Sometimes one would see references to ‘hard’ style and ‘soft’ style martial arts. To many non-martial artists, these terms may be puzzling. In North America, these terms are used to classify martial art styles into two main categories. Japanese/Okinawan karate and Korean tae kwon do are generally referred to as hard styles. Movements in both karate and tae kwon do are often linear with their forms (traditional sequence of set moves) performed with crisp movements. Chinese kung fu styles are usually referred to as soft styles. The circular motions of kung fu forms give them a more visually graceful or softer appearance especially when many of the movements flow from one to another. Even Korean kuk sool won which is sometimes referred to as ‘Korean kung fu’, is often classified as a soft style since its movements are also more flowing than the stop and go of tae kwon do or karate. This is not to say that hard styles such as karate or tae kwon do are more powerful martial arts than kung fu and other soft styles. The term ‘soft’ is a bit misleading because the power from circular kung fu moves are often hidden. Circular moves can generate just as much power as linear ones.
The terms hard style and soft style came as a result of the evolution of North American martial arts competitions, particularly in forms divisions. For many years, open karate tournaments which allowed all martial arts styles, had competitors from different martial arts backgrounds compete in the same forms divisions. All equivalent level competitors, whether they used a Japanese/Okinawan karate kata, a Korean tae kwon do pattern or a Chinese kung fu form, competed together in the same divisions. This provided a nice martial arts showcase for spectators especially at the bigger tournaments. However, some competitors and judges considered divisions with combined styles to be too complicated. For example, judges who were familiar with only Japanese or Korean styles had a difficult time scoring competitors performing Chinese kung fu forms. Sometimes competitors from different martial art styles felt that judges were being biased against them. Judging a hard style form against a soft style form was often like trying to compare apples to oranges.
To help resolve these issues, many of the larger martial arts tournaments expanded to have separate divisions for hard and soft styles. This was a way to equalize things and add some more fairness to all competitors. The largest tournaments went another step ahead and further separated Japanese karate stylists from Korean Tae Kwon Do stylists by putting them into different divisions too. This still left many Kempo stylists up in the air because their particular forms have both hard and soft style elements since their movements are both linear as well as circular. Some promoters of large tournaments decided to accommodate Kempo stylists by adding in separate forms divisions just for their style too. Of course many smaller local tournaments have not been able to offer separate hard and soft style divisions for martial arts forms competitors mainly because of financial budget restrictions. The terms hard style and soft style are used only in North America and parts of Europe since these are the only regions of the world that have open martial arts competitions. Martial arts competitions in other parts of the world such as Asia are generally restricted to certain specific styles only.
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Flexibility is the range of movement that you have in your joints. Some say that this definition should only apply if there is no exterior help to move the joint, but this is not correct. If your joints have a greater degree of movement when aided by an external force, then that degree of movement defines the flexibility.
Hence, if you strengthen you muscles, and these act as the external force, then the flexibility of your joints will allow a greater range of movement than were your muscles unable to exert that degree of force.
To put it simply, if you have a great degree of flexibility in your joints, then the stronger you are, the more you will be able to put that flexibility to use in the range of movement you have at your disposal. It goes without saying that the more flexibility you have in a martial art the better.
However, people do not have the same range of flexibility throughout their bodies. Even more specifically, flexibility in one range or direction of motion at a specific joint does not imply flexibility in another. Hence that fact that you have complete ability to complete perfect front splits does not infer that you have the same control over side splits, even though it is the same hip joint that is involved. The two are not connected. A suitable flexibility exercise program, therefore, should be designed to provide good flexibility in all joints in all directions of movement, relevant to the martial art studied.
Flexibility training should be carried out in conjunction with strength training in order that the range of flexibility achieved can be used to its full potential by the muscles that move the bones in the joints. There is no truth in the belief that you must trade flexibility and strength. Supreme strength simply means supreme use of the flexibility gained through training.
However there is more than this in a martial art. Tension and relaxation are of supreme importance. Tension is equated with power and strength while relaxation is equated with speed and flexibility. Russian Cossacks used to train with their sabres by standing waist deep in water and slicing into the water with their blades. As they became weary they would learn to relax on the downstroke and tense and use their power on at the moment of strike.
The results were incredible and awesome. A Cossack could slice a man from shoulder down to saddle with one strike with only a light sabre. All due to using relaxation and power at the correct times. This can be simulated by using a large rubber eraser. About three inches by an inch square is about right. Hold it in the fist and explosively compress it. Do this using your core power. Compress hard with maximum explosion, just as if you were punching. Then relax just as quickly. Repeat this during the day — explosive compression and quick relaxation. Eventually you be able to carry out this rapid-fire tight-loose-tight sequence without thought.
This is a relaxation technique, but cannot replace the experience of the fight since fear of being hit cannot help tighten you up. However, if you do this for a few hours every day (easier than you think since the eraser can be carried in your pocket) you will find that you can relax your fist until the moment of the strike when you require maximum power.
Whether in boxing or karate, this will improve your performance and strength. Combine this with your flexibility training and you will be on the first rung of achieving greatness in karate or any other explosive martial art. Russian training methods help you to develop this total control over relaxation and explosive power in the use of your strength and flexibility.
One of the main reasons parents enroll their children in martial arts is discipline. You have seen it before. A parent enrolls their child in your class expecting you to suddenly and indefinitely whip them into shape so that they never answer back or behave badly. The problem is that their child has a limited attention span and uncontrollable energy.
One of their favorite activities is to fall down on the floor or to hang on your leg. Your job is to make them a disciplined ninja warrior with perfect focus. This type of child can make or break you. They can destroy your very best lesson plan in an instant if you do not pay attention to discipline. Is it possible to meet his parents’ expectations? Yes it is, and let me tell you how!
There are two main ways to get somebody to do something you want them to do. The first way is to make the pain of not doing what you want them to do far greater than the pain of actually doing it, and the second is to make the satisfaction of doing what you want them to do far greater than the satisfaction of not doing it.
It is my experience that meeting the goal using the second way is much easier than using the first way. Once again, human beings (especially kids) respond better to positive influences than they do to negative influences. So what does this mean in terms of your karate class?
If you lead your class like a drill sergeant and it’s “your way or the highway” you can be sure that your class will be poorly attended. The people in the class will probably be good but they will not know how to compromise and they certainly will not take any direction from anyone else but you. Therefore, if you are sick that day, you had better find another drill sergeant to take your place.
If you lead your class by example through positive encouragement, constructive feedback and mutual respect, I believe you will have a much easier time and will create better students both technically and in terms of their attitude.
Through doing this you will allow more people the opportunity to stick with karate long enough to begin to truly understand and experience the real benefits that come with an extended length of training and study in karate.
If, on the other hand, you scare them off after the first couple of lessons, they will forever be negatively inclined towards martial arts and may miss out on something that could have provided them with great value. Please be very careful with beginning students. Your job is to give them every chance to like martial arts so that they can make an educated decision as to whether it fits in with their lifestyle and goals.
Good luck and best wishes to you on your honorable and noble role in teaching. Feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have on your practice or your teaching.
In the USA, every two minutes a woman is being assaulted.
A 1993 survey revealed that 50% of Canadian women have experienced an incident of sexual assault or physical violence.
In Australia, 19% of women aged 18 to 24 experienced an act of violence in the last year.
Statistics show that one in very four women in America will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
These are SHOCKING statistics!
For more than 15 years I have been running specialized self defense courses and seminars. Over that time I have shown thousands of people how to protect and look after themselves.
Increasing personal safety ALWAYS commences with awareness.
Since most women fear attacks of a sexual nature more than anything else most of my quick tips are geared towards that.
If you are a woman, here is a list of ten simple things that you can do immediately that will increase your safety:
1 — Know your surroundings and stay aware. Take notice of entrances and exits of the environment you are in.
2 — Trust your instincts. Women are very intuitive. If you think a situation might be dangerous then it probably is. That little guardian angel should be trusted rather than ignored.
3 — Rape and other sexual assault is always increasing. In the event of the worst outcome use your fingernails to gouge your attacker’s cheek. It marks him for identification and you will have DNA under your nails.
4 — Drive your motor vehicle in a courteous manner. Nobody appreciates rude hand signs. Remember — eventually you have to stop, even if it is to refuel. Psycho cases might follow you for many miles “just to teach you a lesson” — all because you made yourself a target to their twisted minds.
5 — Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, taking mind altering drugs and leaving ANY food or drink unattended where it may be tampered with is a recipe for disaster. Give your self an even chance.
6 — NEVER pick up hitch-hikers and ABSOLUTELY NEVER hitch-hike yourself.
7 — If you live alone make sure that all your mail is addressed by just your first initial followed by your surname. Never allow mail to be addressed to you with salutations like Miss, Mrs, Ms or with your christian or given name. Those letters and parcels pass many eyes before they get to you. Change them. Make them nondescript as to your sex and marital status. Why allow anybody even one extra shred of information about you?
8 — NEVER walk alone at night or at any time in isolated areas. Predators love these locations. Avoid them.
9 — Many sexual acts are committed by people who the victims knew — or, at least, thought they knew! Be friendly and polite by all means but be vigilant for tell-tale signs of “strange” behavior. Do NOT flirt. Be firm about any unwanted attention, particularly in the work place.
10 — Sexual attack is usually preceded by some visual sign, which is usually preceded by some verbal approach before the physical action. Recognize the sequence: the look — the talk — the attack.
Please feel free to distribute this safety list to every woman you care for. The only condition is that the resource box remains intact and that this article is not altered in any way.
Look into to self defense programs to help give you confidence with skills to protect yourself. Fight Camp offers boxing / fighting training right in the comfort of your own home.
The main reason most people drop out of the martial arts — besides life taking them in different directions — is because they didn’t take the time to do any research and found out later the studio they joined wasn’t what they expected. The time you invest researching studios will pay you back a thousand fold.
It will also help you find the right studio for you. You’ll be more enthusiastic about your training and you’ll get more out of it. Here are eight consumer tips to help you make a more informed decision before starting at any martial arts studio:
One of the important lessons of Martial Arts training is the ability to use hip rotation as a way to generate power and speed for maximum impact.
Martial artists know that the hips are where the body’s ‘center of gravity’ is located. It lends balance and stability to every move. The lower body is designed for power- the upper body for finesse.
If you can translate this knowledge into a better golf swing, you will be blessed with both power and accuracy.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Hip rotation holds the key to a powerful swing. Do you want to turn easily from the hip and get more yards out of your swing? It’s not hard when you know the proven secrets of golf pros.
The first thing you need to know about turning, is that you won’t get a flawless turn till you develop stabilization and strength in the lower body.
To get your upper body in sync, make sure you stand straight with your shoulders pulled back, to facilitate that perfect swinging motion from the shoulder- instead of the elbow. Practice turning your shoulders as far back as possible, with your trunk acting as the pivot. If you are right handed, you can see your left shoulder aligned with your chin.
Strong shoulders and well-conditioned abs are a must to maximize torque, while minimizing the distorting forces at the hip- which can lead to imbalances and injury.
Top players initiate their downswing with the powerful muscles of the abs and hips. Once the desired momentum is generated by the lower body, they use their arm muscles to effectively “fine tune” the swing.
Recreational players, on the other hand, use their arm muscles right at the outset. As a result, they are unable to recruit the latent muscle-power in their lower body, while the arm muscles work extra hard both to power and guide the club. No wonder it leads to a shaky, inconsistent swing!
Many players employ faulty swing mechanics, which actually dissipate the energy generated by the lower body, before it can be transmitted to the upper body.
Recreational golfers show a higher tendency for movements that rob swing momentum, such as hip sliding and lateral bending.
The reason can often be traced to reduced range of motion in the hip joints. Often, the process of aging or a sedentary lifestyle can lead you to lose some internal rotation at the hip joint. This condition can be helped with stretches and strengthening exercises that target the hip flexors, hip adductors (inner thigh and groin), hip adductors (outer thighs or hips) and the glutes (buttocks).