The Martial Arts can be tremendously empowering, and is a great deal of fun. Martial arts are exercises, sports, and fighting techniques. The Martial Arts stress self-defense and a holistic approach to life. Studying a martial art involves your body and mind, and gives you confidence.
Martial Arts Defined
The origin and history of Martial Arts is a controversial issue. We can see signs of Martial Arts in Greek, Egyptian, African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, as well as other cultures. There is a clear trail leading from India, to the Southern China-regions up to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. The details before that, and the exact details of that transfer, are greatly debated by historians.
Types of Martial Arts
“Linear” vs. “Circular”
“Soft” vs. Hard”
“Internal” vs. “External”
Which Martial Art should I study?
That’s a question that only you can answer.
While some people advocate that “my style fits any individual”, not everyone suits a particular style. It depends heavily on your objectives. Many people who begin martial arts training strictly to learn self-defense become quite interested in other aspects as their training progresses.
What are you looking for?
Street Self-Defense Training:
Jujutsu, Hapkido, certain Kungfu’s, Karate, Kenpo, Baguazhang, Tang Soo Do, Muay Thai, Tae-Kwon-Do, Ninjutsu, Kali/Escrima/Arnis, Silat, or Xingyiquan.
Meditation and philosophy:
Most Kungfu styles, Aikido, Taiji, Kendo, Kenjutsu, or Iaido.
Sport and competition:
Some Karates/Kungfus, Judo, Boxing, Fencing, Kendo, Tae-Kwon-Do, Savate, or Shuaijiao.
Intense body conditioning and muscle development:
Okinawan Karate, Judo, certain Kungfu, Muay Thai, Tae-Kwon-Do, Capoeira.
Now these are general guides, any martial art can be taught in a manner which promotes any of these elements.
A Martial Art can be defined as a system of techniques, physical and mental exercises developed as an effective means for self-defense and offense, both unarmed and with the use of weapons.
There are many ways in which martial arts can be divided. Here are a few of them that might be useful to use in defining Martial Arts and discussing them.
Martial Arts Elements
There are four basic elements that make up the Martial Arts. They include:
- Fighting Art
It should be noted that most martial arts are a mixture of these elements. Most people want to think their art is an ancient “fighting art” and can be applied thus on the street. Some styles truly are all four, and to some degree all styles contain all four elements.
The term “complete art” is sometimes applied to arts that include strikes, kicks, throws, pressure points, and joint locks. The arts most often mentioned in this regard are some Kungfu styles, Jujutsu, and Hapkido. Although some arts contain more techniques than others, no art is “complete” in the sense that it includes all the important techniques from other arts. In general, every art has its strong and weak points, and each has something to offer.
In discussions of a style it is most useful when people highlight which area or areas their style emphasizes.
This distinction refers to lines of movement, attack and defense.
“Circular” styles use circular movements to block, attack, or move. Around and aside…
“Linear” styles use direct, straight-on movements, attacks, or head-on blocks. In and out…
Styles can, and sometimes do, mix circular blocks with linear attacks. This is a subtle distinction and not absolute, but it gives some information.
“Soft” styles tend to redirect energy, channeling and diverting momentum to unbalance an opponent, or to move them into striking range. They tend to be lower commitment and use less force. Thus, they are less likely to be unbalanced and can recover from redirection easier. Examples are Aikido, Ju Jitsu, Judo, Ninjutsu, Taiji, and many Kungfu styles.
“Hard” styles tend to direct energy outward and meet energy with energy. They will tend to strike more, and deliver more force with each strike. Hard stylists will often damage with their blocks, turning them into attacks. They deliver more power, and thus are harder to turn aside, but they are higher commitment, and thus don’t recover as well from mistakes. Examples are Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, Muay Thai, and some Kungfu styles.
“Internal” styles are styles that emphasize the more non-tangible elements of the arts. They utilize chi/ki/qi flow, rooting, and those elements which some people consider “mystical”. They tend to emphasize meditation, body control, perception, mind control (self, not others!), and pressure points. `Typically’ internal styles are soft. Taiji is an internal style.
“External” styles tend to emphasize body mechanics, leverage, and applied force. They tend to use weight, strength, positioning, and anatomy to optimal advantage. `Typically’ external styles are hard. Tae-Kwon-Do is an external style.