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Types of Martial Arts

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There are many Types of Martial Arts that have been developed throughout known history and there are even more being developed today.

It can be hard to describe what the martial arts are. As the great philospher Sang Kyu Shim wrote in one of my all time favorite books on the subject: The Making of a Martial Artist, he tried to describe what the martial arts are by first explaing what they are not.

What Martial Arts Are Not

  • "They are not a security blanket."
  • What Shim means here is that many people begin martial arts training to learn self defense or how to fight. They feel a need to defend themselves against the outside world and turn to martial arts to fill that need. As I have mentioned before, if someone studies the arts just to learn how to fight, then they are missing the whole point of martial arts training.

  • "The martial arts do not mean conformity."
  • Some people make the mistake of believing that martial arts styles demand that all their participants be the same, do the same, because of the way students practice in the training room. Yes, students often train in groups, going over the same motions together as a means of learning. This is not an effort to force conformity, but a simple means of teaching. Once a student has mastered a topic, they are free and encouraged to make it their own. Each to his own personal best.

  • "The martial arts are not mere sport."
  • This confusion is greater today than ever. When Shim wrote this book, it was 1984 and Olympic Tae kwon do Sparring was just on the forefront of what was new about martial arts. Until that time, martial arts had a more traditional, secretive and selective flavor. Now, between Olympic taekwondo and MMA or Mixed Martial Arts, many mistakenly see martial arts as a sport which it is not. Sport implies "game" and "skill" with a finite time frame that an individual can compete under. Martial arts is a way of life.

  • "The martial arts are not intended as a form of entertainment."
  • Although, I must admit, I love a good martial arts movie as much as the next gal, too many people get caught up in the glamour only to discover that martial arts is work. It's not a role that you can step into or out of as it pleases you. Once again, it's a way of life and to be taken seriously.

  • "The martial arts are not a political device."
  • Using types of martial arts and their practionors as amens to gain political ends is a complete contradiction to the purpose of martial arts.

  • "The martial arts are not a skill to be used for street-fighting and illiegal violence."
  • Unlike the bad guys in those movies I love, martial arts styles are not taught or learned to cause harm or violate other human beings. To be able to defend yourself skillfully can save your life and is an important by product of martial arts instruction.

Types of Martial Arts Styles

For a list of the types of martial arts styles, click on the alphabetical sections listed below. I have recently bought a great book titled: The Way to Black Belt, by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder, where they list and briefly describe the most common martial arts styles that you can find and practice in your community.

A-I | J-L | M-S | T-Z

Martial Arts Techniques

Sports Motivation

Martial Arts Drills

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"Martial art is a form of applied art, aesthetically as demanding as ballet and as time demanding as sculpting."
-Sang Kyu Shim

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