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  • Black Belt Knitters
    A community for martial artists who are also fiber artists

  • A Look at Martial Arts


    Martial arts is the name given to systems of combat that have been practised for thousands of years by both eastern and western civilizations.  These systems arose out of a need for self-protection and these early fighters realised that, in order to be the best, they needed to train the mind as well as the body.  Hence the spiritual element that is present in so many systems.


     The majority of today’s martial arts systems originate from eastern cultures.  Styles can roughly be divided into 2 types: hard martial arts systems and soft martial arts systems.  The majority fall into the hard category, where external force is used to defeat an opponent. Karate, taekwondo and hapkido fall into this category.  Examples of softer styles are tai chi and chi gong, although these, too, have a hard element to them.


    Another way of defining the differences is to use the terms ‘internal’ and ‘external’, with the external having its emphasis on punches, kicks and throws, whilst the internal is characterised by its soft, smooth movements and concentration on breathing and the use of the life-force or chi.


    Training in a martial art is a whole-body experience.  Fitness and strength are improved and a student gains self- confidence, discipline and self control.  A martial art such as taekwondo is ideal for children as it is a self defence system where you learn to defend yourself from an attack but never to instigate one.  During their training children learn discipline and self worth.


    There will be many opportunities to join a martial arts class near your home.  Your choice of system will be influenced by what is available nearby.  Whatever the system, the classes will probably have a similar structure, although the content may be vastly different.


    It is advisable to watch a session of your intended class before trying for yourself.  The instructor should be willing for you to do this and for you to try a class before you make a decision.  If he is not, look for another class.


    Whatever martial arts class you choose, there should be an air of respect between student and instructor and student and student.  This sport is potentially dangerous and there must be discipline and quiet in the training hall during all sessions.


    A typical martial arts class will start like any other fitness class.  There will be an initial warmup, which may include jogging round the room, star jumps, burpees and press-ups.  This will probably be followed by a series of stretches.  The next stage will be to practise individual punches, kicks or throws.


    Partner work may follow.  For instance, an instructor in a taekwondo class may use partner work to practise various self defence techniques.  Sparring practice will also be included, with the instructor ensuring correct equipment is worn.  Finally there will be practise of either a pattern or form if this is part of the system.  Patterns are a series of attack and defence moves joined together.


    The culmination of all this hard work is the grading system, where students test for a coloured belt on their journey towards the much-coveted black belt, the ultimate reward for hard work and dedication.