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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The Top 5 Countries for Martial Arts Training

One sport that has gained newfound popularity is the MMA or the Mixed Martial Arts competition. The MMA was initially endorsed as a competition with the intent of discovering the martial art that’s most effective in real, hand-to-hand combat situations.

A martial art is a form of combat practice used in entertainment, competitions, physical fitness, and mental and spiritual development. It is also promoted as a self-defense method. Most martial arts have a ranking system, from beginner level to grandmaster level. The rank is shown through the color of the martial artist’s belt; the color or style of the belt changes as he goes up the rank. This system was made popular by Kan? Jigor?, the Father of Judo.

The excitement brought about by MMA superstars are akin to the heyday of the wrestling era, a couple of decades back. With the popularity of MMA, more and more people became interested in learning martial arts.

They are curious how these martial artists become so versed with their moves. They get curious about the environments where these athletes grew up and honed their skills. With fun movies like Kung Fu Panda and Karate Kid, we could imagine trainings happening on temples of mountains, with grandmasters specializing in powerful fighting techniques.

In no particular order, let us list the top 5 countries that produced the most popular martial arts of today.


If we think about a country related to martial arts, China is foremost in our mind. Not surprising since martial arts is an element in most of their movies, especially the ones packed in action and adventure.

Over the centuries, different fighting styles have been developed in this country. These styles often belong to a family, school, or sect of martial arts. The physical exercises are inspired by legends, religions, and Chinese philosophy. There are styles that focus on the internal, which is a person’s energy flow or life force; other styles focus on the external, which involves cardiovascular fitness and improving muscle functions.

Two of the popular fighting arts in China are the Shaolin Kung Fu and Wushu. The participation of Shaolin in combat was attested during a time when the Shaolin monks had to defend their monastery against bandits, and their succeeding role at the Battle of Hulao. Wushu, on the other hand, was developed in the mid-20th century. It has two disciplines: forms and sparring.


This country is the home of Judo, Karate, and Aikido, along with hundreds of martial arts schools, and thousands of martial arts styles. The history of Japanese martial arts can be found during the time of the caste system and the samurai, as they restricted the use of weapons in the society.

One of the main schools of Martial arts in Japan is kory?. Kory? is considered a traditional form of martial arts, and its main purpose was to be used in war. Some sports under kory? are sumo, jujutsu, and kenjutsu.


Korean martial arts started as a practice in the military. Over time, the fighting methods were adapted by the populace for recreation and personal growth. Among the most popular Korean martial arts are taekwondo, hapkido, ssireum, and taekkyon.

Taekwondo currently holds the title of the most successful Korean martial art. It is said to be practiced by more than 70 million people around the world. It is also one of the major events in the World University Games, the Commonwealth Games, and the Olympics.

Like most martial arts, colored belts are presented to students to show their progress in the art, with the goal gearing towards the black belt. Every belt signifies a level of skill or set of skills.


Two of the most popular martial arts that originated from this country are the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Capoeira.  

The concept promoted by BJJ is that a smaller and weaker person could defend himself against a bigger and stronger opponent, with the use of the proper technique and leverage. This can be done by being able to take the fight to the ground, and being able to apply chokeholds and joint-locks to subdue the assailant.

On the other hand, Capoeira has a combination of music, acrobatics, and dance. This form of martial art was influenced by Brazilians descended from their West African ancestors. It is popularized by its complex moves showing speed, power, and kicks and spins.


Israel is the home of Krav Maga, the military-developed, self-defense method. Krav Maga is a combination of judo, aikido, wrestling, and boxing. It gives importance to fighting in real-world situations.

Developed in the mid-20th century by Imi Lichtenfeld, Krav Maga emphasizes neutralization of threats, immediate offense and defense movements, as well as aggression towards the enmy. Different variations of Krav Maga are taught in many countries, and have been adopted and developed by intelligence and law enforcement organizations.

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Kung Fu Is Still The Best Martial Art

It is not a surprise that kung fu is fading away today. This is because of the surfacing of many martial art disciplines that are more appealing to the younger generation. The mixed martial arts or MMA is leading the way in today’s world of combat sports. And while there is no doubt that this is more entertaining to watch, kung fu remains to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to significance and holistic appeal. What makes kung fu still one of the best even today?

Kung Fu Produced Great Army Generals

Kung Fu is not just a martial art but a way of life and this way of life has made great leaders in China’s history especially in the military. Yuan Zhong, Chi Ji Guang, and Yuan Zhong are some of the few military greats in China that came from the school of Kung Fu. This historical truth also revealed one more important legacy of Kung Fu. It bred empire founders, leaders who are considered pioneers in the Kumintang rule and later in the establishment of the Communist government.

The ability and motivation to build great empires is rooted in the Kung Fu tradition of overthrowing oppressive governments and replacing it with a good one. Kung Fu teaches something more than fighting but also discipline that transcends into action. As history would have it, these actions gave way to great victories in battles and the establishment of China’s most important national leadership eras.

Kung Fu Has The Largest Group of Masters

Kung Fu simply had the most significant impact on Chinese culture and history as it was able to raise the most numbers of masters and trained a greater number of students in the Kung Fu discipline. This legacy is however not limited in China as many masters were able to spread Kung Fu throughout the world.

The greatest masters of Kung Fu that ever lived include Wang Tze Ping, Ku Ru Zhang, Wong Fei Hoong, and Huo Yuan Jia. These masters were all proponents of the fighting arts of Kung Fu and were able to win against foreign masters of other countries who came to China to test what Kung Fu is really made of. The foreign masters came from all over the world like Europe, Japan, and Russia. All of these masters failed to defeat the Kung Fu masters of China proving yet again the superiority of this martial art.

This exemplary record of Kung Fu paved the way for today’s respect of the same. It does not matter where a Kung Fu master is from, the truth stands that in the annals of Chinese history, Kung Fu was proven to be the best and is still the best until today because Kung Fu is yet to be defeated by other martial art disciplines.

Kung Fu Enriches The Lives of its Practitioners

All martial arts have philosophical backgrounds and this holds the key to its transformational value to the one who practices it. Kung Fu is above other martial arts when it comes to this aspect. The Kung Fu masters and their students are great fighters, but they have mastered well the need to seek out diplomacy and seeking a more peaceful course of action.

The form of many existing martial arts today like Karate, Taekwondo, Aikido, wrestling, western boxing, judo and many others can also be found in Kung Fu. This underlines the fact that Kung Fu is ahead and well advanced than all the other disciplines of combat sports.

The power of Kung Fu is also quite unique and proven to be really above other martial arts. For one Kung Fu masters are quite strong and even limitless in so many ways. The power of Kung Fu is never dependent on one’s age or size but in its innate empowering elements. What is really amazing about it is that Kung Fu is not just used for hurting people but also in healing them. These dual qualities allow Kung Fu to be regarded much more in the martial arts community.

Kung Fu is not just about fighting or defense but also tending to injuries. This requires a more holistic approach, a comprehensive coverage of needed skills that address the physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual needs of Kung Fu practitioners. This makes it more enriching not just to the one who is engaged with it but also the people around who gets touched by the power of Kung Fu.

Kung Fu is Defined by the Training of its Practitioner

Kung Fu students are not just to learn fighting techniques. They are instructed with the same passion and intensity to being courteous and considerate with the others. It teaches courage and righteousness, ability to assess problems and situations with calm and clarity of thought. Students of Kung Fu are also taught to be sold out to their daily duties and responsibilities, doing it with enthusiasm at all times. Kung Fu teaches love for life thus it is well known to be a peace-seeking discipline.

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Hapkido And The US Military: The Motivations Behind The Integration

The martial art that originally came from Korea have come a long way today and now its combat application is lauded by the world’s biggest and most experienced combat forces in the world – the US military. The reason why Hapkido won the US military over is its solid approach to rendering the enemy in the battlefield little chance of resistance and if necessary, survival.

Hapkido is a martial art known for pressure point techniques, throws, kicking and punching, and even grappling. It also works with weapons such as knives and sticks making it handy in combat zones that are becoming more intimate between enemies like in the case of CQB. But there are some very important reasons why the armed forces of the Unites States choose Hapkido as a feasible martial arts discipline for its soldiers.

Hapkido is Not a Traditional Martial Art

There is nothing wrong about “traditional” martial arts. There will be no existing and viable martial art without the tradition component of each. Hapkido is the same, but the combat version of this martial art is not as fanatical about form, posture, stance, and movement. It goes directly to the usable components of the discipline in the context of today’s battlefield. It goes away from the convention of the rules of engagement of the past and even the very kind of war fought today.

Hapkido is an evolved art that is fitted to accompany the modern warrior. This is why the US military is attracted to it. There is no classical stances and positions anymore just the combative core of Hapkido. The joint locks are kept the same but the approach is changed – like how to employ it in tight spaces and how to effectively apply it with the gear a modern soldier has in a typical combat mission. This kind of contextualization allows hapkido to be welcomed to the US military and should also be the reason why people should start knowing more about it for self defense.

Hapkido and Individual Combat

There is a lot of individual combat out in the battlefield today especially those American soldiers are fighting in right now. The battle situation has changed tremendously over the years. Soldiers today are not battling it out in remote jungles and secluded and uninhabited stretches of desert but in the middle of urban areas. Battles are waged in buildings and houses complimented with missions that include neighborhood patrols, house to house weapon seizures, and even clearing of residential complexes from armed enemies that can easily blend in with the civilian population

This kind of war demands some specific skills that do not use guns even though soldiers today are carrying more powerful and efficient firearms than in the past. Their better weapons cannot give them protection at all times especially when they are inside a house where innocent women and children are also inside. Sometimes the enemy can jump on the soldier from behind or come in fast in their faces, so close and too quickly that discharging their weapon is impossible. Hapkido can help soldiers have enough skills to subdue an enemy with their bare hands, perhaps throw them off, or hit them efficiently to subdue them quickly without risking innocent lives by pulling a trigger in very tight spaces.

Furthermore in war it is almost inevitable that a solider finds himself alone. Perhaps he is separated from his unit, or that his patrol team got ambushed or tripped on a land mine. A soldier can easily find himself operating on his own in hostile territory and there will be instances where hand to hand combat is not just an option but a necessity. Hapkido is a martial art that provides the needed skill to neutralize enemies in a very practical manner. No more traditional spinning kicks or space consuming movements – just simplified techniques that are quick, effective, and efficient.

What Hapkido is Teaching the US Military?

There are specific skills that hapkido are imparting to US soldiers. One of which is teaching them to make use of their hands to make sure attackers do not easily grab their weapons. Attackers from nowhere would likely do this to make sure that the soldier cannot use it against them. Hapkido is also teaching soldiers to better use their knives and to defend themselves from bladed weapons in confined spaces.

Trapping techniques are some of the most hammered-in skills of hapkido. This allows soldiers to deal with knife attacks. Hapkido is also teaching soldiers to always hit the head first to render the attacker blind and rattled. This will enable him to control the fight early. Hapkido also teaches low-line kicking, joint locks, and the application of pressure points. The combination of these things provides the American soldier enough skills to survive and thrive in the modern battleground.

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The Most Common Martial Arts Weapons

One common misconception about martial arts is that those who practice it rely only on their physical attributes, and the use of their body parts like hands and feet to ward off their opponents.

On the contrary, martial arts practitioners especially in the olden times used weapons such as swords. In Asia, martial arts weapons were created as early as the 15th century most of which were assembled in China. Through the years, martial arts weapons have had this mystique as legends and folklore suggested that those who use these items were guided by spirits.

Martial arts weapons can be grouped into two: bladed and non-bladed. A bladed weapon has a sharpened edge for slicing, cutting, and slashing, or a sharp point for stabbing and thrusting. Some of the weapons that are in this group are spears, daggers, knives, swords, and clubs.

On the other hand, non-bladed weapons are those used to stun, club, or bludgeon an opponent. The most popular blunt weapon may have to be the staff, or bo and stick.

That said, here are some of the more common martial arts weapons:

1. Sword

The sword may have evolved from the dagger during the Bronze Age period, when construction of longer blades became possible. In Asia, Chinese steel swords were said to have been used at the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty which was around 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. It was not widely used in the country, however, until the Han Dynasty or around the 3rd century B.C.

The Japanese are also known for the use of swords. Of course, you may have heard of the katana or the samurai sword. This is a curved and singled edged blade with a long grip that allows users to hold it using two hands.

The Japanese also have different types of swords. They call a straight sword Chokuto, which was produced prior to the start of the 10th century. They also have a two edged sword called Tsurugi, and a long, big and curved sword called tachi which was in vogue during the 13th century.

2. Sai

The sai looks like a small sword but unlike the latter, it is versatile as it can be valuable for its offensive and defensive capabilities. A kobudo karate weapon, it can be used to disarm an armed attacker, or beat him using a variety of offensive strikes. It can also be a show weapon that is used in many martial arts demos around the world.

3. Staff

The staff is also another popular weapon among martial arts practitioners because of its long range striking capability. It can also beautifully spin during demonstrations. Legend has it that the bo staff, which was used in feudal Japan, was not designed to be a weapon. It was originally intended for balancing baskets of harvested crops, as well as milk or fish. But since it was so common, martial artists eventually found another use for it– as a weapon.

4. Nunchaku

The nunchaku is another traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon. It consists of two sticks that are connected by a short chain or rope. It was first used by Okinawan royalty. It was not really popular at first because it was relatively ineffective when ranged against other weapons at that time like the samurai sword, aside from the few techniques that can maximize its use.

In modern times, the weapon became popular thanks to Bruce Lee, widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of all time. Lee popularized the use of the nunchaku in his movies. His student, another actor named Dan Inosanto also used this weapon in some of the flicks he made.

A contemporary nunchaku can be made from wood, plastic, metal, or fiber glass.

5. Fighting Fans

It’s very likely you are familiar with fighting fans, as these weapons have been extensively featured in martial arts movies. Fighting fans are well used in martial arts like Kung Fu because these can be utilized to surprise an opponent. These weapons are made of either wood or metal, and often have beautiful designs that are intended to distract an unsuspecting victim.

In Japanese martial arts, these fans are called Tessen. In fact, many martial arts assassins disguise themselves as geisha by using fans. They then surprise their enemies by using tessen.

Bamboo kung fu fighting fans are also used for demonstrations because of their light weight and flexibility. The heavier steel fan, meanwhile, is more of an offensive weapon and can be used for striking. It can even be utilized to deflect weapons.

6. Eskrima Sticks

Eskrima is a martial art that is popular in the Philippines and similar to sword fighting. The weapon of choice in this martial art is the eskrima stick, which is available in many styles and weights. These sticks are durable and flexible, made from lightweight wood like rattan and waxwood.

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Top Seven Martial Arts Movies You Should See

Unless you’re a hardcore movie fan or you’re from a country where martial arts flicks are shown on free television every weekend, there’s a remote chance you’re not even familiar with some of the martial arts movies in this list.

But don’t worry. There’s also a very low chance you won’t be entertained in watching a martial arts flick. Martial arts films are fast-paced, with unique fight scenes that are breath-taking, to say the least. Karate chops and roundhouse kicks are staples in these movies, and the fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed most of the time.

That said, here are some of the martial arts movies you should see:

1. Enter the Dragon (1973)

This is the final film appearance of Bruce Lee, hands down the most influential martial arts figure of all time. Largely set in Hong Kong, it was the first Chinese martial arts film produced by a major Hollywood studio (Warner Bros.).

Aside from being considered by many as the greatest martial arts film of all time, it is also deemed ‘culturally significant’ in the United States that it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

While the plot isn’t the most compelling, what you’d see here is the late Lee fighting off an army of evil-doers. Just the sight of the great Bruce Lee doing his thing one last time makes this movie a must-watch.

2. Drunken Master II (1994)

Starring the only guy who can probably match up with Lee’s appeal, Jackie Chan portrays Chinese folk hero Huang Fei-hung who is an expert in the Hung Gar style of Chinese martial arts. It is the sequel of the 1978 film that made Chan a household name.

In this movie, Chan battles a group of traitors who smuggle Chinese historical artifacts. A highlight of the flick is his fight with Ken Lo in an abandoned warehouse, and a final showdown with Liu Chia-liang under a train.

How good is this movie? Well, it was just named by the prestigious Time Magazine as one of its 100 best films of all-time.

3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

This Ang Lee masterpiece is the highest grossing foreign language film in US history. Aside from grossing more than $200 million, it is also critically-acclaimed having won more than 40 awards. It was also nominated for six other Academy Awards including Best Picture.

The film stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat, and also introduced Zhang Ziyi who would star in several movies later on. It was so popular that it opened the flood gates for other martial art flicks like House of Flying Daggers and Hero which were shown later in the decade.

4. Iron Monkey (1993)

While it is not as successful as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Iron Monkey is very entertaining to say the least. Iron Monkey is the alter ego of a physician named Yang Tianchun who runs a clinic in the day and dresses in black at night to rob the rich and help the poor. And Donnie Yen, the lead star of the film, shows a lot of moves that would simply have your jaw drop in awe.

Interestingly the fight scenes were choreographed by the same team who worked on the films Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix.

5. Police Story (1985)

This may be an old movie but it’s worth spending two hours of your life. This movie starring Jackie Chan is about a police officer who goes undercover to clear his name after he was framed by drug barons.

Again, the plot isn’t Oscar Award-worthy but you’re not seeing a martial arts flick because of the story, right? In this movie, you’ll see a lot of stunts from Chan, considered as the greatest stunts guy in the world during his prime. What’s more impressive is the Chan did all the stunts without a body double, which made the flick even more entertaining and intriguing.

6. Ong Bak (2003)

Starring Tony Jaa, this is the first martial arts movie that focuses on Muay Thai, the Thai martial art. Again, the plot isn’t really intriguing—a humble peasant goes after a group of thieves who stole a village’s Buddha head. In the process, he crushes everyone with his bare hands.

Still, you’ll love the fight scenes. The moves are fast paced and exciting, and no punches were pulled.

7. Swordsman II (1992)

This flick starred Jet Li. To date, it remains as the most successful Jet Li starred-movie in China.

This movie was directed by Ching Siu-tung who paid homage to the old Chinese swordplay featuring meticulously choreographed fight scenes. It is what you’d expect from an old-school martial arts flick, with acrobatics defying the laws of gravity, and the typical good vs. evil fight.

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The Top Five Reasons to Learn Muay Thai

Unless you’re from Thailand, it is highly unlikely that you are leaning towards learning Muay Thai. Admittedly, this form of martial art is not as popular as the other prominent types like Aikido, Kung Fu, and Karate. But it is also hard to deny that a growing number of martial arts enthusiasts are picking up the discipline.

Also known as Thai boxing, Muay Thai is the national sport of the Southeast Asian nation. It was developed centuries ago as a close-combat form, utilizing the entire body as a defense.

To the uninitiated, Muay Thai utilizes attacks using various parts of the body like the knees, feet, elbows, and fists. Strikes can be made from close, mid, or low range. Muay Thai also involves grappling, although unlike in Brazilian jiu jitsu, grappling maneuvers are used for setting up elbow and knee strikes, or throwing the opponent to the ground.

As you can see, Muay Tai requires its practitioners to be athletic and in top shape. As such, you need to be healthy, agile, and strong to be successful in this martial art form.

Today, Muay Thai’s popularity has grown tremendously thanks to the number of UFC fighters who practice it. Some of the more notable names in the MMA world who are known to be great at Muay Thai are Anderson Silva, Brandon Vera and Alistair Overeem.

Aside from joining the bandwagon, why should you devote your time and effort in learning Muay Thai? Here are five reasons why you should consider learning this Thai martial art form:

1. It Provides a Complete Training Workout

Muay Thai is both aerobic and anaerobic in nature, so you can build up your cardiovascular endurance and muscle mass by engaging in this sport.

There’s one study that looked into the energy demand during a Muay Thai competition. The study’s findings show how physically exhausting a Muay Thai fight can be.

Researchers looked into the aerobic energy expenditure and anaerobic metabolism of 10 male athletes during a Muay Thai match. They were asked to wear a portable gas analyzer which provided info on carbon dioxide production, heart rate, and oxygen uptake.

The findings showed that heart rate and oxygen uptake during a Muay Thai match were always above anaerobic threshold level, with carbon dioxide production increasing all throughout the match.

2. It Improves Leg Strength

There’s a lot of kicking involved in Muay Thai. The roundhouse kick is one movement that is distinctive to this martial art form. Performing roundhouse kicks can strengthen the muscles of the lower body, and improve leg strength.

Moreover, Muay Thai can improve your footwork. Rehearsing the various kicks and footwork drills can make you more agile, aside from enhancing your agility and muscle endurance.

3. It Improves Core Strength

Most of the movements in Muay Thai like defending, clinching and striking are rotational in nature, which can help in strengthening and developing core strength. Getting punched in the bread basket can also help in strengthening the core.

A strong core is important in Muay Thai as it is the foundation of balance, coordination, stability, posture, speed and agility. You’d also be needing a strong core to defend yourself against strikes to your midsection.

4. It Increases Hip Mobility

Over time, the kicking and kneeing movements you would do in Muay Thai would increase your hip mobility. Hip mobility not only increases athletic performance but also prevent lower back pain or injury.

Having good flexibility in the hips would allow you to more efficiently perform movements, like kicking. Hip flexibility or mobility is also great if you practice other sports like swimming, as you can make stronger kicks or athletics, as you can jump over hurdles more easily.

5. It’s A Great Stress Reliever

Muay Thai can be a great stress reliever, especially for professionals who are always stressed out from the pressures of work. The martial art can be a nice outlet, working wonders for both mental and physical health. And wouldn’t it be tempting to pour out all you emotions brought about by stressors like mounting bills or office politics on your Muay Thai opponent?

As you can see, Muay Thai is an ideal martial art form to get hooked into. It can be a very effective way of working out, as it would require you to use almost all your body parts. As an aerobic exercise, it can help you get fit and lose weight. As an anaerobic exercise, Muay Thai can make you improve your strength, power and even build muscles. Its movements would also help you improve your leg strength, hip mobility, and core strength.

Moreover Muay Thai can be a great way to relieve some stress that you get on a daily basis. So what are you waiting for? Enroll in a Muay Thai class now and start reaping these great Muay Thai benefits.

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Seven of the Most Recognizable Martial Artists of All-Time

Martial arts has been around for the longest time. If we are to base it on archaeological findings, then we can say that martial arts has been used by man as early as 3400 B.C., when the ancient Egyptians depicted some form of struggle on jars and other artifacts. There have also been drawings and sketches in Mesopotamia and China showing humans in combat using either a sword, stick, or bow.

Admittedly, however, most people only learned of martial arts after seeing a martial arts movie or watching a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. Although purists may frown at the suggestion that much of martial arts’ popularity can be credited to Bruce Lee, the statement does hold some truth.

That said, here is a listing of the top seven martial artists of all time who have contributed to the popularity of the combat sport.

1. Bruce Lee

Without a doubt the most influential martial artist of all time is the action star and filmmaker Bruce Lee, a Chinese-American who rose to prominence in the 60s and 70s until his untimely death on July 20, 1973.

A pop culture icon of the 20th century, Lee is credited for singlehandedly putting martial arts in the map through his movies. In fact, you can ask anyone on the street on who Lee is, and chances are high you’ll get a response associating him with karate and other martial art forms.

2. Yip Man

Although his claim to fame would definitely have to be the teacher of Bruce Lee, Yip Man has his valuable contributions to martial arts. He schooled some of the best martial artists of the 20th century like Lee and a host of other Chinese figures. There have been several movies and TV series that touched on his life and his legacy to martial arts.

3. Jackie Chan

Perhaps the only man who is closest to touching the legacy of Bruce Lee would have to be Jackie Chan, himself a decorated action star and martial artists. In fact, if we are to base it on longevity and the number of films made alone, Chan would best Lee by a mile. The still active Chan has been acting in martial arts movies since the 60s and has appeared in more than 150 movies.

Chan is a cultural icon himself, having successfully mixed comedic timing with his martial arts moves. There isn’t one cinema buff who has never heard of Chan, and his mainstream appeal has made martial arts even more recognizable to the casual fan.

4. Anderson Silva

Perhaps the most popular and controversial Universal Fighting Championship (UFC) champion of all-time, Anderson da Silva is a Brazilian mixed martial artist who is recognized as the greatest of his generation. He holds the UFC record for most consecutive wins (16) and title defenses (10) with 12 post-fight bonus awards to boot.

Although his popularity has suffered a dip ever since he lost in consecutive mind-blowing fashion to Chris Wiedman, Silva’s career is back on track. It remains to be seen whether he would recapture his old glory but it is undeniable that his exploits in the octagon has made the public aware of the various styles he is adept at, like taekwondo, judo, Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu wrestling, and Capoiera.

5. Chuck Norris

Like Lee and Chan, Chuck Norris has been able to make martial arts more recognized by the public through his movies. In fact, he starred with the late Lee in the movie “Way of the Dragon.” He became a huge star in the 80s, and later made the transition to a TV star after his movie projects dwindled.

As a martial artist Norris was the Professional Middleweight Karate champion in the 70s, a feat he held on for six years. However it cannot be denied that his greatest contribution to martial arts was when he was acting in front of the cameras.

6. Royce Gracie

Similar to Silva, Gracie is a UFC fighter who is regarded as one of the best of his time. A Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner, he was best known for beating fighters who were bigger and stronger than him. He weighed just 170 pounds but still won three of the first four UFC tournaments. His legacy is unquestioned that some quarters consider him to be a bigger star than Silva, especially when you take into consideration how he helped shape what the UFC is today.

7. Jet Li

A popular Chinese action star who rose to Hollywood prominence as the bad guy in Lethal Weapon 4 released in 1998. Like Chan, he has had his share of Hollywood action blockbusters like Kiss of the Dragon, Unleashed, and the Expendables series. He is a master of various styles of wushu, and studied other martial arts like Supreme ultimate fist and Shape intent fist.

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Aikido and the Philosophies of Self-Defense

When it comes to martial arts, people often think about the ways these deadly systems can be used to defeat opponents or how they can claim glory in the ring. Aikido is a much different system. It isn’t a martial art that is set out to break bones and add layers of glory to an Aikido gi.

The World Surrounding the Early Days of Aikido

Back before colorful Aikido belts littered international dojos, Japan was populated by martial art thugs. The old way of Jujutsu (Japanese combat arts) was for war – after all, the different styles of Jujutsu were designed for samurai fighting and killing for their daimyo.

Schools produced undisciplined students who ended up hurt one another during training or sparring. Jujutsu was unrefined and made solely for killing. It wasn’t until the new revolution of the 1900s that Jujutsu arts were altered for self-defense and sports.

Among these new martial arts were modern-day Karate, Judo, and Aikido. Aikido in particular emphasizes on self-defense.

Winning Without Hurting

Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, points to an encounter he once had with a naval officer during a friendly duel. The naval officer was a fencing instructor and used a wooden sword to attack. Ueshiba evaded until the officer was exhausted and then took him down with a grab and throw.

It was at that point that Ueshiba realized martial arts could be altered to defeat an opponent without having to hurt them.

He could win without hurting, something that was never seen in Jujutsu. Back then, the only way to win was to break their joints (Judo) or strike them until they stop moving (Karate). Ueshiba’s philosophy would allow a defender to avoid harm but also avoid hurting someone else.

This is because Aikido focused more on using an opponent’s momentum against them. Such as in the case of Ueshiba fighting against the naval officer, an Aikido student could exhaust their opponent before using a single throw to win a match.

Diminishing the Advantage of Strength and Size

Judo is known for using its Judo gi as a means of making a fight fairer – by wearing a gi, both fighters will rely on their skills in the martial art instead of abusing their strength and size to overpower their opponent.

The same concept resides in Aikido albeit in a different manner. Ueshiba, who was a master of the Jujutsu art known as Daito-Ryu-Aiki-Jujutsu – refined his techniques so that even smaller, muscularly weaker fighters could win against much larger and stronger foes.

A smaller fighter could wait for his opponent to put all his weight in a single punch, step aside to avoid it, and then use that momentum to trip the opponent, grab him by his shoulder and then throw him down. It requires little effort and little strength to pull off.

Of course it requires a lot of training and the body needs to be at peace in order to master every technique and every move until it becomes instinctive. When the body reacts it should be automatic. In a fight there is little time to pause and think.

The Essence of Ki

Aikido is a martial art heavily imbued with the concept of Ki (chi). Ki is often expressed as the energy of the universe. Every person is surrounded by it, filled with it, and living through it. Aikido teaches a meaningful and harmonious path to achieve control of a person’s Ki.

The deeper philosophies of Aikido are not combined into a single religion or belief. Every Aikido school has their own spin on the arts’ philosophies and teachings but the essence remains the same: Aikido is a martial art that promotes peace of mind as it does control of one’s body.

When someone invades that zone of peace, Aikido teaches a path to restore it. When a woman is being assaulted by a rapist, Aikido will allow her to take down her opponent, even when he is large and armed, with neither of them getting seriously hurt.

This essence is why Aikido is not considered a combat art. While it is highly applicable for real world situations, it is not an art used for defeating several enemy soldiers in a war zone. It is only meant to be used for self-defense.

Aikido for Men, Women, and Children

Aikido appeals to men because of how flexible and applicable Aikido is in a real fight. It is appealing for children and women because it is a great way to defend oneself in real world situations such as when a person is being mugged or assaulted.

People wearing an Aikido gi are people to be respected. True Aikido students not only master the movements but instill the philosophies of peace and self-defense, making them some of the most respected fighters in the world today.

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Fun Facts About Kung Fu

Kung Fu is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Everywhere you go you will see Kung Fu movies, silk and satin Kung Fu belts or Kung Fu gi being sold for tournaments and students, and numerous schools that specialize in one or two different concentrations of Kung Fu.

However, as popular as it is, a lot of people look at Kung Fu the wrong way. Many people think of it as a dying, ancient art that is riddled with silly mythologies. Others only know what the movies show. That’s still a good thing because if it wasn’t for people like Jackie Chan then the world would’ve never paid attention to the art at all.

Don’t think that Kung Fu is all just about Shaolin monks with flying fists – the art is a very integral part of Chinese history and culture.

It Started as a Military Combat Art

The ancient legends state that Kung Fu may have started from the ancient Xia dynasty (c. 2100-1600 BC) and that it was a gift from the legendary Yellow Emperor Huangdi. The veracity of these legends is questionable since there are no written records but one thing is certain – Kung Fu was made for war.

The art of Kung Fu originated as a style of hand-to-hand combat for war. It’s mixtures of unarmed and armed techniques were designed to give soldiers an advantage over their opponents no matter what they had – or didn’t have – in their hands to fight with.

Written records about the earliest forms of Kung Fu date back to the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) but formal Kung Fu as people know it today became a concrete school of fighting during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD).

Kung Fu Doesn’t Use a Dojo

The word dojo is so common that everyone thinks it refers to any martial arts school but that is not the case. The proper word for a Kung Fu training center is Kwoon.

Dojo is word used for Japanese martial arts such as Karate, Aikido, and Judo. Foreign martial arts that have sprung from Japanese origin such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu also use the word Dojo. However, Kung Fu is Chinese in origin therefore it is only proper to use its original term.

Upon entering the Kwoon, a practitioner must bow 45 degrees and the hands are positioned at the chest, with the right hand in a fist while the left hand is an open palm. This represents the cycle of Yin and Yang. The open left hand, which is in line with the heart, represents the person is at peace.

Do Kung Fu Practitioners Wear a Gi and Belt?

When you think of martial arts it is almost impossible to not imagine men wearing a white gi made of woven cotton and a thick colored belt. However, the Kung Fu gi and Kung Fu belts are vastly different from most martial arts.

The concept of a white gi and a colored belt is purely from Japanese martial arts. Judo was the first martial art to introduce it during the early 1900s. When the first Judo school opened, they used altered the traditional kimono to become more appropriate for fighting.

Back during those early days, the belts were only white or black. White was for the beginners and black was for the advanced students and instructors. When the concept reached Europe and Brazil, more colors were added to help students identify what level they are in their road to mastering the art.

Kung Fu doesn’t really use these concepts. Some Western schools of Kung Fu will implement the use of belts – and these are beautiful, silk or satin belts – but as you go closer and closer to China the tradition tends to fade away.

The gi is also different for Kung Fu. Kung Fu gi pants are tight around the ankles instead of dropping loose and the same concept applies to the wrists. The frog-button clasps on the jacket are also very distinguishable, making a Kung Fu artist stand-out amongst his Japanese peers.

Drunken Style and the Five Legendary Animals

Jackie Chan popularized the drunken style of Kung Fu with his movies but the real drunken style, known as Zui Quan, is vastly different from what was shown. The techniques in the movie are all made up and the idea of actually drinking wine is also false.

Real Zui Quan is about imitating the movements of a drunkard to confuse the enemy. It is a very sly and complicated art. It is also widely practiced in Shaolin temples.

You’ll hear about all sorts of Kung Fu styles based on animals but in Chinese history there were only five: Crane, Deer, Tiger, Bear, and Monkey. Other styles such as Dragon, Leopard, Praying Mantis, and Snake were introduced much later.

These five animal styles are some of the oldest Kung Fu styles in China and were even second-hand documented during the 13th century.

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