Here at Prodigy, our spring session is fast approaching! We are now accepting enrollments for kids and adults self-defense classes, which are a culmination of many martial arts styles. What makes our classes at Prodigy so cool is that our instructor combines elements of all the global traditions, and pulls the best from each into a practical, user-friendly system.
All martial arts have a very long and rich cultural history, which can help us all understand each style’s basic purpose. In this week’s blog, we will explore some of the history and culture behind the main forms of martial arts, as well as their relevance to modern self-defense.
China: Kung Fu
Kung Fu is of Chinese origin and, though quite an old form, it was not as widely known until after being popularized in films by Bruce Lee. There are two different concentrations of Kung Fu, which are internal and external. Internally, the focus is on use and manipulation of energy, while the exterior focus is on cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Combining these two focuses is what gives Kung Fu its complete power and usefulness. Moving on to Japanese styles, Jujutsu and Judo are both centered on immobilizing an opponent by using various methods including throws, joint locks and pins. Jujutsu specifically focuses on disabling an armed and/or armored opponent without the use of a weapon. Judo tends to focus more or grappling and throwing an opponent down. It is believed to have been an adaptation of Jujutsu in the beginning, but is a martial arts form in its own right and has grown popular on a global scale.
Karate is arguably one of the most well know martial art styles, made famous by films and competitions alike. Originally developed in what is now Okinawa, Japan, it is a striking art. Karate uses punching, kicking, elbow and knee strikes. It can also include some grappling and throwing in certain styles.
Taekwondo is of Korean origin. In fact, it is the national sport of South Korea. It can be loosely translated as, “the way of the hand and foot.” It is comprised of a unique combination of techniques including combat, sport, exercise and self-defense. Like many forms of martial arts, it can also include methods of meditation and philosophy as well. Taekwondo has been divided into two separate categories, which include traditional and sport. Traditional is just that, with more of a focus on the art itself, its principles and its original. Sport has a much more rigorous approach with a lot of emphasis placed on speed and competitive sparring. Much like Taekwondo, Muay Thai is the national sport of Taiwan. It is a stand-up striking sport that also uses many clinching. It was also originally a combat sport, which has evolved into a competitive sport in more recent years.
Israel: Krav Maga
A somewhat less conventional style, which originated in Israel, is Krav Maga. It is a noncompetitive hand-to-hand combat style, which involves striking, wrestling and grappling techniques. It is also know for its focus on real-life situations and brutal yet efficient counter-attacks. It is used outside Israel by many armed forced organizations, such as the CIA, FBI and U.S. Marshalls, just to name a few. One of its most fundamental principals is to finish a fight as quickly as possible, so most attacks are aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the opponent’s body. This style is particularly useful with regards to self-defense. Like Krav Maga, Kali is a less conventional style, originating from the Phillipines and focusing on combat with sticks, knives, other bladed weapons and various improvised weapons. It also includes some hand-to-hand combat and weapon disarming techniques.
Greece: Greco-Roman Wrestling
As a final source of adaptation, Greco-Roman wrestling can be adapted for its many throwing and wrestling methods. It is a sport that is practiced world-wide. Being an Olympic sport, it has been included in every summer Olympics since 1908. This particular sport can be adapted for self-defense in a number of ways. Its techniques could help immobilize an attacker, remove or reverse an enemy’s hold or even cut the blood flow to an attacker in order to knock them out completely. Either way, it is an extremely useful and adaptable form of combat and sport when being applied to self-defense.
To learn more about these global traditions, sign up for our self-defense class and see what being able to defend yourself feels like!
-Contributed by Alex Dausch, General Manager