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Martial Arts


What is Wushu?

Wushu or “the art of fighting” – is the general term for all self-defense sports, some of which may be carried out with the fists or the legs, or with the help of swords or lances. It is a great martial art with roots dating back thousands of years in China, and has been recognized as an ancient Asian art for the self-discipline of mind and body. Westerners are more familiar with the term Kung Fu, which translates loosely into “skill,” and was popularized by Bruce Lee movies and the TV show “Kung Fu.”

Wushu has two main categories: routine exercises and free combat fighting as its forms. The practice of Wushu provides an excellent release of stress through self-discipline in meditation and breathing. The practice also demands skill, concentration, and consistent and dedicated effort. For those who persevere, the rewards are great: strength in mind and body, and the development of physical, mental, and spiritual resources.

The Different Styles of Wushu

Different temples in China will teach different styles of Wushu but the basics are usually similar to each other. Styles encompass both soft and hard, and internal and external techniques. They include grappling, striking, nerve-attack and weapons training. However, Wushu is generally categorized into three styles. Long Fist (Chang Quan), Traditional Fist, and T’ai-Chi (Taiji Quan). Long Fist includes both Shaolin fist and weapons such as sword, spear, staff, and saber. Other weapons, often known as “soft weapons” include the sectional whip chain and the rope dart. Long Fist is the foundation for all of the traditional styles of external Wushu. Traditional fist emphasizes the fighting techniques of only one style.

T’ai Chi, unlike external Kung Fu, is based upon unifying the chi or energy of the body. While the internal power generated can be used as a primary tool for self-defense, most T’ai Chi practitioners focus on the health benefits the art provides. Another internal Wushu style is Baguaquan.

The History of Wushu

Wushu’s history is extremely controversial. However, there are two main theories about its beginnings in the form of Kung Fu. A large number believe that Bodhidharma, (also called Ta Mo), an Indian Buddhist monk is the founder of Kung Fu. Throughout history credit has been given to Bodhidharma as a creator of Sil Lum Kung Fu or the man responsible for introducing the martial arts to China. But some believe that Kung Fu was already in existence long before Bodhidharma arrived in China. There are vague references to a King in China some thousands of years ago who trained his men in techniques of hand-to-hand combat to use against invading barbarians. Some historians date it as far back as the Shang dynasty (16th century B.C.). Others date it back to the time of Huang Ti Emperor (475-221 B.C.). The first written record we have of Chinese martial arts is from a Taoist acupuncturist from the 5th century.

“Wu Shu” is the Chinese term that translates into “military art.” Wushu in its early stages served as a means to build up health, fitness, cure disease, prolong life, temper the fighting skills and character and wills, and train military skills, for the members of the societies. Intense military conflicts progressed the further development of Wushu. Wushu matured and formed complete systems of offense and defense.

During late Shang and Zhou Dynasty (1027-777 B.C.), Wushu was not only used for military training but became part of the school education subjects. As time progressed, innumerable people tempered and processed Wushu in different ways. During the period of Warring States (770-221 B.C.), the heads of states and government advocated Wushu in their armies and kept Wushu masters for their own purposes. During the Tang and Sung Dynasties (618-1279), many civil Wushu organizations came into existence. Military Wushu developed more systematically and exhibitions of Wushu arts were held in the armies as morale boosters and military exercises.

Wushu Develops Internationally

By China’s Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), Wushu had formed its basic patterns and was at its height. The Republic Government established the Central Wushu Institute in Nanjing in 1928. After its establishment, local Wushu institutes were created in provinces, cities and counties. Two National Wushu Meets were held by the Central Wushu Institute in 1928 and 1933 in Nanjing, which carried out competitions on long weapons, short weapons, free sparring and wrestling. In 1939, the Chinese Wushu Team gave a demonstration in Berlin at the XI Olympic Games. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Wushu has become a part of the socialist culture and the people’s physical education and sports. The latter half of the 20th century has seen a great upswing in the interest in Wushu globally due to the lectures and exhibitions given by Wushu delegations, teams, instructors and experts.

We love the martial arts

We love the martial arts. We love it like we love our children, our freedom, our history. We love the martial arts as much as we love to train, as much as we love the rush of the right technique at exactly the right moment, as much as we love the thrill of a good contest.

At we are committed to the entire “village” that is the world of martial arts. We are here for the fighter, the fan, the teacher, the coach, the parents, the traditionalist, the eclectic practitioner, the expert, the novice, the filmmaker, the actor, the celebrity, and the unknown master. We celebrate the diversity of our histories, of our people, of everything that is the best – of – the-best of what we do – and what we are capable of.

We believe that there is something to the study of the martial arts, something beyond the technique, beyond what takes place in the ring – something magical and interesting and important. We respect all methods, and all of the men and women on their own paths, from all the countries, from all the schools, passing down what it is they have learned or are in the process of learning.

We really love the martial arts and this site is dedicated to martial artists everywhere. We think that the martial arts world makes THE WORLD a better, safer, and more interesting place to be. We hope that we are a part of the village that helps you be a better martial artist – and as a result, a better human being.”

Wing Chun

What is Wing Chun?

Translated literally, Wing Chun means “beautiful springtime,” or “radiant springtime.” Wing Chun is also called “Wing Shun” or “Wing Tsun.” According to Wing Chun, there are five ways of defeating the enemy: striking, kicking, joint locking, throwing and through weapons use.

The Origins of Wing Chun

There are multiple histories of Wing Chun in existence, but the generally accepted version is that the Buddhist nun Ng Mui, who was a master of Shaolin Kung Fu, developed the art nearly 300 years ago in southern China. At that time the Southern Shaolin Temple was sanctuary to the Chinese revolution that was trying to overthrow the ruling Manchu.

A martial arts system was being taught in the temple but it took almost 20 years to produce an efficient fighter. Realizing the need to produce efficient fighters faster, five of China’s grandmasters met and chose the most efficient Kung Fu techniques, theories and principles from the various styles. They then developed a training program that produced efficient fighters in 5-7 years. Before the program was put into practice, the temple was raided and destroyed.

Of those that escaped, Ng Mui was the only survivor who knew the full system. However, she realized that much of what she had learned was ineffective for a small, frail woman to use on a larger, stronger man. She revised everything she had learned and discarded techniques that were slow or that relied on strength or size. She developed a system of fighting that enabled a smaller, weaker person to destroy a bigger, stronger person within a few seconds. Ng Mui’s new system was well guarded and passed on to only a few, very dedicated students. The style became known as Wing Chun, after Ng Mui’s first student, a woman named Yim Wing Chun.

Butterfly Swords Yim Wing Chun was a native of Canton in China. Her mother died soon after her betrothal to Leung Bok Chau. Her father, Yim Yee, was later wrongfully accused of a crime. Rather than risk jail, Yim Yee and his daughter left the area and settled down at the foot of Mt. Tai Leung. It was here Ng Mui met Yim Yee and Wing Chun. Wing Chun was a beautiful teenager who had attracted the unwanted attention of a local man who continuously tried to force her to marry him by threatening to harm her father. Ng Mui learned of this and agreed to teach Wing Chun fighting techniques so that she could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains to White Crane Temple, and began to learn Kung Fu. Wing Chun trained until she mastered the techniques. She then challenged the bully to a fight and defeated him.

The Wing Chun System was passed on in a direct line of succession from its origin. After her marriage to Leung Bok Chau, Wing Chun taught him Kung Fu. He in turn passed these techniques on. As techniques were passed along, the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole was incorporated into Wing Chun Kung Fu. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Wing Chun, like other martial arts, was banned in China and survived only through the persistence of practitioners like Yip Man. The veil of secrecy around the art was finally broken in 1949, when Grandmaster Yip Man brought the style out of China into Hong Kong and eventually to the rest of the world.

Yip Man’s students began gaining noteriety for besting many systems and experienced opponents in streetfights and “friendly” competitions. The art gained even more popularity when one of its students, Bruce Lee, began to enjoy worldwide fame. It remains one of the most popular forms of Kung Fu today.

Tang Soo Do

What is Tang Soo Do?

Tang Soo Do means “the art of the knife hand” or “the way of the Chinese hand.” It contains characteristics of Chinese internal methods and Japanese striking styles. Tang Soo Do is a modern martial art and it’s purpose is to develop every aspect of the ‘self’ in order to produce a mature person who can totally integrate his intellect, emotions, body and spirit.

Tang Soo Do, is not a sport and its primary goal is not a competitive one. However, it does lend itself well to combative situations. Being a well-balanced style, Tang Soo Do offers a wide array of kicks, hand strikes, and stances representative of hard styles as well as softer stances and more fluid motions that are indicative of the softer styles. It derives it’s hardness from Soo Bahk Do and its soft flowing movements from the Northern Chinese systems. Its kicking techniques , for which Tang Soo Do is unsurpassed, are based on Soo Bahk Do. Both of which can easily be recognized in the forms that are practiced within the style.

Free sparring is an extremely important part of Tang Soo Do training. There are two major types suitable for Tang Soo Do schools: Dojang sparring and competition; or sport, sparring. Although the techniques used in these types of sparring could be potentially dangerous and could result in a knockout or serious injury if not properly controlled, full contact sparring (kick boxing), traditionally is not included in the Tang Soo Do venue.Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do competitions do not allow contact to face or groin, or the back while allowing light moderate contact to the sides and front of the body. When one looks at injuries occurring in other contact sports it becomes clear that sport Tang Soo Do is actually a very safe activity. Qualities like sportsmanship, mutual respect for each other and personal discipline insures that practitioners compete in the healthiest environment possible. After all, the purpose of Tang Soo Do training is not for fighting, but to perfect techniques that will enhance one’s total self. If the occasion arises when one must defend oneself, of equal importance is the development of the proper spirit to supplement the physical skills that are attained.

The History of Tang Soo Do

Tang Soo Do is a relatively modern Korean martial art based upon the ancient Korean art of Soo Bahk Do, which dates back to the 6th Century. However, the exact origin of Tang Soo Do is obscure. Some Japanese Karate experts insist that the art is of Japanese origin; some say it came from Okinawa; others say it began in China with Bodhidarma and spread from there.

It was during the Silla Dynasty (618 – 935 AD) that the martial arts expanded rapidly in Korea. The Kingdom of Silla was one of the three kingdoms in Korea and was notable for the military prowess of its young warrior class, the Hwa Rang. The five basic principles of Tang Soo Do are derived from the principles of these elite warriors. However, Tang Soo Do gained most of its popularity during the Koryo Dynasty (935 – 1392 AD).

At the beginning of the Yi Dynasty (1392-1910), the National Martial Arts Manual was published, and the term Soo Bahk Do became widely used. During the occupation of Korea by Japan (1907 – 1945) the practice of native martial arts was prohibited. This prohibition forced many Korean Soo Bahk Do Masters to emigrate, or to practice secretly. Tang Soo Do was developed by Grand Master Hwang Kee. He mastered Tae Kyun and Soo Bahk Do at the age of 22. Upon his travels to Northern China in 1936, he encountered a Chinese variation of martial artistry called the Tang Method. From 1936 to 1945 he combined Soo Bahk Do with the Tang Method and developed what was to be known as Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, even though it was officially registered in Korea on November 9, 1945 as the Korean Soo Bahk Do Association.

At the beginning of the modern era of the Korean martial arts, Tang Soo Do was the most popular term for the merged martial arts, however, at that time, the Korean political leader was concerned about establishing Korean value based on Korean nationalism. The political leaders recognized the popularity of Korean martial arts around the world, but were opposed to the use of the name Tang Soo Do for the art, as it sounded like a Chinese martial art. In 1964, a government sponsored small group created a new name for the Korean martial arts: Taekwondo. The World Tang Soo Do Association still respects the original term, Tang Soo Do, and intends to preserve its heritage and value as a traditional way or path. So Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do are divided principally, with Tang Soo Do striving to remain as a traditional martial art, while Taekwondo held its world games and sport.

The International Tang Soo Do Federation (ITSDF) was formed in 1989. The United Kingdom Tang Soo Do Federation currently serves as its administrative and technical headquarters. Tang Soo Do has since spread throughout the world. Practiced by champions like Chuck Norris, it is a proven method of fighting with a long and proud tradition of victories.

T’ai Chi

What is T'ai Chi

Translated, T’ai Chi means “the supreme ultimate.” In Chinese philosophy, T’ai Chi is the mother of Yin and Yang. It is the theory of opposites, the positive and the negative. T’ai Chi is one of the five Chinese accomplishments thought to make a superior person, in addition to painting, poetry, calligraphy and music.

Linking some of the older forms from Taoism and stressing the internal aspects of his exercises, Chang San-feng is credited with creating the fundamental ‘Thirteen Postures’ of T’ai Chi corresponding to the eight basic trigrams of the I Ching and the five elements. The T’ai Chi classics are generally referred to as: The Theory of T’ai Chi Ch’uan by Chang San Feng (Zhangsanfeng), The Classics of T’ai Chi Ch’uan by Wong Tsung Yueh (Wangzongyue), An Internal Explanation of the Practice of the 13 Postures by Wu Yusiang (Wu Yu Xiang), The Five Words Secrets by Li Yi Yu (Li yiyu), and Summary of the Practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Push Hands by Li Yi Yu.

Practicing T'ai Chi

The underlying theory of T’ai Chi is that the mind, body and spirit must be unified for wholeness and complete health. The emphasis in T’ai Chi is on being able to channel potentially destructive energy (in the form of a kick or a punch) away from one in a manner that will dissipate the energy or send it in a direction where it is no longer a danger. The art is practiced alone in forms, and with partners. The forms include the Long Form, which can take more than a half an hour to complete, and the Short Form, a modified version that can be performed in less than ten minutes.

T’ai Chi’s original concepts are still intact today, teaching continuous movement, relaxation, solid stances, a straight body and the movement of chi from inside the body to outside. Each arm protects half the body and the hands never reach farther forward than the toes. Many of these movements are from the natural movements of animals and birds, although the way they are performed in T’ai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between them. It is not ordinarily regarded as a practical self-defense system, though the movements have self-defense applications, and practitioners can achieve great power in their techniques.

The History of T'ai Chi

Little is known about T’ai Chi’s early history which may date as far back to the 6th century B.C., however its foundation is credited to the Taoist Chang San-feng, a monk of the Wu Tang Monastery. Records indicate that Chang lived at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Chang San-fen’s theories, writings and practices were later elaborated upon by Wang Chung-yueh and his student Chiang Fa. Wang apparently took the thirteen postures of Chang San-feng and linked them together into continuous sequences, creating something which resembles the contemporary T’ai Chi Chuan form.

Chiang Fa taught T’ai Chi to the Chen village on Henan and thus began the first family school of T’ai Chi Chuan. However, some scholars believe that rather than bringing T’ai Chi to the Chen village, Chiang Fa really only discovered the Chen villagers practicing this art. Others maintain that the Chen family’s so-called ‘Cannon Pounding’ (Pao Chui) was a distinct martial art that undoubtedly influenced Chiang Fa’s teaching but that it was not the same as T’ai Chi.

Another of Wang’s students was Chen Chou-t’ung who established the so-called “Southern School” of T’ai Chi which subsequently disappeared. Chiang Fa continued with the mainstream “Northern” school of T’ai Chi which survives today. The principal styles that exist today are the New Frame Style of Chen T’ai Chi, the Yang Style of T’ai Chi, the Old Frame Style of Chen T’ai Chi, the Wu Style of T’ai Chi, the Wu Shi Style (or Hao Style) of T’ai Chi Chuan, and the Sun Style of T’ai Chi Chuan.

Present Day T'ai Chi

It would be unwise for a present day student to forget the historical fact that T’ai Chi was once a deadly art, jealously guarded by a few families and used for killing. It is within the context of a life or death struggle that the techniques of T’ai Chi were refined over the centuries.

T’ai Chi T’ai Chi’s place in a less violent, modern society lies in enlarging our understanding of who our “enemy” is. Traditionally, the enemy was an opponent in a combat situation. Today the enemy may be stress, fatigue, or the lack of understanding of oneself and one’s body. The same system used then can also be used now to help keep stress from killing or injuring you.

Since the 19th century, the Chinese have understood the immense health benefits of T’ai Chi, and its popularity has grown steadily. T’ai Chi is now practiced around the world. It is one of the most popular exercises today with more than 300 million participants. While all martial arts were designed to increase one’s longevity, daily practice of T’ai Chi promotes mental clarity and a healthy body, assists with balance and helps the circulation of the blood.


What is Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is a modern martial art, characterized by its fast, high and spinning kicks. There are multiple interpretations of the name Taekwondo. Taekwondo is often translated as ‘the way of hand and foot.’

Tae = ‘Foot’ or ‘to kick’ or ‘to jump’
K’won = ‘Fist’ or ‘to strike or block with hand’
Do = ‘The way of’ or ‘art’

Put this together and Taekwondo means: “The art of kicking and punching” or “The art of unarmed combat.”

Disciplines of Taekwondo
Taekwondo has four disciplines:

  • Patterns
  • Sparring
  • Self-defense
  • Break Test

It is the combination of these four disciplines that make the art of Taekwondo.

Objectives of Taekwondo:
  1. to develop an appreciation for Taekwondo as a sport and an art
  2. to achieve physical fitness through positive participation
  3. to improve mental discipline and emotional equanimity
  4. to learn self-defense skills
  5. to develop a sense of responsibility for one self and others

Taekwondo is primarily a kicking art, often with a greater emphasis on the sport aspect of the art. Taekwondo stylists tend to fight at an extended range, and keep opponents away with their feet. It is a hard/soft, external, fairly linear style and is known for being very powerful. There is a lot of competition work in many dojongs. Training tends to emphasize sparring, but has forms, and the basics are important as well.

The Origin of Taekwondo

The origin of Taekwondo traces back to the three kingdoms of Koguryo (37 BC-668 AD), Paekche (18 BC-600 AD), and Silla (57 BC-936 AD). Mural paintings on the royal tombs of the Koguryo dynasty, the stone sculptures of pagadas of temples of the Silla period, and documents written in the Paekche dynasty showed fighting stances, skills, and formalized movements similar to today’s Taekwondo styles and forms.

All three kingdoms indulged in growing national strength with trained warriors. Therefore, the Korean history tells that there were military personalities among the well-known prominent national leaders of the three kingdoms, which proves the military tendency of ruling hierarchy.

Although Taekwondo first appeared in the Koguryo kingdom, it is the Silla’s Hwarang warriors that are credited with the growth and spread of Taekwondo throughout Korea. Silla was the smallest of the three kingdoms and was always under attack by Japanese pirates. Silla got help from King Gwanggaeto and his soldiers from the Koguryo kingdom to drive out the pirates. During this time a few select Sillan warriors were given training in Taek Kyon by the early masters from Koguryo.

The Taek Kyon trained warriors became known as the Hwarang. The Hwarang set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means “the way of flowering manhood.” The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor, and justice. The makeup of the Hwarang-do education was based on the Five Codes of Human Conduct written by a Buddhist scholar, fundamental education, Taek Kyon and social skills. Taek Kyon was spread throughout Korea because the Hwarang traveled all around the peninsula to learn about the other regions and people.

The modern period of Taekwondo began with the liberation of Korea in 1945 after World War II. Korea wanted to eliminate Japanese influences (in martial arts) and began to unite the various martial arts schools and styles into a single style and national sport. In 1965, the name Taekwondo was chosen to represent this unified style of Korean martial arts.

The present Kukkiwon was finished in 1972 and was used as the central gymnasium as well as the site of various Taekwondo competitions. A year later on May 28, 1973 the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) came into existence. The first World Taekwondo Championships were also held in 1973. In 1980 the World Taekwondo Federation was granted recognition by the International Olympic Committe (IOC). Then the adoption of Taekwondo as an official event was followed by the World Games in 1981, the Pan-American games in 1986, and finally by the 2000 Olympics held in Australia.

Muay Thai

What is Muay Thai?

Sometimes called Muay Thai Boxing or Thai Kickboxing; Muay Thai differs from Western-style boxing most noticeably in its allowing the use of elbows, knees, feet, and certain holds and throws. Because a Muay Thai fighter uses hands, elbows, feet, and knees, it is called “the science of the eight limbs” – although Muay Thai actually involves all parts of the body. Muay Thai also permits a wider range of targets, to strike “below-the-belt” is not illegal.

Although Muay Thai is generally regarded as a very hard, external style, some consider it to have a spiritual aspect as well. Thai boxers typically perform the “wai kroo,” or homage to his teacher before each match. This is followed by the graceful “rum muay” which is considered a warm-up exercise that enables the fighter to relax and focus.

To an uninformed spectator, a Muay Thai bout may seem like a lawless brawl. However; with all of the allowances, there are certain tactics that are prohibited: choking, head-butting, and hair-pulling, to name a few. Muay Thai differs from Asian martial arts in its use of a boxing ring and uniforms, timed rounds, padded gloves, and in standup grappling. Two articles of clothing are also unique to Muay Thai, both acting as good luck charms. First is a band worn around the bicep throughout the match. The other is a cord worn about the head, which is removed before the bout begins.

Muay Thai Practicing Muay Thai is a vigorous workout and produces tremendous cardiovascular endurance. Practitioners learn about thirty basic techniques, mostly practiced by sparring. There are no forms in Muay Thai. In formal competitions, groin protectors and gloves are mandatory. Muay Thai’s effectiveness is well-known.

Training is rigorous, similar to Western boxers. It includes running, shadow-boxing, and heavy bag work. Kicks are of primary importance in Muay Thai and the art is best known for its shin strikes. The characteristic Muay Thai round kick is delivered with the shin, therefore, there is shin conditioning. There is also a lot of emphasis placed on performing various drills with “Thai pads.” A trainer wears the pads, and may hold them to receive kicks, punches, and knee and elbow strikes, and may also use them to punch at the Muay Thai trainee. However, full-contact kicks, knees, and elbows are typically not used in training.

The Origins of Muay Thai

Much of the early history of Muay Thai was lost when the Burmese army destroyed Ayuddhaya, as the archives of Thai history were lost. Most of what is known about the origins of Thai boxers comes from Burmese accounts of warfare between Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and Thailand during the 15th and 16th centuries. All sources agree that Muay Thai began as a close combat battlefield fighting skill … more deadly than the weapons it replaced.

There are two main theories as to where Muay Thai came from. One theory is that the art developed as the Thai people moved down from China and struggled for land. The second theory, while controversial, has archaeological evidence and considerable academic backing and says that the Thai people were already in Thailand and that Muay Thai developed to defend the land and its people from constant threats of invasion. What is not disputed is that Muay Thai was an essential part of Thai culture right from its dawn and in Thailand it is the sport of kings.

Interest in Muay Thai as a sport, as well as a battlefield skill, began to grow in the late 1500’s under King Naresuan. During this period, every soldier trained in Muay Thai and could use it, as the King himself did. Slowly new fighting techniques began to evolve with the change in the art continuing under another fighting king – Prachao Sua. Known as the Tiger King, he often fought incognito in village contests, beating the local champions. During contests, the hands and forearms were bound with strips of horse’s hair. This was done to protect the fighter as well as inflict more damage on the opponent. Later, hemp ropes or starched strips of cotton replaced the horse’s hair. For particular challenge matches and with the fighters’ consent, ground glass was mixed with glue and spread on the strips. The Tiger King was one of the prime movers in transforming the sport, not only influencing fighting styles but also the equipment.

The nation was at peace during Prachao Sua’s reign, so to keep the army busy, he ordered them to train in Muay Thai. Muay Thai then became the favorite sport and pastime with people from every walk of life. Each village staged its own prize fights and had its champions. In addition to a contest of local pride, every Muay Thai bout was bet upon. The betting tradition has continued and today large sums are wagered on the outcome of fights.

Muay Thai It wasn’t until the reign of King Rama VI (1910-1925) that a standard ring surrounded by ropes came into use, as did time keeping by the clock. Before this period, any available space of the right size was used for the bouts. Time was kept by floating a pierced coconut shell on water. When the coconut piece sank, a drum signaled the end of the round.

Muay Thai was a part of school curriculum until the 1920’s. It was withdrawn because there were concerns that the injury rate was too high. However, Muay Thai continued to be practiced in gyms and clubs. The 1930’s saw the most radical change in Muay Thai. It was codified and today’s rules and regulations were introduced. Rope bindings of the arms and hands were replaced with gloves. Thai fighters have always worn groin guards, originally made from sea shells or tree bark. They were replaced by a triangular shaped pillow and later a groin box.

Weight classes based on the international boxing divisions were introduced, altering the fighting techniques that the Muay Thai boxers used. Before the introduction of weight classes, a fighter could and did fight anyone regardless of their size and weight differences. The introduction of the weight classes meant that the fighters were more evenly matched and instead of there being one overall champion, there became one for each weight class. The introduction of five 3 minute rounds was another recent innovation. Winners are determined by knockout, technical knockout, or judgment by officials.

Stadiums like Rajdamnern and Lumpinee were established during the reign of Rama VII before World War II. They gradually disappeared during the war but reappeared soon afterwards. Fights were then broadcast in full color on Thailand television. Today fights dominate televised sports are broadcast free to millions of Muay Thai fans throughout Thailand on all stations – four nights a week. Thai Boxing has also become popular outside of Thailand with enthusiasts and practitioners around the world.

Kung Fu

What is Kung Fu?

Kung Fu means “skill and effort” and can describe anything that one needs to spend time training in and becoming skillful in. When it means “martial art,” Kung Fu refers to the hundreds of styles of martial arts in China, all of which are different. However, there is one thing that all Chinese martial arts have in common and that is the idea that Kung Fu itself is merely skill.

The real value of Chinese martial arts goes beyond self defense. It lies within the strong traditional training that all Kung Fu styles emphasize: training that teaches the student to respect the teacher and the teacher’s advice; to be respectful towards other Kung Fu styles and to only use Kung Fu in a morally correct manner.

Entry level Kung Fu begins with the Nan Quan (Southern Fist) style. Nan Quan has its roots in Southern China and began its development during the Ming Dynasty. Nan Quan is famous for its steady footwork, combined with quick kicks and a variety of powerful close combat hand techniques. Beginning with the fundamental techniques and forms, practitioners will develop strength flexibility and an understanding of its traditional applications. This program is based on the methods used to train professional martial artists in China today.

Kung Fu consists of a number of martially inspired systems for fighting, health development, and dance. As for the hundreds of different styles, some are hard and linear, using punches and kicks. Other styles are soft and circular and do not appear useful for combat. Some schools resemble Karate. Weapons are used in some Kung Fu schools. Grappling methods are generally not used, so Kung Fu arts are usually considered striking styles, although not all styles use strikes.

The History of Kung Fu

The history of Kung Fu is extremely controversial as the exact date of its development is not known. There are two main theories about the beginnings of Kung Fu. A large number believe that Bodhidharma, (also called Ta Mo), an Indian Buddhist monk is the founder of Kung Fu. And some believe that Kung Fu was already in existence long before Bodhidharma arrived in China. Throughout history credit has been given to Bodhidharma as a creator of Sil Lum Kung Fu or the man responsible for introducing the martial arts to China. Some historians date it as far back as the Shang dynasty (16th century B.C.). Others date it back to the time of Huang Ti Emperor (475-221 B.C.). The first written record we have of Chinese martial arts is from a Taoist acupuncturist from the 5th century. He describes combat designed along the lines of an animal’s movements and style. Written text about Kung Fu was depicted in the early 17th Century by the Jesuit priest Pere Amoit. He wrote of “peculiar” exercises, which he called “Cong Fou,” practiced by the Taoist priests of his area.

The Chinese term that translates into “military art” is “Wu Shu.” As with all martial arts, Wushu in its early stages of development was practiced primarily for self-defense and for aquiring basic needs. As time progressed, innumerable people tempered and processed Wushu in different ways. By China’s Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), Wushu had formed its basic patterns.

Kung Fu's Popularity Soars

Martial arts spread throughout China during the Republic (1912 – 1948). Military tactics were taught in all schools and fighting arts became very popular in China. Kung Fu made its way to the United States in the days following the gold rush of 1848. It was an integral part of the lifestyle in Chinese labor camps and mining towns in California.

Practice of Kung Fu increased dramatically in 1863 with the importation of Chinese laborers to work on the Central Pacific Railroad. However, few people; even Chinese, were allowed to study the art. Early Kung Fu schools in the states perpetuated the secret society mystique. As time passed the strict tenets eased and Kung Fu slowly came into the public light. Throughout the U.S., Kung Fu gained popularity in the 1960’s and ’70s because of Bruce Lee’s movies and the TV show, “Kung Fu.”

Karv Maga

What is Krav Maga?

The Krav Maga symbol consists of the Hebrew letters K and M surrounded by an open circle because the system is open to improvement by adding techniques, exercises, and training methods.

“Good things can continue to flow into the system and flawed exercises can flow out.”
— Imi Lichtenfeld, the Grand Master of Krav Maga

Krav Maga is not a traditional martial art. It was developed in an environment where the Israeli military could not devote many hours to hand to hand combat training. Therefore, the Krav Maga system was created to bring students to a high level of skill in a relatively short period of time. Krav Maga There are no forms (katas) or rules or set combinations as reactions to attacks. Instead, Krav Maga training focuses on teaching simple self-defense techniques which are specifically catered to reality based attack situations. Many techniques originated in Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing and wrestling, with other techniques call from Ju-Jitsu and Karate.

The art of Krav Maga is much more of a survival system dealing with personal safety issues. It is considered to be a modern, highly refined, street fighting system, designed to be used against armed and unarmed attackers. Krav Maga addresses a wide variety of aggressive acts which include punches, kicks, chokes, bearhugs, headlocks, grabs, as well as defenses against multiple attackers and assailants armed with a firearm, edged weapon, or blunt object.

In addition to self-defense, Krav Maga teaches hand to hand combat. This is a more advanced and sophisticated phase, and shows how to neutralize an opponent quickly and effectively. It embodies elements related to the actual performance of the fight including tactics, feints, powerful combinations of different attacks, the psychological dimensions of the fight, and learning how to use the environment to your advantage.

Krav Maga includes specialized training methods to not only challenge students physically, but to also instill a special mental discipline meant to strengthen the spirit and to develop the ability to deal with violent confrontations under intense stress. Classes will also incorporate the self-defense techniques that they teach to law enforcement personnel.

Because of the Krav Maga’s combat-orientation, there are no competitions or tournaments. Like other arts, Krav Maga issues colored belts to mark higher levels of expertise.

The History of Krav Maga

Krav Maga was developed by Czechoslovakian-born Imi Lichtenfeld, a champion heavyweight boxer, an expert in Ju-Jitsu and Judo as well as a dancer and trapeze acrobat. Imi’s family was forced to emigrate, eventually landing in what was then Palestine and is now known as Israel.

Soon after the Israeli state was established in 1948, Imi was asked to develop a system of fighting and self-defense for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Imi carefully refined Krav Maga during his career as chief instructor of hand to hand combat for the IDF. Beginning with special forces units like the Haganah, Palmack, and Palyam, Krav Maga became the official combatives training for all military personnel, Israeli police and security forces. Faced with the task of preparing both fit and out-of-shape soldiers, Imi developed a comprehensive system that relied on simple, instinctive moves rather than rigid techniques requiring years of training.

In 1964, Imi retired from the IDF and began teaching Krav Maga to civilians, law enforcement, and military applications. In 1978, Imi and several of his students created the Krav Maga Association, which was aimed at promoting the teaching of Krav Maga in Israel and throughout the world.

Krav Maga Eyal Yanilov studied Krav Maga under the personal tutelage of Imi and has served as the Grand Master’s closest assistant and foremost disciple since the early 1980s. Active in this field since 1973, he is now its most senior instructor. Mr. Yanilov is the only individual who carries the highest grade ever given by Imi. Since directing the first self-defense instructors course for U.S. citizens in 1981, Eyal has been teaching a large number of Krav Maga and self-defense instructors courses in many countries around the world, under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Education and the International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF).

In 1981, the Krav Maga Association of Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Education held the first International Instructor’s Course at Wingate Institute for Physical Education. A delegation of 23 members from various cities in the U.S. attended the course, which was supervised by Imi himself. Californian Darren Levine was selected to be part of the delegation because of his martial arts and boxing background, as well as his involvement in the physical education program at the Heschel Day School near L.A. During the course, Imi befriended Levine and told him that he would come to the U.S. to teach and train him.

Krav Maga Levine went on to offer Krav Maga classes at the Heschel Day School. At Imi’s request, Levine and one of his students, Joel Bernstein, along with other prominent members of the Jewish community in L.A., formed the Krav Maga Association of America, Inc. In 1987, Levine and his top students began teaching Krav Maga to law enforcement in the U.S. Under Imi’s guidance, they adapted Krav Maga to suit the needs of U.S. law enforcement and military personnel.

Shortly after Levine received his 6th degree black belt in Krav Maga, Imi awarded him a Founder’s Diploma for Special Excellence in Krav Maga. Imi has awarded this diploma only twice. Eyal Yanilov had also received the prestigious diploma. These diplomas were given to the people that Imi wanted to be the leaders of Krav Maga.

Krav Maga Worldwide Enterprises was formed in January of 1999 to expand and promote Krav Maga in the U.S. and around the world. Krav Maga is rapidly gaining in popularity and almost 10,000 people are currently studying the art. It is widely used by members of the U.S.’s local, state and federal police agencies, including the FBI, Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. Celebrities practicing Krav Maga include singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and actresses Jennifer Garner (“Alias”), Shannon Elizabeth (“American Pie”),and Mia Kirshner (“Wolf Lake”).


What is Kickboxing?

What is called Kickboxing today came out of Full Contact Karate competitions in the sixties. Competitors included such fighters as Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris. Each had different backgrounds in Karate and boxing, as well as other martial arts. New fighting styles, techniques and strategies developed out of the need for a comprehensive form of fighting that was effective in the ring.

Kickboxing is a Western fighting method practiced worldwide with the kickboxer using both hands and feet, as in Karate. Because it is a realistic, practical method of fighting, it has grown into a popular sport. Kickboxing is similar to Full Contact Karate, as the goal of Kickboxing is to knock out the opponent. Also in Kickboxing, strikes are delivered full force.

Kickboxing combines elements from Karate and Thai Boxing; both the strategy and techniques from kicking and boxing. It mixes foot techniques from Karate and fist techniques from boxing. There are four different types of combat competitions: Semi-Contact, Light-Contact, Full-Contact and Low-Kick. Musical Forms are the fifth style of Kickboxing competition. All these systems are the same worldwide and follow precise rules and regulations.

Kickboxing To minimize the risk of injury during Kickboxing competitions, competitors must wear protection for the feet and head, as well as shin guards, safety gloves, mouth guards, groin guards for men and chest protection for women. Kickboxing competitors use sparring, kicks, punches, kick blocks, shadow boxing, and wood breaking that is learned and applied under professional instruction.

While Kickboxing was first developed as a martial art for tournament fighting, it has more recently become very popular; especially with women, because the Kickboxing workout (Cardio Kickboxing) is excellent for developing body toning and burning fat while also helping students gain confidence in self defense.

The History of Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a modern sport with Western origin. It began during the early seventies when American Karate competitors became frustrated with strict controls and the primitive scoring system in martial arts competitions. Competitors wanted full contact kicks and punches to the knockout. The new sport was born and names such as Full Contact Karate and Boxe Americane eventually evolved into that of Kickboxing.

Early bouts were fought on open matted areas. Kickboxing competitions were later staged in regular size boxing rings. Between 1970 and 1973 a handful of Kickboxing promotions were staged across the United States. However, in these early stages of the sport the rules were never clear. In fact, one of the first tournaments had no weight divisions and all the competitors fought until there was only one competitor left. Many questions were raised about the high risk of injury in this new full contact sport. The development of specialized protective equipment helped speed up the evolution of Kickboxing and safety rules were also improved.

Kickboxers As the sport evolved, Americans sent teams of Kickboxers to Japan under the banner of the World Kickboxing Association (WKA). From this point Kickboxing developed into a true international sport. Some of the other organizations that were created to promote Kickboxing include the United States Kickboxing Association (USKBA), the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) and the World Sport Kickboxing Federeation (WSKF).

The sport has undergone changes and has been refined over the last two decades. As this is a fairly new sport, there are of course no long-term traditions for Kickboxing. However, it has gained recognition as a highly effective martial art for both ring fighting and for holistic fitness.


What is Kenpo?

Kenpo is a style of Karate developed in the west. The only difference between Kenpo and Kempo is in the translation of the Kanji to its English form. The words Kenpo and Kempo are both pronounced the same and both mean “Law of the Fist.” However, the more “traditional” forms of Kempo use the “Kempo” form, while the more non-traditional modern or contemporary versions use the term “Kenpo.”

Kenpo is a martial art that teaches self-defense and self-control through three primary methods: self-defense techniques, forms, and sparring. However, Kenpo diverges from traditional Karate in several important respects. Students are encouraged to change and adapt the techniques. Kenpo emphasizes vital point attacks using punches, strikes and kicks. Throws are also important in Kenpo.

Kenpo Self-defense techniques help Kenpo students develop their skills by allowing them to practice with different threatening situations and experiment with what-if scenarios. Initially, forms and katas help students to develop mental concentration and mental discipline. As they progress, the forms and katas help them to develop self-awareness and self-expression. Kumite (also known as freestyle or sparring) is an exercise in which students test their skills, self-confidence, and self-control in a friendly competition among other classmates. It gives students the opportunity to develop their reflexes and timing in a controlled environment while engaging in a sport activity.

Kenpo also teaches students how to use weapons to increase their understanding of self-defense. In Kenpo, defense against knives and clubs are taught from the yellow belt and up. Weapon training often begins at the green belt level, although some schools restrict it to those of the black belt level and higher.

The Kenpo style strives to maintain a balance between “martial” and “art.” The “martial” aspect is expressed by effective efficient self-defense concepts and techniques. The “art” is expressed by creativity, self-expression, and presentation of form.

The Origins of Kenpo

Kenpo is considered by many to be the first eclectic martial art. Its origin evolved from Karate which; according to legend, began over a thousand years ago in China.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century two families, Kumamoto and Nagasaki brought knowledge of Kenpo from China to Kyushu in Japan. Modified throughout many years into its current form, it is referred to as Kosho-Ryu Kenpo, or Old Pine Tree school. It is from here that most modern forms of Kenpo are derived.

According to modern legend, in 1916 at the age of five, James Mitose was sent from his homeland in Hawaii to Kyushu for schooling in his ancestors’ art of self-defense called Kosho-Ryu Kenpo. After completing his training in Japan, Mitose returned to Hawaii. Near the beginning of World War II in 1936, Mitose opened the “Official Self-Defense” club in Honolulu. It was from here that the five major Kenpo influences; Thomas Young, William K. S. Chow, Edmund Howe, Arthur Keawe and Paul Yamaguchi would study and bring Kenpo to the rest of the world.

William K.S. Chow adapted Mitose’s approach and “Americanized” the art. He is perhaps responsible for the largest leap of Kenpo to the general public. In 1949, Chow opened a school of his own at a local YMCA and referred to his art as Kenpo Karate.

Edmund K. Parker, who is probably the most famous of Chow’s practitioners, began studying Kenpo with Chow at the age of 16. Parker further adapted the methods so that they would prove practical in an actual fight and opened the first commercial Karate studio in 1954. He created a logical organization for the basic Kenpo techniques, dividing them into eight categories, such as stances, blocks, punches and so on. Parker graduated from Brigham Young and moved to California where he opened his second school in 1956 and also founded the International Kenpo Karate Association the same year. Parker taught the martial arts to many actors and celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen. He also appeared in movies and television shows like “I Love Lucy.” Grand Master Edmund Parker is the undisputed “Father” of American Kenpo Karate.

When Mr. Parker died in December of 1990, the International Kenpo Karate Association went through some major restructuring due in part to political differences, as well as other reasons. Many of the senior students went off to create their own associations and promote their own style of the American Kenpo system. Today Kenpo remains very strong in the martial arts industry.


What is Kendo?

Kendo translated is “the way of the sword.” One’s first impression of a Kendo bout could be that it is aggressive, loud and somewhat violent which could not be further from the truth. Kendo is a very formal art. It is a highly stylized sport derived from the two-handed sword fighting techniques of the samurai (Kenjutsu). As in Judo, skill and technique are much more important than one’s size or strength. For this reason, men and women can compete against one another without any unfair advantage.


Training mostly consists of two-person drills, basics, and some kata that have been retained from Kenjutsu between individuals. Techniques are limited to a few blows and thrusts. The target areas are restricted to the head, side of the body, throat and wrists. Students learn grips and stances, and are taught the importance of eye contact and kiai.


Kendo fighters use the shinai, a four foot bamboo sword. Sometimes the bokken, a wooden sword, is used in practice. Often Kendo is taught in conjunction with Iaido, which is the art of drawing the sword. Fighters wear protective gear (bogu) covering the target areas: the head, wrists, and abdomen. The bogu consists of a men (face mask), a do (breastplate), kote (fencing gloves), and the tare, a kind of apron to protect the stomach and hips. Under the protective gear, kendoka (students of Kendo) wear a hakama, or wide split skirt that reaches the ankles.

The shinai is made of four carefully formed bamboo slats that are bound together to form a hollow cylinder. A cord runs along the length of the shinai. To make a valid cut a player must strike his opponent with the side opposite the cord. Additionally, the point must be struck with the top third of the shinai.

The Origins of Kendo

The origins of Kendo, as we know it today, go back to the Heian period of Japanese history (940). Sophisticated sword techniques, especially designed for the Japanese foot soldier, utilizing lightweight protective body armor, began to appear. These techniques were developed, refined and tried and tested on the battlefield.

It has always been assumed that the true art of swordsmanship died out around the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), or shortly thereafter when the wearing of swords by the Samurai was forbidden. However, in 1875, Japan stood on the threshold of its modern industrialized future and the Toyama Gakko was created under the new order. It proved to be the perfect vehicle to preserve Kendo the art of swordsmanship and bring it into the 20th century. Founded to train military personnel in swordsmanship, as well as other military disciplines, it used the most effective techniques of the then living master swordsmen.

Several well known dojos in the Tokyo area began teaching an easier and less vigorous form of swordplay to their students. Thus Kenjutsu for the Samurai evolved into Kendo for the commoner. Kendo became a widespread and popular sport with many modifications in technique and equipment having been made. This made it available to the public at large, but all but removed the few genuine relics of practical swordsmanship that had previously remained.

The All Japan Kendo Association was founded in 1912 and formalized methods of teaching in schools throughout Japan were established in 1936. Kendo was banned during World War 2 but re-emerged in 1952 stressing the importance of healthy living and a sports approach and philosophy based on its long history. In 1970 the International Kendo Federation was founded with the aim of promoting Kendo and spreading international goodwill and friendship. Towards the end of 1970 the 1st World Kendo Championships were held in Japan and they are now held every 3 years. Kendo is now practiced throughout the world with no restriction on age, sex or disability.


What is Karate?

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

Karate translated either means “Chinese hand” or “Empty hand” depending on which Japanese or Chinese characters you use to write it.

Okinawan Karate styles tend to be hard and external. In defense they tend to be circular, and in offense linear. Karate Okinawan Karate styles tend to place more emphasis on rigorous physical conditioning than the Japanese styles. Japanese styles tend to have longer, more stylistic movements and to be higher commitment. They also tend to be linear in movement, offense, and defense.

Both tend to be high commitment, and tend to emphasize kicks and punches, blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, joint manipulations and a strong offense as a good defense. Karate techniques consist basically of hand and foot techniques. Hand techniques are divided into defensive or offensive moves. Foot techniques are divided into kicking techniques; snap and thrust kicks. Other important elements of Karate include stances, posture, body shifting, hip rotation, and breathing.

Training differs widely but most of the Karate styles emphasize a fairly equal measure of basic technique training (kihon), sparring (kumite), and forms (kata). Forms are stylized patterns of attacks and defenses done in sequence for training purposes.

An art of self-defense as well as a sport, Karate has in recent decades proliferated worldwide. It is one of the most widely practiced of the Asian martial arts, with a large following in the U.S., Japan and Europe.

The History of Karate

According to legend, the evolution of Karate began over a thousand years ago, possibly as early as the 5th century B.C. when Bodhidharma, a Buddhist Monk arrived in Shaolin-si, China from India and taught Zen Buddhism. He also introduced a set of exercises designed to strengthen the mind and body. Bodhidharma’s teachings later became the basis for the majority of Chinese martial arts. In truth, the origins of Karate appear to be somewhat obscure and little is known about the early development of Karate until it appeared in Okinawa. Sometime between the years 1784 and 1903, the term karate replaced that of Te. This new name reflected the synthesis of the native Okinawan martial arts of Te with the influence of the Chinese Martial Arts the Okinawans had been exposed to.


Karate-do was modified and transformed into a way of life by Master Gichin Funakoshi in 1905. Before this, it was just a group of techniques that permitted self-defense without weapons. Weapons bans, imposed on the Okinawans at various points thoughout their history, encouraged the refinement of empty-hand techniques and, for this reason, was trained in secret until modern times. Further refinement came with the influence of other martial arts brought by nobles and trade merchants to the island. Born in 1868, Funakoshi began to study karate at the age of 11, and was a student of the two greatest masters of the time, Yasutsune Itosu and Yasutsune Azato.

The first public demonstration of karate in Japan was in 1917 by Funakoshi, at the Butoku-den in Kyoto. This, and subsequent demonstrations, greatly impressed many Japanese, including the Crown-Prince Hirohito, who was very enthusiastic about the Okinawan art. In 1922, having mastered two major styles of Karate, Funakoshi, then President of the Okinawa association of the Spirit of Martial Arts, was chosen to demonstrate Karate at the first National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo. This led to the introduction of the ancient martial art to the rest of Japan. Karate

Other masters then helped spread Karate throughout the country and the rest of the world. A general Federation of Karate Organizations was established in 1964 after Karate achieved a following abroad. This federation’s main concern has been to establish unified forms, rankings, and rules of competition, and to keep contact with overseas Karate associations. Over the years, numerous schools and styles have emerged, some emphasizing the strengthening of the body, while others focused on quick movement.


What is Ju-Jitsu?

Ju-Jitsu loosely translated means “science of softness” or “gentle art” and is applied to many schools of unarmed and hand-to-hand combat. The soft grappling style was intended to help unarmed soldiers to fight against armed enemies in any way possible, using the least amount of force necessary. Ju-Jitsu was the primary unarmed combat method of the Samurai. Aikido and Judo are both modern day descendents of Ju-Jitsu. Several techniques used are similar to Karate, Aikido and Judo.

Ju-Jitsu emphasizes turning an attacker’s own force against him or herself, putting them off balance. Ju-Jitsu also emphasizes certain grappling moves and strikes to vital areas. A Ju-Jitsu student is expected to learn how to gauge the force of an opponent’s attack and use it against him, evade attacks, use leverage against an opponent and how to attack nerves and pressure points.

The main goal in Ju-Jitsu practice is to cultivate a person’s mind and body: not to use it as a means to vent one’s anger, frustration or emotional problems. The use of force is condoned only in self-defense or in the defense of those who are defenseless.

The Origins of Ju-Jitsu

The origin of Ju-Jitsu is not clear, however the first publicly recognized Ju-Jitsu Ryu was formed by Takenouchi Hisamori in 1532 and consisted of techniques using a sword, jo-stick and dagger as well as unarmed techniques. The Takenouchi-Ryu may be regarded as the primal branch for the teaching of arts similar to that of Ju-Jitsu.

Several hundred years later there was a general shift from the weapon forms of fighting to weaponless styles. These weaponless styles were developed from the grappling techniques of the weapon styles and were collectively known as Ju-Jitsu.

Fukuno Schichiroemon of Temba started the Kito-Ryu in the middle of the 17th century. The Kito-Ryu gained great prestige and popularity with its “Art of Throwing” and “Form Practice.” In close connection with this branch was the Jikishin-Ryu, whose founder was Terada Kanemon, a contemporary of Fukono. They established two separate systems of Ju-Jitsu. These two systems appear to be the oldest of all the varied systems of Ju-Jitsu.

It has been estimated that over 750 systems of Ju-Jitsu were in existence in Japan from 1603-1868. The branches of Ju-Jitsu grew during the feudal period. The art continued in various provinces in Japan until the later part of the 18th century, when it began to decline with the impending fall of feudalism.

Kano Jigoro opened his first Kodokan dojo in the early 1880’s in Tokyo. Kano used his knowledge and experience of Ju-Jitsu to create Judo. During the Kodokan’s years, Judo almost completely smothered the prevailing Ju-Jitsu traditions of the area, perhaps due to Judo’s success in direct competitions with various Ju-Jitsu forms.

Ju-Jitsu Competition
The United States Ju-Jitsu Federation (USJJF) was founded in 1971, and is the National Governing Body for Ju-Jitsu in the United States with the Ju-Jitsu International Federation (JJIF).

The United States Sport Jujitsu Association (USSJA) is the governing body for Sport Ju-Jitsu in the United States, acting as a member of the International Sport Jujitsu Association (ISJA). Sport Ju-Jitsu transcends other forms of martial arts competition in that it encompasses all fighting ranges. It challenges fighters not only to develop hand and foot speed, but also to have the versatility and skill to go into grappling using takedowns, throws and submissions. There is a U.S. National Championship that takes place every year in the fall, and a World Championship is held every two years.


What is Judo?

Judo literally translated is ju (gentle) and do (way or path) or “the gentle way.”

Judo is practiced internationally by more than 400,000 men, women and children. It is taught through forms, which are prearranged series of throws, and randori, which is the equivalent of sparring. Because Judo is taught in a similar fashion globally, a clear sequence of instruction has been established. Unlike other martial arts, Judo competition rules, training methods, and rank systems are relatively uniform throughout the world.

Judo is practiced on mats and consists primarily throws, arm-locks, chokes and pins, there are no strikes in competitive Judo. These techniques are performed upon opponents in Judo tournaments in order to score points. Additional techniques, including atemi-waza (striking) and various joint locks are found in the judo katas. Judo is generally compared to wrestling but it retains its unique combat forms.

Each Judo match begins with the ceremonial bow between the two contestants, after which each grabs the other’s jacket collar and sleeve. The objective in a Judo match is to score an ippon (full point), or waza-ari (almost ippon). The competition is ended once such a score is obtained.

Judo training has many forms for different interests. Some students train for self-defense while others train for competition. Others will study the traditional art and forms (kata). Still others practice Judo simply for fun. Black belts are expected to learn all of these aspects of Judo.

The History of Judo

Judo was founded by Dr. Jigro Kano in 1882. Kano was born in 1860 and at the age of 18 enrolled in the Tenjin Shinyo ryu school of Ju-Jitsu. The Tenjin Shinyo ryu was a soft martial art that stressed harmony as opposed to combat, but also included striking and grappling techniques. Kano transferred to the Kito ryu which offered an even softer form of Ju-Jitsu. Kano then began to study of other forms of Ju-Jitsu which caused him to revisit the Ju-Jitsu techniques he had learned. Students were often getting injured while practicing many of the techniques and Kano wanted to form a martial art that was more gentle.

In developing Judo, Kano removed all of the Ju-Jitsu techniques that were dangerous when attempted. In 1882 he founded the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo and it is still the international authority for Judo. Kano emphasized the educational value of training in attack and defense and changed training methods so that most of the moves could be done with full force to create a decisive victory without injury.

Judo’s popularity increased dramatically in 1886 after a contest hosted by the Tokyo police. The Judo team defeated the most well-known Jujutsu school of the time. Judo went on to become a part of the Japanese physical education system and continued its growth around the world. The ultimate goal of Judo is to perfect the individual so that he could be of value to society, “a training for life.” Kano felt Judo to be a holistic art, used not only to improve physical health but also mental, emotional and spiritual health.

The U.S.'s Introduction to Judo

The United States’ first introduction to Judo was in the late 1800’s. In 1904 Yoshiaki Yamashita, one of Kano’s students traveled to the US and taught Judo to Theodore Roosevelt and West Point cadets. But it wasn’t until after World War II that American Judo began developing. Many American servicemen studied the art while in Japan and then taught it when the arrived back in the states. As a result the Armed Forces Judo Association (AFJA) was then established.

Though Kano discouraged competition, the first world championship competition was held in 1956. In 1964 men’s Judo competition became a part of the Olympics. In 1992 Judo competition for women was added to the Olympics.

In his lifetime, Kano attained a doctorate degree in Judo, which is equivalent to the twelfth dan, awarded to the originator of Judo only. Kano is often called the “Father of Japanese Sports” due to his continuous work to ensure the development of athletics in Japan.

In the early 1950’s General Curtis Lamay required Judo be taught to US Air Force personnel in the Strategic Air Command. In 1953 Judo was officially recognized as an AAU sport and national tournaments have been held since. The Judo Black Belt Federation became one of the major governing bodies for Judo in the US until 1954 when the United States Judo Association broke off from it. In 1962 the International Judo Federation was formed and became the governing body for Judo internationally. In the United States, the US Judo Incorporated is the governing body for Judo, along with member organizations USJA and USJF.


What is Hapkido?

Hapkido literally translated: Hap means “coordination of harmony,” Ki means “the essence of power,” and Do means “the art” – in short, “the Way of Coordination and Internal Power.”

Hapkido uses diversion or suppression and combines skeletal joint locks, pressure points, throws, kicks, and strikes for self-defense. The Hapkido practitioner uses their attacker’s power against him. Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, non-resistive movements, and control of the opponent. Although Hapkido contains both outfighting and infighting techniques, the goal in most situations is to get inside for a close-in strike, lock, or throw.

Hapkido The essence of Hapkido is to gain advantage through technique, avoiding the use of strength against strength. For example, if the attack is strong, one must receive it gently. If the attack is gentle, one must counter it powerfully. This makes this style more suitable for women, as they are not required to meet an attacker head on.

Some of the striking and kicking practice is form-like with no partner; however, most is done with a partner who is holding heavy pads that the student strikes and kicks full power. There is some weapons training for advanced students – primarily belt, kubatan, cane, and short staff. Forms and sparring are offered by some schools. There are no Hapkido competitions.

Many Hapkido techniques are unsuitable for use in sparring, as their use would result in injury, even when protective gear is used. There is generally an emphasis on physical conditioning and excercise, including “ki” exercises.

The History of Hapkido

The history of Hapkido is the subject of some controversy. Some say that Hapkido was founded by Yong Sul Choi who from 1919 to the beginning of World War II, had studied Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu in Japan. However, some claim that Choi’s Daito Ryu training was limited to simply attending seminars.. Until the 1960’s, Hapkido was known by various names: Yu Kwon Sool, Yu-Sool, Ho Shin Sool, and Bi Sool.

Ji, Han Jae is considered by some to be the father and founder of modern Hapkido. Ji started his physical training under Master Choi, Yong Sool (Sul) as a teenager in 1953. Choi taught Bok Suh Yu Sool, the Korean version of Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu. At this time, certain Korean kicks and punches were combined and the name expanded to indicate the broadened art form called Korean Hap Ki Yu Kwon Sool.

Ji, Han Jae opened his first Yu Kwon Sool Hap Ki school one year after he began training under Choi with an agreed affiliation with him. Ji left Choi in 1956 to form his own organization, shortening the long name to Hapkido. Ji immigrated to the United States in the 60’s and continues to teach Hapkido today.

Hapkido and Aikido

Hapkido closely parallels (and is sometimes confused with) Aikido and is a complete system of self-defense using striking, kicking and grappling techniques. Hapkido and Aikido both have significant similarities to Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu.

All Hapkido techniques are used for their practical self-defense purposes. Billy JackSince the style is predominately defensive, a practitioner generally allows an attacker to make the first move, thereby committing him or herself. Originally a grappling and throwing art, it now includes a variety of strikes and kicks. Hapkido was introduced in the United States in the 1960s. The style became popular after the motion picture Billy Jack featured Hapkido in its fight scenes, realistically choreographed by Bong Soo Han, and it has grown in popularity since. In the 1970’s and 80’s Hapkido was taught as the style of choice to elite South Korean armed forces units.


What is Capoeira?

“When you strike a martelo, kick to break your own foot; when you throw a galopante, punch to break your hand; and when you throw someone with the head to the floor, do it to make a big hole in the cement.” — Mestre Bimba

Capoeira is an African system of unarmed combat created by African slaves in Brazil. They developed the movements of ritual dance that evolved into techniques of self-defense. Capoeira consists of a stylized dance, practiced in a circle called the “roda,” with sound background provided by percussion instrumentsand the “Berimbau” which is a non-percussion instrument that is always used. It is still set to music today and an emphasis is placed on personal expression.

Founders of Capoeira had no freedom and could be bound and chained, so they relied heavily on leg techniques and leg kicks for attacks and dodges for defense. Capoeira also puts a heavy emphasis on ground fighting, but not grappling and locks. It is common to not be taught any kind of hand strike of parry. Capoeira However, hand positioning is important as it’s used to block attacks and ensure balance. Street fighting Capoeiristas do use their hands for punches.

Defense is supplied mostly by evasion and not by blocking, again because techniques were limited by the amount of physical freedom the practitioner had. An intelligent Capoeirist could seem helpless while at the same time be quite capable of a devastating attack.

Capoeira conditions and develops the muscles, especially the abs. Flexibility and agility are important when practicing Capoeira. After a through warm-up, standing exercises are done, with emphasis on the footwork characteristic of the art, and on the basic kicks. Then walking sequences are done, with the introduction of summersaults, back flips and headstands. Technical training follows, with the whole class later getting together for a “roda.”

The Origins of Capoeira

The martial art of Capoeira was born and developed in Brazil over 400 years ago by African slaves as a means of survival and freedom. Over 2 million slaves were brought from different parts of Africa to Brazil and then dispersed into three ports: Bahia, Recife and Rio de Janeiro. Organization amongst the slaves was sometimes difficult because of a difference in ethnicity and also many were from enemy tribes in Africa. However, the slaves began to escape and fled into the jungles forming secret societies known as “quilombos.” Capoeira was born in the “senzalas,” the places where the slaves were kept, and developed in the “quilombos.” Here, the African tribes were able to put their differences aside and unite to fight for a common interest: freedom.

A fighting technique called “jungle war” was developed in which Capoeira was the key element in staging unexpected revolts. Capoeiras were the name of the brushwoods where the fugitives entrenched themselves. With this, they began to help free other slaves and disrupt the involuntary workforce of the plantations. An effective means of combat, defense and escape, Capoeira was seen as a threat to the officials and became outlawed and punishable by death.

Without a substantial amount of weapons, the ex-slaves realized they would have to defend themselves with their hands (and feet). In a way fairly parallel to Karate, they developed a martial art with the things they had at hand, sugar cane knives and 3/4 staffs. However, they were only able to maintain the art by disguising it as a folk dance. Traditional songs and music were added and movements were altered to disguise the deadly art as a dance. While it looked like a celebration, they were actually planning their liberation. Their hands were often manacled, so Capoeira uses a lot of standing on the hands with feet up with some moves directed towards fighting mounted enemies.

In the early 1Capoeira800’s Capoeira was outlawed in Brazil, especially in its “home state” of Bahia, where gangs used it as their personal fighting style against police. And although slavery was abolished in 1888, Capoeira remained illegal for many years. In the 1890’s most Capoeiristas’ main activities were to disrupt political life. The government created a special police force headed by Sampaio Ferraz to enforce new laws outlawing Capoeira. Ferraz had his special police force learn Capoeira. But when he attempted to have a member of the gentry expatriated for practicing Capoeira, it caused a crisis. The president called a meeting of his cabinet after which several members of his cabinet resigned and the man was expatriated. A black militia exclusively of Capoeiristas then formed in opposition to the government. This group spread fear in the capital until Brazil went to war with Paraguay. The black militia was sent to the front line and returned as heroes.

The law prohibiting the practice of Capoeira was revoked in 1920. Still, Capoeiristas were under attack by police chief Pedro de Azevedo Gordilho. He used his cavalry to aggressively attempt to destroy the art of Capoeira. Because of this many Capoeiristas were known by several nicknames. This tradition continues today. When someone is “baptized” into Capoeira, their Mestre gives them a nickname.

In the mid 1900s, Mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis Machado) was invited to demonstrate Capoeira to the government. After a successful performance and with the government’s permission he opened the first formal Capoeira school. Mestre Bimba created Capoeira Regional in reaction to the sloppy street Capoeira of the 1920s. He wanted to improve the technical quality of the moves and make it a more effective method of self-defense. He drew upon a rough type of dance fighting that he learned from his father called Batuque.

Several years later Capoeira was legalized and a senate bill established it as a national sport of Brazil. Two main styles of Capoeira emerged and developed. The fast paced, acrobatic, Regional, and the slow, precise, harder styled Angola from which it evolved. Later a school known as Mandinga combined the two styles and the rhythm of the Berimbau; the main music instrument that regulates the games, decides which style is played. It is held and played by the Mestre to command the Capoeira game during a roda. There is a third style called Iuna, which is a totally athletic and artistic form of the art.

Today Capoeira has become more than just a fight. After achieving national recognition, the art has developed into what it is today: a dance, a sport, a game and an artistic expression of freedom.


What is Aikido?

Loosely translated, Aikido means “way of accord.”

Contrary to what many people may claim, there is no unified philosophy of Aikido. There is, however, a collection of religious, ethical and metaphysical beliefs which are somewhat shared by Aikidoists. These are either transmitted by word of mouth or found in various publications about Aikido. That being said, at the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of Aikido, one may identify at least two fundamental threads: Aikido a commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible and a commitment to self-improvement through Aikido training.

Aikido emphasizes evasion and circular/spiral redirection of an attacker’s aggressive force into throws, pins and immobilizations as a primary strategy rather than punches and kicks.

The primary strategic foundations of Aikido are:
  1. moving into a position off of the line of attack
  2. seizing control of the attacker’s balance by means of leverage and timing
  3. applying a throw, pin, or other sort of immobilization (such as a wrist/arm lock)

Strikes (atemi) are not absent altogether from the strategic arsenal of the Aikidoist, but their use is primarily (though not exclusively) as a means of distraction. A strike is delivered in order to provoke a reaction from the aggressor, creating a window of opportunity, facilitating the application of a throw, pin, or other immobilization.

Many Aikido schools train in varying degrees with weapons, including the jo (a staff 4 or 5 feet in length), the bokken (a wooden sword), and the tanto (a knife, usually made of wood, for safety). These weapons are used not only to teach defenses against armed attacks, but also to illustrate principles of Aikido movement, distancing, and timing.

The History of Aikido

Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) in Tokyo, Japan in 1942. Ueshiba was born in a rural area of Japan near Osaka and left home in his late teens for Tokyo to seek martial arts instruction. Ueshiba was heavily influenced by Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu – a traditional martial art that dates back 1200 years, as well as several styles of Japanese fencing (Kenjutsu), spearfighting (Yarijutsu), and by the religion Omotokyo. Prior to 1942, Ueshiba called his art “Aikibudo” or “Aikinomichi.”

Largely because of his deep interest in Omotokyo, Ueshiba attempted to cultivate a “spirit of loving protection for all things” rather than techniques for achieving physical domination over others. He organized Aikido; his own system, and established the principle of nonresistance, the non-violent way of self defense. The name Aikido means “The Way of Harmony with the Ki” (life force) and stresses the harmony between mind, body and spirit.

He then began teaching selected pupils, some from noble families, others from the armed forces. He continued his instruction until World War II when he returned to the countryside. Witnessing his countrymen turn their interests from spiritual to material matters, Ueshiba eventually decided that he could encourage a rebirth of the spirit through the medium of Aikido. With that thought, he selected his finest students and sent them to spread Aikido throughout the world.

There are several major variants of Aikido. The root variant is the “aikikai.” Aikikai is the name given to the central dojo of Aikido in Tokyo, Japan. The chief instructor was Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Morihei Ueshiba’s son. With Morihei’s death in 1969, the development of Aikido was taken over by Kisshomaru. He presided at the general headquarters and the International Aikido Federation, representing all the countries of the free world. The Aikikai also houses the headquarters of the International Aikido Federation which has branches throughout the world and which oversees the dissemination of Ueshiba’s Aikido. Through this organization, the quality of the art and the black belt ranks are strictly regulated.

Kisshomaru’s son, Moriteru Ueshiba, assumed the title of Doshu on January 4, 1999, following his death. Moriteru is the third and current Doshu of the Aikikai.

The teachings of the Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu continue today, and Tokimune Takeda is its current headmaster in Japan. Several organizations in the United States are affiliated with the Aikikai, including the United States Aikido Federation, the Aikido Association of America, and Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. More than 14 different sects of Aikido exist today.

General Martial Arts

Martial Arts Styles

The origin and history of Martial Arts is a controversial issue. One can see signs of martial arts in Egyptian, Greek, African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, as well as other cultures.

The first fighting systems on earth probably evolved alongside humans because mankind must have always had a need to defend himself against animals, as well as against his fellow man. Ancient murals and sculptures show fighting poses from Egypt, India and Babylon dating from as far back as 5,000 years ago.

The martial arts as we know them probably did not evolve until systems of offensive and defensive skills were devised in or imported into China. There, in a country saturated with the spiritual teachings of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, these fighting skills were combined with intangible elements such as compassion, discipline and self-control.

Martial arts are thought to have originated in India and made their way through China and across the rest of Asia. Folklore recounts mythical creatures called Tengu who practiced martial arts and passed them on to humans. Founders of martial arts who wanted to give their methods the aura of legitimacy would often claim that the Tengu had taught them the art. Martial Arts Today Legend says that Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk who brought Zen to China from India, also brought the martial arts. There is a clear path leading from the Southern China regions up to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. The details before that, and the exact details of that transfer, are greatly debated by historians and Martial Artists alike.

Through various periods in history when weapons were outlawed, the martial arts prospered as the only means for a person to defend himself and his family. But even as more civilized times descended upon humanity, the arts survived. They managed to outlive their violent origins primarily because they teach man much more than fighting. The true martial arts stress character development, discipline and respect. Self-defense, physical fitness and competition are some of the other benefits which modern practitioners enjoy. The fact that the martial arts have had a chance to evolve into many different styles has allowed it to endure for so many centuries.

Martial Arts Workout

A Martial Art can be defined as a system of techniques – physical and mental exercises developed as a successful means for self-defense, both armed and unarmed.

Techniques, skills and abilities that are martial in nature but do not benefit the practitioner and their community are generally not considered martial arts. Mutual benefit must be a component. Martial arts utilize a variety of combat methods. Some fighting styles emphasize weaponless techniques while others teach the use of weapons. Some styles focus on grappling while others put their emphasis on striking. Weaponless systems use hand, arm, foot, shin, and knee striking and blocking techniques. Some weapons that may be used are the staff, sword, knife, dagger and nunchaku.

Not all forms of self-defense are actually considered to be martial arts. Some argue that unless warriors were using a fighting system in actual combat, it was not truly a martial art. Additionally, there is a difference between martial art and martial sport; the sport application of a combat system is not a martial art. Not all activities designated as martial arts are martial or artistic.

Martial Arts Today
While some developed from warrior combat, other martial arts developed as a means for spiritual and physical development. Strictly defined, martial arts are combat arts, methods for killing an opponent in battle. Martial ways, or, those arts that have a spiritual component, go beyond combat effectiveness.

Today, the martial arts are practiced for health and fitness, sport, law enforcement, spiritual benefits as well as for self-defense. With close to 13,000 martial arts schools in the United States alone, it is likely one can find a school that teaches their desired style nearby. Click here to look for schools in your area.

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