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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Russian martial arts flexibility and strength training techniques such as kettlebells have been available to Western Special Forces for many years from Russian masters of martial arts. Russian territory reaches from the west through middle Asia to China, and they have the benefit of the best of self defence and aggressive techniques from all of these territories within their armed forces.

Both before and after the destruction of the communist ways in parts of the USSR, Russian fitness experts crossed to Europe to provide us with the benefits of their knowledge of self defence and strength training, and both UK and American forces have reaped the benefits of this specialized Russian knowledge. Much of this knowledge is now available online to ordinary people with an interest in improving their strength, flexibility and relaxation techniques in order that they can attain the highest levels possible in their chosen sport or game. That means you!

Take Russian kettlebells, for example. Russian power lifters and martial arts experts are available online to offer you instruction in how to use these simple weights to build exceptional power and strength throughout your whole body. For those not familiar with kettlebells, they are simple heavy balls with a handle so that you can lift them. They are very simple but can make a person stronger, more explosive, and with unbelievable endurance and coordination: just what is needed in any martial art, and used extensively in Russian military training.

Many martial artists, especially in the initial stages of study, are unaware of the true importance of strength, speed and power. In very simple terms, strength + speed = power. If you strike with great strength and high speed, you will generate great power. It is for reasons such as this that great Russian exponents of fitness and martial arts training such as Pavel Tsatsouline have been employed by the American special forces, police and other organizations to teach techniques such as those that enabled Russian Cossacks to slice a man from shoulder to saddle with nothing but a light saber (not a ‘light saber’ as in star Wars, but a saber that is not heavy!). This is spelled ‘sabre’ in Europe, where it originated.

They could do this through relaxation techniques, gained by repeatedly slashing into water while standing waist deep in a lake. This sounds easy, but not after doing it for hours, and needs total relaxation until the instant of strike. This is exactly as a martial artist or boxer should be totally relaxed until the arm snaps straight with maximum forward momentum and power, and then relaxes immediately after strike until the next strike which could be a fraction of a second later.

Relaxation can become second nature through the use of Qigong or Tai Chi training, the Chinese art of relaxation. Many people regard it as an exercise for wimps, yet the greatest martial arts exponents in the world use it for relaxation, as do many of the world’s elite martial forces. Meet these guys face to face and call them wimps!

Through a combination of kettlebells, relaxation training and flexibility, the Russian special forces were among the most feared in the world in unarmed combat, which is why they were employed to train the armed forces of the USA. Their techniques are available online if you know where to look, and relaxation that leads to speed, endurance and flexibility appears to be one of their main skills.

Its opposite is tension, which is composed of strength and power. At the moment of a martial artist’s strike, speed and power are backed up with mass, but an instant later the fist is totally relaxed as it snaps back to guard. Many sports other than just martial arts depend on tension and relaxation, the two aspects of the expert sportsman.

Russian training techniques offer opportunities to improve your tension and relaxation. Strength is increased through the use of kettlebells, power through dynamic and kinetic training, speed through flexibility training and relaxation through qigong and other such techniques. Those that laugh and claim that they do not work would shudder at seeing the power and capabilities of the Cossack, as did the opponents who would rather run than face them. They were more powerful that their horses and the most feared opponents in the known world at the time.

If you want to improve to your ability at most sports, but especially in martial arts, learn from the Cossacks and Russians. Learn from their martial arts flexibility techniques, and kettlebell strength exercises. They are simple to understand, and the equipment is inexpensive.

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Escrima is a popular Filipino martial art dating back to the 1500s, during the colonization of the Philippine Islands by the Spanish. Escrima is a very simplified but practical form of combat technique originally designed as a self-defense tool. Escrima is also known by many other names such as Eskrima, Arnis, Arnis de Mano, Kali and FMA (Filipino Martial Art). Because of its effectiveness, Escrima is also taught extensively in many Special Forces including the Navy Seals and Army Special Forces.

Brief History:

Many believe that Escrima or Filipino Martial Art originated from Chinese influenced Indonesian fighting tactics such as Kun Tao, Chuan Fa and Tai Chi double stick forms. Others believe the Escrima art form to be wholly developed by the Filipino people. However, the most plausible explanation seems to be rooted in the history of the Spanish colonization.

When the Spanish occupied the Philippine Islands, a form of art similar to Escrima had already existed but was only recreational. However, this art began to develop into a more martial discipline when the Spanish prohibited indigenous Filipino weapons such as the Bolo (machete), daggers and fighting sticks in the 1700s. It remained a clandestine art until the Americans took over in 1898. From then on, the Filipino Martial Art started to gain recognition and popularity.

In the West, Escrima was introduced and popularized by Filipino immigrants after the Second World War, particularly in the American states of Hawaii and California.

Weapons and Footwork in Escrima:

Unlike other forms of martial arts, the primary tool to learn the basic concepts of Escrima is focus on weaponry, which is followed by empty-hand techniques. The Rattan stick is the most common weapon used in Escrima training, which includes hand and head protection when sparring. Other weapons include burned and hardened stick made of hardwood, such as Molave or Kamagong (ebony). Modern versions may be made out of aluminum, other metals, or high-impact plastics. The Nunchaku (also known as Kung Fu sticks or Double sticks) weapon was popularized by actor Bruce Lee, an avid practitioner of Escrima.

Each range — the distance between opponents — in Escrima has its own characteristics and footwork techniques. Good footwork enables efficient control of these ranges. The footwork is demonstrated in terms of triangles with two feet occupying two corners of the triangle and the step to the third corner. The shape and size of the triangle is dependant on the particular situation.

Escrima Facts:

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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.

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Combat Jujitsu is one of the hottest trends in martial arts today. In fact, a lot of martial arts masters are creating a new and unique form of all martial arts known as combat martial arts. Learning combat Jujitsu can have a lot of benefits.

Jujitsu is a very skilled martial arts that uses a lot of different moves such as holds, mounting, grappling, takedowns, and a whole lot more. If you are persistent, determined and disciplined you can learn Combat Jujitsu and experience an entirely new level of personal development through it.

Jujitsu is an ancient martial art originating from the country of Japan, and was created in the 1500s. The ancient martial art of Jujitsu combines all of the grappling, holds, mounting, and takedown moves with relaxing and beneficial meditations.

Judo was actually developed from the ancient martial art of Jujitsu in the 1800s by a man named Jigoro Kano. Jigoro Kano took a variety of different techniques from other masters of Jujitsu and meshed them together into Judo. Kano called this form of Jujitsu and Judo “Kadokan Judo”. Kano soon found out that his dog’s breakfast version of Jujitsu wasn’t as great as he thought it was. His students could not defeat the Jujitsu students in any of the competitions they engaged in. Kano knew it was time for a change, and he chose to add some more skills to his form of Judo — joint locking techniques, choking techniques and holds. One of Kano’s students eventually moved to the beautiful country of Brazil and brought his unique form of Jujitsu and Judo to the country with him. From there, the martial arts of Jujitsu and Judo spread throughout the world.

Combat Jujitsu takes the original Jujitsu and creates a martial arts that has a lot more combat involved, especially self-defense moves. Learning self-defense in any form of martial art is a great benefit. It can even save your life. It will give you the confidence you need to know that you can protect yourself and those around you. You do not need to be scared anymore. You will learn how to watch out for situations you need to get away from, how to escape an attacker trying to hurt you, feel more confident and self-reliant when you go out. Also, you can have a lot of fun learning combat Jujitsu while you are becoming a healthier person overall.

Practicing combat Jujitsu on a regular basis will help you in self-defense and meditation. You will also reduce your risks for many debilitating diseases. In an age of fast food, fast cars, no sleep, 500 channels and road rage, learning this martial art will have countless benefits!

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As I was reading about Martial Arts and all that it involves, I became very enthralled. I dared to find out what all the excitement was about. The phenomenon of martial arts to be used as a workout regiment for many athletes or even perspective physical fitness fans is growing rapidly. In a nutshell, this is all that I discovered.

What I found to be most interesting is the fact that martial arts is researched and is used for various reasons based on each individual’s goals. Martial arts are simply defined as the systems of practices and traditions of training for combat. The sport is utilized for combat skills, fitness, self- defense, character development and building self-confidence. I feel that the art is commendable in that it strives to enhance moral values and provide guidance for children who become involved with the sport. So, I decided to study further to obtain information on how it may be beneficial as a “workout regiment.” I continued to find measures that could contribute to a successful martial arts workout. Coincidentally, the art has as one of its benefits the exercising of your body and mind so you gain a “good well rounded” workout.

Many forms of martial arts will help you burn calories, along with the structuring of strength and endurance. You would not believe that the appropriate administration of the martial arts techniques helps you burn up 600 calories within an hour. However, it is important that you find the style that will be most accommodating to your lifestyle. Let me discuss with you the different styles in order for you to choose the best fit for you.

For full body training, Judo may be a perfect choice for you. Judo is defined as “the gentle way” and concentrates more on self-defense as opposed to attacking your opponent. Its basic purpose is to throw your component through different techniques to disarm him. It is recommended, however, that you are not physically challenged to perform these movements.

Perhaps Kung Fu may be an option for you. This will definitely add some spice to your workout. Kung Fu is put into two categories, hard and soft. The hard style focuses mainly on impressive strikes and kicks, while the other, soft Kung Fu focuses more on staying balanced and grounded when attacked. At any rate, both styles are prominent for self-defense skills while simultaneously enhancing quickness and agility. If you desire more of a challenge or competitive edge, learn Karate. Different from Kung Fu, Karate displays more combative and focuses on blows with the hands and feet. There are also special breathing and shouting techniques. Karate is a great choice especially for family exercising as classes are offered from the beginner to competitive.

Lastly, Tai Chi is another form of martial arts. During Tai Chi, your goal is to control energy, conveniently known as “Chi.” Its practice is to have slow and controlled movements that vary in the length of performance. Tai Chi is not very advantageous with weight loss, yet it does prove to improve flexibility and reduce stress. More so, it may even lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Since the techniques are slower than other martial art forms, it appears to be a good choice for older exercises or for those of us that suffer from mobility issues because of arthritis, illness or injuries.

From all the information that I have gathered, I hope that it makes it less complicated for you to decide which martial art style that would best meet your objectives. Whichever workout regiment that you try, it is sure to maximize your physical endurance as well as uplift your mental clarity. I encourage you to have a positive attitude from the day you begin on this journey. Always remember that martial arts are equivalent to self-confidence, high moral and ultimate respect first and then the rest will emanate into your everyday life. Finally, I must inform you as well, always get advice from your medical personnel before beginning any of these styles of martial arts. Pay close attention to your body and recognize when you need a break. Remember, martial arts is about improving your life and enhancing your workout regimen, not causing harm to yourself.

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