Kalari, an ancient martial art

A martial art called Kalaripayattu or kalari for short, described to be among the oldest form of martial arts in the world, is being practiced in the southern state of Kerala in India. The term kalaripayattu or kalari is mentioned in the Rigvedda (The Knowledge of Verses), the oldest of the sacred books of Hinduism, and Atharvaveda, the second oldest Indian writings.

The term kalaripayattu is a combination of two words – kalari and payattu. Kalari is means training ground or battle ground while payattu means training or fight.

Many movements and postures in the art of kalari are believed to be inspired by the raw strength of animals and are also named after them. There is a strong belief that this art was developed in the forests when hunters had observed the fighting techniques of different animals. The movements include spinning, kicking and jumping.

The kalari training helps a student of this martial art attain mental peace as well as physical strength and flexibility. This martial art can be used for unarmed or hand-to-hand battle and for fights using, wooden sticks called muchan, daggers, sticks and sword with shield.

A kalari student has to go through several stages of training: the meithari, the kolthari, the angathari and the verumkai.

The meithari involves physical exercises to develop stamina, strength, balance and flexibility. The exercises, which include kicks, jumps, circular sequences and low stances on the floor, aims to develop mental alertness that helps understand the self defense moves that will be undertaken in the later stages of training.

The training starts with a series of physical exercises. The meipayatu or exercises with the body develop agility and strength. The training also include the marichulukal or acrobatics to tone the body and help develop agility and reflexes. Another series of exercises called the kaikuththipayattu, involving putting hands on the floor, that strengthens the body and improves breath control. The kalaripayattu students also have to undertake chuvataddi (meaning stances and attacks) and kaithada, which means block with hands. The student also has to learn the stance of different animals such as the rooster, lion, wild boar, snake, elephant, horse, cat and peacock.

The next level of training called kolthari involves the use of wooden weapons, including cane weapons, cheruvadi (a strong wooden staff), gada (a wooden club) and ottakkol (curved stick). This stage is designed to develop “dristi sthirata,” which means seeing clearly with stability that will allow one to deal with attacks by assessing the situation and taking appropriate action. The kolthari also helps in building confidence, alertness and balance of the body.

The angathari, third stage of training, involves the use of metal weapons such as kattaram (dagger) and kuntham (spear). After the trainee completes the training on the use of kuntham, he undergoes training for the more sophisticated forms of combat – sword and shield, and finally the dangerous urumi.

The urumi is a flexible whip-like long sword, usually made from steel or brass, between 122-168 centimeters long. Sometimes, the urumi has multiple blades attached to a single handle. The urumi is used as a whip, which is effective when used against several attackers or opponents.

During the verumkai, considered the advanced stage of kalaripayattu training, students learn bare-handed fighting moves such as throwing, locking, gripping, blocking, kicking and striking. The student is also taught the Marma Chikilsa, a treatment for injuries on the marmas (vital points) of the human body. Damages to marmas lead to illness, chronic conditions or emotional insecurity for which the Gurukkal has the treatment.

The kalaripayattu also incorporates a massaging technique designed to repair physical damages and to promote blood circulation as well as enhance the body’s flexibility. There are three types of massage – the sukha thirummu, the katcha thirummu and the raksha thirummu. The sukha thirummu relieves the body from aches and muscular pains while the katcha thirummu increases a person’s flexibility and physical endurance. On the other hand, the raksha thirummu aims to heal different types of ailments.

Nowadays, the art of kalaripayattu is being revived and there is renewed interest among Indians and even martial arts enthusiasts from other countries. Kalaripayattu training schools have started operating in various parts in Kerala. The training among locals starts at seven years of age and take years for them to master the art. During the training, the students have to use a kachha, a six feet long and one foot wide red-colored fabric that is tied around their waist.

The Kalaripayattu Federation of India, which is based in Kerala, promotes this martial art by staging competitions to encourage interest in this martial art.

Hapkido, best defense against martial arts attacks

What is the best defense against attackers using different types of martial arts? It’s hapkido, according to some martial arts enthusiasts. Hapkido, a Korean martial art that has a following in different parts of the world, is deemed to be the best defense against opponents with different martial arts skills.

Hap means harmony; Ki means power and do means way. Hapkido is translated as the way of coordinated (internal) energy. Hapkido is defined by Encyclopedia Brittanica (http://www.britannica.com/sports/hapkido) as a Korean form of unarmed self-defense based on the circular foot sweeps and kicks of traditional Korean tae kyon.

Hapkido was introduced in Korea by Choi Yong-Sul, a Korean who worked as a servant in the household of a Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu master. Aiki-jujutsu is a self defense martial art that uses the momentum of the attacker and focuses on throwing and joint manipulation. Aiki-jujutsu did not emphasize kicking, hitting or striking.

Upon his return to Korea after World War II, Choi Yong-Sul started teaching a martial art which he called Yusul, which meant soft techniques that aims to stop an attack through pulling or pushing and manipulating the limbs of the opponent.

The name Yusul was later changed to Yu Kwon Sul or soft-fist techniques. The change in name also coincided with the inclusion of Korean techniques such as kicking and striking in hapkido although the soft techniques remained the basic move. In the 1960s, hapkido became the martial art’s name.

Hapkido also incorporated punches and circular throws, and a yielding principle similar to that of aikido. The emphasis on circular motion allows for a free-flowing form of combat, allowing one technique to merge with the next and changing the direction of force through a change in the axis of rotation.

Choi Yong-sul has been named as the founder of hapkido but four Koreans (Ji Han-jae, Kim Moo-hong, Suh Bok-sub and Myung Jae-nam) have been recognized as having developed the hapkido techniques.

Hapkido is considered by its practitioners as anti-martial arts because its moves would help a person defend against and overcome an attacker with skills in different types of martial combat.

The hapkido student is taught to achieve total control during a confrontation, precision over brute strength and focus on one spot to damage an opponent but at the same time avoid causing him undue harm.

Because hapkido is focused on subduing rather than harming an attacker, many law enforcement agencies have their personnel train in this martial art. Hapkido has moves used to keep an opponent down on the floor or against the wall until a police or law enforcement back up arrives to arrest the attacker.

The video below shows hapkido grandmaster Lee Chang Soo in a demonstration on the martial art at the 2008 World Hapkido Championship held at Seoul, South Korea.

Although hapkido training emphasizes self-defense, a hapkido artist can also use deadly force when the situation calls for it.

With roots in Aiki-jujutsu of Japan, Hapkido adds striking and punching to joint-locks, throws, and grappling, making it one of the original mixed martial arts. However, unlike modern MMA training, Hapkido gives the student a solid base in different forms of defense, basing the strategy of that defense in the principles of water, circle, and harmony.

The water principle can interpreted in several ways. First, flowing water that encounters a solid object flows around it, which meant that a hapkidoist should not waste time and energy when encountering an opponent and instead, move around him or her. On the other, a single drop of water could not do anything to a stone but many drops of water will wear away the stone. A single punch may not affect an opponent but a series of punches hitting the same area will weaken the opponent.

Based on the circular principle, a hapkido student is taught to never counter force with force and instead deflect and redirect any attacks. Circular techniques include spinning side chap, spinning heel kick, inside/outside crescent kick, hammer strike, and roundhouse kick. Other hapkido moves also involve circular principle. This principle requires hapkidoists to never use force against force and instead, achieve harmony where there is opposition.

On the other hand, the sum principle aims to attain balance and harmony through the combination of the two other principles. The sum principle is defined as the resulting concentration when the spirit and body work together.

This three principles give the student a solid framework on which to develop their skill so that they are not caught off-guard when they are attacked, even if their attackers use different types of martial arts. During the training, the students have to learn flowing moves they could use until the opponent is completely prevented from doing any harm.

Karate, the weaponless martial art

Did you know that some celebrities have studied Karate? They include actors Wesley Snipes, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, James Caan and, even Elvis Presley. Karate is probably one of the most popular martial arts. Proof of this are the many training schools, called dojo, teaching Karate all over the world.

The University of Michigan (http://www.umich.edu/~shotokan/karate.html) defines Karate as a weaponless means of self defense that consists of dynamic offensive and defensive techniques using all parts of the body to their maximum advantage. It also identified Karate “as the most dynamic of all martial arts.”

Karate was reported to have originated from Okinawa, Japan. The term “karate” was first used in 1722 when Okinawan martial artist Tode Sakugawa created the karate-no-sakugawa. The word kara referred to China. Thus, Karate originally meant “Chinese hand” or “Tang Hand” after China’s Tang dynasty. However, when karate was brought from Okinawa to Japan, the meaning of “kara” was changed to “empty.” This is why Karate today is translated as “empty hand.”

According to the George Washington University (http://www.gwu.edu/~ska/whatis.htm), adding the suffix “-do” (meaning way) to Karate (karate-do), implies that Karate is a total way of life that goes well beyond the self-defense applications. Both the George Washington University and the University of Michigan offers courses on Shotokan Karate, the karate style developed by Gichin Funakoshi.

Funakoshi, who is said to be the father of modern Karate, has stressed that this martial art should be non-agressive. Funakoshi, an Okinawan who promoted Karate to Japan in 1922, said karate practitioners should not attack first and should use the martial art for self-defense only.

Funakoshi was also quoted as having said that “True karate is this: that in daily life, one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.”

Some martial arts may rely on brute force but Karate focuses on precise moves that hit the opponent’s vulnerable points. In karate, size does not matter. It relies on the coordination of mind and body. A karateka or a person trained in karate is taught to coordinate mind and body perfectly to allow the release of stronger physical power when needed.

“Therefore, it is not the possession of great physical strength that makes a strong karateka; rather it is the ability to coordinate mind and body. Upon developing this ability, even the smallest person finds that he or she has within himself or herself the power to deliver a devastating blow to any would-be attacker,” the University of Michigan posts on its website on karate.

There are three groups of Karate moves- Kihon, Kata and Kumite. Kihon refers to drilling stances, blocks, punches, strikes and kicks while Kata refers to pre-arranged forms that simulate combat situations. Kumite, on the other hand, is sparring with opponents.

Karate stances are combat postures that keep the body balanced and stable allowing attacks and defences to be made with maximum effect. A karatekauses elgs, hips, knees and ankles to have stable Karate stances and powerful Karate kicks.

One of the blocks that a Karate student has to learn is the upper block (jodan uke), which is considered a good defensive move. A karateka could use this move to counter punches and kicks to the head and upper body as well as set up a counter attack.

On the other hand, karate strikes are made with the fist (front and back); outside edge of a closed hand; one or more tips of the fingers; joints of the fingers; outside and inside edges of an open hand; the palm of the hand near the wrist and the front and back of the elbow.

The most famous karate strike is the shuto uchi or the “karate chop.” This move gained popularity in the 1960s when it was featured in movies and TV shows. A knee strike (hiza-geri) is a good move to fend off an attack. A karateka makes this move by bending a leg and pushing the knee upwards into the opponent’s groin.

Another useful move to learn is the elbow strike (hiji ate), with the karateka quickly trusting an elbow into the opponent’s face. However, it is difficult to master the elbow strike, which requires a quick upward jab that could stun an opponent.

Although these are very powerful, karate kicks are not as popular as the karate chop. Karate kicks are either done with one foot on the floor or both feet in the air. However, one has to be flexible as well as have a good balance and a stable stance to be able to execute good kicks. Front kicking (mae-geri), a simple karate attack mode, targets the opponent’s, groin or stomach.

Aside from being used for self-defense, Karate is also useful for physical and mental health, according to the advocates of this martial art. Karate helps in toning the body, developing coordination and quickens reflex, while at the same time builds stamina. Constant practice of karate also results in more self-confidence and in clearer thought process and more composure.

Even those who are older can still practice karate and many karate training schools do offer training for senior people. One training school posted on their website that Karate is low impact activity that works every muscle and bone in the body. It is therefore a good alternative exercise for older people.

Here’s what author and karate practitioner Terry Monksfield has to say about Karate, “While looking into the masters of Karate that made this art what it is, you may find that a lot of them lived to a ripe old age for the period they lived in so maybe we all have extra years to live simply because we are doing karate.”

Okichitaw, a hybrid martial art

A martial art called Okichitaw that draws inspiration from the fighting techniques of the Plains Cree First Nations, the native Americans of Canada, is being promoted in Canada. Okichitaw is coined from the Plains-Cree word “okichitawak,” a title granted to a Cree warrior skilled in survival, protection and warfare.

Okichitaw moves are patterned after the fighting techniques of the Plains Cree First Nations. It also incorporates Asian martial arts in the the traditional fighting style of Canada’s indigenous people as developed by George Lepine, a Mechif Cree from the province of Manitoba in Canada. He holds sixth degree belts in both Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido, both Korean martial arts.

The Plains Cree fighting moves have not been practiced for a long time but Lepine decided to come up with a coding and a system for the long forgotten martial art. There are almost no record of the fighting techniques of Plains-Cree native Americans.

However, this did not stop Lepine, who, at an early age, has learned weapon and throwing practices as well as hunting, tracking and wrestling from his uncles while growing up in Manitoba. He conducted research into the traditional Cree fighting techniques. He then incorporated the moves from Asian martial arts. After years of training and developing moves, Lepine succeeded in coming up with a code and system for the hybrid martial art.

Unlike many martial arts, which imitates animal moves, Okichitaw moves are patterned after movements of weapons such as tomahawk or knife. Okichitaw’s hand-fighting techniques use the forearm and fist, elbow or leg for attacks or counter attacks. Hands are used like tomahawks while kicks imitate that moves using a spear or lance.

However, Okichitaw enthusiasts are taught both armed and unarmed fighting in any position, either in an upright position or lying on the ground. Wrestling moves, such as rolling, are also being taught for attacking opponents.

The weapons used by Okichitaw practitioners include the gunstock war club (notini towin mistik); and the long knife called mokumon.The gunstock war club, the usual weapon used by Plains Cree warriors patterned after the design and shape of a gun, has a spike, a short lance or a knife placed on the curve of the club.

However, only the advanced Okichitaw students are taught the use of the tomahawk (chekinykunis) and the short and long lance. The most recognizable of the weapons used by Native Americans, the tomahawk, which is made of wood and metal, was also used as a tool.

Also, an Okichitaw practitioner has to learn Picicipayiw, the proper approach towards an opponent. The term means to burst forward, which requires the practitioner to fully engage an opponent.

This martial art involves basic but aggressive combat techniques that aims to bring their opponents to the ground for a quick finish. A student of Okichitaw has to be fit and has to develop strength, speed and agility, aside from being mentally alert. This is because of the very demanding training they have to go through to learn Okichitaw.

The Okichitaw teaches students to use “Four Directions” (East, West, South and North) in counter attacks, according to an article on the martial art (http://www.scifighting.com/2014/10/28/35733/technique-meets-tradition-in-cree-okichitaw/).

The East, which represents balance, confidence and creativity, involves “identifying or locating an opponent and developing a solid attack position.”

The South, which represents strength, focus and success, calls for a “brave and aggressive challenge of an opponent.”

On the other hand, the North represents courage, energy and knowledge and promotes the “control of an opponent through surprise and overwhelming force.”

Meanwhile, West refers to challenge, choice and proof and focuses on “taking down and finishing off of an opponent before moving on to the next one.”

While Okichitaw is not widely practiced, as of the moment, the number of students who want to learn it is growing, specially in Toronto, Canada where there are classes several times a week. And, during the 2002 Chungju World Martial Arts Festival, Okichitaw has been recognized as a unique aboriginal martial art of Canada by the World Martial Arts Union, which was accredited by UNESCO in 2010 as an advisory non-government organization to its Inter-governmental Committee for safeguarding of intangible cultural heritages.

Taichi – The Gentle Martial Art

When US First Lady Michelle Obama practiced Tai Chi moves during her visit to Chengdu No. 7 Highschool in Chengdu, Sichuan province in China, she called the martial art a “truly beautiful form of physical activity.”

Tai Chi is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as an ancient Chinese discipline of meditative movements practiced as a system of exercises. It is also called tai chi chuan or t’ai chi ch’uan. It is a common sight nowadays to see people, mostly the elderly, in parks and public places making Tai Chi moves.

Some enthusiasts consider Tai Chi Chuan as the “ultimate fighting art.” The literal translation of the phrase Tai chi chuan is the “great ultimate fist” and sometimes is known as the ultimate boxing or Chinese shadow boxing or Chinese boxing.

“Tai Chi Chuan, the great ultimate, strengthens the weak, raises the sick, invigorates the debilitated, and encourages the timid,” according to the late Tai Chi grandmaster Cheng Man Ching.

Liang Tung-Tsai, another Tai Chi master, considered this martial art as the best among exercises because it is suitable for everyone, young or old, weak or strong and even the disabled.

Indeed, many consider Tai Chi as a gentle martial art that not only drives away a person’s day-to-day stress but is also good for the health. Medical studies have shown that doing Tai Chi exercises regularly have positive effects on persons with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic heart failure.

“Research findings suggest that practicing Tai Chi may improve balance and stability in older people and those with Parkinson’s, reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis, help people cope with fibromyalgia and back pain, and promote quality of life and mood in people with heart failure and cancer,” according to the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The NCCIH is supporting studies of Tai Chi’s effects on symptoms of anxiety and sleep quality in young adults, fibromyalgia and knee osteoarthritis.

But aside from having health benefits, Tai Chi has also been created as an art of self defense in ancient China during the disputes among warlords. During those times, warlords brought terror and destruction to villages whose residents do not bow to their orders. This led Taoist monks to create an art of self-defense that imitate the moves of certain animals and taught this to the villagers so they could protect themselves from the attacks of warlords.

However, compared to other martial arts, few people want to learn Tai Chi as a fighting art because it will take a longer training period before they can master it. One has to learn seven different skill sets – Qi energy warm-ups, solo forms, practicing Tai Chi with a partner, push hands, sparring games, transition between push hands and fighting and unrehearsed sparring. Tai Chi moves include punches, kicks, joint locks, nerve strikes, and throws.

What makes Tai Chi different from other martial arts is that instead of using brute force, a Tai Chi practitioner uses the opponent’s energy and movements so the latter would lose their balance and leave them open to counter strikes.

Since Tai chi appears to be a slow martial art, many consider it as having no real value as a skill for combatants. But in several competition involving different kinds of martial arts, Tai Chi practitioners have held their own. At a Wushu Festival organized by the Chinese Central Television Station and held in 2012 gathered 14 martial artists with different styles of fighting such as Tai Chi, Ba Ji, Hong Quan or Red Boxing, Shaolin, Tong Bei and Xin Yi. A 19-year-old Tai Chi fighter by the name of Chen Zhicheng prevailed over his opponent, a Shaolin monk, Cheng Xianwin, during the final matches, composed of one round of weapon and two barehand fights.

Indeed, Tai Chi can be an effective martial art for fighting just like any other martial art. What makes it different is that aside from the physical development, it also dwells on mental, emotional and spiritual development.

Mixing Dance Moves with Martial Arts

Did you know that Chinese kung fu was first created in the primeval age when man developed defense and offense moves they used when hunting wild beasts?  While martials arts was first used in fighting, the moves were then incorporated into dance movements, as a way to train soldiers and improve their morale, during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, from the 17th Century BC to 221 BC.

Along with wrestling and swordplay, martial arts dancing became popular in China during the In Qin and Han dynasties from 221 BC to 207 BC and 202 BC to 220 AD, respectively. One example was the sword dancing of Xiang Zhuang at the Hongmen banquet which was said to be similar to today’s martial arts.

The combination of dancing and martial arts is not surprising considering that the Chinese characters for dance, 舞, and martial arts, 武, are said to be two sides of the same coin. Both are also pronounced the same in Chinese –  “wu.” Also, students have to master both martial arts and dance so they could be considered accomplished scholars.

A famous martial arts school, the Tagou Martial Arts School in Anhui province in China, had even staged a synchronized presentation of mixed martial arts and dancing, providing an amazing performance.

A Chinese martial art performance called “The Wind of Shaolin,” for example, combines martial arts, acrobatics and classical dance. The 60 performers include monks of the Shaolin Temple and members of the Zhengzhou Song and Dance Theatre.

A group of Chinese performers called the Opera Warriors will also be staging performances in Canada that combine dance moves, acrobatics and martial arts in a story about three martial artists in the 20th century.

Another example of martial arts moves in dancing is the capoeira. The capoeira is a Brazilian art form combining fight, dance, rhythm and movement that has grown popular all over the world. The origin of capoeira is not clear but it was believed to have been created by the 16th century slaves who were brought by Portuguese colonists from West Africa to Brazil.

Since the African slaves were forbidden from practicing any martial arts or observe their customs, the capoeira served as a way to circumvent these two laws. The kicks and the moves were disguised as dance movements and it became not only as a method of self-defense but also as a symbol of cultural identity.

The capoeira also helped many slaves escape their masters to form communities in areas beyond the control of the Portuguese colonizers. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the capoeira became a popular entertainment, either for competition or for leisure. Capoeira dancers have been warned and even punished for practicing the art form but the prohibition did not stop them. Thus, art of capoeira has been handed down from generation to generation and continues to be practiced in Brazil.

Nowadays, the capoeira has become quite popular and there are many schools offering classes to those interested to learn this martial art.

The World Capoeira Federation held the first ever world championships on the sport on May 30, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan and will be holding the 3rd world championship on May 4, 2016.

Arnis – a Historical Form of Martial Arts

Arnis is considered to be the national sports for Martial Arts in the Philippines. Unlike other forms of martial arts in the planet, Arnis uses sticks as its primary weapon and at the same time a form of defense or armor during a fight. It has slowly evolved adapting to the standards of martial arts sports and it continuous to spread all around the world.

The Beginning of Arnis

Arnis came from the Spanish word “arnes” that means armor. During battles in the Prehispanic period when the Spaniards tried to conquer the Philippines, Arnis was used as a battle technique. Since this is a form of defense created by peasants or commoners during the early years, no written record was made to document the story behind Arnis. It continued to grow as Spaniards had adopted the sports, too.

 

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Weapons and Techniques Used during Battles

Arnis is still a form of martial arts that uses skills and strength to fight back. But for beginners, Arnis is first mastered using its common weapons such as the sticks and knives. Students of Arnis Sports are using sticks to learn the basics of Arnis.

For beginners, there will be two sticks or what they locally call as “yantok”or “baston.” The sticks of Arnis are made of rattan – a stem common in Southeast Asian countries. The advantage of using this material is that it is a very lightweight when used but is very durable and hard. The length of the stick varies, but the standard size is 28 inches or 71cm.

Just like fencing, these rattan-made sticks are used for sparring. The goal of this is not to hit your enemy but to use it to develop your skills in sparring and counterstriking. Hitting your sparring partner is just a way of showing respect but in a very light impact on the hitting.

Eskrima is another term for Arnis, and it used edged weapons such as knives or daggers. These types of weapons are known as “baraw.” Other terms for these weapons are bolo or balisong. These are sharp weapons that will immediately wound your enemy. The use of edged weapons are not advisable for beginners, and it is not even practiced to be a part of an Arnis School since it is very dangerous especially to children

Strikes and Hitting Angles

Similar to other martial arts sports, Arnis also applies self-defense strategies and offense. The basic strikes for Arnis are:

San Miguel – it is a type of forehand strike of your right hand. This technique is termed as Angle #1 since this is the common angle attack.

Sinawali – this is commonly used in a two-stick sparring. This is also called the double-stick weaving movement.

Redonda – is a circular type of attack that is continuous on downward-striking and still uses double-stick.

Hakbang – in English is “step”, wherein you will be footwork techniques like pivoting or triangular stepping.

Puño – or fist is striking the enemy using the edge of the stick.

 

Mano Mano Technique

Students who have mastered the use of sticks can already continue to the higher level of Arnis using a “mano-mano” or what they call an empty-handed weapon. By just using your bare hands, you can apply the skills and techniques you’ve learned back when using the stick weapon.

The hand-to-hand technique already involves kicking, punching, grappling, throwing and locking.

Modern Arnis

Martial arts expertise is classified according to belt ranks and just like any other type of martial arts; Arnis also has its standard belt rank.

Instead of using different colors of belts, the ranking for Arnis is based on numbers but on local dialect. Beginners will be rank as Isa, followed by Dalawa, Tatlo, Apat, Lima, Anim, Pito, Walo, Siyam, Sampu and Labing-isa. For starters, they will be called as zero-degree which was referred to as probationary.

Belt rank is also gender-based for Filipinos. Men of different ranks will be called as “Lakan” (nobleman) followed by his level – Lakan Isa, while for women, they are termed as “dayang” (lady).

Arnis has been practiced worldwide already where different groups have been formed in different parts of the world. The famous organizations are the International Modern Arnis Federation (IMAF) and World Modern Arnis Alliance (MWAA).

Arnis is now popular in countries like Germany, Canada, and the United States.

Why Learning Martial Arts is Beneficial for Women

In society, women are regarded as the weaker sex. Women are feminine, shorter and lighter with lesser physical strength than men. Women are primary victims of crimes like theft and mugging, prone to attacks and are more vulnerable.

Because of these, you as a woman should learn how to defend yourself. It is not every day that your knight in shining armor will be there to save you. To protect yourself, you can buy yourself a pepper spray or taser.

You can also take extra precautions to prevent dangerous elements from harming you. Like automatically locking your car door as soon as you get in, this goes the same way when you arrive at your house. You can also ask a male friend that you trust to escort you to your car or house when it’s already late in the evening.

But if you want to take self-defense to a whole new level, you can also enroll in a martial arts class near your place. Research what schools are near, what discipline they teach, what type suits you best and start learning self-defense.

So to give you motivation on why you should start learning martial arts now, here are the reasons:

    1. Self-defense

Of course. That is precisely the number one reason you learn martial arts. Knowing that martial arts schools are dominated by men, you still choose to join because you need to get to defend yourself. Not by fighting back, but by making sure you know how to escape and free yourself from harm.

And what better way to test how efficient the techniques are but by having men in the class spar with you, to test your strength and skill against that of the stronger sex.

    2. Healthier body

Martial art is a physical activity. It requires you to make a lot of movements just like in sports or a gym. Because of the constant exercise, your body becomes healthier.

Martial art helps strengthen your heart muscles and improve heart rate. Physical activities like martial arts keep blood vessels open making blood regularly flow all throughout your body.

A weak body can lead to stress and fatigue, heart problems, illnesses and other problems. But with martial arts, you can counter all these and lead a healthier lifestyle.

    3. Better Posture

Martial arts activities help improve balance and flexibility. Constant steady movement helps align your backbone and stretches the muscles around it. Martial arts are beneficial to those career-oriented women who are living in a lifestyle where they are sitting most of their work time. Martial arts allow you to stretch your muscles, especially in the back and hip area. These are the parts of your body which require stretching and moving after a whole day of sitting behind your desk.

    4. Improve Core and Body Strength

Martial arts help tone your muscles and strengthen your core. Committing yourself to a martial art discipline will lead to increased agility and strength as well as boost energy levels and sharpens balance and reflexes.

With the exercises and movement you do in your martial art class, you are conditioning your core and muscles. This you cannot achieve if you are just sitting for eight hours and staring at your computer.

Here is a video of a female Muay Thai pro fighter during her training.

    5. Improve Emotional and Mental Health

Practicing martial arts improve mental alertness. This physical activity helps relieve frustration and stress, therefore, leading to emotional balance, focus and inner strength.

When you are physically active, your body releases endorphin similar that of morphine. Endorphin gives you a feeling of euphoria where you feel calm and relaxed. Having a secure feeling all the time gives you a happier and more positive outlook in life.

NUNCHAKU: THE PAST AND THE PRESENT

Have you ever watched one of Bruce Lee’s movies? If you did, you would surely know the legendary martial artist’s favorite choice of weapon; the nunchaku.

Nunchaku is made of two sticks connected by a short chain. This weapon, which originated in Okinawa, is not widely used in the past. It is deemed inefficient compared to other weapons such as swords and rifles. But during the Meiji Era in the late 1860’s, nobles stripped of their rights and privileges among them to carry weapons, saw no other choice but to improvise.

Many of them started to use sticks, hoes, oars and other objects that can be used as weapons. One of them started connecting two sticks with a rope and therefore, nunchaku was born.

Today, many countries have adapted and created their versions of nunchaku. China’s erjiegun, Europe’s combat flails, Korea’s ssangjulbong and Philippines’ tabak-toyok are some of the most popular ones.

There are different versions of nunchakus being sold today. Some nunchakus are made of wood, metal or even fiberglass. They are connected by a chain or rope. These nunchakus come in different sizes and designs.

Modern martial arts schools also use nunchaku as a tool for their students’ training. Although not used as a weapon, the use of nunchaku during training helps develop quicker hand movements and also improves posture.

Martial Arts for Kids

There are many activities that you can engage your children. There are team sports like basketball or football for boys and volleyball or cheerleading for girls. If your kids are not interested in playing with a team, there are also lots of individual sports that they can participate in. And one of them is martial arts.

martial arts help kids develop physically, mentally and emotionally.

martial arts help kids develop physically, mentally and emotionally.

Martial arts, like any other sport, help your kids become more active. While in their age, they are already active wherever they are, it is always a good idea to channel their unlimited energies into an activity where they can learn important life lessons.

 

Forms of Martial Arts

1. Kung Fu

This Chinese martial art is said to have originated in a Shaolin temple, where Chinese monks practice hands and feet movements for spiritual enlightenment. What most people don’t realize is that Kung Fu is a far wider discipline than other martial art forms. Kung Fu is the term for the combined martial arts in China such as the eagle claw, black tiger fist and many more.

2. Karate

One of the most popular martial arts discipline, Karate originated in Okinawa, Japan. This form of martial arts uses open hand techniques and a combination of elbow and knee strikes.

3. Judo

Another Japanese martial art, Judo is a rigorous activity that develops your kid’s physical and mental discipline. Judo teaches students to lift, throw, pin, control or overpower their opponents, forcing them into submission. Judo is internationally known as an Olympic sport.

4. Taekwondo

Developed by Korean martial artists between 1940s and 1950s, Taekwondo gives heavy emphasis on kicks. This martial art form is a combination of Korean martial arts gwonbeop, taekkyeon, subak and some foreign martial arts. Just like Judo, Taekwondo is also an official martial arts sport in the Olympics.

Here is a video  compilation of Competitive Taekwondo knockouts:

 

Martial Arts Belt Ranking

When your kids just started learning a martial arts discipline, they will be given a white belt. The instructors will then teach them a series of skills and techniques. Once they were able to deliver these well, they will move up a level higher and will be given the yellow belt. As your kids advance, they will be given a different belt, of which the black belt is the highest or expert level.

 

Benefits of Martial Arts for Kids

Aside from helping your kids become healthy and strong, there are many benefits your kids can get from taking martial arts classes.

1. Discipline

A martial art class always starts and ends with a bow between the students and the instructors. Even during sparring session, both students will bow at the beginning and end of the session. This practice helps children become disciplined. This trait is very useful in school and at home.

2. Concentration and focus

In martial arts, your child will learn punches, kicks, blocks and other defense techniques. When facing an opponent during your children’s class, they will concentrate hard so they will be able to read their opponent’s move and avoid direct hits. These exercises help your child build concentration and focus which are important factors in your child’s school performance.

3. Friendship

Instead of confining your children inside your home, enrolling them to any classes, including martial arts, will give them the opportunity to interact with other kids their age. If you have shy kids, this is a great way to develop their social skills and overcome their shyness.

4. Self-esteem and confidence

Seeing your kids getting excited about going to their next martial arts class show that they love what they are doing. When they love what they’re doing, they become better every time. When they get better at the martial arts discipline that they chose, especially when they get promoted from white belt to the next, they become more confident. And a boost of self-esteem will mean better performance in the classroom.

5. Spiritual and mental health

Enrolling your children in a martial art discipline will not only result to a sound body about also to a sound mind. Your kids will reap great benefits for having a good physical, mental and spiritual health. They will perform well in other aspects in life, particularly in academics. Your kids will also have a sharp mind and will not get easily fooled by people around them, especially strangers.