Watching a true master do martial arts is like listening to a symphony or enjoying a beautiful work of art.
As you watch you can see the time and concentration in each move. It is definitely something to be admired. You may have a desire to perfect a Martial Arts skill to that level, but not know how to begin. There are a lot of schools and a lot of styles and it can be daunting sorting through all the information. The following ten suggestions can help you if you are serious about becoming a Martial Arts master.
1. People take Martial Arts classes for different reasons. Some people see it as a way of getting exercise and getting in shape and it will do that for Martial Arts. Others would like to reach a level where they can compete. A lot of students train to build confidence in Martial Arts. There are those that have felt threatened by a predator in their life and want to learn a skill that will help them feel safe. This group of people is looking for martial skills that will serve them in a life and death situation. Learning traditional forms or only training on takedowns and groundwork may not teach them what they want to know about Martial Arts. Instead of a sport style something in defensive tactics training or weapons training would be best. Your job is to decide what it is that you want and from there you can decide on a style that will help you achieve your goal in Martial Arts.
2. Now that you know what your goal is you can decide on a style in Martial Arts. There are so many to choose from. From basic traditional karate to full-blown modern mixed Martial Arts and everything in between. Karate teaches mostly a stand-up system, while Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and wrestling are ground fighting styles. Every style will fit someone and his or her aims; it just may not fit you. A sampling of styles would include in Martial Arts:
A. Karate – a traditional style that teaches blocks, kicks and punches. It is primarily a standup style. Karate is a good basic style to build on and many Martial Arts start out with this style.
B. Traditional Jiu-jitsu – this style comes from actual ancient combat and since the weapons of choice then were bladed weapons the techniques to counter them are taught as defense against an edged weapon. Because being on the ground for very long meant certain death the style is mostly taught with kneeling and standing techniques in Martial Arts.
C. Combat Jiu-jitsu – a style that comes from modern traditional Jiu-jitsu practitioners who took their beloved style and made it into a more modern Martial Arts practical style.
D. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu – this style was formed from hundreds of no holds barred fights over many decades. Because 90% of the time one-on-one fights end up on the ground, this style is set to get them on the ground and keep them there. Mixed Martial Arts fighters have to understand this style of Jiu- jitsu to have any success in the sport. It is comprised of throws, takedowns, holds, locks, and submission moves.
E. Judo and Aikido – modern styles that were derived from traditional Martial Arts Jiu- jitsu. These styles emphasize throws and takedowns with a goal of a very fast finish once on the ground. Aikido also teaches defense against edged weapons and has had great success with law enforcement officers.
F. Kung-fu – there are some parts of Kung-fu in every martial arts.
The problem is finding an instructor that can or will teach the more practical aspects of this Martial Arts. If you can find a real Kung-fu master, who is willing to take you on as a student, you may not need much else.
G. Weapon Training – these styles teach everything from stick fighting to knife fighting to firearm control and technique. Some examples are Filipino and Malaysian Martial Arts systems that include sticks, edged weapons and weaponless work. Some other examples are Kenjitsu/Kendo a Japanese sword technique system and Kyudo a Japanese style that teaches archery. There are many Japanese styles that teach a specific weapon in Martial Arts.
H. Systema – a Russian Martial Arts that centers on control and calmness through breathing and relaxation. In order to think and function during a life or death situation you have to remain calm and so Systema spends a lot of time on breath control. In order to use fine motor skills and remember everything that's been learned, controlled calm is essential in an emergency. Systema covers everything from disarming someone to defending yourself while underwater or in an automobile.
Almost every culture developed a native martial arts out of necessity and you can find styles that originate in Brazil, Japan, India, China, Philippines, Scotland, France, Greece, and just about anywhere else you can think of.
There are also styles that adapted traditional forms into modern sports of Martial Arts such as boxing and wrestling. Knowing a little bit about each form will help you decide which one you want to devote time to study. Remember that if the style of Martial Arts you pick ends in "do" as in Karate-do it's a style that is teaching a way or path, a constant search for self-perfection. It is more philosophical approach to overall understanding with less emphasis on Martial Arts or killing and crippling moves. A style that ends in "jitsu" is more of a combat or military style.
3. Step three is finding a reputable school. Look for a school with world wide recognition and certification. Don't be afraid to ask about the credentials of the instructors and check on them. You will be devoting many years of your life to your Martial Arts so spend a few hours checking. You want to find out where they trained and how long they've trained. Another important thing to know is if the head of the school is going to be your instructor or does he use assistants or students to teach his classes. If this is the case what are their credentials? Finding a good school is important so don't be afraid ask questions. If you're going to commit your time to something you want it to have value. Time is too important a commodity to waste. Many Martial Arts training facilities will let you try a class for free before you commit. This is a good way to see if you are happy with the level of training and the teaching style of the instructors. Fortunately there are a lot of options in Martial Arts school so take time to find the school that fits your needs. Taking a trial class is also a good opportunity to ask questions of the students there and get their opinions.
4. Once you find a school commit to it and train as much as possible in Martial Arts. Especially in the beginning, the time you put in will bring great benefits of Martial Arts. This is the point at which you will build body memory and the style will start to feel second nature to you. Martial Arts Repetition expertly corrected builds knowledge. Some experts say that it take 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a skill. If you put in the time you will see growth. In the beginning it can be hard to establish a routine that becomes a habit. But it you can discipline yourself and get into the studio at least three times a week you'll soon find that you look forward to each session and feel like there is something wrong if you miss a workout with Martial Arts. There is no better teacher than doing the work.
5. As you become more proficient in your style it is easy to start to think that the style you are training in is all there is. You can get caught up in a studio mentality and start to think that your style in the only style worth studying. If you did your research and have been training hard your style is no doubt a great one, but there are other things to learn out there. As you start to feel like you are on your way to mastering the techniques of your style you can start to look for weaknesses. Does the style offer very little standup training or not enough ground fighting? What about weapons training. It might be time to try something new and train in a new style with a new instructors who will have a whole new skill set to share with you in Martial Arts.
A lot of martial arts start with karate and learn good standup skills but then move on to something like Jiu-jitsu to learn how to fight on the ground.
One student with over 30 years experience took this path. He really enjoyed the karate school he was training at and stayed there for several years. It was when he started training in traditional Jiu-jitsu, Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu that his eyes were really opened to all the knowledge that is out there, all the things there are to learn. He took that knowledge and added traditional and modern weapons training to his bag of tricks and used it in his profession teaching defensive tactics and knife defense at his state's Police Academy. Another man who is the head of a well renowned karate school is an 8th degree black belt in that style. He teaches karate exclusively in Martial Arts, but he also has a 3rd degree black belt in traditional Jiu-jitsu and black belts in Ken-jitsu, Iai-do, and advanced training in Tai Chi. All that knowledge makes him a better instructor in karate Martial Arts.
6. Beyond learning a new style you can also move into areas that are more of a Martial Arts skill rather than a Martial Arts. You can add defensive tactics like weapon retention, extreme close quarter fighting, combat with a firearm and knife training to your repertoire. There are so many exciting things to learn and to become a true Martial Arts practitioner you need to expand the circle of your learning to include all aspects of training. Keep learning and expand your skills as far as you can.
7. Another aspect of training is to learn all you can about the human body. A study of anatomy, pressure points, acupuncture and acupressure will make you even more formidable. To really know an opponent you need a good knowledge of how a body works and how to exploit weaknesses in an opponent. It is true that knowledge is power and the more you know about how your body works and how your opponent's body works that more skilled you will be.
8. The funny thing about a lifetime of learning is that you will come to a point where you realize that not matter how much you've learned you will always be a beginner. No matter how much knowledge you've accumulated there will always be at least that much more to learn. That is why traditional black belts are made to gradually become white again. The outer threads wear off as you train to reveal a white belt underneath. It helps you remember that you will always be a beginner and there is always more to learn. This is an important realization in your training and opens you up to all kinds of new possibilities. You will begin to see how much is out there for you to learn and absorb.
9. Instead of becoming complacent as you advance in your learning, test yourself. Enter some competitions. Train with people you know are better than you. Push yourself to your limits. Competition gives you something you can't get from just going through the forms. You are forced to face your fears during competition. As you face your fears you can learn to keep your heart and breathing rates down during combat. It is well known that when you enter combat with a chance of serious bodily injury your heart rate will got well over 175 beats per minutes. You just can't concentrate under those conditions. Fine motor skills are lost at that point and gross motor skills take over. So even though competition is not real life it is still a good way to learn to relax and slow your breathing so that you can remain calm. Mixed Martial Arts events are the safest way to get close to the real thing. You can find out how much pain you can take. If you can take a punch and still recall the complex techniques you have spent years practicing you know that you are in control.
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