial arts:

China (Kung Fu)

Roughly translated as "man's hard work," training in kung fu is not for the half-hearted. In China, more than a dozen kung fu academies exemplify rigid military mindset in their work-out. However, the country also capitalizes on kung fu to strengthen their tourism industry. The most popular martial arts destinations in China feature a boot-camp style of retreat for trainees located at some of the country's ancient cultural landmarks.

Japan (Karate)

Commonly known as the art of the "empty hand", karate employs powerful bone-breaking strikes emphasizing pinpoint precision. Originating from Okinawa, this art has spread all over Japan and eventually worldwide. The southern archipelago of Okinawa remains the most popular training destination for those who wish to embrace its rustic and traditional regimen.

South Korea (Taekwondo)

The "way of the foot and the fist" has been practiced in the entire Korean peninsula for many centuries. Now known as a national sport in South Korea, taekwondo training is also one of the key tourists draws in the city of Seoul. In fact, it is only in Seoul when one can aspire to have a doctorate degree in employing fast and explosive semi-acrobatic strikes.

Brazil (Jiu Jitsu)

Imported from Japan, this method of grappling was primarily used to disarm medieval Japanese swordsmen. Now in Brazil, the ironic "the gentle way" has produced far less gentle MMA world champions since 1991. One of the most popular locations for tropical summer boot-camp training is in Rio de Janeiro.

Philippines (Arnis)

Although not making a significant impact in Philippine tourism, the weapons combat system called "arnis" (Spanish for 'armor') still remains a vital aspect of the nation's culture. It is also a mainstay program for the country's most elite counter-terrorist units. The most popular location for comprehensive training (for civilians) is in Cebu City.