Martial Arts

Martial Arts

Image by Tom Gill (lapstrake) via Flickr

The Ancient Art of Martial Arts in the Modern World

Martial Arts have been practised for centuries, particularly in the Far Eastern parts of the world, but these days more and more people are learning how the exercise, strength and discipline involved in practising martial arts can really help to enhance their lives, both physically and spiritually.

There are loads of different types of martial arts,  some you’ll probably have heard of, some you probably won’t, in fact, some of the names appear to be more like the dishes available on your local Asian restaurant menu, but here goes with just a sample (wait for my spell-checker to go bonkers now) :-

    • Karate – yes, with you so far, this form of martial art has largely become mainstream due to films like “The Karate Kid” and is what immediately springs to mind when someone mentions anything about martial arts
    • Judo – oh yes, the “other one” . . . one . . . there are loads of different types of martial arts, but Judo is one of the most well known and has been an Olympic sport since it was first introduced in Tokyo in 1964. Judo literally means “gentle way”, but it looks anything but gentle to me.
    • Tae Kwon Do – this type of martial art originates from Korea, and literally means “to strike or break with the foot” . . . . lots of kicking involved with this one then. As with other martial arts though, there’s very much more to it than that, it’s all about enhancing the life and spirit through training of both the body and of the mind. Tae Kwon Do is also an Olympic sport.
    • Aikido – is a Japanese martial art which was developed as a synthesis of philosophy, religion and martial arts. Roughly translated to mean “The Way of the Harmonious Spirit” it kind of focuses on the ability of the Aikido practitioner to have the tools to defend him or herself, whilst still protecting the person attacking them from any injury. You don’t need quite so much physical strength yourself for this type of martial art, as you learn to take the strength from your attacker and re-direct it . . . clever huh?
    • Jujitsu – this form of Japanese martial art teaches close combat against armed attackers, whilst you yourself are completely unarmed (except for your strength and techniques), or you might have a small weapon. As with many of the martial arts, different strains have developed around the world, but basically the ancient martial art of jujitsu was developed in feudal Samurai Japan as a means of defending oneself against armed warriors. Again, you rather cleverly learn to redirect the strength of your attacker against himself.
    • Kobudo – sounds a bit like an Indonesian dragon (which is a Komono by the way), but is actually one of the ancient martial arts where students are introduced to weaponry. Kobudo is a very ancient art, but is very rarely taught as a stand-alone technique. It’s used more as an extension of Karate once you’ve mastered some of the moves! Weapons used in the art of Kobudo include the staff (of various lengths, generally 4 ft or 6 ft), the Sai which is a type of trident, Nunchaku (think Bruce Lee), Bokken – a type of wooden sword and Kama which are types of sickles used in pairs.
    • Laido – is one of the more modern martial arts, and is basically the martial art of withdrawing your sword from its scabbard, cutting or striking your opponent with it, wiping the blade clean of blood and returning it to the scabbard. I bet you didn’t think there was a martial art dedicated just to that did you? No wonder it all looks so smooth, controlled and choreographed.
Okay, now that we’ve spoken a little bit about some of the major types of martial arts, let’s take a look at some of them in action.

Utterly astounding, but watch out for him on your local dance floor and give him plenty of space.

Hmm, starts off at a nice gentle pace but soon gets a little livelier.

Don’t try this at home, not with anything sharp anyway.

How good is that? And now, the one you’ve all been waiting for . . .


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