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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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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Helpful Tips When Shopping for Karate Uniform

Martial arts uniforms are a quintessential part of a student or practitioner’s training apparel. The uniform, also known as gi, is usually available in white. However it may also come in other colors. While there are variations in the colors of various martial arts styles, almost all of them are designed to be durable, flexible, and lightweight.

If you’re about to join a karate class, one of the first things you will have to invest in is the uniform.

The karate uniform is called karategi. It is usually made of canvas, and designed to be lightweight and uniform. It is developed from the Judo uniform or judogi which is more fitted and a lot heavier.

It is generally white cotton with a cross over jacket. The upper uniform is called uwagi ad forms a v-neck shaped when it is closed. It matches with the white pants called ‘shibataki’ or ‘zubon.’ Then the uniform is topped by a belt or obi which corresponds to the grading rank of the practitioner.

Shopping Tips

When shopping for the upper uniform, see to it that there is enough room to rotate the arms, twist the waist, and throw a punch. The jacket must be long enough to pass the waist. There must also be enough jacket skirt material hanging under the belt, thus preventing the jacket from becoming un-tucked over the belt when you perform standard movements like kicks and takedowns.

The sleeve cuffs should finish before the wrists, and not too long to pass over the hands. The left side of the uwagi must be on top of the right side of the jacket, so that its front left lapel would run from the top left to the bottom right.

The white pants or zubon should be designed to allow a lot of leg movement, because you’ll be doing a lot of kicks and diverse stances. You’d like to have pants that have a wider cut and with extra material under the groin area. Correct fitting pants won’t cause restrictions around the groin area when you kick.

The bottom of the pants must just be above the feet. In fact some people want them shorter because this would ensure them that they won’t trip on their pants, or catch any part of the foot inside them. The standard measurement of the bottom of the pants is three to five inches smaller than leg length.

Since you’re a beginner, you will start with a white belt. The belt should be long enough for you to wrap it around your waist twice. It should also hang down at the front end, just near the bottom of the jacket. A belt hanging too far down can get in the way of a kick or takedown.

Material Weight, Cut and Quality

Cotton and polyester are the two main materials used for karategi.

Cotton is the more preferred material although it is also more expensive. One advantage of cotton karategi over polyester karategi is that it more durable. It is also lighter, hence, more comfortable than those made of polyester. It is not uncommon for newbies to use polyester karategi as it is more affordable than cotton.

You’d also have to look at the weight of the karategi. Lightweight karate uniforms are between six to eight ounces, and often worn by children and beginners. The material can be a little thin, which offsets the fact that the material’s weight is good for agility.

Middleweight or light heavy weight uniforms are from 10 to 12 ounces. These are more durable than the lightweight ones and more often used by intermediate students. Even advanced students wear them, especially those who like a slightly lighter type of karategi.

Heavy weight uniforms are from 14 to 16 ounces, made from heavy drill cotton or double weave cotton. These are appropriate for advanced students, and are more durable than the other types.

Karetegi Cuts

There are four cuts of karategi—Japanese, European, Kata, and Kumite. The Japanese cut has sorter sleeves and pants but a longer jacket. The Kata is almost the same, although a bit exaggerated. The European and Kumite are the polar opposites, with longer sleeves and pants.

The Kata is often used for sparring, while the Kumite are for competition. The latter’s cuts are also altered depending on the personal preference of the user. Since it is used for competition, Kumite is a lot lighter than the Kata gis.

When purchasing a karate uniform, try it on first so that you can determine whether or not it is a good fit. If you are purchasing online, take your measurements and refer to the online sizing chart.

Bear in mind that your first karate uniform will likely not be your last, so you aren’t really pressured to spend a lot of money. Since you’re just a beginner, you’d rather buy a uniform that is appropriate with your level.

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Krav Maga: Is It Just a Fad Or Is It Here to Stay?

More and more people in the U.S. have been seen signing up for Krav Maga courses recently. Famous Hollywood A-listers that are now known Krav Maga practitioners include Tom Cruise, Jason Statham and Daniel Craig as well as Hillary Swank, Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. So, is it a new fad or does it have something for real to offer?

What It Is and What It Is Good For

Krav Maga is an integrated tactical mixed martial art/combative and self-defense system that was first developed for use by the Israeli Defense Forces. When the progenitor of the system, Imi Lichtenfeld, retired from military service, he developed a version that is more suitable for civilians. He opened the first Krav Maga school in 1971. Soon other schools followed. Krav Maga also started to spread fast beyond the borders of Israel.

Krav Maga, which literally means “contact combat,” is an amalgamation of the most effective techniques of boxing, aikido, judo, wrestling, jujitsu, kickboxing, and street fighting into one fluid, fighting military discipline that stresses continuous motion, simultaneous defense and offense, and focusing attacks on an assailant’s most vulnerable points like his eyes, neck or throat, face, foot, fingers and groin. Being a hybrid system, Krav Maga shares many similar striking and grappling techniques with the other more traditional forms of martial arts. What differentiates it from these other fighting disciplines though is its approach to the mindset, tactics training methodology.

Most traditional martial arts involve practicing certain prescribed “katas” or rituals, observing certain traditions, and abiding by certain sporting rules and point-scoring systems. Krav Maga’s main, if not sole, concern is to neutralize an immediate threat as quickly as possible. Since your aim here is to dominate and incapacitate an attacker as soon as possible, you do whatever you have to do to in order to gain the upper hand. When your life is on the line, you don’t worry that you’d be called for a “foul” when you gauge out the eyes or you of bite off the ears of your attacker.

Krav Maga was also designed to be learned quickly. Even a military-grade Krav Maga instructor course just takes five weeks to complete. It was meant to be kept as simple as possible so that it could be put to use as soon as possible. In Krav Maga, there aren’t any choreographed katas or movement patterns to learn and memorize, only battle-tested strikes, holds, and blocks that have been proven effective in real-life dangerous situations and that can be properly executed within split seconds.

Basic Tactics

Krav Maga encourages students to be constantly aware of their surroundings while dealing with a threat in order to spot potential additional attackers, to look for possible escape routes, and to be ready to pick up any object that can be used as a weapon of opportunity to defend and for offense. It teaches them how to improvise and use any object at their disposal as a weapon, including keys, pens, belts, and chairs, to neutralize opponents as quickly as possible.

Another basic tactical move is to always go for the attacker’s vulnerable soft tissue and pressure points. Many counterattack strikes involve eye gouging, groin attacks, and strikes to the throat. In addition to the strikes, Krav Maga teaches a number of subduing techniques like joint-locks and choke-holds that will allow you to exert control over your attacker and put you in a position to end the threat quickly.

While many martial arts treat defensive and offensive moves as separate and discrete actions, Krav Maga techniques combine every defensive move with a simultaneously executed offensive attack. For example, if an attacker goes for your throat, you’d not only try to deflect his attack, but also simultaneously counter with a strike to his eyes, throat or groin. Krav Maga trains and conditions students to execute defensive and offensive movements in one continuous motion instinctively.


While the Krav Maga techniques are by themselves simple and easy to keep in mind, the ability to execute them properly from instinct alone rather from some memorized pattern has to be ingrained deeply in the students through intensive conditioning training. Your body has to be finely tuned so that it becomes a living lethal weapon. Practitioners are given rigorous drills where they have to execute the techniques from a position of disadvantage. They will be trained how to use simultaneous defensive and offensive movements under mental duress and physical fatigue. There are given exercises that are meant to get the students surprised, disorientated and exhausted that simulate the conditions typically present in real-life dangerous confrontations. During these drills, they can practice the techniques under stress. After all, in real life, no right-thinking bad guy will wait for you to get in your favorite fighting stance before attacking.

Because of the hard physical workout and the full contact practice drills, almost all Krav Maga schools require their students to come with protective gear – hand wraps, groin guard, mouth guard, boxing gloves, grappling gloves, head-guard with grill, forearm guards and Muay Thai shin guards.

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Aikido Training for Japan’s Police?

In Japan, the birthplace of many of today’s martial arts, Aikido is uniquely the one officially chosen for instruction to the elite Tokyo Metropolitan Riot Police and Secret Police. In fact, those in the riot police and special service units are required to have at least a ‘shodan’ or beginning black belt degree in Yoshinkan Aikido (a ‘hard’ style of aikido) if they want to advance further in their careers as police officers.

Aikido, unlike other martial arts, is extremely flexible. It can be applied at varying levels of severity from the most gentle controlling techniques to the most debilitating, even lethal counter-measures. It is therefore ideal for practical use in a wide range of law enforcement situations. A training in Aikido will prepare police officers to defend themselves and those they vow to serve and protect should the need arise. Aside from the fighting and defensive techniques, the Aikido training will also help them become more physically and mentally fit for the job.

With regular Aikido practice, police officers develop the necessary ability to remain calm, comfortable, unflappable and focused in the face of any crisis they may encounter on the ground. In contrast with the more aggressive martial arts like Karate and Krav Maga, the stance and movements used in Aikido are relaxed and welcoming. Rather than opposing an attacker with force, blocks or strikes, an Aikido practitioner learns to enter and blend with the motion of the attack, redirecting the force and using the attacker’s own momentum in order to gain advantage.

Basic Stance and Movements

Most schools of Aikido use the shapes of the triangle, the circle and the square to illustrate the basic teachings of the art. For instance, the core in Aikido is represented by a circle since the power in a movement comes from circular motion around a stable, energized center. The triangle on the other hand represents the triangular posture predominant in the Aikido stance, as in the triangulation of the arms to the body’s center of gravity and the hips as well as in the basic “triangular offline avoidance” movement. Finally, the square represents solidity of stance, or the principle of “weight-underside” or “being grounded.”

“Hanmi,” the ideal stance for stability, has the feet in a close triangle. A practitioner in this stance can execute proper movements at remarkable speed and stability while appearing completely relaxed. The alignment of the hips and the circular arcs of movement allow for the generation of significant power, much like the winding and uncoiling of a spring.

Properly executed from a correct stance, Aikido moves can be at once graceful and effective.  Attacks seem to deflect themselves and attackers are thrown with what appears to be the most minimal of effort. However, not all of Aikido’s power may be explained by the leverage that comes with the stance nor from the bio-mechanical efficiency of circular movements. The Japanese, like most Asian cultures, believe that there is a “ki” or life-force that can be experienced, cultivated, and directed.

Harnessing the “Ki” in Aikido

In Aikido, students are taught early on to develop a feel for ki, or the life-force energy, through a progression series of exercises that usually starts, continues and ends with proper breathing and relaxation techniques. Students are taught to be aware of their ki while executing the pushing and extending movements that are integral to the Aikido drills. Some practitioners describe experiencing ki as the “feeling of perfect timing and coincidental breathing” while in the process of executing an Aikido move. Over time and with regular practice, the experience of ki energy becomes so palpably real and available to the practitioner that little to no muscular resistance is required blend with the attack or to perform a technique.

“Irimi” or Entering with Right Timing

“Irimi” in Aikido is the act of entering deeply around or behind an attack to defuse or neutralize that attack. Here students are taught to blend with the attack by becoming one with the opponent’s movement and leaving the opponent with nowhere to strike. This movement is executed starting with stepping straight in the direction of the attack then fluidly moving out of the way and into the opponent’s blind spot. When executed properly, one can strike an opponent with great force using his own momentum. Irimi redirects the opponent’s movement in an arcing or circular way so that the force of the attack can be diffused or used as counter-strike with minimum effort. To get a feel of how to enter with right timing, students are taught early on how to look with “soft eyes,” that is to use their peripheral vision detect movements in their surroundings, much like basketball players and other athletes do when in a live playing field.

Learning to Listen with the Body

Aside from having “soft eyes,” an Aikido practitioner also learns to use his entire body, especially his “hara” or guts, to feel, scan or scope his surroundings. Being able to listen with the body will come over time and with regular Aikido practice, especially with “randori” or defending against multiple attackers. Needless to say, this is a useful skill to have for a police officer who’s on crowd control duty or who has to deal with a mob situation on the streets.

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The Importance of a Strong Core in Martial Arts

Many novice martial arts practitioners don’t realize the need to strengthen their abdominal muscles. Perhaps they’re too engrossed in learning the basics of martial arts like kicking, striking, and poking. That’s fine, but strengthening the core can help any martial art practitioner in the long run.

One reason is that we don’t really use the abdominal muscles on a day to day basis. These muscles aren’t utilized regularly as say, the muscles on our arms and legs, which are harnessed regularly because we have to walk, run, and pick things up.

Strengthening the core muscles can improve one’s stability and balance which are important in the martial arts. For instance, you need to have a good balance in taekwondo as most of the kicks involving having one foot off the ground.

Also, core muscles like the obliques add power to punches and kicks. A punch begins with a push from the leg, with the force moving through the body, shoulders, arms then to the fist. Now if you have a weak core, the punch loses some of the force that the legs generated. On the other hand, having strong obliques would add to the power.

Another reason why you should aim to have a strong core is that it can protect your organs from damage, particularly the abdominal muscles.

Indeed, having a strong core can go a long way towards making you a very good martial arts practitioner. That said, here are some of the abdominal exercises that you should perform on a regular basis:

1. Crunches

To do the standard crunch, begin by lying on your back with the feet on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands on the top of the thighs. Take a deep breath and contract your abs. Then lift your shoulders off the floor as you breathe out.

Once your hands reach the knees, stay in position for a second or two to allow you to “crunch” the abs. After you have breath out all the air, lower your shoulders to the floor and then breathe in. Repeat.

You can make things harder and more challenging by putting your hands behind your head. You can also hold at the top for a bit longer, like 10 seconds or more. Or you can hold a weight plate on your chest.

As much as possible, don’t take breaks in between the crunches. You should not aim to have as many crunches as possible. Remember that it should be about quality and not quantity. It’s better to have a set of 10 good crunches than 100 bad crunches.

2. Hanging Leg Raises

One of the most powerful core exercises, hanging leg raise not only train the abs but strengthen other muscle groups like the back, arms, shoulders and even the legs.

To do this exercise, you need a pull up bar. You should also have enough arm strength to hang from the pull up bar. Start the exercise by hanging from the high bar with a shoulder width overhand grip. Keep your knees straight as you raise your legs by flexing the hips. Once the knees are well above your hips, return to the original position.

Repeat this eight to 10 times for one set.

In doing this exercise, you should engage your abs muscles and not the legs. Hence you should get your power from the core and not cheat your way by getting force from your legs.

3. Plank

This exercise is a good warm-up for both the crunches and hanging leg raises. To do this, start by lying face down on the floor, and your elbows by your body. Your hands should be parallel to your face.

Bend your elbows about 90 degrees, resting your body weight on your forearms. The elbows must be directly beneath the shoulders, with your body forming a straight line from the head to the feet. Hold the position for at least two minutes.

You can make it harder by having someone put a weight plate on your back. You can also lift one arm or one leg off the floor while keeping your shoulders flat.

These are just three of the exercises that you can do to develop a stronger core. There are other core exercises that you can try like hanging knee raises, alternate arm and leg raises and rollouts.

Remember that you have to listen to your body. If it aches too much after an intense core training, then you have to rest as you have likely pushed your body to the limit. You must also see to it that other parts of the body like the back or legs don’t hurt when you do the aforementioned exercises. If it does then you’re probably doing the core exercises wrong.

You should also maintain a good diet, one that is rich in protein, to be able to have a strong core.

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The Best Martial Arts for Self Defense

We live in a very dangerous world. Crime is rampant anywhere you go, and it would not be a stretch of the imagination to say the chance of you getting attacked in the street is higher than 20 years ago.

As such, a lot of people are thinking of ways to protect themselves. Products like stun guns have become very popular especially among women. Some resort to buying and carrying firearms. Others beef up their knowledge of self-defense by taking up a martial art.

If you’re one of those people who want to know how to protect yourself in the case of an attack, which martial art should you take up? Here are five martial arts that you should consider:

1. Krav Maga

This martial arts style was developed particularly for Israeli policemen, to help them during high pressure situations. It is a tactical mixed martial art that combines techniques of boxing, aikido, judo, and jujitsu.

In Krav Maga, the primary goal of the practitioner is to neutralize the threat as fast as possible. Because of that goal, you don’t have to worry about your fighting etiquette nor be concerned about your form.

In Krav Maga, you are tasked to do anything to preserve your life. As such, there are no patterns in Krav Maga. You’ll have to learn how to block, hold, and strike your opponent.

Other martial arts treat defensive and offensive moves as separate movements. For instance, you’ll have to block a punch first before you can make your counterattack. Things are different in Krav Maga, as the martial art teaches its practitioners how to transition a defensive move into a counterattack. Hence you’ll be taught how to deflect an attack and simultaneously strike your opponent by going for a part of his body like the eyes.

2. Japanese Jujitsu

Since most fights would have you on the ground, you’ll find Japanese jujitsu very helpful. This martial art will teach you how to disarm an opponent. You can apply techniques like leg locks or calf crush, forcing your opponent to let you go and giving you time to flee or call the police.

Jujitsu will also teach you how to incapacitate your opponent. For instance, a triangle choke combines neck crank, choke, and arm bar. It may also be enough for you to finish off your opponent when you pull off this move.

Or you can also suffocate your opponent to death by squeezing his throat, or the arteries on the sides of his neck to prevent the blood from flowing to his brain. This technique may also kill your opponent.

3. Muay Thai

This Thai martial art is also a good discipline to get into if you’re concerned about self defense. In Muay Thai, you’ll learn how to block a punch, or change the direction of the strike so that your opponent would miss his target. You will also be taught how to move your body out of the way (avoidance) or move it out of an opponent’s range of strike, giving you the chance to counterattack.

Muay Thai also teaches disruptive techniques like low roundhouse kick and jabs, pre-empting an attack of your opponent. You will also learn how to anticipate a strike, like catching a roundhouse kick and countering before it lands to a part of your body.

4. Karate

Karate’s focus on footwork makes it a great martial art for self defense as well. In this style, you’ll be able to move into range, strike your opponent, and move out of harm’s way in a few seconds. It also helps that karate teaches powerful strikes that you can use to incapacitate an aggressor. Karate is also a great martial art for self defense because you can use its moves to take on multiple opponents.

Of course, most fights would have you go to the ground which would put you at a disadvantage if you only know karate moves. So you need to have some level of distance from your opponent.

5. Judo

In judo, the aim is to utilize the strength of your opponent against him. As such, you don’t have to be strong to be able to pull off judo moves.

There are numerous judo moves that would help you resist an attacker. Hip techniques or koshi-waza would enable you to make an opponent lose his balance. Some hip techniques you can put to good use are large hip throw and sweeping hip throw. You can also learn joint locks to grasp your opponent’s joint and bend in the opposite direction to make him virtually helpless.

As you can see, martial arts can help you defend yourself against any aggressor. So what are you waiting for? Look for a martial arts school specializing in any of the styles mentioned earlier, study the basics, train hard, and equip yourself with the know-how to repel an attack.

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Tips for Karate Sparring

They say that practice makes perfect. The same is true in karate, as you would need to practice what you’ve learned as a karate student. And one way to do so would be to spar.

Karate sparring, or kumite, is one of the three sections of karate training. The others are called kata (form) and kihon (basics). In kumite, you’ll train against an opponent using the techniques you’ve learned from the two other sections of karate training.

In sparring, you’ll need to wear the following gear—karate training uniform, gloves, shin pads, groin protector, and mouthguard. If you’re a woman, you also have to wear a breast protector.

So how do you make the most out of a karate sparring? Here are some tips that should come in handy the next time you spar.

1. Relax

Keep yourself composed throughout the sparring. Remember that this is only a simulation of the real thing. This is not the actual competition that you foresee yourself getting involved in the future. The more relaxed and calm you are, the more likely that you will be able to execute the techniques that you’ve been trying to master.

It’s not a bad idea to keep telling to yourself to ‘relax’ during a sparring session. Repeat the word ‘relax’ at least in your mind while you are sparring. This should help you maintain your composure.

Keeping yourself relax will also affect your movements, as loose muscles are faster than tensed muscles. Of course, you can argue that it can be very difficult to relax when a black belter is trying to hit you. But over time, you’ll be able to learn how to maintain your composure even in the midst of difficult situations.

2. Be Active

Although a sparring is just a stimulation of a competition, it doesn’t mean you should not give your all. Be as active as possible. Don’t thrown just one strike; instead, use combination of shots. Don’t get frustrated if your opponent is able to avoid your strikes, as you are keeping him in the defensive.

You should also maintain good footwork, which gives power to your punches. Good footwork also gives range to your kicks.

3. Breathe

Manu novice fighters usually run out of gas when sparring because they forget to breathe in all the excitement. Breathe naturally while sparring, exhaling forcefully when you strike.

As your instructor may have taught you, always breathe through the nose instead of the mouth. Breathing through the nose delivers oxygen more efficiently to the body.

4. Take Videos

You can ask your friend or family member to take videos of yourself while sparring. This is one great way for you to assess your techniques, and determine how you can improve yourself. By taking videos and watching the clips later on, you’ll be able to see your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know where you stand and what you need to do to take the next level, so to speak.

5. Keep a Training Diary

Keeping a training diary should not only keep track of your progress, but also make you more motivated. Instead of comparing yourself with your opponents, you can write in the training diary the improvements you have had every sparring session. Eventually, you’ll realize how much you have improved ever since you started karate.

You can also write your training goals in the diary. Having goals like improving your techniques or to break wood with a spear hand would help you improve quickly. It can also keep you focused, shutting out some of the stresses brought about by dealing with an opponent.

6. Don’t Apologize

Most novice karate students have this habit of apologizing whenever they strike an opponent. If you’re one of them, it only shows that you have a mental block that you need to overcome. Apologizing has no place in martial arts, especially in competitions. After all, your opponent has padding that would protect certain body parts.

The point is, do your best to let go of the habit of apologizing every now and then, and just focus on the task at hand.

7. Realize You’ll Get Hit

Getting hit is part of martial arts sparring, and you’ll eventually get one no matter how hard you try to improve on your defense. Don’t flinch away when you get hit. Just keep on fighting. You’ll realize that this is the fastest way to learn.

Once the sparring session is over, don’t hesitate to talk to your instructor and ask about your mistakes so you would know which facets of your techniques you should improve on the next time. Karate instructors love dealing with inquisitive students as it shows them that their apprentices are very eager to learn.

These are just seven tips that can help you when you are sparring.

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Top Reasons To Learn Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu has gotten a lot of mileage as of late thanks to the exploits of numerous UFC fighters like B.J. Penn, you have to admit that it is not yet as popular as other martial arts like karate and judo. This is not surprising because BJJ is relatively new compared to other martial arts. But there are lots of reasons why you would want to learn this sport.

One of the appeals of BJJ is that it is designed for everyone. You don’t really have to be strong and big to be able to apply the movements of this martial art. So if you have been thinking about learning BJJ, here are reasons to push through with your plans:

1. Learn Self Defense

Perhaps the biggest motivation to learn BJJ is for self-defense. The martial art, after all, was designed to enable smaller and walker people to defend themselves against bigger and stronger opponents. This feature of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the same reason why Royce Gracie dominated the UFC competitions in the early 90s, as he was able to handle bigger and stronger opponents despite weighing just 170 pounds.

Just imagine the possibilities when you know Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You no longer have to feel worried when you’re walking in the middle of the night, or you’re stuck with some drunken guy on the train.

You may argue that you can always hit an attacker, but what if the attacker is a lot bigger than you? Or what if you hit the guy too hard that the police tag you for a crime like serious physical injury?

With BJJ, you’ll learn how to neutralize a threat without hitting the attacker in the face, or breaking his arm, or hurting him. Simply put, you can defend yourself against any attack without hurting another guy and putting yourself in a legal mess.

2. It Keeps You In Shape

You don’t need to run for miles or lift heavy weights to keep yourself in shape. By training for BJJ, you can maintain your ideal weight or even better, lose some unwanted pounds.

In fact, you can burn more calories when you engage in a light BJJ training than doing aerobics or engaging in light yoga. A light Brazilian jiu-jitsu training can burn as much as 3.25 calories per pound of body weight per hour, while an intense session can burn as much as 4.87 calories per pound of body weight every hour.

Engaging in an intense session of BJJ can make you burn more calories than doing a boxing sparring session, jogging, and swimming at moderate pace. The explanation behind this is that you’ll be utilizing every part of your body in a BJJ training, so you can get a complete work out.

It’s not a coincidence that many guys who studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu have lost a lot of weight since they took up the martial art. Some guys even report losing as much as 70 pounds in just three months of BJJ training.

3. It Can Help You Manage Stress

If you’re always stressed out because of work or family problems, there’s no better way to take out all your frustrations than engaging in a martial art like Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In fact, a lot of BJJ practitioners see their academies or schools as an outlet to release all their pent-up frustrations.

With BJJ, you can get rid of that excess rage. And once you are on the mat, you can focus on your opponent and how to escape his move, and countering it with another move. And since you’ll be sweating out a lot after a BJJ training, you’ll feel reinvigorated enough for you to forget the stressors you had dealt with the entire day. 

4. It Helps Improve Your Focus and Mental Prowess

On the surface, Brazilian jiu-jitsu may seem like a physical activity. But it requires as much mental activity because you’ll have to learn a technique, and practice it over and over again. When your instructor is teaching you a technique, you have to pay close attention so as not to miss an important detail which could spell the difference between completing the move and getting beaten by your opponent.

And when you are on the mat against an opponent, you’ll have to think a lot about how you are going to counter his move. There’s a lot of thinking involved in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, more than what casual observers think.

5. It Teaches Discipline and Patience

You can’t be successful in BJJ if you are not disciplined. You must have the discipline to execute a lock or hit your opponent at the right moment. Timing and rhythm are more important than strength and force in BJJ. Patience is also important in BJJ, as you would have to rehearse a move over and over again.

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