Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games – Get to know the sports – Part III of III

The Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games will feature the world’s best athletes in 16 martial arts and combat sports this 20-30 October in the Saudi capital.

In Part I we took a closer look at Karate, Boxing, Sambo, Sumo, and Wushu, while in Part II we showcased Judo, Wrestling, Ju-Jitsu, Aikido, Kickboxing, and Fencing.

Last but certainly not least are the final five sports to make their appearance at Riyadh 2023: Armwrestling, Taekwondo, Savate, Muaythai, and Kendo. Read on to find out more about these exciting combat sports!



A welcome new addition to the World Combat Games is the sport of Armwrestling and Para Armwrestling. A test of strength and sometimes great endurance, Armwrestling involves two athletes locking hands with their elbows resting on a table. The first athlete to pin their opponent’s arm to the surface wins.

It sounds simple in theory but Armwrestling is a deceptively complex sport that requires a great deal of technique and strategy on top of strength, endurance, experience, and passion.

The history of the sport dates back over 2,000 years, although the modern version traces its beginnings to the 1950s and 1960s. The World Armwrestling Federation (WAF) was founded in 1977 and currently includes 90 Members, with a World Championship taking place every year.


The full-contact sport of Taekwondo originated in Korea and has since taken the world by storm. An Olympic sport since 2000, Taekwondo is practiced globally in over 200 countries.

Known for dynamic and rapid-fire kicks and punches, Taekwondo at Riyadh 2023 will be represented by the disciplines of Kyorugi (Mixed Gender Team) and Poomsae (Men, Women, Pairs). Kyorugi is a sparring discipline between two individuals or two teams. The non-sparring discipline of Poomsae features a series of movements displaying offensive and defensive techniques against an imaginary opponent.

“We are delighted that Taekwondo will feature at the World Combat Games for the third time,” says World Taekwondo President Dr. Chungwon Choue. “We believe strongly that Taekwondo and combat sports have an important role to play in society, promoting discipline, respect, and tolerance. The Games will showcase these values and bring fans from around the world together to enjoy the diversity and spectacle of elite combat sport.”


Savate is a traditional French combat sport in which fighters employ kicking and striking techniques. It differs from kickboxing and muaythai in that the fighters wear shoes and the kicks are performed at long range, using the feet only. Fighters cannot use their knees or shins and do not use clinching or grappling techniques. The savate concept is to touch without being touched, by using mobility and accuracy. Savate is a graceful combat sport with a strong emphasis on technique.

Athletes at Riyadh 2023 will compete in men’s and women’s Savate as well as Canne de Combat (Individual, Wheelchair and Team). Canne de Combat, or cane fighting, evolved alongside Savate in the early 19th century. The discipline emphasises agility, coordination and graceful movement and employs the use of wooden canes that are used for striking.

“Sport is a powerful tool to bring people together and to achieve positive change in the world,” says Fédération Internationale de Savate (FISav) President Dr. Julie Gabriel. “The prestigious World Combat Games give our athletes the opportunity to demonstrate their passion for Savate and Canne de Combat. There will be hard-fought bouts, and there may be close decisions. Whatever the results, we will be witnessing the culmination of many years of training and dedication by athletes, supported by committed coaches.

“We are grateful to the officials and organisers who make this possible.”


The ancient martial art of Muaythai combines tradition and values with incredible spectator appeal. It is known as the science of eight limbs as practitioners execute strikes using eight points of contact: their fists, shins, knees, and elbows.

Muaythai at Riyadh 2023 will be all-inclusive and showcase five disciplines, including Para Muaythai which will be making its World Combat Games debut.

Elite combat division athletes taking part in Riyadh have survived a gruelling 2-year qualification process to earn their places at the World Combat Games, which will feature an exciting round-robin format. Wai Kru and Mai Muay disciplines will also be full medal events in Riyadh.


Kendo is a type of martial art in which practitioners wear protective armour (kendo-gu) consisting of a mask (men), gauntlets (kote), torso protector (do) and lower body protector (tare). Athletes use bamboo swords (shinai) to engage in one-on-one combat as they compete to score valid strikes against each other.

As a traditional form of Japanese culture, kendo is a martial art that emphasizes etiquette, and practitioners continue training throughout their lives to forge their spirit and temper their body in the quest for self-perfection.

60+ kendoka from around the world will participate at Riyadh 2023 in men’s and women’s individual competitions as well as men’s and women’s Kendo Master Demonstrations. Don’t miss it!



For information on where to buy tickets, click here. For information on where you can watch the World Combat Games, click here.