Martial Arts Overview Anytime an individual decides to learn how to protect themselves, learn self defense, or become a better person, one thing comes to mind -- martial arts. Martial arts are very common these days, being practiced all over the world. The martial arts have been used for many centuries, although they really became famous around the time of Bruce Lee. Bruce invented the style of Jeet Kune Do, which involves very fast strikes with amazing counter defenses. Once people began to see just how fast Bruce Lee could move, they began to look into martial arts and see just how it could benefit them. Martial arts are broken down into specific styles. The style all depends on where and what you study. A lot of cultures and countries offer martial arts that they originated, developed, and perfected. Brazil offers Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, Japan has Karate, Thailand has Muay Thai, France has Savate, and China has Shaolin. Keep in mind that each style will vary in techniques and what it has to offer you. Although many people think of martial arts as being just for self defense purposes, this isn't always the case. Martial arts are used in tournaments and competitions as well, which can include sparring, floor routines, and even block and brick breaking demonstrations. All across the world, there are competitions and chances for fighters to prove themselves and their knowledge. In general, all martial arts will teach you how to defend yourself and above all else -- help you develop self control. Once you begin to study a martial art, you'll quickly start to develop a much better state of mind. No matter what style of martial art you study, the instructors will drill self control into your head. Those of you who have a bad temper or just need to learn self control, martial arts can be very beneficial to study. Not only will you learn self control, you'll also learn how to defend yourself in the most drastic of situations. Self control is very important, as martial arts can be very deadly if they are taught to the wrong person -- with the wrong intentions. Over the last decade, there have been a lot of mainstream competitions that showcase martial arts, such as Extreme Fighting, King of the cage, and the most popular of all, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). The UFC has come a long way over the years, sparking interest from all over the world. It pairs stylists from all over the world together, to test their skills and see who is the better fighter. With the UFC, a lot of people have gotten the wrong idea about martial arts. A martial art is great to learn, although if it works in the UFC, it doesn't always mean that it will protect you out on the streets. Karate for example, teaching blocking and striking, with little to no emphasis on grappling techniques. If you get in close, Karate really doesn't help. With some distance however, Karate can be very devastating. No matter how you look at it, martial arts can be great to learn if you learn it for the right reasons. Each style will vary in technique and what it has to offer you, which is why you should pick the best style for your needs and what you hope to accomplish. Martial arts can teach you a lot about self defense and yourself -- all you have to do is give it a try. Choosing The Best Martial Arts Style For anyone who wants to learn a martial art, there is a lot to know in regards to the many different styles. Of course there is the question of finding the best martial art, which is a question a lot of people ask With so many martial arts styles to choose from, it can be very complicated to pick one to learn. No matter you may hear or what others have to say, it is quite impossible to name one style of martial arts as the ultimate best. Actually, there are several factors that come into play, which makes a statement about a style being the best impossible. Even though one style may beat another in a competition or a fight, doesn't always mean that the winning style is the best. Before deciding to rush out there and learn a martial art, there are several things that you should decide first. Martial arts are great to learn, no matter which style you decide on. A martial art can teach you self discipline, self defense, and several other traits that will help you no matter where you decide to go in life. Self defense All over the world, there are several martial arts schools and dojo's that emphasize self defense a lot more than others. Schools that focus on kata, forms, or light sparring are less than likely to teach you what you need to protect yourself on the street. If you are looking for street self defense, then you'll want a style that trains hard and doesn't let up. Fitness Even though martial arts can improve your fitness level, it isn't the goal behind a lot of the martial arts styles. Several styles, such as Tae Bo, are based purely on martial arts and doesn't include a lot of physical fitness training. If you are looking for fitness as your main goal, then you should be looking into something other than martial arts. Fighting ability This will vary among the many different martial arts styles. Self defense schools will most often take advantage of fighting skills, teaching you everything you need to survive. Most martial arts styles are slow in theory, teaching you kata, movements, and forms. Self defense schools on the other hand, teach you how to inflict the most amounts of damage in the least amount of time. Competition Competition based martial arts are all about winning trophies and showing the world your style of martial arts. The competition that you have chosen, will greatly impact your style of martial arts. You'll need to decide if you will be fighting or showcasing display kata, light or heavy contact, or focusing on grappling or striking. Before you decide on a martial arts style, you should always research the schools and dojo's in your area and see what all they offer you. The best schools will allow you to participate in a few free classes, or offer you discounts on your first few months. They will answer any questions that you have, and work with you to help you learn as much as you can. Martial arts can be a very fun and exciting learning experience. There are hundreds of different martial arts styles out there, although you may be limited in choice, depending on what all is offered in your area. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu and some of the most common types of martial arts, and normally offered just about everywhere. The more distinct styles, such as Kung Fu, Shootfighting, Kenpo, and Shaolin styles are a bit hard to harder to find. If you do your homework on some of the styles that are offered in your area, you'll find one that best fits your reasons to study. Martial arts can change your outlook on life -- all you have to do it devote yourself to learning all you can about the philosophy of your martial art. Sparring Sparring is something that all martial arts use. There are numerous sports, such as boxing and wrestling that use sparring as well. It is a very useful technique, helping students become better with their techniques and what they have learned. By practicing with other people, students learn their arts better and become more apt at performing the techniques quickly and efficiently. If you are studying martial arts in a dojo, you'll find sparring to be very exciting as well as beneficial to your training. The instructors and teachers will be right there watching and guiding students, making sure that no one gets hurt. Students use full body gear, including headgear, to ensure safety during practice. Depending on your skill level and martial art you are studying, you may end up using no protective gear. Students that are very skilled won't normally need protective equipment, as they are good enough with sparring and their techniques that they can go a few rounds with other skilled students and not make any type of contact at all. Martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, that focus on grappling, make the most use of sparring, as it is needed to properly execute the techniques. Martial arts that focus mainly on grappling use joint locks and submission techniques, which will need to be practiced quite a bit before they can be used effectively during a competition or even as self defense. During sparring, students go back and forth, competing with each other and testing each other. The rounds will vary, although most last several minutes. Students will also receive help and insight from their instructors to let them know how they are doing and if they need to change anything they are doing. This also gives instructors the chance to see just how well you are progressing in training and what areas you need to work more on. Sometimes, sparring is done by yourself, without anyone else working with you. If you are sparring by yourself, you'll use equipment such as punching bags, tackling dummies, or other forms of equipment that will help you with your martial art. The foam or rubber dummies are most often used with grappling techniques or punching on the ground, as they represent the opponent that you are trying to pummel into submission. All in all, sparring is an excellent way to practice the skills you have learned against equipment or other students. Students are fun to spar against, especially if they are at a higher level of skill than you are. You can use sparring to your advantage, learning what others do and how they react to your movements and techniques. The longer you spar and practice your moves -- the better you will get in your training, speed, and the execution of your skills. The Ultimate Fighting Championship It's no secret that martial arts has indeed come a long way over the years. Many years ago, Bruce Lee helped the arts become even more famous, when he developed his style of Jeet Kune Do. He participated in several movies, showing the world his speed and finesse. Since then, movies have been a popular way to showcase martial arts skills. Back in the early 1990s, something known as the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) came along to take things one step further. Even though there have been other competitions similar to the UFC, none of them had the flair and the dedication as UFC did. When it first began, the UFC paired different styles and different weight classes. The result were exciting fights with varying results. The first ever champion was a man from Brazil named Royce Gracie. Gracie was the first to introduce Brazilian Jui-Jitsu in this way, opening up the eyes of everyone who witness him fight. After the first UFC tournament, Brazilian Jui-Jitsu was instantly viewed as the best martial art. Royce weighed under 200 pounds, and he was completely dominating people nearly 3 times his size. Gracie would go on to win UFC 2 and 4 as well. He was the most dominating in the sport, and opened the eyes of everyone across the world. In UFC 3, he didn't lose, although he ran into a very tough fighter who nearly beat him. Gracie came back in UFC 5 for a superfight match up with Ken Shamrock, which would go the distance and end in a draw. Other fighters have done exceptionally well in the UFC, although none of them had the impact as Royce Gracie. Fighters like Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Oleg Taktarov, Matt Hughes, and Matt Sylivia have also done very well. Matt Hughes is also regarded as one of the best, as he fights in the Welterweight class and is considered pound for pound to be the best fighter in the world. In the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), the UFC has made a big impact. In the beginning, there were no rules and no judges, just one on one fights until someone either tapped out, got knocked out, or the ref through in the towel. Fighters also fought in a tournament style as well, which took 3 fights to win the championship. Over the years, there were several changes. The UFC would start with judges after a few years, along with eliminating the tournaments. The fights would eventually go to one on one, which was great for the fans. Although the fights didn't have time limits in the beginning, they do now. The non title fights are three 5 minute rounds, while the title fights are five 5 minute rounds. If a fight goes to the judges, the judges decide the winner. There are three judges, which normally change with each different UFC. Judges are there do determine the winner if there is no knockout or submission, while the ref is there to protect the fighters. The referee can stop a fight as well, if a fighter is unable to defend themselves. With all the changes in the rules of the UFC, it's only a matter of time before the UFC gains a lot more popularity. It is more popular today than it ever has been, which tells you that martial arts have come a long way. Martial arts is very popular these days, with competitions such as the UFC being one of the most popular sports in the world. Chinese Martial Arts Throughout the world, Chinese martial arts are well known and well respected. China is a pioneer to martial arts, founding several excellent styles. Although Kung Fu is the most well known Chinese martial art, there are others that are just as good. Below, we will look at some of the other Chinese martial arts that aren't as well known as Kung Fu. HSING-I This is actually one of the internal styles of Kung Fu, very closely in relation to Tai Chi. It teaches students to subordinate their bodies, creating powerful movements with a very little expense of energy. HSING-I isn't well known about, although it is very powerful and well known throughout China. The United States and other areas aren't that familiar with it, with little to no schools or dojo's out there that teach it. Just like Tai Chi, HSING-I has deep roots in Chinese medicine and the Chinese perceptions of nature. The blows that come from HSING-I come from the five elements of the Chinese -- metal, fire, earth, water, and wood. Similar to other forms that originate from Kung Fu, HSING-I offers complex, dance like movements that are adapted from the way animals react and move. Due to the training being so demanding and rigorous, and the breathing exercises being so demanding, those who practice this martial art have astounding physical skills and amazing endurance. Tai Chi To those who live outside of China, Tai Chi resembles more of a dance. The slow and calm movements it teaches are balanced and exact, performed while the stylist is in a deep state of relaxation. While in this deep state of relaxation, the stylist will be fully aware of what he is doing and his movements, although he will appear to those around him to be asleep. In reality, Tai Chi is an energy exercise that promotes strength, stamina, and flexibility. By using the deep state of relaxation, Tai Chi enables stylists to benefit emotionally and spiritually as well. Tai Chi also uses deep states of mediation as well, helping stylists to learn how to reach their high level of peace. Chinese martial arts Even though Kung Fu is the best martial art in China, there are many different forms and styles that originate from it. There is the Shaolin style as well, which offers several different styles of Kung Fu as well, including the world famous "5 animals system". The five animals system is among the most popular in China and well known around the world for their devastating techniques and amazing power when used in combat. Along with Kung Fu, both HSING-I and Tai Chi are great martial arts that help with endurance training and flexibility. A lot of Kung Fu students in China choose to study one of these arts as well, as it helps to add to their physical and emotional power. Students who study Tai Chi or HSING-I as well as Kung Fu, have a higher state of endurance and spirituality that simply cannot be matched. All around the world, China is well known for martial arts. China brought Kung Fu and Tai Chi to the world, which is something we are all thankful for. Even though Japan offers their unique blend of martial arts, many consider China to be the founding father of martial arts. The Chinese have been using martial arts for hundreds of years -- providing just how dominant it can be as a means of self defense and a way to live your life in a peaceful manner. A Close Look At Belts With most types of martial arts, the color of the belt that you have will signify your rank within your style of martial arts. The belts that are used with martial arts signify your rank within that style, although they have no universal means or ranking within the martial arts world. More or less, they tell others how much you know about your specific martial art. The use of belt colors in martial arts is an old practice, dating back hundreds of years. Belts and their use in martial arts all started by a man known as Jigoro Kano, who created the style known as Kodokan Judo. Kano started out by using only white and black belts to signify rank within his style of martial arts. His reason for using belts, was to specify which students could compete in different activities. For example, those with white belts couldn't compete in the same activities as those with black belts. Shortly after Kano introduced his idea of using belts, other belt colors were introduced to the world of martial arts. Over the years, it became a great way of telling what experience a student had in his style -- just by the look of his belt. Other styles began to use this system as well over the years, including Karate, Taekwondo, and several others. The only problem with using belts to signify ranking, is the fact that one school may have different requirements from another school. Even though they both may teach the same style of martial arts, their ranking system and requirements to get a certain ranking may be totally different. This can cause confusion in ranks, especially if a black belt from one school isn't as versed in the style as a black belt from another school. Even though most schools stick to the same criteria, there are schools that choose to incorporate their own unique style as well. Although most martial arts styles use belts to signify rank, there are some martial arts out there such as Shootfighting that don't use belts at all. The styles that choose not to use belts don't go by rankings either, as they are more or less for self defense purposes. Pitfighting is another style that doesn't use belts either. These styles are great to learn for protecting yourself -- although they differ from the traditional sense of martial arts. All things aside, belts are an innovation to martial arts. They give students something to aim for, and a reason to keep practicing. Most students that study martial arts aim for getting the black belt, which is the most prestige belt in martial arts. A black belt takes years of practice to obtain, as the student will move through many lower ranked belts before getting the opportunity to try and earn the black belt. The Techniques Of Muay Thai A majority of the offensive techniques that are used in Muay Thai utilize a students hands, feet, elbows, and knees to strike an opponent. In order to bind the opponent for both defensive and offensive reasons, there is a small amount of grappling on the feet that is used -- the clinch. The clinch occurs when someone gets in your circle of radius, inside of your comfort zone. To execute knees and short kicks from the inside, the clinch can be very useful. The Thai fighter makes great use of the clinch, tying up on opponent on the feet then pounding his stomach, ribs, knees, and legs with brutal knees. Knees are very popular techniques with Muay Thai, as Thai fighters spend a lot of time training their strikes -- especially knees and elbows. Although high kicks to the opponents head looks amazing during the fights, experienced Thai fighters always say that knees and elbows have a lot more impact, and they do the most damage to the body. If a Thai fighter is very experienced and has enough power in his strikes, he can quickly and easily kill someone with his techniques. In all Muay Thai techniques, two in particular have become very popular with other styles of martial arts. The roundhouse kick The roundhouse Thai kick is a very useful technique for both self defense and competitions, proving to be very efficient when it is executed properly. Thai stylists execute the roundhouse kick by a straight leg and the entire body rotating out from the hip. The hip is locked shortly before the thrown leg makes impact with the opponent. If executed properly, the roundhouse kick can easily render someone unconscious. The low kick The low kick is a common Muay Thai attack, that involves a circular movement from the stylist's body to kick the opponent in his upper shin area. If the low kick isn't blocked or defended, it can quickly lead to fight being ended. After a few well placed low kicks, the opponent will be unable to put pressure on his legs due to the bruising, and will eventually crumble. With other martial arts styles, such as Tae Kwon Do, stylists use snapping kicks that are indeed faster to execute, although they have less power. Muay Thai on the other hand, teaches stylists to follow through with kicks, using the shin instead of the foot. Nearly all of the techniques involved with Muay Thai emphasis movement with the entire body, which means rotating the hip each time the stylist kicks, punches, or blocks. The techniques are slower, although they are far more powerful that techniques found in Tae Kwon Do and even Karate. As a lot of people already know, the training and conditioning training found in Muay Thai is nothing short of legendary for the intensity and rigorous training. The training in Muay Thai aims to harden the weapons used in the martial art to a high degree. Students who have been training in Muay Thai for many years can absorb a beating, yet if they land a shin kick it will feel as if you have just been hit with a sledgehammer. All in all, Muay Thai is a very dangerous martial art that teaches punishing blows with very little grappling. Thai stylists are physical strong, capable of taking an opponent out with just one well placed strike. Muay Thai is also one of the most well known and most popular styles in the world today -- which is why you shouldn't hesitate to study. The Speed Of Kempo Throughout the world of martial arts, the style known as Kempo is one of the best. Kempo uses extremely fast strikes, which is the area it is most known for. Kempo has been around for many years, originating from Japan. It was tested on the ancient battlegrounds, using punches, kicks, and very little grappling. Kempo employs weapons as well, including disarming techniques against opponents who are using weapons. What many don't realize, is that Kempo is actually an older form of Karate. To be more specific, Kempo mainly uses the forbidden techniques of sport karate and kickboxing to create a devastating means of self defense. Throughout this deadly martial art, stylists will be taught that every block is a counter, and ever counter is a block. Instead of simply blocking an attack, stylists will learn how to block in a way that executes a strike. The most well known aspect of Kempo is speed. If you've ever seen it in action by someone who has been studying for many years, the hand speed of the stylist is simply amazing. Those that have been practicing for many years, including black belts, are able to execute techniques with blinding speed. Often times, a Kempo stylist can land many strikes before you can even get the chance to counter -- or block. The hand speed in Kempo comes from something known as "speed striking". Although Kempo uses weapons and weapons training, it is more an unarmed martial art that teaches students how to defend themselves in any situation. This style isn't about just going around and hurting people though, as stylists learn a lot in terms of self control, and only to react when they are given no other option. The speed striking in Kempo takes many years to master. Students of the art will practice forms on a daily basis, which helps with the speed. By practicing a certain movement over and over again, students will get faster and faster. They will practice with other students, the instructors, and also with equipment such as punching bags. Over time, students will get amazingly quick and able to execute strikes with amazing speed and precision. Shadow boxing is also essential to developing speed with Kempo. Students will spend quite a bit of time shadow boxing, learning their own movements. As a result of shadow boxing, students will learn physical resistance as well as improve their levels of fitness. This also helps with technique as well, as students will be engaging in practice with themselves. The main exercise where speed striking will really come into play is with sparring. When sparring, students will test their knowledge and skills against other students. The instructors will pay close attention during this exercise, to see just how well the students are learning. Sparring can be very fun to watch, especially when there are two black belts squaring off. The more time a student spends sparring, the faster he will develop in the art of speed striking. Throughout the years, Kempo has proved to be a martial art with very fast strikes. It is one of the fastest striking martial arts in existence, although it teaches students self control and how to avoid confrontations. Kempo is taught all around the world, making it an excellent martial art for children as well. From adults to children, the martial art known as Kempo can teach self defense, harmony, self control, self confidence -- and how students can help others in the world live a better life. A Look At Kung Fu The martial art of Kung Fu is an exchange of culture, a type of exercise, and also a way of defending yourself. The art is very popular throughout the world, also being known as Gung Fu, Wu Shu, and even Kuo Shu. It shares some common traits with Karate, such as using both hand and foot techniques. Kung Fu is one of the most popular forms of martial arts -- and also one of the oldest. Within Kung Fu, there are several styles and variances, although the most popular are those that have their roots in the well known Shaolin Temple. What most people aren't aware of however, is the fact that Kung Fu was practiced in China years before the first Shaolin temple was even though of. A majority of martial arts enthusiasts think of self defense as being the ultimate goal of any martial art, including Kung Fu. While self defense is involved with Kung Fu, the martial is so much more than just fighting and defense -- it is a true art, one that develops the mind, body, and the soul. Kung Fu doesn't teach students to overcome others, as it teaches students to look within themselves and learn to have complete and total control over their emotions. Kung Fu is an art of harmony, that teaches to students to remain at peace and avoid confrontations. If a situation threatens bodily harm to the student, then he must rise to the occasion -- becoming the warrior and defending himself. Just like other types of martial arts, Kung Fun teaches the balance that is crucial for executing techniques and the proper movement. The basic concept behind the balance is that same balance that the Chinese believe keeps the balance between heaven and earth. This concept of balance can be achieved by students if they completely focus their thoughts and empty their minds free from any type of distractions. Kung Fu is a martial art that can be learned by anyone. It does take a strong desire, just like any other martial art. It has a rich heritage, and a proud legacy. Kung Fu is indeed a deadly martial art, if used in the wrong ways. There are variations of Kung Fu as well, which include the infamous five animals -- Tiger, Dragon, Eagle Claw, Crane, and the Snake. Adapted by the animals in which they are named after, the five animals style is some of the most impressive in martial arts. Tiger Claw is by far the deadliest of the five animals, teaching students to strike just like the dreaded tiger. This style teaches the student power in his hands, so that when he strikes, he tears the flesh. Tiger Claw is very deadly, although it is very hard to find instructors that teach this style now days. Unlike other martial arts, there really are no competitions for Kung Fu. Stylists can compete it other competitions, although there really aren't any that are for only Kung Fu. It is an ancient martial art, that is to be used only in instances were there is no other option than to fight back. When provoked, the stylist should try everything he or she can to avoid confrontations. Kung Fu aims to teach the lessons of respect, fairness to others, harmony of the spirit, and total self control no matter what. These characteristics, when paired together, allow students to achieve success in a hard to deal with society. Kung Fu is all about developing the student's overall well being -- and following the straight path to mental and physical toughness. The Many Styles Of Kung Fu The martial art known as Kung Fu is very old, yet very powerful. There are several different forms involved with Kung Fu, that only add to the power and mystique. Below, we will go over a majority of the different styles and forms that make up Kung Fu. White Crane style The spirit of the White Crane has led to what many martial artists consider to be the most graceful system of Kung Fu. The pattern for the White Crane style was patterned after a crane bird often found in marshes and open plains. The White Crane defense forms and attacks are nothing short of amazing, often known as "deadly beauty". Although the techniques within the White Crane style can take years to properly master, they simple and to the point. White Crane stylists are masters of self defense, although they are taught to avoid confrontations. Even though a stylist can handle himself in any situation, he will avoid a fight at all costs and only react with physical action when he is left with no choice. Wing Chun From a Chinese standpoint, Wing Chun is the essence that the opponent will attack, absorb, and then neutralize the attack. Then, the opponent or attacker will back off, pursue, then counter -- disengage his restriction from arms, and then retaliate with a deadly and penetrating force. This philosophy will take years to fully understand, and years of practice to master. Technically speaking, Wing Chun uses a steady and never ending forward flow of energy that's based on the principle that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. Offensively, Wing Chun is all about a combination of intercepting and straight lines with deflecting arcs. In general, it is an aggressive close quarter style that pushes offensive attacks and takes the fight right to the attacker. In other words -- Wing Chun doesn't care nor does it put a lot of time towards the more traditional block and counter routines. Hung Gar Hung Gar is more or less an adaptation of the Tiger system of Shaolin that emphasizes close quarter techniques. Hung Gar isn't much on distance fighting, although it is very effective in close quarter situations, such as alleys and in small rooms. It is a very strong system, teaching stylists to handle themselves properly in areas where other martial arts seem to fail. Praying Mantis Nearly 400 years ago, a man named Wang had a vision. Using a praying mantis that he was able to capture, Wang studied it's movements. By using what he saw, he created and founded the style of Praying Mantis. Wang perfected his own martial art style by continuing to observe both the offensive and defensive movements of the praying mantis, and using them with his style. The Monkey style Even though it is thought of a comical approach to martial arts, the Monkey style is actually one of the deadliest martial arts systems in the world. This style dates back to the 1840s, when missionaries were first allowed passage into China. The Monkey style all began when a peaceful maned named See resisted arrested after accidentally killing an officer of the law. See was sentenced to prison for his crime, where he spent all of his time watching the prison apes. He found them amazing, and would watch them from his cell, which his also helped to pass the time. Over his ten year prison sentence, he studied the way the apes moved, paying very close attention to how they defended themselves and fought each other. Then, when he was released from prison, he adapted his style, becoming known as the Monkey Master. A lot of people joined him along the way, and began to learn his Monkey system which is still very effective today. The 5 Animals Of Kung Fu Also known as the Kung Fu fist forms, the 5 animals of Kung Fu are known all across the world, and are some of the deadliest martial arts you can study. There are other specific fist styles in Kung Fu, although none of them are as powerful or as well known as the 5 animal styles. As the name implies, these forms were derived from the animals in which they got their names from. The Dragon Claw The Dragon Claw is very well known, with the Chinese believing that this style comes directly from the ancient dragon. This style uses an open hand technique that is used for controlling the opponent through grabbing and throwing. Using an open hand technique, stylists may also use the fingers to poke as well. Dragon Claw is very fast, very hard to defend against -- and nearly impossible to predict. The Leopard Claw The Leopard Claw style utilizes a half opened fist. The ideal striking method with Leopard is the ridge of the hand, which is formed by folding the fingers towards the palm of the hand, with the palm being the backup or secondary striking method. Leopard Claw is very fast as well, and very lethal if the stylist has enough technique and power behind his strikes. The Tiger Claw Tiger Claw uses an open hand movement that is used for tearing and grabbing. Tiger Claw is the most well known of the 5 animal system, and also one of the most well known forms of Kung Fu as well. It isn't affected by simply grabbing and gripping with the hand, but from the digging of the fingernails deep into the skin. Once the fingernails have been embedded in the opponent's skin, the Tiger Claw stylist can shred the skin right off the bone, tearing the opponent apart. Tiger Claw is very powerful -- and one of the deadliest forms in the world of martial arts. The Snake Head Snake Head resembles the attack of a snake in combat, using an open hand technique which requires the fingers to be held together tight, fully extended. The tips of the finger form a very hard surface, used to attack the softest and most vital areas of the opponent. In order to be effective, both hands need to be used together at the same time. The Crane Beak Crane involves the fingers being pressed together tightly, forming a striking surface at the base of the stylist's fingertips. Although the fingers can be conditioned to a high level of strength, most attacks using the Crane technique are focused towards the most vital areas of an opponent. The 5 animal styles of Kung Fu are very popular, and very deadly. Martial artists that know any of these forms are very deadly -- and more than capable of defending themselves against anything that comes their way.
The Belt Colors Of Taekwondo The belts and their colors that are used with Taekwondo aren't just a random assortment of colors that are used to separate the ranks in the martial art. In Taekwondo, each belt color has a meaning that lets fighters known about their advancement and increasing knowledge. Belts are also great for the stylist, as they let the stylist know just how far they have progressed. The colors of the belts found in Taekwondo vary, as they represent the advancement of rank, as well as the growth of the student. It can take a long time for students to move up the ranks, all depending on their knowledge and how quite they adapt to the techniques and forms of the art. Below, are the colors and belts of Taekwondo, along with their meaning. * White belt: A white belt is the symbol of birth, or the beginning for the stylist. Students that wear white belts are just starting out, searching for the knowledge to continue Taekwondo. * Yellow belt: A yellow belt is the first ray of light that shines on the student, giving them new strength to the Taekwondo martial art. Students that have yellow belts have taken a great step in learning, and have opened their mind to new techniques. * Green belt: A green belt is the symbol of growth, or a seed as it sprouts from the ground and begins to grow into a plant. Students with green belts are continuing along the path of Taekwondo, learning to develop further and redefine every technique they have been taught. * Blue belt: A blue belt represents a blue sky, with the plant continuing to grow upwards, heading for the sky. Students with blue belts continue to move higher in ranks, as the plant continues to grow taller. Students at this stage will also be given additional knowledge of Taekwondo so that their mind and body can continue to grow and develop. * Red belt: The red belt is the heat of the sun, with the plant continuing the path upwards toward the sun. Students that possess red belts are higher in rank, as they have acquired a lot of the knowledge in the art of Taekwondo. Red belts also tell the students to be cautious, as they gain more knowledge and their physical techniques increase. * Black belt: A black belt is the best of the best. It symbolizes the darkness that is out there beyond the light of the sun. Once the student is given a black belt and begins to train other students, he will teach all that has been taught to him. Black belts recognize the best students, as they continue to teach others the art of Taekwondo, and continue the never ending cycle of training. 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. The Basics Of Judo The martial art style Judo can mean a lot of things to different people. In reality, it is a fun and exciting sport, an art, a discipline, an activity, a way to protect yourself, and quite simply a way of life. Although you may hear many different meanings, the word Judo actually means all of the above and several more. Original founded back in 1882, Judo comes from the feudal Japan fighting system. Upon founding, Judo was a refinement of the martial art jujutsu. Jujutsu is one of the oldest martial arts styles, dating back hundreds of years. Judo made the biggest impact in 1964 when it was first introduced into the Olympic Games. Now, it is practiced by millions of people all across the world. Judo can help students stay in shape, excel in all areas of competition, stay protected with self defense, and several other things. For a majority of students, Judo is practiced just for fun. Although it starts out as fun for many, it quickly turns into a way of life, a burning passion if you will. Similar to other martial arts styles, Judo has rules that ensure the safety of those competing in the competitions. Students of Judo who are looking to test their skills will enjoy the competition levels, which range from club meets to national tournaments, and on up to the well known and best level of competition -- the Olympic Games. Judo is known best for it's amazing throw techniques. What many aren't aware of, is the fact that Judo is more than just throws. It also involves grappling on the ground, controlling holds, arm locks, leg locks, and even choking techniques. Judo teaches all aspects of self defense, from a grappler's standpoint. Another great thing about Judo is the fact that anyone can study, male or female, and even those that are disabled. Judo is also inexpensive to participate in, taught throughout the year, and it appeals to everyone. This martial art is also unique in the sense that even the elderly enjoy practicing it on a daily basis. Judo also helps students learn and develop respect and self discipline. It offers the chance to learn self confidence, leadership skills, power, flexibility, and physical prowess. Judo has evolved quite a bit over the years, going from a fighting art to competition status. These days, there are separate Judo ranks for kids, adults, and seniors. The martial art Judo, which means "gentle way" teaches you the applications that you need for self defense as well as competition. Judo is unlike other martial arts, in the sense that it combines the best of grappling with awesome throws that require little to no strength -- but more of the way you position your body. This is an excellent martial art -- that anyone can enjoy. The Art Of Tai Chi Tai Chi is an ancient martial art, one that was practiced for centuries in China as an exercise, a martial art, and a way to improve the internal flow of energy in the body. It emphasis correct form and feeling with each and every movement, which is why it is always taught to be practiced in a slow and gentle fashion. By involving the entire body with little to no impact, Tai Chi promotes strength, flexibility, and stamina. With the entire body being taught to move as a whole, Tai Chi cultivates the link among the mind and the body, helping to enhance one's coordination and balance. It can also help with the joints as well, especially if an individual is very stiff in the joints. Although it was developed to be a martial art, it involves very little striking, offensive, or even defense techniques. Tai Chi is a movement and breathing art that works all of the major muscles and joints in the body, helping to circulate internal energy, or chi. The Chinese believe that internal energy, or chi is what prevents or stops diseases. When practicing the art, the body will remain very soft and relaxed, just like it was suspended from the top of the head with the joints being similar to that of a puppet. The mind of the student is focused on each movement, focusing on the flow of energy. By being relaxed and focused, you allow the energy to flow through your entire body. Even though you are soft and relaxed, you are still constantly moving. The energy that flows through your body never stops, it keeps you moving. When you move in reality, it takes little to no energy to make a movement. By using your chi, everything you do seems as if it is weightless. In combat, the Tai Chi student uses his opponent's energy against him. The stylist is very relaxed, believing that the energy of the opponent can be used against him. There is little to no strength involved. When the opponent becomes weak and tires himself out -- the stylist attacks. This way, there is very little energy left for defense or even attacking. Tai Chi is one of the oldest styles of martial arts, and one of the hardest to find these days. Just like other martial arts, such as Tiger Claw and Ninjutsu, it can be very hard to find a dojo that teaches the art. If you can find a dojo that teaches the art of Tai Chi, you really shouldn't pass it up. It can teach you a lot about internal energy and your spiritual well being -- learning more about yourself than you ever thought possible in the process. The Art Of Shootfighting Although it can be a very provocative martial art, Shootfighting is still one of the most popular martial arts styles in the world. The art of Shootfighting is very old, originating from Japan as a way of self defense. Even though it is great to use for self defense purposes, this martial art is more popular as a ring sport in competitions such as the Vale Tudo and the professional Shootfighting leagues found throughout Japan. In Japan Shootfighting is a sport that is very popular. The bouts take place in a ring that is similar to wrestling, ropes and all intact. There are normally rounds, as well as a referee who is there to call the bout and stop it if need be. Fighters will wear gloves and go at it full contact. Submission and grappling is legal as well, which makes the fights more interesting. Fighters can test their skills in Shootfighting against some of the best Japan has to offer with these bouts. Shootfighting is popular in the United States as well, although it is more popular throughout Japan. There are American fighters such as Ken Shamrock and Bart Vale who are experts in Shootfighting and travel to Japan on a frequent basis to compete in tournaments and bouts. The atmosphere in Japan is very high, as they show a lot of passion and desire for the matches over there. In technique and form, Shootfighting is a mix of striking and grappling. It teaches students to be prepared for anything, standing or on the ground. There are a lot of bone breaking moves taught with this art, from arm locks to ankle locks. Most of the techniques that are taught to the student use a mixture of strength and technique -- bringing very drastic results. Even though a lot of people classify Shootfighting as being a form of pit fighting, it is actually quite a bit more. Shootfighting does incorporate a lot of stand up fighting, in the form of punches, elbows, and kicks. On their feet or on the ground, stylists can execute moves that will end a fight quickly. The submission locks are the deadliest forms of defense and attack with this martial art, as they target a specific limb and focus on breaking it in two. As a martial art, Shootfighting is very hard to beat. It teaches students to be aggressive in battle and end the fight as quickly as possible. It also teaches students self control and self esteem as well. There are no belt classes with Shootfighting, as it is more or less a self defense system that was originally designed for the streets. It has proven to be very effective over the years, both on the streets and in competition. The Art Of Hapkido The martial art known as Hapkido is an art of complete self defense. Those who study it are more than capable of defending themselves in any type of situation, being more than able to apply their confidence and discipline from the art to enhance their lives, protecting themselves and those that they love as well. Hapkido teaches students to use minimal force with any stronger opponent. Contrary to other martial arts, it doesn't involve strength to execute the techniques. To control the opponent and take him down, Hapkido focuses on pressure points and the impact they have on opponents. It also involves a very powerful arsenal of thrusts, spin kicks, and sweeps. If they are executed properly, the moves from this martial art can be very effective against opponents and attackers. Along with kicks, punches, and pressure point attacks; Hapkido also uses wrist and joint manipulation locks, along with several throwing techniques. All together, there are nearly 300 categories of special movements in Hapkido that involve nearly 3,500 techniques. Hapkido is a very popular martial art, which is mainly due to the fact that just about anyone, regardless of age or weight can practice the techniques. The martial art also involves systematic training and stamina exercise, which can improve your health. You don't need to be in the best shape either, as Hapkido can actually help your body as well as your health. Studying Hapkido will also help with developing your muscles, along with your posture, controlling your weight, developing confidence, self control, even fulfilling your spirit. Although it is mainly based in self defense techniques, it also teaches you how to become a better person and get yourself back in health and in touch with your spirit. Throughout the style, the linear techniques work together to form a solid base in which all of the circular techniques can be perfected. Everything in Hapkido is tried and tested, in order to come up with a balanced blend of techniques and skills that are apt for any situation. With Hapkido being a martial art of self defense, there is a lot of practice involved blocking attacks in many different situations. This way, the stylist can be more prepared for any situation he finds himself in. Today, Hapkido is practiced by men and women of all ages, even little children. It is a very beneficial martial art, one that can be utilized from nearly any position or direction, such as lying, sitting, and standing. It is an art of self defense, and can even be deadly if the stylist is proficient with the techniques. What makes it even more deadly though -- is the fact that a lot of people aren't familiar with it. An Introduction To Muay Thai All across the world, people have heard about it and possibly even witnessed it first hand or on television -- the furious punches, bone crushing elbows, lethal and piercing kicks, and the unforgettable knees. Although watching it on television is great, nothing begins to compare to seeing these moves executed live -- with thousands of fans cheering the fighters on. This is the wonderful world of Muay Thai kickboxing. Muay Thai is a martial art that is unlike any other, rich in the proud heritage of an entire nation. The style is interwoven into the well known history of the Thai people. Even though they are gentle and fun loving people, they've had to defend both themselves and their land for many years against the aggressive powers and thieves. To protect what they had, the Thai people developed a fighting system of close combat techniques that were suited to the type of rough terrain they would be fighting in. Over the years, it eventually become a rite of passage for all Thai men to train in this amazing martial art. In the beginning, Muay Thai proved to be a dangerous and deadly art, with the fighters having no safety gear or protection -- all they had were lengths of cords in which they would wrap around their fists as gloves. As the years progressed, rules were written into the equation to establish some protection for the fighters. Over the years, Muay Thai has progressed as both a martial art and a style, attracting people from all over the world. There are training facilities in Russia and the United States, with qualified instructors to help teach Muay Thai to interested students. These days, Muay Thai is one of the most popular sports in the world. There are a lot of television networks that broadcast Thai bouts on a weekly basis, pleasing avid fighting fans from all over the world. International boxing is another popular sport, although most successful International boxers got their start in Muay Thai. This goes to show why Muay Thai training is so popular -- and so lethal as well. Normally, Thai bouts are fought with 5 three minute rounds, with a two minute rest period in between the rounds. All fights are preceded by a dance, which gives the contestants the opportunity to pay homage to their teachers. The dance is an excellent exercise to warm up with, with plenty of symbolic meaning towards the style. During the fights and even with training, you'll see that each Thai boxers wears armbands and a headband. The headband that fighters wear is believed to have been blessed by a monk or teacher, and will bestow luck upon the fighter. Thai boxers take a lot of pride in their training and fighting, with the headband being a source of inspiration and pride for the fighter. During training, Thai fighters will learn a lot about their spiritual well being, the history of Muay Thai, and the skills they need to survive. Fighters that plan to compete in Thai fights will need to practice a lot, as the fights can be very demanding. Thai training can be very brutal, all depending on where you study. If you are studying the ancient arts of Thai boxing, you can count on the training to be very rigorous and demanding. Although Muay Thai can be a tough art to practice, it is one of the best martial arts that you can study. The techniques are lethal, the training is tough -- yet the competitions make it all worth while! An Introduction To Capoeira The martial art of Capoeira was originally created over 400 years ago in Brazil by the African slaves. This martial art is unlike any of the other martial arts there anywhere in the world, and possesses a blend of power, beauty, mental balance, physical power, music, and an overwhelming sense of art and finesse. Upon it's creation, Capoeira proved to the world that it can be practiced by anyone, regardless of size, weight, or age. The style is more than a martial art, but also a social event that is rich in tradition and history. Capoeira is a truly powerful martial art, resembling a collaboration of music, dance, and exotic movements -- and even a game. Those who witness Capoeira games will note the music. Both the music and the lyrics play a big part in the way that the game (known as jogo) is conducted. For the players, there are several different rhythms that call for different speeds. When watching the game played, spectators are normally in awe from the movements. The jogo consists of a circle, with the players in the middle and the musicians at the foot of the circle. Players that enter the game will enter into the circle, with a spring, cartwheel, or other type of visually stunning movement. Upon entering the circle, players will complete back and forth with various combinations of poetic movements and breathtaking aerial displays. It takes years of practice and hard work to become great at the jogo, as it requires precision, fast movement, and flawless application of the Capoeira techniques. From a defensive standpoint, Capoeira is flashy, very creative, and also very useful, as the techniques seem to come out of nowhere and can be very hard to defend against. The opponent or attacker has no clue what to expect from the student. The Capoeira student defends himself through the use of dancing movements and acrobatic techniques, executing perfect movements that up until Capoeira were only dreamt of. Capoeira and the jogo game are really big in Brazil, with hundreds of students learning the martial art. It isn't one of the most popular in the United States, although it is offered. In South America it is more of a lifestyle, with jogo games being played on a daily basis. A lot of martial arts students don't want to learn Capoeira for the simple fact that the movements can be a bit of a risk. Once you see how the style is performed, it can make you cringe at any second. Over the last couple of decades, the art has grown a lot. In 1974, the art of Capoeira became the national sport of Brazil, proving that just about everyone in Brazil had accepted it. As time continues to pass, you can count on more and more competitions and dojo's to surface -- introducing this truly excellent martial art to newer generations. An Introduction To Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Even though it has been around for many years, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was made famous in the United States by Royce Gracie in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Many people weren't all that familiar with the style until Gracie entered the UFC and continued to dominate fighters of all styles and weight classes one after the other. Once people began to see how quickly Gracie could defeat an opponent, they quickly became interested in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As many now know, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an art that is utilized with ground grappling, with very little stand up skills involved. A majority of the techniques used with the martial art are executed on the ground. The techniques involve very little strength from the stylist, as most of them are all about the technique behind the move. With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylists that weight 100 lbs or less can quickly put a submission lock on someone who is 2 -- 3 times their weight and size. Even though Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is great for tournament fighting, isn't so great against multiple attackers. With one on one fights it is very dominant, although if you are against multiple attackers it will be very hard to pull off one of the choke holds or arm locks. You simply won't have the time to do it, as the other attackers will be trying to take your head off. From the ground, utilizing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the stylist will have many options that he can utilize. He can pull off choke holds, arm locks, leg locks, and dozens of other techniques that can take someone out of the picture in a matter of seconds. When the stylist is on his back with the opponent on top of him he has the guard, which is where he wraps his legs around the attacker. From the guard position, the stylist can execute dozens of techniques -- even though it may appear that he doesn't stand a chance. The mount, side control, and back mount are primary positions, along with the guard. The mount position is where the stylist is mounted on top of the attacker on the ground -- a position where he can punch or execute a submission hold. With side control, the stylist is laying on the opponent's chest, a position where he can easily execute an arm lock. Back mount is among the most dangerous positions -- where the stylist is on the opponents back and really do some damage if the opponent has no Jiu-Jitsu experience. With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the ranks start out at white belt, then move on to blue, purple, brown, and the highest color -- black belt. To move through the ranks it takes a lot of practice and dedication, usually around 2 -- 3 years per belt. Once a student reaches the black belt, he is capable of teaching other students what he knows. It takes a long time to reach this point, more than 10 years -- although it is well worth it. In the world of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very effective. It is one of the best martial arts for ground fighting, especially in tournaments. Ground grappling is very common with tournaments these days, which is why it pays to be a well rounded stylist. Very few martial arts styles can compete with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the ground, which is why so many people are deciding to study it. If you've decided to start studying this exceptional ground based martial art -- you can pat yourself on the back for making a decision you won't regret. An Introduction To Aikido There's no mistaken the fact that Aikido is one of the best and most popular martial art in the United States today. The art of Aikido is best associated with actor Steven Seagal, who made it even more popular with his movies. Aikido is rich and history in tradition, an art that originally started in Japan back in the 1940s. Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born on December 14, 1883. As he was growing up in modern Japan, Ueshiba witnessed the local thugs vandalize his father. The young boy decided that he would make himself strong in order to seek revenge against the thugs. Ueshiba was strong willed, and devoted every waking moment to physical training and martial arts. He received a lot of certificates in jujitsu, spear fighting, and fencing. Even though he was very impressive with his abilities, he found himself not happy with his skills. He knew that there was more to it, and began to look into religion, hoping that he would find a greater significance with life -- pursuing martial arts all the while. Ueshiba founded the martial art of Aikido by combining both his religious beliefs and his training in martial arts. At that time, the style was known as aikibudo, it wasn't until 1942 that he decided to go with the name Aikido. The style was quite different indeed, incorporating several different styles of jujitsu, aiki-jujitsu, and spear and sword fighting techniques as well. Even though a lot of us think of Aikido as the ultimate martial art, it is an art that is based on religion and harmony. Aikido uses joint locks, weight manipulation, and throws to achieve it's purpose. The martial art is very effective, which were the intentions of Ueshiba from the start. Aikido consists of many techniques, and it is the result of Ueshiba's creative innovation. Aside from what many think, there really is no unified belief or philosophy in the martial art of Aikido. While Aikido is indeed rich in heritage and religion, it believes in harmony and peace of the spirit. By achieving a higher spiritual power, Ueshiba has always believed that the human body is capable of anything. Even though he wanted revenge, he still stated that Aikido wasn't about fighting, but rather a way to reconcile with the world and make every human being on giant family. Over the years, Aikido was introduced in America with amazing results. Steven Seagal is by far the most popular, showing the world the power and harmony of Aikido through his many movies. There are a lot of martial arts dojo's around North America that offer Aikido to study, possibly even some in your area. Not only will Aikido teach you self defense, but it will also teach you harmony of the spirit and how to find inner peace as well. An In Depth Look At Muay Thai Also known around the world as Thai boxing, Muay Thai is an ancient art of self defense that was created and tested in battle by the fearless warriors of ancient Thailand. Today, Muay Thai is used all around the world. The United States Navy SEALs, Thai military, and even the CIA takes full advantage of the devastating and bone crushing techniques this martial art offers. Unlike other martial arts, students of Thai don't earn belts for their skills and their progression. Instead, their skills are tested in the ring. Since Thai fighting first began, the only things that the fighters themselves are interested in are the championship belts which showcase their dominance in Muay Thai fighting. The skills that are taught with Muay Thai are far more dominant to other striking based martial arts. Muay Thai uses very little grappling, but focuses more on crushing kicks, punches, and bone shattering elbows. Students of Thai fighting can often take an opponent down with just one shot, often times breaking bones and sometimes even killing them with just one lethal kick or elbow. The reason why Muay Thai didn't utilize ground grappling or submission holds is because it was developed in ancient battlegrounds where there were always multiple attackers. These attackers were knowledgeable in sword fighting skills, which made the need for a dependable martial art more or less a necessity. Muay Thai used swords, spears, sticks, and hard strikes. In this type of environment, you didn't want the fight to go to the ground. The strikes and weapon movements needed be fast, hard, and very precise. With these types of conditions and the type of environment, Muay Thai needed be a very fast responsive martial art with an excellent weapons system. Even though grappling and submissions were planned for Muay Thai, the martial art became more of a ring sport before grappling could be implemented. With Thai originally being a martial art for striking purposes, a lot of martial artists have started using the techniques that have been proven time and time again with time boxing. Although there are other martial arts that put a lot of emphasis on striking, Muay Thai is quite different. The first area in which Muay Thai differs is the effective use of both elbows and knees. The elbows and knees that are used with most Thai techniques are feared all around the world by boxers and other stylists. Kicking and kneeing is the main objects in Muay Thai. In order to become efficient with kicking, the shins need to be conditioned -- which can be quite painful. Once the Thai stylist has conditioned the nerves in his shins for impact, the shins can be used just like a club or a baseball bat. This is something you should really see for yourself in action -- as the sound of the impact alone can send chills down your back. Through years of training and conditioning, Muay Thai fighters can become lethal and deadly weapons. A properly trained fighter can make deadly impact, meaning that his knees, shins, and elbows are quite possibly deadlier than a gun or other type of weapon. For this very reason -- Muay Thai is one of the deadliest and most feared martial arts in the world. All in all, Muay Thai is a great martial art for defense and competition. Thai is one of the best martial arts in the world, proving it time and time again -- in both ancient times and anytime it is used today. A Look At Wing Chun Up until the turn of the twentieth century, the martial art known as Wing Chun was very obscure not known much about. Back then, Wing Chun was just getting started, not practiced by a lot of martial artists. Over the years, it became a very dominant force in China, becoming one of the most prominent martial arts in existence. Even today, hundreds of martial artists study Wing Chun and everything it provides them with. The first thing that students are taught when studying Wing Chun is that they should always use force to counter force. By using force against force, weaker and smaller fighters can easily and quickly take out bigger and stronger opponents. Whenever they get in a confrontation, Wing Chun stylists will use their brains -- and use an opponents strength and force against him. Throughout training, a lot of emphasis is put into that very concept. Students will learn all about force and strength, and how they can properly counter it. What many don't realize, is the fact that countering force requires very little strength from the stylist. Even the weakest Wing Chun stylist can take down an opponent 3 -- 4 times his size if he uses the proper technique and his opponents force against him. Wing Chun teaches other techniques as well, such as punching, kicking, and a few grappling holds. It doesn't teach much grappling though, as most of the techniques use force against force through throwing and striking. The strikes that are taught with this martial art are very fast, and aimed at vital areas on the body of the opponent. A majority of the most vital areas on the human body are found along the center line, the very area that Wing Chun teaches stylists to protect as well as attack with their techniques. This line is the most vital in battle, which is why martial artists should always aim their attacks for any area that exists along this line. Most of the vital points found in the center line can be the end of the encounter if the stylist is able to land one powerful blow. As Wing Chun emphasizes time and time again, the shortest straw between the stylist and the opponent is the center line, which is where a majority of movement takes place. Due to the linear fashion of Wing Chun, students will spend a lot of their training learning how to direct attacks as well as opposing force towards the center line. Wing Chun is an exceptional martial art, teaching students how to use force against force in any type of encounter. There aren't that many grappling holds or weapons used with Wing Chun, although the techniques and moves that are taught are tried, proven, and above all -- very effective for self defense. A Look At Ninjutsu The martial art known as Ninjutsu is very secret, with a very clouded history. The history isn't documented all that well, as most of what is known about the martial art is that which has been passed down from generation to generation. There are a lot of historical records that state families from the Koga region as being the creators to this very secret style. Over 70 different Ninjutsu Ryu have been identified and discovered over the years, however most of them have died out. A majority of them were created around a set of specific techniques and skills, although when those skills of a specific Ryu were no longer needed or wanted, the Ryu seems to die out and fade away from existence. The art of Ninjutsu is best associated with the ninja's from ancient Japan. The ninja's are well known all around the world, for their stealth and very secreted life. The ninja is known to have went through very tough and demanding training, which hardly anyone really knows about. Those that were actual ninja's are either dead, or not allowed to let anyone know their true identity. During the 1980's, when the ninja trend really hit the United States, the instructors of Ninjutsu popped out all over the place, making black a very happening color. Years later, the trend seemed to die out, and there aren't that many people trying to learn the art. In regards to the art, the term of Ninjutsu doesn't actually refer to any certain style, but rather a group of the martial arts, with each one having it's own view that's expressed with each of the different Ryu. The Ryu vary, meaning that one may focus on one certain physical dynamic, while the next may be focused on redirection. What many people aren't aware of, is the fact that Ninjutsu involves both unarmed and armed fighting skills, along with philosophy, strategy, and history. There are a few dojo's that offer the art, many of them being quite comprehensive with the way they teach. During combat, Ninjutsu focuses on distance, posture, and flow. Stylists are taught to react to every movement, and respond in ways that will place them in the advantage position. From being in a position of advantage, the stylist can effectively change the outcome of the encounter -- quickly going from negative to positive. Those that practice the martial art of Ninjutsu are instructed and trained to use their entire body for everything they do, which provides the most leverage and power. Ninjutsu is well known in Japan, and for good reason. It is a very secretive martial art, yet very powerful. The techniques can be used or self defense, along with stealth. It can be a great martial art to learn -- if you can find a dojo that teaches it. Martial Arts For Children These days, martial arts are something that everyone should know. With crime at an all time high, knowing how to defend yourself is essential. For the children, martial arts can mean a lot of things. Even though martial arts is great for adults to know and practice as well, it is also a great way for children to stay in shape and learn how to defend themselves from attackers. Although martial arts can teach children how to defend themselves, it will also teach them self control and self confidence as well. If your child has a bad temper or low self esteem, learning a martial art can actually help them to get back on the right path. Martial arts will help children with life in general -- which will take them a lot farther in life. The first thing you will need to do when getting your child involved in martial arts is pick a style that they will enjoy. With several different styles to choose from, it can be a very difficult choice to make. Among the most popular for children are Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Muay Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu. When making the decision, you should go by what your child has interests in, such as punching and kicking, or ground grappling and submission. Once you have a style in mind, you'll need to start checking out the local martial arts centers and dojo's. If you live in a big city, you'll have a lot more to choose from than those who live in smaller areas or rural towns. Those who live in smaller towns or rural areas may be very limited on the choices available for themselves and their children. Rural and smaller towns are limited in choice, although what they offer is normally among the best styles of martial arts. The instructors are black belts and above, with the highest ranked students helping them instruct classes. If the classes are small in attendance, the instructors and student teachers can spend a lot of hands on time with the kids to help them improve in their weakest areas. When you decide to enroll your child in martial arts, you should always check out the dojo or classes first. You don't want your child to be in a class that isn't goal focused, nor do you want them to have a teacher who doesn't know what he is teaching. The environment is also important, as you want to be sure that the dojo and equipment are clean, and that everything is up to the latest and greatest standards. Even though a martial art may be beneficial to your child, it won't do them any good unless the facilities and the instructors are good. You want to make sure you get the best available to you, which is why it always pays to look around. If you look at all of your available choices, you'll normally be able to find the best for both you and your child. When it comes to children and their future, martial arts is a great way for them to start. Martial arts can help them improve in many different areas, not just self defense. A martial art can help a child develop a lot of essential areas, including self control and responsibility. The longer a child studies a martial art, the more goal oriented and responsible they will become. Martial arts are a great investment for parents and children -- which is why they are so very popular.
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