Martial Arts: What Are They?
By: Adrian Adams
Martial arts refers to any specific way of defending oneself. It is very hard to classify martial arts, since they have existed as long as humanity has been around. The average person thinks of Asian martial arts, such as taekwondo or karate. That is because the arts styles have been most thoroughly evolved and documented in Asia, with more specific moves and disciplines associated with each region.
If you want to get started with martial arts, it's a good idea to become familiar with all of the possibilities. You may find that you want to go for a specific martial art because it fits your abilities better.
The first type of martial arts deals mainly with striking with the legs or arms. Wing Chun is a classic Chinese form of martial arts, and deals mainly with fist strikes., as well as some weaponry. Muay Thai is perhaps the most brutal type of martial arts, as you will see if you watch any of the modern professional competitions on TV. Its strikes are characterized by being fast, brutal, and made by the 2 hardest parts of the body - the elbows and the knees. Another one is Taekwondo, the Korean martial art that is one of the most popular in the world. It is characterized by numerous kicks as the main form of striking.
Another type of martial sports focuses on throwing the opponent, or grappling them in order to incapacitate them as quickly as possible. If you are American, the first thing that should come to mind is wrestling. On the other hand, with the Asian arts you have many different disciplines.
Judo is extremely competitive, with the focus being to subdue the opponent right away, by using throws, holds, and chokes. It is of Japanese origin, and is another martial art with a huge following in the western world. Jujutsu is probably the most technical martial art, with great attention given to the distribution of force when blows are made.
Finally, there are many more types of martial arts that aren't about close combat. There are forms that focus on weaponry, such as kendo and fencing. There are still others that are not even violent, but more introspective. They focus on the health and spirit of the person. These styles have had influences on western cultures as well, from Chinese medicine to acupuncture. Martial arts can be used for many things, from self defense to health. So look into it, and see if you could stand to benefit from learning an art.
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