Intro To Martial Arts

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There are hundreds of styles of martial arts in existence and while some of those have nearly fallen out of practice, there is an extensive list of martial arts still popular today. Some forms of martial arts are studied for self-discipline or self-defense, while others are practiced for physical fitness, spiritual transformation, or medicinal purposes.

Different Styles of Martial Arts

Most participants choose their preferred martial art form based on what they are looking to gain from the practice—improved strength, enhanced restraint, better health, or self-enlightenment. Each school of study specifies a set of practiced techniques that follow a precise criteria and form. An overview of the commonly practiced martial arts styles helps interested students choose the system best suited to their aspiration for learning the arts.

Kung Fu

Developed and practiced by Shaolin Buddhists, Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art which combines self-defense with meditation. Kung Fu uses conditioning movements to increase strength. In this style of martial arts each movement is defined by a direct purpose. Kung Fu takes an inherent amount of focus and discipline.

Kung Fu elements involve:

  • Self awareness
  • Concentration training
  • Kicking techniques
  • Striking punches
  • Take down and grappling moves
  • Joint locking

The beginning stages of Kung Fu teachings will encourage concentration on breathing, eye movement, stretching, and coordination. Techniques are taught over time and each Kung Fu move centers on specific energy transference.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu incorporates mental and physical conditioning. The goal in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to teach techniques which allow the student to utilize ground movements and grappling to overcome an opponent. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu evolved from the Japanese martial art form of Judo and originates from techniques honed by the Gracie family of Brazil.

Jiu Jitsu focuses on:

  • Self-defense through striking and grappling
  • Submission holds
  • Competition free fighting
  • Leverage techniques to overtake larger opponents
  • Joint locking
  • Countering maneuvers

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu students will focus on strength training and movement patterns before learning more advanced take-down techniques.

Karate

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One of the most commonly studied martial arts, karate focuses on striking techniques. Karate originated in Japan and involves extreme self-discipline. The techniques are studied for combat, personal development, defense, or simply as an art form.

Karate is a comprehensive martial art involving:

  • Elbow blows
  • Knife hand strikes
  • Kicks
  • Knee jabs
  • Hits with the heel of the palm
  • Punching

Throughout karate training there is a focus on increasing one’s agility, flexibility, speed, and coordination. Karate is often a lifelong study which is thought to improve various aspects of the student’s life due to the strength of mind that comes with training in the ancient art form.

Wrestling

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As a grappling art, wrestling is recognized as one of the oldest ground combat defenses. Depicted throughout history in cave drawings and on scrolls of parchment, wrestling has long been commonplace in martial arts. The objective is to take an opponent down to the ground and use a variety of techniques to overtake them or force them to submit.

Wrestling moves include:

  • Neck chokes
  • Body holds
  • Limb and joint locking
  • Throwing movements
  • Exertion of leverage

There are various forms of wrestling taught today. Sumo wrestling is a Japanese style where the intent is to force the opponent out of the ring. Catch wrestling is another common style which involves pinning the opponent in a submissive position.

Judo

Another Japanese martial art, Judo focuses on both competition and combat using throwing and grappling techniques. The intent of the art as developed was to use efficient moves to overcome an opponent without exerting an inordinate amount of energy.

Judo utilizes:

  • Hip throws
  • Arm take downs
  • Leg sweeps
  • Joint manipulation
  • Pins and submissive techniques
  • Choke holds

Judo students will also learn break falls. Break falls show the student how to remain free from injury during a take down by an opponent.

MMA

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MMA stands for mixed martial arts and consists of standing and ground techniques. Though MMA combines techniques from a variety of martial arts, the coined name and its popularity are one of the most recent martial art forms to create a stir in competition combat fighting.

Students of MMA schools will learn:

  • Kicks
  • Punches
  • Holds
  • Take downs
  • Submission moves
  • Joint manipulation
  • Elbow strikes
  • Opponent immobilization

MMA also teaches endurance, defensive moves, and self-discipline. MMA competition fights are coordinated by weight class to allow a closely matched contest.

Muay Thai

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Originating from Thailand, Muay Thai is a full combat martial art. The intention of the art is for the fighter to transform eight contact points of the body to imitate war field weaponry. Techniques utilize full movement of the body as opposed to single jabs or stationary kicks. Muay Thai students will learn to move the body as a whole while incorporating moves such spinning kicks with coordinated blocks and punches.

Techniques learned in Muay Thai involve:

  • Jabs
  • Hooks
  • Uppercuts
  • Roundhouse kicks
  • Elbow Strikes
  • Shin kicks
  • Foot jabs
  • Knee strikes
  • Clinch moves

Muay Thai students will learn how to anticipate an opponent’s move, block impending strikes, close in on an offender while disrupting an approaching blow, and how to counter an attack.

Martial art forms have been studied for thousands of years. Modern martial arts are studied for sport as well as for personal development. Most forms of modern martial arts follow an extensive set of regulations for both practice and competition which encourages safety for participants of all ages. The practice of martial arts is well recognized as a way to improve physical fitness while developing a great sense of personal accomplishment.

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