There are many different martial arts available today and all of them offer something a different. To help you decide which one may be right for you, here is a brief description of some (by no means all) of today’s popular martial arts. We have missed out Boxing and Wrestling as we feel that neither really needs much explanation.
AIKIDO and JU JUTSU (or Jiu Jitsu)
These Japanese martial arts, use a variety of joint locking techniques and also focuses on throws which involve redirecting an opponents force against him. Therefore size if of less importance than in, for example, boxing or wrestling. Ju Jutsu may involve more wrestling or groundfighting style techniques. Weapons training is not normally heavily involved in these styles although defence against weapons attacks may well be.
Famous even before the advent of the “Karate Kid” series of movies, this Japanese style which literally means “empty hand” is mainly a striking style using the hands and feet. To go with this a number of blocking techniques are also taught. This style also involves the practise of “Kata” or forms, which are a series of set moves which simulate various defence and offensive moves. Usually a new form is learnt for each progressive move up the belt system. There are many different styles of Karate often with only very small differences. There are very few throwing, grappling or locking techniques taught in Karate compared to other styles and no weapons.
Made more popular since it was introduced to the Olympic Games, Taekwondo is a very similar style to Karate, but has its origins in Korea. Generally though there is more emphasis on kicking techniques rather than hand strikes. Often the forms (Poomses) taught are very similar to those in Karate, which has lead to some argument over the lineage of the different arts. As well as being an Olympic sport Taekwondo is taught to members of the South Korean Armed forces.
MMA or MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
MMA has been made famous by events such as the Ultimate Fight Challenge in the USA as well as cage fighting. MMA is not truly a martial art in its own right but more a full-contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques, from a mixture of martial arts traditions and non-traditions, to be used in competitions. The rules allow the use of striking and grapling techniques, both while standing and on the ground. Such competitions allow martial artists of different backgrounds to compete. Not for the faint hearted, MMA is not really suitable for those who have no previous martial arts experience and definitely not for children.
Muay Thai is a form of hard martial art practiced in large parts of the world, including Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The art is similar to others in Southeast Asia such as: pradal serey in Cambodia, lethwei in Myanmar, tomoi in Malaysia, and Lao boxing in Laos. Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand and is the country''s national sport. Traditional Muay Thai practiced today varies significantly from the ancient art muay boran and uses kicks and punches in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing.
Muay Thai is referred to as "The Art of Eight Limbs", as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. A practitioner of Muay Thai ("nak muay") thus has the ability to execute strikes using eight "points of contact," as opposed to "two points" (fists) in Western boxing and "four points" (fists, feet) used in the primarily sport-oriented forms of martial arts.
Kung Fu is a term that has been westernised to a great extent to become synonimous with the Chines Martial arts. Known for its “soft” style of martial arts Kung Fu has been made famous by the cult TV series of the same name. Kung Fu training can include both empty hand and many weapons techniques as well as “internal training” of chi energy and meditation. Movements tend to be very fluid and circular. There are a great many different schools of Kung Fu often teaching to a completely different syllabus which can make it difficult to get continuity if you need to change instructors for any reason.
Judo, meaning "gentle way", is a modern Japanes martia art and combat sport, which, like Taekwondo also features in the Olympics, that originated in Japan in the late nineteenth century. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw one''s opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one''s opponent with a grappling manoeuvre, or force an opponent to submit by joint locking the elbow or by executing a choke. Strikes and thrusts (by hands and feet) — as well as weapons defences — are a part of judo, (and not taught in all schools) but only in pre-arranged forms (kata) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice (randori).
The most obvious feature of an Eskrima class is that it is mostly weapon-based. The student is first taught to work with weapons and only advances to empty-hand techniques once the stick techniques have been learned. Most other well known martial arts start by developing empty hands proficiency, often for years, before being introduced to the weapons component. This feature of Eskrima is justified by the argument that most systems have unified their teaching so that the empty-hand techniques are learned through the same exercises as the weapon techniques, making muscle memory an important aspect of the teaching. Since you may not have a weapon available, or might lose a weapon, the body becomes the weapon. Because the weapon is seen as simply an extension of the body, the same angles and footwork are used either with or without a weapon. This allows weapons to be taught before empty-hand, and by many FMA schools it is referred to as the concept of motion grouping.
The most common weapon used in training is a rattan stick about the length of the practitioner''s arm, although the length may vary from about 45 cm to 70 cm. Some schools prefer sticks of a particular length, while others expect students to learn which techniques are appropriate for a variety of lengths. Most North American and European schools use hand and head protection when sparring with rattan sticks.
Other sticks used for training and for some duels are made of hardwood
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