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For anyone who wants to learn a martial art, there is always the question of find the best one to study. There are so many martial arts styles to choose from, it can be very complicated to pick one to learn.
It is virtually impossible to name one style of martial arts as the ultimate best. Actually, there are several factors that come into play, which makes a statement about a style being the best impossible. Even though one style may beat another in a competition or a fight, it doesn't always mean that the winning style is the best.
Before rushing out to learn a martial art, there are several things that you should decide first. Martial arts are great to learn, no matter which style you decide on. A martial art can teach you self discipline, self defense, perseverance, self control and confidence which will help you no matter where you decide to go in life.
All over the world, there are several martial arts schools and dojos that emphasize self defense a lot more than others. Schools that focus on kata, forms or light sparring are less than likely to teach you what you need to protect yourself on the street. If you are looking for street self defense, you will want a style that specializes in that alone.
Even though martial arts can improve your fitness level, it isn't the goal behind a lot of the martial arts styles. Several styles, such as Tae Bo, are based purely on martial arts and doesn't include a lot of physical fitness training. If you are looking for fitness as your main goal you may want to try kickboxing or Taekwondo sparring; both of which are an awesome cardiovascular workout.
This will vary among the many different martial arts styles. Self defense schools will most often take advantage of fightling skills teaching you everything you need to survive. Most martial arts styles are slow in theory, teaching you kata or forms and movements. It can take 3 years or longer to earn a black belt rank. Self defense schools on the other hand, teach you how to inflict the most amounts of damage in the least amount of time.
Competition based martial arts are all about winning trophies and showing the world your style of martial arts. The style of your martial arts will greatly impact your competition. You will need to decide if you are going to showcase your fighting ability, your kata or forms, grappling or striking or board breaking techniques.
Before you decide on a martial arts style, you should always research the schools and dojos in your area and see what they have to offer. The best schools will allow you to participate in a few free classes as a trial. They will answer any questions that you have and work with you to help you learn as much as you can.
Martial arts can be a very fun and exciting learning experience. There are hundreds of different martial arts styles out there although you will be limited to choose from what is offered in your area. Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Judo, Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu are some of the most common types of martial arts and normally offered just about everywhere. The more distinct styles such as Shootfighting, Kenpo and Shaolin styles are a bit harder to find.
If you do your homework on some of the styles that are offered in your area, you will find one that best fits your reasons to study the martial arts. Martial arts can change your outlook on life - all you have to do is devote yourself to learning all you can about the philosophy of your martial art.
Lora Severson is a photographer and first degree black belt in Taekwondo who is currently training to earn her second degree this fall. Read about her journey to black belt at age 40. She sells Martial Arts themed gifts, cards, t-shirts and apparel online through her shop Martial Arts Gifts by Lora Severson Photography.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009
With most types of martial arts, the color of the belt that you have signifies your rank within your style of martial arts; although they have no universal means or ranking within the martial arts world. More or less, they tell others how much you know about your specific martial art.
The use of belt colors in martial arts is an old practice, dating back hundreds of years. Belts and their use in martial arts all started by a man known as Jigoro Kano, who created the martial arts style known as Kodokan Judo. Kano started out by using only white and black belts to signify rank within his style of martial arts. His reason for using belt, was to specify which students could compete in different activities. For example, those with white belts couldn't compete in the same activities as those with black belts.
Shortly after Kano introduced his idea of using belts, other belt colors were introduced to the world of martial arts. Over the years, it became a great way of telling what experience a student had in his style - just by the look of his belt. Other styles began to use this system as well over the years, including Karate, Taekwondo and several others.
The only problem with using belts to signify ranking, is the fact that one school may have different requirements from another school. Even though they both may teach the same style of martial arts, their ranking system and requirements to earn a certain ranking may be totally different. This can cause confusion in ranks, especially if a black belt from one school isn't as versed in the style as a black belt from another school. While most school adhere to the same criteria, there are some schools that choose to incorporate their own unique style as well.
Although most martial arts styles use belt to signify rank, there are some martial arts such as Shootfighting that don't use belts at all. The styles that choose not to use belts don't use a ranking system either. They are more or less for self defense purposes. Pitfighting is another style that doesn't use belts either. These styles are great to learn for protecting yourself - although they differ from the traditional sense of martial arts.
All thing aside, belts are an innovation to martial arts. They give students something to aim for and a reason to keep practicing. Most students that study martial arts aim for getting a black belt, which is the most prestigious belt in martial arts. A black belt takes years of practice to obtain, as the student will promote and move through many lower ranked belts before getting the opportunity to earn the black belt.
Lora Severson is a first degree black belt in Taekwondo. She will be earning her second degree this year. She is also a photographer and offers a complete line of Martial Arts Gifts, Cards, Posters, T-Shirts and Apparel. All belt rank colors are represented and are suitable for karate, taekwondo, kung fu or judo.
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