Which Martial Art Is Right For You? A Comparison Of Three Very Different Practices

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Blog, Recreation & Sports

If you’ve been thinking about taking up a martial arts practice, you may be overwhelmed by all the different styles of martial arts being taught today. Virtually all of them are a great workout and will challenge both your body and your mind. Here’s a look at three distinctly different types of martial arts that might help you narrow down your choice.

Kobudo

Kobudo is an Okinawan martial arts form that uses weaponry. Some of the weapons used include

  • sticks of different lengths
  • clubs
  • spears
  • sickles

The roots of kobudo are shrouded in old tales from the last days of the Samurai. Some stories say that kobudo was developed by Okinawan peasants trying to defend themselves with farm tools against the Samurai who were trying to take over their island. Others say that warrior castes also used similar implements and techniques in their fighting.

Kobudo is not as prevalent in the US as many other martial arts styles. It’s not a money-making enterprise for most instructors, because like fencing, only a few groups can practice on the floor at any one time in most average-size facilities. It is particularly strenuous, in that you must practice martial arts moves with the added weight of a weapon.

Some people argue that kobudo is an outmoded technique, as people don’t fight with weapons any longer. However, the techniques from kobudo can be applied to virtually any “weapon,” such as boots, handbags, brooms, or fire pokers, and the ability to put distance between yourself and an opponent makes it a good self-defense technique for women.

For more information, contact Tanaka’s Martial Arts Academy or a similar location.

Tae Kwon Do

Tae kwon do was developed during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1940s. Most schools in the US now use a belt system of ranking, like karate, although there is less open hand work than karate with tae kwon do.

The emphasis in this extremely popular Korean martial art is on punches and jumping and spinning kicks. Practitioners of tae kwon do learn to spar as well as to practice forms–choreographed sequences that can be put into muscle memory in the event of an actual fight.

Tae kwon do is a great martial arts option for kids and teens, as it places strict adherence on discipline, etiquette, and self-confidence. People of all ages appreciate its well-rounded workout potential, developing strength, flexibility, breathing control, and mental acuity. Classes often begin and end with a brief meditation, and there are tournaments across the country year-round where athletes can test their skills, right up to the Olympic level.

Aikido

Aikido is very different from other martial arts in that practitioners try to preserve the well being of their attackers during a bout. Rather than focusing on kicks and punches (although these are part of the technique), aikido uses mostly grappling and throws. An awareness of one’s energy (“ki”) is vital, as is that of one’s opponent.

Aikido was developed during the 1920s in Japan by Morihei Ueshiba. Like other martial arts, physical conditioning is an important element of its practice. A unique aspect of aikido is its teaching of falls and whole body movement, rather than motions that isolate the limbs.

Instead of freestyle sparring, aikido incorporates its forms into bouts between two opponents. Emphasis is on self-defense, versus initiating fights. Weaponry is incorporated into training at some schools at the upper levels.

The study of martial arts can improve both physical and mental health, even at novice levels. If you’re interested in studying one of the styles above, ask to watch a class or two in your area to get a better idea of whether it’s right for you. Some schools also let you try a class first before committing to regular training. With a little research ahead of time, you’re sure to find a method that puts you on the road to tremendous physical fitness and psychological stamina, and hopefully you’ll have fun along the way!

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