By its most basic definition, martial arts refers to a discipline of fighting that can be used in a variety of ways. Some people are drawn to the self-defense aspect of the sport. For others, it becomes a journey of physical and spiritual enlightenment to improve their self-esteem. Some people view it is a form of entertainment, while others cherish it as a time-honored tradition of cultural heritage. Military and law enforcement have also adopted forms of martial art techniques for training. Within the United States, however, there are certain martial arts that have a bigger following than others because of media influence or name recognition.
The word Karate means “empty hand” in Japanese. This unarmed method of martial arts has been around since the 17th century at a time when it was forbidden to carry weapons. Karate puts heavy emphasis on maintaining a strong mental attitude and an unwavering adherence to customs and traditions. The ranking system is celebrated by elevated levels of colored belts. In place of weapons, the body itself is viewed as a powerful tool. In addition to timing and strategy, the emphasis is on defensive blocking, kicking, and striking opponents with as much of the body’s power as possible. Karate uses parts beyond fists and feet. Practitioners are also trained to use open-hands, elbows, heels, forearms, and knees.
The word Judo means “gentle way”. It was intended to provide physical fitness as its main purpose. There are many similarities between western forms of wrestling and judo since a secured fall to the mat indicates a win. The primary goal is to take down an opponent to earn points. The rule of thumb for this sport is maximum efficiency with minimum effort. By following the techniques of proper balance, a smaller person can beat a much larger one without difficulty. As opposed to the other methodologies of martial arts, Judo makes use of an attacker’s weaknesses and then exposes them, as opposed to forming direct attack plans. Calmness and confidence are traits of a well-disciplined practitioner of this sport.
Aikido translates into “the harmonious spirit”, and for good reason. Declares to be the most peaceful style of martial arts, the idea is to protect yourself by revoking an attacker without causing them any damage. The methodology surrounding Aikido is that every time an attacker makes a move, they expose themself to a vulnerable weakness. The main idea is to use an attacker’s own momentum against them without exposing yourself in the process.