It is estimated that about a hundred million people practice some form of martial arts as a method of physical fitness, self-defense, for competition, and to find mental peace and spirituality. There are around 200 types of martial arts, with each of them comprising specific schools, known as systems or styles, which number in their thousands.
Even though there are such a wide variety with their styles, most of them have similar techniques; hence, they can be categorized into broad classes in order to define them. The basic method of categorizing martial arts is by the basic technique that is used: either grappling or striking.
The grappling forms basically uses wrestling, locking, and throwing techniques. These martial arts basically are about neutralizing the aggressive actions of the opponent by gaining control over him/her, without using any striking actions. Some of the most popular types of grappling martial arts are aikido, jujitsu, and judo.
The types of martial arts that involve striking are based on using blows with the feet, hands, elbows, knees, and even the head. Examples of this type of martial arts are karate, taekwondo, and kung fu.
Popular Martial Arts Types
Technique, strength, and speed are the hallmarks of expertise in karate. Some of the other requisites are an acute sense of timing along with surprise, and constant alertness.
The practitioners of karate wear a white tunic, known as gi, worn with a cloth belt, the color of which indicates the levels of expertise, with white being the lowest, green being a level higher, then brown, and finally, the topmost level being a black belt, known as dan. The karate master, or instructor, is referred to as sensei.
The name has been derived from three Korean words: tae, which means kick or foot, kwon, which means punch or fist, and do, which means, way of life, or art. Hence, in literal terms it means 'the art of fighting with hand and foot'.
The practitioners of taekwondo practice their martial art by following combative moves in a choreographed sequence, controlled sparring between two people, and breaking wooden boards. They wear a loose, white colored tunic, called dobok, along with various colored belts, indicating the rank, with the black belt indicative of an expert.
The name has been derived from the Japanese words Ju, which means soft or gentle, indicative of submitting to the energy created by the attack of the opponent, and jitsu, which means art, referring to using that energy against the opponent.
It is thought that jujitsu has evolved from the types of martial arts that reached Japan from the Asian mainland, which then was amalgamated into the combative techniques that were already present there. Jujitsu does not require the practitioner to wear any standard form of dress.
There are three common types of techniques that are used in Judo competitions, which are: atemi-waza, which means striking; katame-waza, which means grappling; and nage-waza, which means standing and throwing.
A practitioner of Judo uses these techniques in various combinations and moves to apply holds which help in confining the movement of the opponent, or attempting to throw and pin the opponent on the mat, causing him/her to submit.
These days kendo is practiced with bamboo swords, known as shinai, while the practitioners wear protective gear, known as bogu, which comprises the men, which is a mask on the face, do, which is a breastplate, tare, which means a sort of an apron to protect the hips and stomach, and kote, which are the fencing gloves.
Under this protective equipment, the practitioner of kendo, or kendoka, wears a split skirt that is wide, and reaches down to the ankles, known as the hakama. The shinai is made of seasoned bamboo. The contestants fight on a smooth floor, with bare feet.