By Brian Hardie and Elizabeth Samlowski
There is a diversity of martial arts styles throughout the world, some have similarities to others and others are completely different in so many way. Among the differences are styles that only use hand and body techniques and some that rely on weaponry. The many different cultures that have used natural adaptations and surroundings to enhance their art have made each one unique in its own way.
Let’s take for instance the ancient art of Kung Fu, which was developed in 12th century China and focuses on hand/arm strikes, kicks and weaponry. The words kung fu originally did not refer to martial arts but to the practice of man learning his skills through patience, perseverance and achievement. This style is popular throughout the world and is the most well known. Some famous people known for their skills in this art are David Carradine, Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
Other styles developed in China are Tai Chi and Wing Chun which help build the spirit, mind and body.
One of the most famous forms of Japanese martial arts is Ninjitsu used by Japanese spies and assassins that combine unarmed combat, weapons and stealth, a Ninjitsu master can surely do damage to someone they engage.
Kendo is focused on sword fighting. Kendo dates back to a time when the Samurai ruled Japan. Kendo is a bit different because training for this ancient art is done with a Bokken. A more advanced form called Iaido uses the actual swords to train and fight and was seen in films such as “The Highlander”.
One of the newest styles to be taught was developed by the immortal Bruce Lee; this style is known as Jeet Kun Do and is a preferred style of many. Its practice focuses on techniques that are effective in real combat situations. Its popularity is come into being because of its famous developer Bruce Lee and is seen in many of his films such as Game of Death, Enter the Dragon and Fists of Fury.
Kickboxing is famous around the world for its punching and kicking techniques, in the American kickboxing culture elbow and knee strikes are forbidden as opposed to the Thailand style of Muay Thai which is similar to kickboxing but involves elbow and knee strikes.
Most of the martial arts focus on the use of the hands, feet, elbows and knees, but there are some that focus on the use of weapons such as the Philippines art of Eskrima or Kali is a martial arts style that focuses on the ability to transition from fighting with weapons to empty hands fluidly.
Outside the eastern Asian continents in Russia you find an art called Sambo that is practiced. Combat Sambo is more like mixed martial arts and involves kicks, punches, wrestling, grappling and joint locks, although a milder form for sport is also practiced and is similar to wrestling and judo.
There are literally thousands of styles beyond what we have mentioned here, and for every style and art there is a hybrid developed by those who master the practices.
For more information visit your local martial arts studio or dojo.