Martial Arts of the World - An Introduction By Mich Andrews

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    Martial Arts of the World - An Introduction By Mich Andrews
    By Bob Hubbard - 01-28-2010 12:06 AM

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    Martial Arts of the World - An Introduction
    By Mich Andrews

    Martial Arts Training or 'The Arts of War' developed from a need to protect oneself, one's family and community from any outside attack by rival groups, raiders, conquering forces and so on. Over time, many regions of the world developed very different styles of martial art fighting techniques.

    Martial Arts today are practised all over the world and not just by the communities that originated them. Wherever you are on the planet you can bet you are not far away from a class or teacher who will be able to pass on the skills you need to progress. The Arts can often be classified as 'hard' which includes external physical strikes, kicks, punches etc or 'soft', which utilizes internal exercises such as rhythmic breathing, focus of the mind and visualization.

    What types of martial arts are there around the world? Here is a brief guide by country, to some of the more well known styles.

    China

    Often called 'Chinese boxing' or 'chung-kuo ch'uan', translates roughly to 'Chinese fist'. China has hundreds of different 'styles' of fighting across its vast landmass but the more common name for martial arts in China is 'Wu-Shu'. What the west recognises as the most common forms of Wu-Shu are:

    Kung-fu, of which one of the most recognisable forms is Wing Chun or 'Beautiful Springtime' which is a mix of hard and soft techniques but there are many other styles of Kung-fu.

    Tai-chi, 'supreme ultimate fist', can be a hard or soft art depending on the style practised. It is most often taught as form of healthy exercise although its effectiveness as a fighting art is often underrated by many westerners.

    Pa-kua (Ba Gua), 'eight symbols' (-the eight patterns of parallel lines in the I-Ching) is a 'soft' art involving rapid circular motions, direction changes and up and down movement at rapid speeds.

    Hsing-i (pronounced Shing yee), 'outward will or intention', utilizes rapid bursts of energy or power in structured movements to overcome opponents at once attacking and defending.

    Japan

    The Japanese martial arts combine were heavily influenced by the Bushido - 'the way of the warrior'- a moral and ethical philosophy developed after centuries of military influence. There are hard and soft elements and some styles place an emphasis on the development of 'Ki' energy (like Chinese chi) through breath control, controlled movement and focus.

    Karate, is foremost an external striking art with emphasis on punching, kicking and open hand techniques.

    Aikido, 'the Way of harmonious spirit', uses the opponents force and momentum against them by moving into the attack and re-directing it using throws and joint locks.

    Jiu-jitsu, 'the art of softness', attempts to overcome an opponent using minimal force. Developed with less emphasis on striking due to the problems with attacking an armoured opponent. It uses throwing, trapping and joint locks.

    Korea

    Taekwondo, 'the way of kicking and punching', is the national sport of Korea but its popularity has spread around the world. It relies on using the power of the legs as main weapons and has developed many kicking techniques. It involves conditioning the limbs to make hard, powerful strikes.

    Hapkido, 'the way of coordinated power/energy', uses circular motion (imagine water flowing round an obstacle) and fluid movements to control an opponent whilst utilizing point strikes, joint locks, throws and grapples. There is also equal emphasis on kicking, striking and punching.

    Thailand

    Muay Thai, or Thai-boxing, 'the art of eight limbs', is Thailand's national sport. The eight points of contact (hands, shins, elbows, knees, fist and feet) are used to strike an opponent. In comparison Western boxing would be considered to have two points of contact - the fists. This is a hard and demanding fighting style that requires stamina and hard body conditioning.

    Philippines

    Eskrima is a fighting style incorporating stick, staves and sword techniques.

    Indonesia

    Pencak Silat is a broad style encompassing many different aspects depending on the region and local traditions but focuses on intricate foot movements and hand attacks. At deeper levels there is an emphasis on interior 'magical' technique and mental practices.

    Brazilian/South American

    'Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu', originally imported from Japan, focuses on grappling and fighting on the ground which can mean that larger opponents have no particular advantage over a smaller person. The art includes submission tactics such as choke holds and joint locking. This art is both a martial art and a sport. The 'Gracie' family are famous for their brand of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and are probably the most well known exponents of this style.

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    Visit http://handtohand-combat.com for more articles on self defense techniques.

    Mich Andrews


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