Note: All styles have a history and, within each style, you will find many versions of its history. Much of the history of styles is traditional and has passed down through the generations, rather than being verifiable history. Much of the history of styles is myth and legends, so some of the histories should be taken lightly. The descriptions of styles that are presented in this topic are a compilation of descriptions and histories I discovered during my research on styles. Practitioners of each style will probably disagree with something presented in the description and history of the style. This site is dedicated to Taekwondo; if you interested in a more detailed description and history of a style, research that style for yourself.
Commonly, people think of a martial art style as a specific martial art that is unique from other martial arts, however, the dictionary definition of style is that it is "a way, manner, method, or way of doing something," it not necessarily unique. Therefore, a martial art style should correctly be viewed as an artistic expression of a particular martial art with characteristics particular to the martial artist's interpretation. It would be more correct to classify unique, individual martial arts as "systems." A system is a set of separate, but related, elements that come together to form a complex orderly way of accomplishing something. Therefore, a collection of facts, principles, theories, or beliefs that make up a unique martial art should correctly be called a system.
Many times martial artists use the terms "system" and "style" interchangeably, but they are not the same. A system is a collection of techniques, while a style is a variation of the way of performing techniques within the system. Therefore, a style is not a unique art; it is merely a variation of a system. It is just a system's artist's personal interpretation of one or more elements of the system.