This paper compares the application of five different methods for the approximation of the inverse kinematics of a manipulator arm from a number of joint angle/Cartesian coordinate training pairs. The first method is a standard feedforward neural network with error backpropagation learning. The next two methods are derived from an extended Kohonen Map algorithm that we combine with Shepard interpolation for the forward computation. We compare the method of Ritter et al. for the learning of the extended Kohonen Map to our own scheme based on gradient descent optimization. We also study three scattered data approximation algorithms. They include two variants of the Radial Basis Function (RBF) method: Hardy's multiquadrics and gaussian RBF. We further develop our own Local Polynomial Fit method that could be considered as a modification of McLain's method. We propose extensions to the considered scattered data approximation algorithms to make them suitable for vector-valued multivariable functions, such as the mapping of Cartesian coordinates into joint angle coordinates.