One of the ways of practicing self-defense is learning martial arts – a traditional system of combat practices. A number of forms of martial arts are practiced around the world, which focuses on both mental and physical fitness as well as spiritual growth. What are Martial Arts?
The term ‘martial’ is derived from the Latin word “Mars” that is considered the God of war in Roman mythology. Some martial arts are traditional and have been passed over from generation to generation while others have been developed by modern schools and associations. Of late, the concept of equipping oneself with the knowledge of one or the other form of this art, has gained momentum. In US alone there are more than 30,000 schools which have trained more than 9.4 million adults formally in these forms.
Different types of Martial Arts
Almost all the regions in the world have their own specific form of self-defense arts. Some of the more popular forms include
- Karate – This is from Japan and is a mix of indigenous fighting methods and techniques borrowed from Chinese martial arts. It involves use of punches, kicks, locks and throws.
- Taekwondo – The present form is a combination of many styles that were being practiced in Korea as well as neighboring regions. It is a mix of karate-like movements, flowing Kung fu patterns and kicking techniques. Inner peace of the practitioner is stressed in this form.
- Kick boxing – As the name suggests, this form is a combination of kicking and boxing. It was developed in the United States when people with different backgrounds came together to explore new techniques.
- Wrestling – There are many forms of this style. Greco Roman wrestling is a category at Olympic level.
- Boxing – It has its origins in combat fights during wars between the Greeks and the Romans. It was a brutal sport in the beginning, but now there are rules which keep safety of the boxers most important.
- Kalaripayattu – This is a martial art form from South India. The practitioners defend themselves from attacks using dance like movements which involve jumps and leaps.
- Jiu-Jitsu – This art form is said to have been developed by monks who wanted to protect themselves from attacks. Translated as ‘gentle art’, techniques of Jiu-Jitsu gave birth to judo, karate, etc.
About Brazilian Martial Arts
Jiu Jitsu, which has its origins in Asia, was brought to Brazil by Esai Maeda, the Japanese champion. His aim of spreading the style was supported by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician. Maeda taught the ancient secrets of the technique to Gracie’s eldest son who in turn taught his brothers. Soon they had opened the first academy in Brazil. One of the Gracie brothers was small in stature, but was passionate about the form. He experimented and modified the techniques to develop a more effective art form, which anyone could practice regardless of his size. Thus, an alternative form was born and this came to be known as gracie jiujitsu.
Advantages of learning Martial Arts
The advantages of learning any form of martial arts can be summed up as below:
- The first and foremost lesson in any class is that of discipline.
- They teach you mind body coordination and make your body stronger and more flexible.
- It teaches you to be humble and never underestimate the opponent.
- It increases your mental strength – if you think you can do a thing, you surely can.