Martial Arts Training: More Than Just Self-Defense


According to the FBI, four women die everyday as a result of domestic violence and about 130,000 women report that they’ve been victims of rape or attempted rape annually. Because of statistics like this, many women enroll in self-defense classes to learn the skills they need to defend themselves.

The thing is, a short-term self-defense class may not address all of the areas you need to be able to fully defend yourself. While martial arts classes won’t specifically train you for combat and fighting, they will give you the ability to defend yourself if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to practice self-defense. The best part is that this self-defense isn’t always physical. What most people don’t know is that in a good martial arts class you’ll learn a variety of skills to help you gain the awareness, peace and physical conditioning you need to be a stronger person, in all aspects of your life.

Confidence. All the physical defense skills in the world won’t help if you don’t have the confidence needed to use them. That’s the beauty of martial arts training. In order to successfully train a martial art, you need to have your mind and body in tune with one another. This self-awareness gives you the confidence your need to control and defend yourself if needed. You’ll be able to handle everyday and extraordinary situations without losing your temper. You’ll be able to stand your ground. You’ll appear to be (and will be) more confident – and people who appear to be confident are less likely to be the victims of violence because they don’t look like “easy targets”.

Focus and Awareness. While training martial arts, you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing so that you don’t injure yourself or those around you. This focus and concentration carries over into other aspects of your life as well. Soon, you’ll find yourself better able to concentrate on work, school and home. You’ll even find yourself being more aware of your surroundings which can help you avoid potentially harmful or violent situations.

Peace. Training martial arts will also give you an inner peace that can change your life. First of all, to effectively train martial arts, your workout will always be changing. You’ll never get bored with your workout because it will always be challenging to your abilities (both physical and mental). In addition to that, training martial arts is a great stress reducer. You probably already know that regular physical exercise can reduce physical stress, but what you don’t know is that martial arts go one step further to reduce emotional stress as well. Activities such as martial arts that require you concentrate on your movements and your core strength can give you full stress relief in one activity.

Strength and Conditioning. When you train martial arts, you use your entire body. You cannot use just one muscle set at a time. The exercises are always changing and evolving to give you the maximum out of each training session. Martial arts also increase your flexibility which is great because people who are flexible suffer fewer injuries, have better posture and are better able to relax their muscles.

What Truely Is A Martial Art?


A martial art is identified as any skill that is usefull within warfare. The definition of martial means “military.” So traditionally, a martial art is a military art. The first things that usually pop into your head when discussing modern fighting systems do you think leaping, kicking, punching, blocking, inverting elbows, twisting necks, throwing, and weapons combat. But also horsemanship, javelin throwing, archery, spear fighting, halberd fighting, wrestling, knife fighting, rifle, shotgun, and pistol shooting, demolitions, logistics, and battle strategy can all be classified within as the field of martial arts. Anything that a soldier might do in battle is a martial art.

By martial art usually it is meant aikido, arnis, boxing, capoeria, chow gar, choy la fut, hapkido, hsing’i, hun gar, jeet kune do, jow gar, judo, jujitsu, karate, kempo, kick boxing, krav maga, kung fu, pa kua, penjak silat, praying mantis, savate, shaolin, tae kwon do, tai chi, white crane, ving tsun, wu shu and more! As you can see the list is quite long and it is actually very promising how many combat arts systems there are and how many methods of self defense can be formulated.

The best style out there for you is the style that helps you achieve the product you have set for yourself, and that advances you to take your skills up a level. If that means full contact training, then you need styles that can give you that.

Often within a martial arts school it is taught that ‘this style is the best system and it was created to beat all the others’. Of course every martial artist would have the viewpoint their style is the best because that is the style they have chosen to do, but in reality what they are saying is ‘this is the best style for me as it suits myattitude and I like the teaching environment’.

There is a ongoing joke in the martial arts, that basically says when someone says theirs is the best style, what they really mean is “I study X”. Have an open mind and open eyes, and you will find the style or styles that best fit your needs.

The changing of the arts

During the period of this history and development of the martial arts and all the combat systems of man our training tools have been instrumental in evolving and perfecting these fighting systems.

All the martial arts have been altered due to the function that mechanical devices play whether it be weapons, dojo mats, breaking boards or even the uniforms we wear – all these paraphanialia indentify the martial arts into their systems and style.

The main players in shaping our new martial arts would surely be the non-contemporary wooden dummy, ving tsun rings, iron palm ointments and even the system of using forms and karta have developed the martial arts into their current form.

Even today modern training tools are common and again the martial arts are evolving and growing with new training products such as the Wavemaster, the BOB training dummy, the Focus Master. All with a common idea, to create a well rounded combat system.

Ideally a martial arts solo training tool definately has to be workable for all and based on great background ideals and through constant drilling develop into sound physical application. The ideology and theory would have to take into account all the history of the combat technology of man and give this competition and street application.

What Are Hard Style and Soft Style Martial Arts?


Sometimes one would see references to ‘hard’ style and ‘soft’ style martial arts. To many non-martial artists, these terms may be puzzling. In North America, these terms are used to classify martial art styles into two main categories. Japanese/Okinawan karate and Korean tae kwon do are generally referred to as hard styles. Movements in both karate and tae kwon do are often linear with their forms (traditional sequence of set moves) performed with crisp movements. Chinese kung fu styles are usually referred to as soft styles. The circular motions of kung fu forms give them a more visually graceful or softer appearance especially when many of the movements flow from one to another. Even Korean kuk sool won which is sometimes referred to as ‘Korean kung fu’, is often classified as a soft style since its movements are also more flowing than the stop and go of tae kwon do or karate. This is not to say that hard styles such as karate or tae kwon do are more powerful martial arts than kung fu and other soft styles. The term ‘soft’ is a bit misleading because the power from circular kung fu moves are often hidden. Circular moves can generate just as much power as linear ones.

The terms hard style and soft style came as a result of the evolution of North American martial arts competitions, particularly in forms divisions. For many years, open karate tournaments which allowed all martial arts styles, had competitors from different martial arts backgrounds compete in the same forms divisions. All equivalent level competitors, whether they used a Japanese/Okinawan karate kata, a Korean tae kwon do pattern or a Chinese kung fu form, competed together in the same divisions. This provided a nice martial arts showcase for spectators especially at the bigger tournaments. However, some competitors and judges considered divisions with combined styles to be too complicated. For example, judges who were familiar with only Japanese or Korean styles had a difficult time scoring competitors performing Chinese kung fu forms. Sometimes competitors from different martial art styles felt that judges were being biased against them. Judging a hard style form against a soft style form was often like trying to compare apples to oranges.

To help resolve these issues, many of the larger martial arts tournaments expanded to have separate divisions for hard and soft styles. This was a way to equalize things and add some more fairness to all competitors. The largest tournaments went another step ahead and further separated Japanese karate stylists from Korean tae kwon do stylists by putting them into different divisions too. This still left many kempo stylists up in the air because their particular forms have both hard and soft style elements since their movements are both linear as well as circular. Some promoters of large tournaments decided to accommodate kempo stylists by adding in separate forms divisions just for their style too. Of course many smaller local tournaments have not been able to offer separate hard and soft style divisions for martial arts forms competitors mainly because of financial budget restrictions. The terms hard style and soft style are used only in North America and parts of Europe since these are the only regions of the world that have open martial arts competitions. Martial arts competitions in other parts of the world such as Asia are generally restricted to certain specific styles only.

Martial Art Belt Ranks – What Do They Mean?


There are many theories why present day martial art schools use belts and sashes as a ranking system and where the concept of using belts came from. We will discuss two philosophies, one that is widely accepted by many practitioners and another that can be considered as a legend, or story that was passed down by your grandfather. Please keep in mind that the belt ranking system has only been around about 120 years. Throughout this article, keep in mind that not all Martial Arts are the same, your school may have a completely different ranking system than discussed here.

One of the most common arguments comes from the founder of modern day Judo, Dr. Jigoro Kano. An educator and sports enthusiast, Dr. Kano used a black belt to represent his dan (highest-ranking) students in his school, the Kodokan. However, he later realized his kyu (lower ranking) students needed an outward tangible object to acknowledge their accomplishments and encourage their efforts. So he implemented the different colors to signify the progress that his kyu made over time.

Eventually, other Japanese martial art styles such as Karate, Aikido, Kendo, etc. incorporated the Judo belt ranking system when Gichin Funakoshi, an Okinawan karate master and considered as the “Father of Modern Karate” demonstrated his martial art style, Shotokan, at the Kodokan.

The other theory, known as “the belt getting dirty” can be considered as a martial arts folklore. When new students started their training they were given the rank of white belt, signifying a birth or beginning. Students were not allowed to wash their belts, therefore the belt would “get dirty” the more they practiced. In time the belt would become black, signifying the amount of time the student spent practicing and typically their level of skill.

As a new student in a martial art, you will most likely be given a white belt at the beginning of your training and will progress through a color system on your way toward a black belt. However, contrary to popular belief, the black belt does not signify the end of your training, but rather the beginning. In most arts, once you earn your black belt you are no longer considered a kyu, you are now a dan.

Dan have their own ranking system known as degrees. You are a first degree black belt when you first attain it, over time you can test for your 2nd degree black belt (or 2nd dan) and so on. Most martial arts consider a 10th degree black belt to be the highest level of mastery.

As you train in a martial art, don’t get discouraged if you are stuck on a certain belt for a long period of time. It usually takes many years to progress through the belts and this is actually one of the lessons that participating in Martial Arts will teach you. Progressing through the belts requires a great deal of time, dedication, self-confidence, patience and self-discipline. The skills you learn in your martial arts training will apply to almost every aspect of your life and will help you succeed in areas where you never thought Martial Arts would help.

The Basics Of Tae Kwon Do


Tae Kwon Do is a modern martial art, well known all around the world for it’s lightning fast, often high, spectacular spin kicks. Tae Kwon Do has been around for many years, originally founded in Korea. It translates to “the are of punching and kicking”, or the “art of unarmed combat”.

The martial art Tae Kwon Do has four disciplines – patters, self defense, break test, and sparring. It isn’t just one of these disciplines that make up the art, but a combination of them. All 4 of them are important, especially for those looking to advance in belt ranking. To advance in a belt, there are certain tests that students need to pass.

One of the great things about Tae Kwon Do is the fact that there are no age limits, and it can easily be learned by young children. Children of all ages will quickly learn fast reactions playing games, learn respect, and they will also learn their abilities as well as their disabilities.

The competitions however, are a bit different for children than they are for the adults. Even though the participants will wear full body protection, children can only kick and punch to the body, as no shots to the head are allowed. The competitions in Tae Kwon Do is what makes the art so very dominating. A majority of students that practice this martial art do so because of the competitions.

The competitions can be very exciting to watch, as they can get very competitive. Contrary to what many may think, the competitions aren’t deadly, nor are they anywhere close to being as dangerous as Muay Thai fights. Competitors will wear full protection, including head gear. For adults, kicks to the head are allowed, although a majority of stylists can block them before they make impact.

In order to participate in the competitions, stylists will need to have a certain level of experience. It can take years to become good enough, especially for those who win. Competitions are a great way to learn, especially if there are participating fighters from other areas of the world. The skill of a stylist is a very important factor with the competitions and tournaments. If you have a black belt fighter going against a white belt – the results will normally be quite obvious.

All things aside, the art of Tae Kwon Do is a great martial art. Stylists can learn kicking, punching, blocking, and the spectacular movements the art is known for. Tae Kwon Do is practiced all around the world, meaning that there are just as many places to learn this art as there are Karate. For an art that won’t disappoint – Tae Kwon Do teaches self defense and a whole lot more.