The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Styles

Today’s martial arts have a dizzying array of different forms and styles. But, they all tend to get lumped under the same banner of “self-defense.” The problem is, many styles, arts, philosophies, and systems are not self-defense focused.

And, it’s easy to get confused if you’re not familiar with the martial arts systems. An important distinction to make is many arts have different goals, areas of focus and set of results.

To cut through the confusion and help you reach your goals, here are six main categories of martial arts:

1. Traditional Martial Arts

2. Meditation Martial Arts

3. Exercise Martial Arts

4. Point Competition Martial Arts

5. “No Rules” Competition Martial Arts

6. True Self-Defense Martial Arts

The first category is Traditional Martial Arts. These are based on culture, lineage, structure, and respect. These arts focus on old practices dating back hundreds, sometimes thousands of years.

Students learn about the history and culture of the art and a set of values and morals. These arts are truly beautiful, and present an excellent foundation for beginners.

Next is Meditation martial arts. They use traditional concepts to increase concentration, reduce stress, and produce other physical benefits. These arts create way to gain balance and strengthen inner health.

Western medicine is increasingly interested in the methods and principles related to the mind-body connection. And these arts are now used and endorsed by researchers and physicians.

Exercise Martial Arts are next.

This category first gained momentum from “aerobic kick boxing” in the early 90’s, then was revolutionized by Mr. Billy Blanks in the late 90’s. They use many tools (kicks, punches, and footwork) taken from “kick boxing range.”

These classes are a great way to increase cardiovascular capacity. Use these arts and break a sweat like you never have before.

Point Competition Martial Arts are a first step into competitive martial arts. These award points rendered for technical skill and proper demonstrations of techniques. Many of these point competition arts hail from the traditional side and include a lot of structure and forms.

Some point competition arts claim to be self-defense focused. But, they discovered a harsh truth in “no rules” tournaments when they were quickly beaten. “No Rules” Competition Martial Arts have always been around in some form, but broke into the mainstream during the late 1990’s.

The UFC events continue to change the perception of martial arts. And through these competitions, people gain a wider perspective into the “no holds barred” world.

These arts create the ultimate step for the Martial Art sportspersons. It is worth noting that there are still some rules to these “no rules” tournaments.

True Street Fighting Martial Arts have few commercial outlets in the form of actual schools. The challenge this category faces is adapting to all ranges and possibilities (empty hands, ground fighting, weapons, mass attack).

Those in search of true self-defense should look into these. Now, before racing out and signing up for a class or dedicating any of your time, you must first know your desired outcome. Do you want health, trophies, weight loss, knowledge of a different culture, or true self-defense?

Only you, can answer that question. Write down what you want, then focus on your top one or two answers. Then compare your answers to these six categories and pick the style that best matches your criteria.

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