Where do the martial arts come from?
Martial arts, which is broadly defined as traditions and practices of fighting or combat, have origins around the globe. The martial arts of Eastern Asia -
Why are there so many disciplines?
With countless cultures developing their own martial arts throughout history, today we have a host of martial art styles taught. In addition, there are many sub-
What is a kata?
“Kata” is a Japanese word meaning the choreographed movements of Japanese martial arts practice. Today, “kata” is interchanged with the word “forms,” while “forms” also refers to those choreographed movements in non-
What are forms?
As previously mentioned, forms (also called “kata” in Japanese martial arts) are foundational movements in many martial art disciplines. Done solo or in pairs, forms are part of training that helps build muscle memory for techniques to be used in sparring or real-
Why do you bow before entering the mat?
The bow is an ancient practice and is a sign of respect and trust toward your partner. There are other purposes and symbols associated with the bow as well. Bowing in the martial arts is not a showing of subservience, as it is in Western culture (i.e. bowing to royalty).
What is the belt system and how does it work?
Colored belts are used to denote rank in most East Asian martial arts. The colored belt system is a fairly recent invention, first introduced in the late 1800s with black and white belts, with the expanded color system coming about in the early 20th Century. (Jigoro Kano, the founder of modern judo, is credited with the creation of the colored belt system.) Belt styles differ from discipline to discipline, and colors may vary as well. The most common colors used in martial arts are white, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, brown, and black, with white being a beginner and a black belt (or red, as is the case in taekwondo) being the most advanced. Students progress, earning the next belt rank and color, through testing. Testing styles and requirements depend on the discipline and school.
What do stripes mean on belts?
How do you tie a belt?
Most belts are long enough to wrap around the waist two times. See the diagram below for the most common way to tie a martial arts belt.
What is a dojo and why is it called that?
“Dojo” is a place where karate, judo, aikido and other Japanese “do” arts are practiced. (“Do” means “way” or “the way to enlightenment, self-
How should I address my instructors?
Titles and how you should address your instructors differ from discipline to discipline, and also depend on your instructor/school preference. Your instructor will tell you how to address him or her. It is common for a simple prefix of “Mister” or “Miss” to precede their first or last name, but there are more specific titles assigned to instructors of the various disciplines. Some examples include: Sensei (Japanese disciplines); Sifu (Chinese disciplines); and Master (used in various disciplines).
What’s the difference between the types of uniforms?
There are many different types of uniforms to accommodate the needs and preferences of the various disciplines, schools and instructors. Because of those needs and preferences, uniforms traditionally worn by students of your discipline may not be the uniform required at your school. In many East Asian disciplines, the uniform is called a gi. Common differences in gis include: style of the top (i.e. crossover, V-
What is sparring?
Definitions for sparring vary depending on the discipline, school and instructor. Most commonly, however, sparring refers to partner practice where students use their skills in a more real-
How are weapons used in classes?
Not all disciplines or schools use weapons in their instruction. However, those that do teach weapons training most often use practice tools such as rubber knives, unsharpened blades, lightweight staffs, etc. There are hundreds of weapons that are part of martial arts history, but some of the common ones used today in training are knives, swords, bo staffs, escrima, nunchaku, sai, tonfas and kamas, among others. Ask your school or instructor about the specific use of weapons in your training.
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