Who Is Ido Portal and What Was His Role in Conor McGregor’s Win Over Jose Aldo?

When Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo, a man who hasn’t lost a fight in over a decade, in just 13 seconds during the main event at UFC 196 on March 5, people also began to take notice of Ido Portal, the movement coach famously hired by The Notorious to help him prepare for the mixed martial arts competition.

Portal does not have any brazilian jiu jitsu belts nor a formal background in any of the typical mixed martial art disciplines like wrestling, boxing and kickboxing. He is however an expert at Capoeira, a traditional Brazilian martial art with combined elements of dance, acrobatics and music characterized by high-flying kicks and flashy spinning movements. In fact, he even taught Capoeira at a local university before he got called to Israel’s compulsory military service, something which he says forced him to change his perspective. He told the Daily Mail: “I had to get very physical to get ready for special operation tests and drills. It changed my physicality. Martial arts take a bit of weird angle after you do stuff in the military.”

Following his military stint, Portal segued away from Capoeira and founded his own “Movement Culture,”an entirely separate discipline that is focused entirely on the science of movement. He became a self-proclaimed “movement coach.”

Now, what does a movement coach do? In a talk with Chuck Mindenhall at MMA Fighting, Portal explained that his job entails rfining the gray areas between the strength requirements, the conditioning requirements and the technical requirements of martial arts training. He said: “The movement game takes the technical side, and takes the strength and conditioning side, and takes the mobility, and takes the pattern and the re-patterning work, and it blends everything together. So at times, I was taking some technical aspects of the game and tuning them up, working and refining that, and other times I was more of the strength and conditioning guy, and at other times I was the therapist, and at other times I was the nutritionist.”

“You [are] not a specialist, you [are] a generalist,” he continued. “[But] you see the big picture much better than anyone else in many ways. That requires a lot of study into a variety of fields. The movement teacher must be a martial artist. The movement teacher must be a dancer. The movement teacher must be a strength and conditioning coach. The movement teacher must be an acrobat. The movement teacher must be a therapist. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of study into these fields, learning to see the common things and to see the important things and to let go of the less important things.”

The preparations leading to the fight with Aldo was Portal’s first time to work with McGregor. He said The Notorious reached out to him after watching footage of his promos and seeing his interviews. He said he is hoping to work with Conor more in the future, but he admits that he has also been receiving an overwhelming amount of requests from other athletes following the spectacular conclusion to the Aldo-McGregor fight.

Portal is also reluctant to claim full credit McGregor’s win. He told Bloody Elbow: “It [his role] was about coming and supporting and putting full throttle behind it, although the amount of work we got to do was minimal for me. A week-and-a-half here, and another few days in Dublin and that’s nothing to blame or to really take credit for, yet. They are a small chain of decisions, decisions that must be made right. And I was a part of those decisions. What to take, when to do, what to do, what to not do. It’s a huge part, what to not do in training, in a session. Keeping them fresh, keeping them in tune, keeping the body very soft, which is very misunderstood.”

As for McGregor, he told Daily Mail that he believed that mixed martial arts techniques had already stagnated. He brought Portal on board in line with his long-held fascination with movement. He said: “I study all types of movement. I just like the way the body moves. I like looking at people who have complete freedom of movement and complete control of their frame. I feel it is to do with more than their body, I feel it is something in their mind as well. I’m fascinated by it so I study all forms of movement, animals because they are graceful and beautiful, I just enjoy movement as a whole. But anyone who is doing anything; I will analyse a man walking down the street to see how they carry themselves. I feel you can tell a lot about someone by the way they carry themselves so I try to move cleanly and efficiently.”

In another interview, this time with Esquire, McGregor talked some more about his fascination with movement. He said: “I learned a lot more about how important balance is, how important control of the body is. From the moment I open my eyes, I’m trying to free my body. I’m trying to get looser, more flexible, to gain control. Movement is medicine to me. We’re the only animal that wakes up and doesn’t stretch. Wake up and stretch. Start there.”

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Wushu Is Again Bidding for Inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games

Wushu will bid again for inclusion in the 2020 as well as in the 2024 Olympics according to the International Wushu Federation (IWUF).

“We have to undertake another bidding process,” IWUF executive vice president Anthony Goh said.

Wushu, commonly referred to as kung-fu, the collective term for the martial art practices which originated and developed in China, was initially already among the eight sports competing for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, the others being baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, and surfing. However, it missed out on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) shortlist of three, with wrestling edging out squash and baseball/softball in September for a place at the 2020 as well as at the 2024 Olympics.

Wushu could still feature at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, after the IOC overhauled a number of rules in a vote last December that would allow sports an easier avenue into future Olympics. Game organizers can now officially request the inclusion of one or more sports, with the IOC deciding which makes the cut. The decision on which sports will make the final cut would come before the Rio de Janeiro Games next year according to IOC Vice President John Coates.

Chinese kung-fu made its Olympic debut during the four-day Wushu Tournament Beijing 2008 at the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium. It was approved by the IOC, but not as a formal part of the Summer Olympic Games. About 128 athletes from 43 countries and regions participated in the wushu tournament.

Although wushu originated in China, there are now 145 countries that are members of the IWUF. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 100,000 people practicing wushu. According to Goh, “We need to develop regions where Wushu is less developed. We have to feature more often in multi-international games, like the African Games and the Pan American Games.”

In fact, through the efforts of the IWUF, wushu has recently been added to the official schedule of the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games. These multinational, multi-sport games, held every four years, host athletes from 57 Islamic countries spanning the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan, from May 12-22, and will feature 22 sports including wushu.

In competitive ‘Taolu’ events, wushu is performed using either compulsory or individual routines. Compulsory routines are those routines that have been already created for the athlete, resulting in each athlete performing basically the same set. Individual routines are routines that an athlete creates with the aid of his/her coach, while following certain rules for difficulty. Some wushu competitions also feature dual and group events. The dual event, which is choreographed beforehand, is an event in which there is some form of sparring with or without weapons or even using bare hands against weapons. The group event requires a group of people to perform together and smooth synchronization of actions are crucial. Usually, the group event also allows instrumental music to accompany the choreography during the performance.

The other major discipline of contemporary Chinese wushu is ‘Sanda,’ a modern fighting dicipline influenced by traditional Chinese Boxing, of which takedowns and throws along with striking using arms and legs are allowed. Chinese traditional wrestling like ‘Shuai Jiao and other Chinese grappling techniques such as Chin Na are also allowed in this combat aspect of wushu sport. In wushu tournaments, Sanda or fighting competitions are often held alongside Taolu or form competitions.

As with other mixed martial arts tournaments, for safety reasons, some offensive or defensive moves like elbow strikes, chokes, and joint locks, are not allowed during full-contact matches. Competitors can win by knockout or points which are earned by landing strikes to the body or head, throwing an opponent, or when competition is held on a raised platform, by pushing them off the platform. Fighters are only allowed to clinch for a few seconds. If the clinch is not broken by the fighters, and if neither succeeds in throwing his opponent within the time limit, the referee will break the clinch. In the U.S., competitions are held either in boxing rings or on the raised ‘lei tai’ platform. Amateur fighters are typically required to wear protective gear.

At the U.S. Wushu Center, students are taught following a programmed series of forms, using different colored kung fu belts to signify what forms students have learned. The belts don’t mean one student is superior to another in technique, only that a student has had instruction in and should be able to perform a specific set of forms. The belt colors used are White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Blue/White, Blue/Yellow, Red, Red/White, Red/Yellow, Brown, Brown/White, Brown/Yellow, and Black.

According to the U.S. Wushu Center, the following belt colors relate to the forms a student is studying and the approximate rate of progress of his study:

  • White:  Changquan (Northern Fist) – approx. 3 to 6 months
  • Yellow, Green:  Short Weapons – approx. 12 months
  • Blue, Blue/White, Blue/Yellow:  Long Weapons – approx. 12 to 18 months
  • Red, Red/White, Red/Yellow: Flexible & Double Weapons – approx. 12 to 18 months
  • Brown, Brown/White, Brown/Yellow: Nanquan (Southern Fist) & Compulsories for international training – 12 to 18 months
  • Black: Pursue competition level training – 4 to 5 years

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What’s Conor McGregor’s Martial Arts Background?

Conor McGregor, the 26-year-old reigning feather weight champion who also want to take Rafael Dos Anjos’ lightweight crown on March 5 at UFC 196, is an eclectic when it comes to the fighting arts. “I’ll train in any style,” he once told Steph Daniels of Bloody Elbow. “I always love to learn. I always look at everything. I spend all day looking at videos, or in the gym working on the things that I’ve seen. I started out doing some kickboxing and boxing, then a little Capoeira, Tae Kwon Do and Karate.”

“The human body can move in many ways, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” McGregor continued. “I’m looking for my body to move in all ways, to attack and defend. That’s translated into my fighting style. Looking back at the way I used to fight, and the way I fight now, it seems to always change, so I don’t know, I just keep trying to learn new shit.”

Indeed, from what’s already been written about The Notorious, McGregor apparently never had any formal training in any of the more traditional martial art forms. He had never put on an aikido gi, a judo gi, a kung fu gi nor any other fancy martial art uniform in his youth. While he did take some boxing and kickboxing classes, maybe some jiu-jitsu at the nearby neighborhood boxing club. it’s doubtful whether he managed to earn some brazilian jiu jitsu belts, krav maga belts nor any other official proof of completion of any other formal martial art training course ever. Instead, it seems he just spends a great deal of his time at the gym teaching himself to fight in as many fighting styles as he can.

Born to a mid-range working-class family, McGregor trained at the Straight Blast Gym in his native Ireland during his off-hours as a plumber’s assistant at a construction site. Every day, he worked 10 to 12 hours at the site, from where he’d proceed straight to the gym for training. On weekends, he fought across Ireland. After eight consecutive flashy wins in less than two years, Dana White finally took notice, came to Ireland and signed McGregor on for a match with Marcus Brimage on the UFC’s April 2013 show in Stockholm. The Notorious knocked Brimage out in just over a minute of his debut UFC fight.

In less than two years, after just five fights, McGregor had become one of the UFC’s biggest stars. His victory over Brimage was followed by his wins over Max Holloway, Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier, and Dennis Siver. On Dec. 12, he knocked out Jose Aldo in a bout that lasted all of13 seconds, making it the fastest finish in any UFC title fight ever. He is currently on a 15-fight win streak, 14 of which have not made it past the second round. He is now he is No. 3 in the official UFC pound-for-pound rankings. He’s also become one of UFC’s biggest money magnet. Even his weigh-ins are now filled to capacity events.

So what is it about McGregor that makes him such a big crowd drawer? Aside from having a genuine Irish gift of gab, he is quite fascinating to watch in his fights. Hs movement seems to mesmerize not just his opponents but also the watching crowd. Strange, even comical, his movements although always fluid are often unpredictable. And he is doing it deliberately. In fact, in his Bloody Elbow interview, he revealed: “To me, the most important thing is to be creative, to be spontaneous, to be fearless and to approach it without a plan. Approach the contest with no plan, with no set movement and just let it flow. Do shit that has not been done before, and trust me, I have shots that have not been shown before. I have shots in my book that have not been seen before, and I look forward to showing them.”

“I’m a martial artist, and I’m open to all styles of combat,” he declared. “If someone wants to wrestle, then let’s wrestle. Wherever the contest takes place, the contest takes place. I’m prepared for it all. I fear no man. If you breathe oxygen, I do not fear you. People think I’m just a stand-up guy, well that’s great. Let’s see, you know?”

McGregor is obsessed with movement. At the gym or at his parents house, he’d been seen doing bear crawls and swaying like a gorilla around by himself. After his fight with Holloway, which he won but wherein he got his ACL torn badly, he became even more focused on his movement and fluidity trainings. On fighting tactics, he told reporters, “If it doesn’t involve controlling the human body or manipulating it into a position where it is forced to submit, I don’t want to know. To be able to control someone with your own pressure and movements … that’s a science right there – to shut down another man’s body.”

Before his fight with Aldo for the UFC featherweight crown, McGregor famously hired globally renowned movement expert Ido Portal to help him prepare for the fight. Portal was an Israeli teacher of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art with combined elements of dance, acrobatics and music, before he segued and founded his own “Movement Culture,”an entirely separate discipline that is focused entirely on the science of movement.

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Can Ronda Rousey Rebound from Her Loss to Holm?

Previously undefeated after 12 professional mixed martial arts fights, Ronda Rousey famously got knocked out by Holly Holm at UFC 193 on Nov. 15 with a swift, solid kick to the face. Can she recover from that spectacular loss? She can and she will according to the retiring Kobe Bryant who’s now on his farewell season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In an interview with Mike Bohn of USA Today’s Sport, Bryant admitted reaching out to Rousey after the loss and telling her that “it’s a beautiful thing.” He said: “To be a true champion sometimes you have to get knocked down. It happens to the best of us. It happened with my Achilles (when I tore it), (Muhammad) Ali got put down several times – it happens to the best of us.”

“I think the true mark of a champion is how you get up from that,” added the Black Mamba. “If she goes through her entire career undefeated, she becomes this mythical figure that nobody can relate to. She got beat. We all get beat at some point or another in our lives. Now it’s a matter of how she bounces back from that. I think that’s what makes her a true champion.”

Current UFC feather weight champion Conor McGregor who”ll be challenging Rafael Dos Anjos’ lightweight crown on March 5 at UFC 196, previously also shared his own take on Rousey’s prospects at rebounding back from her loss to Holm. In a snap interview with X17 Online [according to Sports Joe], The Notorious said: “This is the fight business, things happen. Ronda will be back. True champions come back. Defeat is the secret ingredient to success. True champions can conquer that, overcome it and come back. So I wish her all the best and that’s it.”

Rousey is no stranger to life’s challenges. Born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, she nearly died from oxygen lack. She sustained slight brain damage which impeded her ability to speak until she was 6. As if that wasn’t enough, her beloved father Ron committed suicide when she was 8. Ron broke his back while sledding with his daughters. He committed suicide after learning that he would be a paraplegic for the rest of his life.

Ronda struggled in class and was homeschooled for parts of elementary and high school. Her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, persuaded her to learn judo to give her an outlet for her frustrations. Herself a  gold medal–winning judoka at the 1984 World Championships, she taught Ronda some fundamentals of the sport. She progressed quickly through her judo studies, eventually becoming a 4th degree black judo belt holder.

At 17, Rond became the youngest judoka in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. That same year, she also won a gold medal at the World Junior Judo Championships in Budapest. In 2006, she became the first U.S. female in almost 10 years to win an A-Level tournament, going 5-0 to clench the gold at the World Cup in Great Britain. At 19, she won the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships. She became the first U.S. athlete to win two Junior World Medals. In 2007, she added a silver at the World Judo Championships and a gold at the Pan American Games. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, she won the bronze medal, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s judo since it became an Olympic sport in 1992.

Following her stint at the 2008 Olympics, Ronda opted to hang her judo gi in the closet. She became a bartender to make ends meet. She lived at her car for a while. Eventually, after seeing a Gina Carano fight on TV by chance, she decided to join the Glendale Fighting Club in Los Angeles. She made her mixed martial arts debut as an amateur in 2010, winning her first fight by way of an armbar in just 23 seconds of the match up. Two more amateur bouts followed, both ending via armbar submission after 57 and 24 seconds, respectively. After turning pro in the sport, she continued her run of domination, reeling off four straight wins, all in under a minute matches. In March 2012, she defeated Miesha Tate in four minutes and 27 seconds, becoming the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion.

Ronda became the first woman to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest mixed martial arts league. She was designated Bantamweight Champion. She easily successfully defended her belt in the inaugural UFC women’s bout in February 2012, submitting Liz Carmouche via armbar in four minutes and 49 seconds. At that point, Ronda was her own best publicist, always taking it upon herself to go after and get attention to women’s sports. With her good looks, her brash personality and her penchant for talking tough, she became a cross over star. She was featured on a cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2012 Body Issue, and appeared as a guest on Conan O’Brien’s talk show. In 2013, she appeared in a sexy photo spread for Maxim. She also starred in the 2014 movie ‘The Expendables 3’ and the 2015 film ‘Furious 7.’

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What Differentiates Hapkido from Aikido?

Hapkido is a Korean while aikido is a Japanese martial art form, although the names of both of these disciplines are denoted by the same Chinese characters which literally means “the way of harmonious spirit” or “the way of unifying life energy.” This is so because both actually originated from the same source – the teachings of Sokaku Takeda on  “daito-ry? aiki-jujutsu,” a more ancient form of Japanese fighting techniques that make use of an opponent’s aggression and momentum of attack to his disadvantage. Takeda’s students included Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, and Choi Yong-sool, the founder of hapkido.

Ueshiba enriched the fighting discipline taught by Takeda by incorporating certain philosophical and spiritual elements into it based on his own mystical studies. He also added some elements of judo. He turned the “jutsu,” literally meaning skill or technique, into “do,” which is more akin to the Chinese concept of the “Tao.” Ueshiba’s aikido transformed a set of fighting techniques into a complete and integrated new way of looking at the world. Aikido as a distinct martial art form was developed during the 1940s, earlier than Hapkido by about a decade.

Choi returned to his native Korea following World War II. Back in his native land, he started teaching the fighting techniques he learned in Japan from Takeda. Eventually, he also incorporated other fighting techniques from other Japanese martial arts like judo and karate as well as from Korea’s own taekwondo and tang soo do. He called his discipline hapkido, with “hapki” being the literal Korean translation of the Japanese “aiki.” However, unlike Ueshiba, Choi was less concerned with philosophical and spiritual development than he was with finding and perfecting more efficient ways of striking, grappling and otherwise subduing opponents. Unlike Ueshiba who was aiming for a more unifying way of looking at things, Choi simply wants to give his students a collection of martial arts techiques they can use in real-life situations. After all, most of his early students in post-war Korea then were soldiers, police officers, bodyguards of politicians, and other people who fight for their living.

Like Israel’s Krav Maga, Korea’s hapkido evolved to become a truly eclectic martial arts discipline, adding new fighting techniques as often as needed. In fact, some would even say that hapkido was actually the world’s first, original mixed martial arts system. As presently practiced, hapkido does seek to be a fully comprehensive, contemporary fighting style. As such, it tries to avoid narrow specialization in any particular type of technique or range of fighting. It maintains a wide range of tactics for striking, standing joint locks, throwing, and pinning down opponents. It also incorporates tactics for ground fighting to evade or escape wrestling or submission grappling engagements done by opponents.

Hapkido’s emphasis  on teaching techniques rather than theoretical concepts and abstract philosophy can be seen in the curricular progression scheme for earning hapkido belts. For a 1st degree black belt for instance, a student must prove proficient in Single Kicks, Wrist Seize Defense, Clothing Seize Defense, Punch Defense, Kick Defense, Combination Kicks, Jumping Kicks, Throw Defense, Knife Defense, and Attacking Techniques / Taking the Initiative. To progress to 2nd degree black belt, he must show mastery over Advanced Wrist Grab Defense, Advanced Clothing Grab Defense, Advanced Punch Defense, Advanced Kick Defense, Choke Defense, Advanced Attacking ighting Techniques, and Staff Fighting Techniques. For a 4th degree black belt, he must demonstrate mastery at  Cane Fighting Techniques, Sword Fighting Techniques, and Defense Against Multiple Attackers. For 5th degree black belt, he must prove capable at Techniques Using Opponent’s Force, Rope Techniques, Knife Throwing Techniques, and Revival Techniques.

In aikido, students also get to learn fighting technics and tactics. However, proportionately greater time is spent on taking down lectures about concepts, philosophy, ethiquette and life principles. Typical subjects taught and discussed in an aikido class include Extending Your Mind, Knowing Your Partner’s Mind, Respecting Your Partner’s Ki, Putting Yourself In Your Partner’s Place, and Performing With Confidence. At least five minutes before and five minutes after each lesson, students are also typically made to do some hara breathing exercises in order to better ingrain in them the experience ki.

Despite the differences in empasis, both hapkido and aikido at their core train students to receive attacks with less resistance, moving the force of the attack away from the defender, redirecting it and using it against the attacker. This is a very different approach to most other traditional styles of fighting wherein attacks are usually opposed head-on with a counter-attack. In this manner, the hapkido or aikido defender also makes use of far less energy and force as compared with other martial arts styles. Often, as a result of a hapkido or aikido counter-move, an opponent will be.  put in a state of imbalance that will make him vulnerable to joint locks, take downs or body throws.

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The Most Recognizable Karate Uniform Brands

Karate uniform, or gi, is usually made of canvas. The most usual color is white, and often has no zippers and buttons. Its jacket is worn overlapped. It’s tied like a kimono, with its pants held up with canvas drawstring.

If you’re shopping for a karate uniform, then you might want to know some of the more popular manufacturers of karategi. These are:


This is perhaps the best known maker of high-end karategi in the world. It is also one of the oldest karate uniform manufacturers. It has been selling karategi for nearly six decades, with its headquarters in Japan.

Tokaido karategis are known for their quality and durability. The uniforms are hand cut and sewn from fabric. But because of its good reputation, Tokaido uniforms can be very expensive. For instance its tournament gis would cost you more than $200.


The rival of Tokaido when it comes to durable, quality and high-end gis is Shukeido. This company based in Okinawa, Japan retails duck canvas, heavy weight gis with a familiar pale blue color. Its gis are priced in the $200 to $300 range.


Tokon is called Kamikazi in Europe. It is an old, trusted German brand that should not be confused with the Kamikazi brand in the United States. Its tournament line is a bit wider and shorter compared with the traditional cut. It also has a line specifically designed for various stances like Wado-ryu and Shito-ryu. Prices are in the $150-$200 range.


One of the newest brands of karategi uniforms, Meijin has underarm gussets and waistbands that have cotton gauze designed to prevent bunching. It also offers split sizes, which allow karatekas to match a jacket to pants of another size. While it is not as popular nor as tested as Toko and Shureido, it is getting a lot of rave reviews. Its karategis are in the $100 to $200 price range.


Toyo is another Japanese brand like Shureido and Tokaido. Like the former, it is made of No.10 canvas. Its karategis are treated to resist shrinking, which is a common complaint that users have about all-cotton gi. It may not be as famous as Shureido and Tokaido, but it still is highly regarded for being durable and good quality.


This is a German brand that started out making tae kwon do uniforms before producing karategis. It has various karategis—traditional cut, kata, kumite, and premium gis. Most of its karategis are made of a characteristic brushed cootn that is crisp and soft against the skin. Its karategis for tournament wear are approved by the World Karate Foundation. Its gis are sold for around $100.


Century has middle weight and heavy weight gi. It makes use of a non-traditional yet comfy elastic waist on some of its karate uniforms. It also has cotton/polyester blend and split sizes.

However it should be pointed out that the jackets of Century gis are shorter than the traditional Japanese gis. These are also cut for Americans. Depending on the quality and features, the gis are priced in the $100 to $200 range.


Jukado International has the Juka and Dragon karategi lines. The former is the more expensive gi designed for advanced karatekas, while the Dragon is designed for the student gi. The Juka gi is available in 12 and 14 ounce brushed canvas, both traditional and tournament cuts.

The Juka gi sells for more than $100 while the Dragon karategi is less than $100.

The company also offers a gi cut for women called Juka Diamond.


This company isn’t really known in the United State but is quite popular in Europe. It has a very reasonably priced 100 percent cotton gi that weighs 12 ounces and designed for tournament use. The cut of the said gi is very similar to Toyo but the Mugen uniform is around a hundred dollars cheaper.


Arguably the most familiar brand in this list, Adidas isn’t really the best name for traditionalists. But the younger karatekas may not mind wearing an Adidas karategi at all.

Its Master Kumite gi is made of lightweight material consisting of 55 percent cotton and 45 percent polyester. It comes with an elastic waist and the familiar Adidas logo on the right chest. It may not be traditional but this gi has gotten the nod of the World Karate Federation.

While the brand of karategi can influence your shopping decision, you should also take into consideration other factors before buying a gi.

For one, you should get a karategi that is comfortable to wear. The size should be a bit loose as you will be doing a lot of movements. If you are to attend an event like an assessment then you can prioritize look over comfort. Still, buying a karategi of a good brand is recommended as it can assure you of good quality and reasonable price.

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Taking Care of Your Body and Mind Through Martial Arts

Exercising was never an important part of my life before. Just over a year ago, my focus was to finish my eight-hour work days on time, and then relax the whole weekend. I didn’t see the need to exercise since I am not overweight and I have an ‘okay’ eating habit.

It is not until my mind had become restless and my body ached for movement that I considered exerting my muscles through exercising. My job at that time was not strenuous. I only had to sit at my desk, answer emails, and create documents. For some reason however, I developed shoulder pains and lower back aches.

I also noticed that I was becoming listless. Not a lot of things were interesting anymore. Relaxing through watching movies, reading novels, and getting weekly massages were not as appealing as before. At first I refused to accept that I may have the need for exercise because I dreaded physical activities. Taking a long walk while travelling was all that I could consider.

Our bodies speak to us. And as much as I wanted to deny myself, at the back of my mind I knew what I needed to do. I thought of hitting the gym or at least go for regular runs. Checking out alternatives, I saw the possibility of learning a martial art. It looked interesting in films and television, and it is something that I have never tried before.

I didn’t let myself have second thoughts because my body was already screaming with the urgency to move. And after the initial pains of kick-boxing and the nausea-inducing moves of jiu jitsu, I came to appreciate the benefits of martial arts, not only in the physical aspect, but also in the way it improved my mental health.

Bruce Lee, the famous actor and martial arts icon, once said that this art is an expression and communication of emotions.

Developed through centuries of practice and improvements, it is known that martial arts provide the practitioners with benefits in the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental levels. As the person’s physical health is improved with stamina, strength, movement coordination, and flexibility, the person’s mental well-being is also boosted. The practitioner achieves better self-control, self-esteem, and emotional stability. It is due to this reason that different martial arts schools focus on the therapeutic aspects of their trainings.

Let us take a look at the benefits we can gain from martial arts training:

Weight loss and total body work out

In martial arts, we use every muscle group in our body while training. We hone our muscle tone, flexibility, stamina, strength, and balance. As we get our muscles moving and as our working out becomes more intense, we also burn big amounts of calories and excess fats.

Maintaining the right weight is essential for a healthy lifestyle. We move easier and we don’t get tired right away. We not only improve our reflexes while training, it also becomes apparent in performing our daily activities.

Furthermore, through martial arts, we increase our cardiovascular health by getting into activities that stress the heart and promote better blood circulation in our bodies.

Muscle development

We can’t deny that one of the main reasons we work out is because we want to look good. Men want to have wider shoulders and bigger chests to fit those tight shirts. Women want to have smaller waists to emphasize the curves of their body.

Since we exercise all of our body parts during a martial arts training, we develop a well-toned body. The training distribution is equal that we would not have to worry about developing a heavy upper-body, while having skinny legs, for example.

Increased mental health

Studies show that people who participate in regular exercise are able to improve their moods. By performing a martial art, like tai chi, jiu jitsu or judo or karate, we are able to relieve frustration and stress. And in turn, we become happier people.

In my case, training in jiu jitsu and Muay Thai clears my mind. It becomes a time when worries of the daily life fail bother me. By concentrating on movements and techniques and inner peace, my mind clears the webs that threaten to fill myself with doubts.

The great thing about martial arts are the levels we can achieve by practicing them. We can opt not to simply aim for a better body and mind, but we can undergo the belt tests or the ranking system. By trying to attain higher belts, we are giving ourselves a chance to becoming better individuals.

We will be able to gain new skills as our instructors, coaches, and masters feed us with a wealth of knowledge. They will make sure that we are ready to take on the higher steps of personal development.

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Martial Arts as a Method for Spiritual Wellness

Have you ever wondered why martial arts masters always look calm and collected? They are the picture of serenity in the face of adversity. Challenges may come, but it is hard to imagine for the masters not to overcome them.

The reason is because, as a martial arts practitioner move from one level to another, he doesn’t simply learn new skill sets to improve his movements and strengths. He is also beginning to understand the energy flow of his body and his surroundings. He becomes one with forces of life.

The practice of certain martial arts can be connected to health, spirituality and religion. A variety of systems have been developed, practiced, and spread by monks and nuns. Martial arts that are inspired by the philosophies of Hindu-Buddhism also incorporate meditation as part of their training.

In Japanese-style martial arts, in the school of aikido for example, there are recurring concepts such as a beginner’s mind and an empty mind. With the non-physical aspect of the training, they focus on the flow of one’s energy and fostering peace. These qualities are heavily influenced by the philosophies of Mahayana Buddhism.

Another example can be found in Korean martial arts. They give importance to the practitioner’s philosophical and spiritual development. Inner peace is a regular theme to practitioners of taekwondo and taekkyeon. Inner peace is said to be achieved through training and meditation.

Breathing techniques and relaxation techniques are believed to foster calmness and self-conscience that benefit the practitioner in the spiritual, psychological, and physical levels. Tai Chi is a classic example of a martial art that benefits the practitioner in terms of health and defense training. Three aspects are involved with the study of tai chi: martial art, meditation, and health.

In martial art, the practitioner’s understanding of this art is seen through his ability to use tai chi in combat as a form of self-defense. He can do this through responding to the changes in his environment, and being able to yield from the incoming attacks,

Tai chi as a practice of meditation that concentrates on calmness and focus. Tai chi also promotes health training by concentrating on relieving the person’s mind and body of the stress he experienced.

Our next question is: can we achieve a higher level of spiritual wellness through martial arts?

It is only by going up the level system of the art can we achieve this goal. Let us take a look at the belt ranking system of judo to show how it affects our physical and spiritual wellness. Note that in many martial arts, the color of the belt indicates the practitioner’s skill level.

White Belt

This belt is possessed by a practitioner with little or no prior experience in the art. The student is taught to escape attacks and defend himself from assaults. This color signifies the beginning of the person’s life cycle, like a seed lying underneath the snow in winter.

Yellow Belt

Once the student has learned the basic moves, he is then awarded with the yellow belt. This color signifies the sun shining down on new life, giving him strength, opening his mind, and pouring him knowledge.

Orange Belt

After the yellow level, the student goes up to the orange level, where his techniques are focused on physical conditioning. It represents the sun becoming warmer, getting stronger, and preparing the practitioner for growth in spring.

Green Belt

Green belters are required to obtain expertise in practiced judo moves, refining and strengthening his techniques. This color signifies the growing of the seed and becoming a plant.

Blue Belt

The blue belt is presented to the student after he masters the requirements of the green stage. In this level, he is provided more knowledge in the art of judo in order for his mind and body to continue to grow. Blue represents the sky that the plant is trying to reach.

Purple Belt

The practitioner moves to this belt after mastering the blue belt successfully. In this level, he begins to understand the meaning and the purpose of the black belt through strong expertise in body balance and mental control. This color represents dawn.

Brown Belt

In this level, the practitioner is coming to realize the fruits of his work. It is represented by the ripening of the seed.

Red Belt

Within this level, the practitioner learns to become more thoughtful with his physical abilities and knowledge because of the danger this color represents. This color signifies the heat of the sun, red and hot, and ready to burn.

Black Belt

A master of the art, the black belter begins to have students of his own. He is someone who had dug his roots deep into the martial art, and is someone who will continue to grow. This color signifies the darkness behind the sun.

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Learning the Martial Arts Ranking System

When I began taking martial arts classes, I thought it was simply a way for me to be physically fit. What I didn’t realize was that this simple step of signing up for a class was a step that leads towards mastering the techniques, with belts to prove them.

At first, we studied Muay Thai. How to land a proper kick and how to throw punches. How to move away from your opponent’s hook and how to dance away from his striking legs. After a few days, we studied something new: Jiu-Jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu became the class favorite because of the variety of exercises and techniques we that were not familiar with. We were amazed with how holds and chokes could make our opponents tap in defeat, and how we could take advantage of certain body pressure points to ensure our win. Rolling, throwing, mounting, guarding, and choking became a part of our training routine.

In terms of complexity, I thought Jiu-Jitsu was more difficult than Muay Thai due of the moves that we had to be familiar with. With Jiu-Jitsu, it isn’t enough that you’re fast and strong, you have to have the right grip to keep the other player from escaping. You also have to have a clear mind to remember breakout techniques in case you are the one being held down.

Once we knew the basics, we were introduced to Gi—the uniform we were to use during training. It consists of a jacket, a loose pair of pants, and a belt. The Gi offers a different set of methods in bringing your competitor down, because now, you’d have the opportunity to use the parts of his clothes against him. The perfect hold on the lapel or sleeve or belt could render your opponent defenseless.

What came next was the introduction of belts, or what I want to call ‘leveling up’. I didn’t expect Jiu-Jitsu to have belts similar to those in Karate, Taekwondo, or Judo. I thought that with Jiu-Jitsu, you’d only have to quality for a certain weight division and then fight. So, what does a belt mean to a martial artist?

The belt signifies the ranking system of a martial art. The level of a martial artist’s abilities is reflected in the color or design of the belt he wears. The person responsible for originating this ranking system was Dr. Jigoro Kano, known as the Founder of Modern Judo.

His belting system was later adapted by Karate, Taekwondo, and Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, among others. Note that the awarding criteria may be different for each art, and that the country where the martial art is being practiced could also influence the design and color of the belt.

To give us a better idea, let’s take a quick look at the Judo belt colors, and learn more about the Jiu-Jitsu belt colors.


Judo is a martial art and an Olympics sport that originated in Japan. It’s most distinguished move is the takedown, where the opponent is thrown to the ground and subdued. These are the belt colors in Judo, from the most basic level to the master level: white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red, and black. Within the black belt, there is another ranking level, from the 1st Dan, to the grandmaster level or the 8th Dan.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art adapted from Judo. It became an art of its own through different practices and experiments by the Brazilian brothers and martial artists, Carlos and Hélio Gracie. These are the belt colors in in Jiu-Jitsu:

  • White – This is the first belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Basic moves such as guard passes, submissions, and escapes are emphasized here.
  • Blue – A blue-belt student learns an extensive technical knowledge, focusing on implementing moves with efficiency.
  • Purple – A purple belter is expected to have already gained an expansive knowledge that he can be considered to instruct students with lower levels.
  • Brown – This belt is one of the highest-ranking belts in Jiu-Jitsu. Refining the techniques is the focus in this stage
  • Black – Having a black belt means having one of the highest levels of expertise in this art.
  • Red/Black – To have this belt means you are a master of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Red/White – This is a step higher from the red/black belt.
  • Red – A red belt practitioner is considered a grandmaster, whose fame and influence brings him to the highest point of Jiu-Jitsu.

What distinguishes the Jiu-Jitsu belts more are the stripes. The stripes are awarded to practitioners to recognize their skills and progress within a level. It serves to distinguish one practitioner from another in a similar rank. For example, you have two black belters, but one has four stripes, while the other has two. In IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation), once you achieve four stripes, you may be considered for the next belt promotion.

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Be Fit Through Martial Arts

Each of us has his own reason for learning martial arts. We see it in media as a form of entertainment, mostly during sports competitions or highlights of action scenes in films and television.

Martial arts are forms of fighting that date back to 3,000 BC. Relics of the past show different martial arts practices mostly in Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. Much like today, they have been used in the olden times for combat, combat sport, self defense, physical fitness, choreography, and even meditation.

In my case, I learned martial arts because I wanted to live a healthy lifestyle. Sitting at my desk for more than eight hours a day, five days a week, leaves me feeling tired even during weekends. My practice for the last several years was to rest it all out on Saturdays and Sundays. But as I was getting old, I realized I needed to do something more.

I needed to exercise. Rest and massages couldn’t take my stress away anymore. I needed to move and to sweat the tensions away.

I tried jogging and going to the gym a few years ago, but I doubted that I would want to do them again. Because unfortunately, I get bored after some time. What I needed was something special, and this is why martial arts caught my attention.

Martial arts presented a way for me to be physically fit without the routine of lifting weights or doing bench presses or calf exercises. I discovered that the gym near our place offers training on Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu. My suggestion however, is to choose the best martial arts for you to keep yourself interested in training.

I have learned three things so far. First, the warm-up was intense. A newbie might feel overwhelmed and even nauseous afterwards. I stopped wondering why martial artists are in excellent shape and why their muscles evenly proportioned. From the start of the training, they test the endurance of all parts of the body, from head to toe.

Second, it helps to learn a variety of fighting techniques. Even though I only originally signed up for Muay Thai, I discovered that in terms of self defense, it may not be the best in certain situations. The fighting range may be too close and you would need to throw your opponent instead of trying to land him kicks and punches. Jiu-Jitsu didn’t sound too bad after all so I signed up for it as well.

Third, fighting using Jiu-Jitsu is easier if you use the clothes of your opponents against them. Your foe might be bigger and stronger, but if you use the right technique, it would not be impossible for you to disable and choke him. This is true for combat sports and something than can be definitely applied in real situations.

Before we train Jiu-Jitsu, our coach would determine if we will be having a ‘Gi’ or a ‘No-Gi’ training. With No-Gi, we can wear street clothes. I would usually wear a pair of shorts and a dry-fit shirt. If we were going to have a Gi training, then I would have to bring my uniform.

What is a Gi? Gi is the clothing used in the martial arts competitions we see on television. It consists of a jacket, a belt made of cloth, and loose-fitting pants. The ones we used were quite heavy and may need some getting used to.

So far, I enjoy training more with Gi. I have two reasons. One, it protects my arms and legs during the warm-up and during the actual training. In the warm-up stage, we would have to do different kinds of crawling, on our front and on our back.

We lay rubber matting on the floor before training, but they can still be abrasive to the skin and can ruin your clothes over time. The garment used to make Gi is quite strong and is perfect when moving on the floor.

My second reason is that Gi opens up a variety of techniques for me to defeat my opponent. In a No-Gi fight, for example, I would have to put one arm around my opponent’s neck, while my other hand pulls his arm down. With this technique, you can lift and push him to the ground.

With the use of Gi however, I could exert a little less effort because instead of wrapping my arm around his neck, I could grab his collar instead. I would have to catch the underside of his jacket sleeve, and with proper lifting, I could bring him down in a beat.

With Gi, your grasp also becomes stronger since you hold on to the coarse sleeves, instead of trying secure the other person’s sweaty neck, arms, or legs. However, remember to learn the correct grip because the cloth can skin your fingers.

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