What are martial arts? In its broadest sense, the martial arts refer to self-defense techniques born in Asian countries which are made up of combinations of hand and foot combat. Mental discipline and the search for enlightenment are also part and parcel of most martial art disciplines. While some martial arts focus on using the feet to attack or disarm an opponent, other martial arts concentrate on the use of your hands or making throws to render an opponent useless.
Some of the more popular styles of martial arts are: Tae Kwan Do, Karate, Judo, Kung Fu and Aikido. They all practice the art form of discipline itself. Through repeated practice of moves, steps, punches, and kicks, students of these martial arts develop, grace, strength, and mental discipline. Most styles have forms or katas which are almost like choreographed dance sequences, hence the reason why I list this as part of my arts year.
I myself did martial arts for about nine years, as my husband teaches Kung Fu. I found it to be very helpful in gaining confidence as well as the other attributes of fitness, flexibility and self discipline. I keep meaning to go back but age and lack of time tend to get in the way these days! Kung Fu is a great style for women especially; it’s a defensive martial art rather than attacking and teaches you to look after yourself from any attacks. The teachings of Kung Fu are based on the movements of five animals: the dragon, the tiger, the snake, the leopard, and the crane. Grace, strength, and mental discipline are the goal of any student of Kung Fu. Combining finesse and flexibility, it is one of the oldest styles around.
So what about other styles? Tae Kwan Do which translates to "the way of foot and fist" is primarily an art where strikes with the feet are the focus. Tae Kwon Do also teaches you to use your hands to strike an opponent or to block an opponent's kicks or punches. This Korean-born art stresses flexibility and mental discipline, while Aikido’s focus is not on using punches or kicks to defeat an opponent; rather, Aikido teaches the concept of using an opponent's own energy to gain control of the opponent or to toss the opponent aside.
Karate developed primarily as a form of fist combat, and the teaching of Karate instructors still focus on using the hand as a weapon. Today, Karate and Kenpo are still taught at martial arts academies through the world.
Judo is another time-honored and popular martial arts. Judo's origins can be found in the hand to hand combat teachings of Jujitsu. With the spread of Judo's popularity, it became an Olympic sport in 1964. It has continued to increase in popularity as a competitive sport, though some claim it has done so at the expense of the intellectual and spiritual elements of the art itself.
So as you can see even exercise can be an art form too.
Posted: Tuesday 20 April 2010