As the morning comes and the first golden rays illuminate the city’s skyline, a one-of-a-kind fitness center in the city awakes. The fitness center is not like a typical gym, complete with rows of treadmills and clanking weights. Instead, it is a paradise for martial arts fans. People from many backgrounds gather here, each tightening their belts with resolve and enthusiasm, ready for the day’s practice. The setting exemplifies the time-honored legacy of martial arts, a discipline that has spanned generations and nations, providing not just physical training but also a road to mental and spiritual strength.
This article seeks to serve as a priceless resource for anybody thinking about starting down this rewarding road. It explores the many aspects and forms of martial arts, offering advice that is useful for beginners and experts alike.
So, let’s begin learning it with a basic question. What are martial arts?
What is Martial Arts?
The martial arts contain organized systems of fighting instruction that have been passed down through generations. It has a wide range of activities including striking methods (such as kicks and punches), grappling actions (such as grips, joint locks, and throws), weapon-based training, and even meditation and breathing exercises. Each martial art has a distinct ideology, methods, and aims.
Generally speaking, the goal of all martial arts styles is the same: using physical training and personal discipline to develop oneself.
It is a type of fighting but like other organized sports like football or fencing. Applying rules to fighting makes it more of an intellectual and strategic struggle than merely physical fighting. Participants can put their abilities, strategy, and hard work to the test in a risk-free setting where they may compete against real opponents.
History of Martial Arts
Martial arts are a centuries-old style of fighting. It is considered that it began in Ancient Greece as early as 2,000 BCE; however, it came from all over the globe. Various geographic and cultural variations have contributed to its development throughout the years.
While many modern martial arts have their roots in East Asian countries like China and Japan, others have spread across the globe from places like India and Southeast Asia to Europe and Brazil. The origins of several well-known martial arts, like kung fu, karate, and hwa rang, lead many to believe that Asia is the epicentre of the martial arts universe.
Types of Martial Arts
If you want to train in martial arts, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types. There are more than 190 different kinds, each with its own set of methods, structure, and skills.
We have compiled a brief overview of the most popular martial arts styles based on impact level with competitors to help narrow down your options. Pick the one that suits you most, and prepare to try something completely different when it comes to getting in shape, strengthening your mind, and more.
Striking Or Stand-up Style
Kicks, punches, blocking, and the use of the feet, knees, and elbows are all part of striking and stand-up martial arts forms. Here is the detail of some types,
A self-defense martial art, Taekwondo means “the way of kicking and punching” or “the way of the foot and fist” in its literal translation. This ancient martial art has its roots in South Korea and tribal warfare traditions from 600 AD, where it has a long history of practice.
Taekwondo training teaches a variety of principles, some of which are connected to physical methods, while others focus on mental disciplines. Developing one’s strength, flexibility, balance, and control, as well as one’s understanding of kicking and hitting, are the foundational physical abilities. Mental disciplines are essential for progressing through the belts; they include paying closer attention, being more self-disciplined, and being able to complete training goals.
2. Kung Fu
Kung fu is a Chinese martial art technique to cleanse the spirit and the body. It originated at the Shaolin Temple in China in the 5th or 6th century AD. Monks exercised here for self-defense and health while seeking enlightenment. Kung fu includes many diverse forms and varieties, including Shaolin, Tai Chi, and Wing Chun. All kung fu styles have different methods.
A 2008 study by experts from Boston and Australia examined the health benefits of Kung Fu, finding that it is a moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic exercise with higher isokinetic strength among practitioners compared to the inactive control group.
Kung Fu training focuses on building mental and physical abilities through various forms, partner drills, conditioning exercises, and techniques. It improves timing, distance control, defense, fluid stances, footwork, hand strikes, kicks, and weapons through repetition and sparring sessions.
Karate is perhaps the most famous with 100 million practitioners worldwide. It literally means “empty-handed” in Japanese. They are great for newcomers because they harness the power of both the mind and the body, involving amazing movements that include forceful punches, kicks, and blocks. The main difference between this style and Tae Kwon Do is the emphasis on hand strikes rather than kicks.
Even though there are a lot of varieties of karate nowadays, they all adhere to the same basics. Modern karate incorporates a wide variety of techniques, including striking, kicking, throwing, and grappling (a close-body combat style that does not use weapons).
4. Muay Thai
The art of Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing or “the art of eight limbs” evolved from a kind of close fighting that originated in the 13th century in Thailand.
It has a striking fight element in which the hitting mechanism involves the use of the feet, shins, knees, elbows, and hands. Many fighters from various mixed martial arts organizations appreciate Muay Thai’s effectiveness.
Kickboxing is a full-contact martial art that is a hybrid of karate and boxing. It uses a variety of punches, kicks, and pouches to attack the opponent. Kickboxers often use a wide array of striking methods, including punches, kicks, knee strikes, and even elbows in some fight styles.
Throwing Or Take-down Technique
A takedown is a strategy that entails throwing an opponent off their balance and then falling on top of them. Martial arts styles that involve throws and takedowns include
Judo is widely acknowledged as the most popular combat sport globally and is mostly thought of as an Olympic sport nowadays, with 40 million practitioners.
It is most recognized as a martial art in which the goal is to throw or takedown an opponent to the mat, immobilize or otherwise put in an opponent by pinning, or win points in competition by using joint locks and chokes to control them until they surrender.
Judo techniques do not involve any dangerous means. As a result, it is one of the most athletically safe martial arts. If you are interested in learning self-defense, Judo may be the greatest martial art option for you.
The Japanese technique translates into “the way of harmony and spirit”.
It is a type of fighting art in which instead of confronting an opponent head-on, practitioners learn to flow with their movements via joint immobilization and momentum throws that one may incapacitate without doing significant harm to their opponent. This adds Aikido to the list of excellent self-defense options.
Training using bokken and jo, two types of wooden weapons, aids in the acquisition and perfection of methods.
Grappling or Ground Fighting
Grappling or ground combat martial arts are quite comparable to throwing or takedown techniques. While they are not identical, they do have certain similarities. Grappling methods teach you how to gain dominance in a fight and hold your opponent in submission. Examples of martial arts grappling include:
8. Jiu Jitsu
Jiu-Jitsu, a traditional Japanese martial art, originated from ancient samurai warriors who used it for close-quarters combat, grappling, and submissions. It is now practiced worldwide and has a heavy influence on the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
This type focuses on effective self-defense using leverage, timing, and technique. It stresses using an opponent’s power against them rather than raw strength utilizing throws, joint locks, pins, and immobilizations, as well as strangleholds.
Some individuals prefer martial arts for body fitness, mental health, and a healthy lifestyle, as these low-impact, meditative martial arts can still serve as self-defense when needed.
9. Tai Chi
Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese martial art that aims to balance one’s physical, mental, and spiritual selves. It has its origins in Taoist philosophy. Tai chi aims to harmonize the mind and body via the cultivation of inner energy.
A key component of Tai Chi training is learning and practicing slow, controlled sequences with an emphasis on awareness of one’s body, breath, and concentration. Partner work (tui shou) is another method practitioners utilize to improve their awareness and reaction time to the moves their opponents make.
The literal meaning of qi gong is “energy work.” It is an Asian style of yoga that has existed for thousands of years. Depending on the emphasis of the particular style or school, qigong may be either a martial art or a health-maintenance activity. The practice aims to improve and sustain health and well-being through the use of activities that maximize energy within the body, mind, and spirit.
As per traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), optimal health is achieved when qi flows freely throughout the body, but static or blockage of this energy can lead to health issues. Qigong, a practice of basic postures and patterned breathing, may help clear the way for balanced qi flow. Like Tai Chi, it can also be used for reducing stress and anxiety. Enhanced concentration, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and enhanced flexibility are all advantages of qigong.
You can read a whole article about Qigong and its benefits in our dedicated article here.
Here is a table of martial arts disciplines in terms of their physical engagement level and geographical roots.
|Striking / Stand-up
|Striking / Stand-up
|Striking / Stand-up
|Striking / Stand-up
|Striking / Stand-up
|Throwing / Takedown
|Throwing / Takedown
|Grappling / Ground Fighting
Benefits of Performing Martial Arts
There are several documented health benefits to training in this type of art, and some of them are mentioned here.
1. Can Burn Calories
Weight loss and improved body composition are two of the many benefits of martial arts training.
According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, a 154-pound person should expect to burn around 720 calories per hour when practicing martial arts. This is more than basketball, swimming, football, or rugby. Training such as judo, wrestling, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a great way to burn calories since it combines anaerobic and aerobic exercises.
So if you want to end the day with a calorie deficit, training for only one hour in one of these martial arts can burn as many as 1,000 calories.
2. Improved Physical Fitness
The increased physical fitness that comes from martial training is one of its most significant advantages.
The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine released research that indicated that, compared to non-practising peers, teenagers who did karate had better physical fitness. It means that training regularly may enhance general physical health by increasing strength and muscular tone. In addition to strengthening the core, strength training in martial arts improves posture and stabilizes the joints.
Hard martial arts training has an impact on cardiorespiratory function, flexibility, strength, and balance in adults over the age of 40, according to 2014 research.
3. A Great Self Defence Skill and Confidence
The most significant advantage is the confidence boost that comes with knowing you can handle yourself well in an hour of need. People report feeling better about themselves after a challenging training session and having a sense of accomplishment after having overcome some challenging physical obstacles.
The confidence boost that comes from practicing isn’t only reserved for adults; people of all ages experience it. In particular, those who train in karate or another martial art report higher levels of self-confidence and academic achievement.
4. Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
The increased blood flow that results from martial arts training reduces many of the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major health problem that impacts a large number of individuals. Extensive research has shown that regular martial sports are associated with reduced blood pressure.
Exercise strengthens the heart, which is necessary since a weak heart pumps blood more laboriously. By staying committed to their training, many individuals have successfully reduced the need for blood pressure medication.
4. Boost Your Confidence
Training martial arts practitioners of all ages report feeling more confident after training. Youngsters who engage in karate or a comparable martial art exhibit increased confidence and even greater performance in school.
6. Mental Health Benefits
Multiple studies have shown that martial arts training may delay or even reverse the normal deterioration of cognitive abilities. It is effective in fostering mental health benefits such as,
- Relaxation: In martial arts, it is known that training helps people relax their minds, which in turn makes them more attentive and focused in their everyday lives. This kind of exercise stimulates all parts of the body to produce the feel-good hormone endorphins. For many, learning to breathe deeply and relax when faced with stress or danger is an essential part of their martial arts training.
The Journal of Psychiatric Research reports that martial arts training can help teenagers feel better emotionally and less aggressive. Improving attention and reducing stress are two additional benefits of the discipline and concentration needed for training.
- Enhanced Focus and Attention: Martial arts practice teaches one to keep calm and focus under pressure. Developing these skills is critical for staying focused for longer and handling several tasks at once. In most cases, one’s ability to focus on and complete routine chores and obligations is significantly enhanced.
- Less Aggression: It has been found that practising such martial sports can also lead to less aggression. In 2016, Israeli researchers and UCLA conducted a study on 507 children aged six to eighteen, examining signs of aggression, hostility, and violence related to martial arts. The results showed that martial arts can help control aggressive, rule-breaking, and impulsive tendencies, contradicting common assumptions. In another 2017 study, Italian researchers found that martial arts practice improved attention and creativity, self-esteem and self-efficacy, and decreased aggressiveness compared to a sedentary control group.
- Can improve emotional health: People with mental illnesses, like depression, can benefit from martial arts. Research shows that martial arts practice has similar advantages for seniors as it does for younger ones. In 2012, German researchers looked at the mental and emotional health of senior karate practitioners. In this study involving 60 participants aged 67–93, including two with dementia and six with Parkinson’s disease, 14 of them trained in karate over three to six months. The results showed that older individuals who trained in karate experienced increased emotional well-being, felt better about themselves, and were overall happier.
Studies have shown that those who regularly practice martial arts are less likely to behave aggressively or criminally and report higher levels of mental wellness.
7. Improved Flexibility and Mobility
Martial arts training involves extensive stretching, both active and passive. The range of motion and blood flow are both improved by regularly warming up and practicing the techniques.
Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai are just a few types that demand body movements, that will help to increase the range of motion and flexibility. And because of this many everyday motions will become much simpler.
8. Can be Enjoyed By People Of Any Age
Martial arts training is a fun way to keep active, build muscles, improve coordination, and improve balance for all ages and abilities. Martial arts lessons are an excellent way for children of all ages to be physically active and gain self-control. They may also appeal to elderly people because of their social advantages, increased sense of well-being, and physical activity.
Learning Martial Arts
Picking a martial art to train in doesn’t have to be an impossible choice. An excellent starting point would be for a person to investigate the feasibility of the ones in which they have developed a natural interest.
Many people try Muay Thai instead of grappling arts because they find the physical aspect to be off-putting. Others feel the same way about grappling but do not want to undergo the actual contact associated with striking sports, so they attend cardio kickboxing sessions. So get into your own preferences.
There are a lot of methods to train in martial arts on your own, but there’s usually not much space for growth. You won’t go very far if you don’t spar or practice new moves with a partner or coach. So taking help from coaching and leaning the right technique is important.
Numerous positive characteristics, like self-assurance, mental stamina, bravery, dedication, humility, kindness, respect, honor, discipline, compassion, and integrity, are passed down through generations of martial arts practitioners. So what are you waiting for? let’s get going and Prime with time!