Starting Martial Arts – Types of Martial Arts – A List of All Martial Arts

Senshido: Reality-Based Self Defense for Everyone

One thing that has concerned me for many years about self defense and martial arts is that most tend to focus solely on the physical aspects. While it is important to understand and appreciate how to fight, it is equally important to understand that the physical is only a small aspect of fighting. Senshido features self defense and self development from a holistic aspect incorporating all the aspects of fighting: the emotional, environmental, behavioral and the physical.

A Little Background on Senshido

Senshido Combative Technology is the brainchild of Richard Dimitri of Montreal Canada . He is considered to be one of the top instructors of self defense in the world and has taught the system in law enforcement, military personnel as well as the average Joe.

Senshido is self defense for everyone because it doesn’t rely on strength, size or athletic ability. It is truly the great equalizer in self defense. Because it incorporates all aspects of close quarter combat, it is considered to be a holistic form of self defense and self development.

What You Learn In Senshido

We teach how to be aware of your surroundings; how to listen to your intuition; and the proper way to defuse and deescalate a situation. If a situation can’t be defused or deescalated, students learn how to behaviorally and psychologically set the predator up so that if it goes physical, they increase their odds of getting home safely. We stress doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, understanding that the force you use must parallel the danger you are experiencing . . . and no more.

A Typical Class…

A typical Senshido class for newcomers revolves around getting properly warmed up and then doing light stretching. Next is the completion of several rounds of Thai kicking and focus mitt drills.

After participants are nice and warm, we get into the lecture portion of the class. This could be going through scenarios, coming to grips with understanding behavior of a predator, pre-contact queues, pattern interrupts, understanding fear, how environment affects your outcome or how to control and channel your emotions to remain calm in the face of adversity.

After students gain knowledge of the fundamentals, common attacks are simulated, using restrained force and realistic dialogue. Full attacks are safely drilled so that students have an opportunity to experience an adrenaline dump. These are usually done in scenario format which replicates a potentially dangerous situation safely.

Students are debriefed afterward to see what they did that helped them ‘get home’ and what they need to pay more attention to in the future. Class ends with stretching and comments of what students learned in the session.

Students eventually learn the physical hallmark of Senshido – “The Shredder”™. This close quarter aspect of Senshido utilizes the five (5) principles of physical retaliation to ensure your safe finish to a fight.

It is gross motor based which is what is optimally available to the human body under stressful situations such as an attack would produce. After students have a firm understanding of the fundamentals, we teach them how to handle situations with weapons and multiple attackers.

Required Equipment and Costs

Students are required to have MMA style gloves that allow them to punch but also deliver open hand strikes. Rates vary among Senshido Affiliate Instructors and HQ in Montréal, but they are very affordable. All Affiliate Instructors are handpicked and screened by Richard Dimitri in Montreal as a form of quality control and also to ensure each individual affiliate is of high character.

Other Benefits

And the great thing about all of this is it can be added to your arsenal of tools if you’re a martial artist. If you have no martial arts experience, that is OK too. This is easy for you to pick up with no prior training.

So, if you are looking for a means to develop yourself as a human being and to learn from the undisputed leader in self defense, incorporating Senshido may be exactly what you’re looking for.

About the Author: Glenn Wilson is the founder and Chief instructor of GoldenEye Martial Arts and Self Defense in Silver Spring, MD. He has over 20 years of experience in personal protection, holds a 2nd degree Black Belt in Kuk Sool and is a Certified Affiliate Instructor in Senshido Combative Technologies under Richard Dimitri. He can be reached at (301) 318-7959 or at

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How to Buy Good Mixed Martial Arts Gloves

If you’re on the market for mixed martial arts gloves and don’t know what to look for, don’t feel bad. Unlike boxing gloves, MMA gloves are a relatively new product to hit the market, and were only popularized after the UFC craze made a big splash after The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 aired.

Once people started entering mixed martial arts schools in droves, and programs started cropping up all over, every martial arts supplier and equipment manufacturer started cranking out their version of mixed martial arts sparring gear.

The problem with this is that the MMA gloves you typically find in stores can be of a very poor quality. At the very least, they don’t last very long under hard training, and at the worst they can lead to injuries that can put a damper on your or your partners training.

So, let’s look at what fight and sparring gloves are supposed to do, then we can take a look at what you need to look for when choosing a good glove for training or competition.

And The Purpose of the Glove Is…

Mixed martial arts fight gloves are designed to protect the user first, and their opponent second. MMA sparring gloves have the same purpose, but generally have quite a bit more padding than fight gloves, to allow for sustained sparring with as little injury as possible.

Note that I say, “…as little injury as possible” – not “prevent injury”. MMA is a contact sport that involves hitting another person. You will get injured if you participate in hard sparring for any length of time. Get that through your head, and don’t expect the glove to protect you from every little scrape and bruise; they’re not designed for that.

What they are designed for is to:

  1. Protect your hands and wrists from injury when striking –
  2. Protect your sparring partner or opponent from sustaining serious cuts during a fight, or to reduce trauma during sparring.

So, there are two types of MMA gloves:

  • Fight gloves (which are lighter and thinner)
  • and Training/Sparring gloves (which come with a bit more padding over the knuckles).

So, a word of caution… if you spar with fight gloves, you’re more likely to get injured. That’s why you’ll want to have a pair of the lighter fight gloves to hit the pads and drill with (simulating fighting conditions) and a thicker pair of sparring gloves for – you guessed it – sparring.

And, if you plan to compete chances are good that the promoter (if they are sanctioned) will provide brand new fight gloves for the event. This is generally a requirement for safety (because, no matter how good a glove is, the padding wears out over time) and hygiene (because, the cleaner the glove, the less likely you are to get an infection from a scrape or cut).

Choosing Mixed Martial Arts Gloves

The first thing to consider when choosing which MMA gloves to buy is the material. If they’re made of “man-made” or “synthetic” or “simulated cowhide” materials, skip them. Ditto if they have any nylon straps that are integral to the construction.

These types of materials tend to leave nasty scrapes and cuts, even during light sparring. Also, unlike leather, synthetic materials tend to harden over time, losing their pliability and increasing the risk of injury.

So, only buy gloves that are made with 100% soft cowhide or calfskin leather. This is the same stuff that boxing gloves have been made from for years, and for good reason. It’s durable, and it tends to soften over time… the more you use it, the more comfortable it gets.

Another thing to look for is whether the wrist straps cover any Velcro on the glove. The strap should wrap completely over the Velcro and secure snugly while covering the Velcro material.

Why? Being a synthetic material, Velcro is abrasive, leading to additional scrapes and cuts. But, it’s also the most appropriate material for fastening the gloves, so you’ll have to live with it. A quick tip: look for gloves that have the soft side of the Velcro on the wrist, and the abrasive side (with the little nylon “hooks”) on the strap.

Manufacturers and Suppliers – Choose One That’s Knows What They’re Doing

There are a few manufacturers that have been making fight gloves for years that you can trust.

They are:

  1. Ringside
  2. Title
  3. Combat Sports (a division of Ringside)

All of the above brands of gloves and be found here at very reasonable prices:

Click Here to Buy Mixed Martial Arts Gloves

A relative newcomer but one that is also worth mentioning is RevGear. I use their equipment, and I’m especially fond of their MMA training glove. The leather is soft and supple, and even with the added padding you can still open and close your hand fairly easily.

I hope this article has helped you understand the difference between a cheap glove and a good mixed martial arts glove, as well as the reasons to avoid buying cheap equipment.

Now, go buy some good mixed martial arts gloves… your hands will thank you, and your training partners will likely appreciate it as well.

About the Author: Mike Massie has been teaching the martial arts for over twenty years, and is a well-known and outspoken advocate on the topic of ethical martial arts business practices. He resides in Austin, Texas.

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Starting Martial Arts: Aikido Classes

A Brief History of Aikido

Aikido is a powerful martial art developed throughout the mid 20th century by a Japanese named Morihei Ueshiba.  Aikido differs from most other martial arts in that the practitioner seeks to achieve self-defense without injury to attackers.  Aikido is most often practiced with a partner where one person functions as an attacker and the other person practices defensive Aikido techniques.

What You’ll Learn in Aikido

Many techniques involve joint locks, which enable the attacker to be moved to a pinning position where they can be held without injury. Other techniques involve throwing the partner.  The almost “dance-like” quality of Aikido is essential to its safe and effective practice.  Aikido’s techniques can be so devastating that if the two Aikido practitioners do not carefully harmonize their respective movements with such a dance-like quality, injury could easily occur. As such, an Aikido student spends much time learning how to fall safely.

Students quickly discover that the power of Aikido lies not in muscular force, but in relaxation, flexibility, timing, and control.  The practice of Aikido makes it possible to experience deep levels of mental relaxation, emotional calmness, acute concentration, and peak physical fitness. Aikido is the refinement of the spirit – a physical path to self-mastery.

Your First Day in Aikido – What to Expect

Most aikido classes are for ages 18 and over.  So, you can expect to be in a real adult class comprised of your peers.  Other than being polite, nothing else is expected of you for your first class.  No martial arts experience is necessary.  You will learn the formal Japanese etiquette simply by observing.  It is normal for new students to feel somewhat awkward in their first class.

For new students, the best way to learn is to jump right in and work with other beginners, intermediate, and advanced students.  This provides the most optimal learning experience.  You will never be asked to attempt anything that you are not comfortable doing.

Required Equipment

Generally, a martial arts uniform is not required for your first class.  Some schools may allow you to wear a uniform from a previous martial arts style or simply wear comfortable, athletic clothing like sweat pants and sweat shirt. However, should you decide to continue training you will likely be required to purchase a training gi.

About the Author: Dr. Jeff Albright has been practicing martial arts for over 20 years. He presently holds a 3rd degree black belt in Aikido.  Jeff also holds black belts in Karate and Iaido (a.k.a. samurai sword).  He has taught classes at well-known Aikido schools in Nagasaki, Japan and instructed officers and personnel for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.  Having trained in Japan for nearly 5 years, and being fluent in Japanese language and culture, Dr. Albright provides an authentic style of Aikido emphasizing both fluidity of movement and practicality.  He currently teaches martial arts classes in Castle Rock Colorado with his fellow instructor, Miho Shiraki.

Shiraki sensei has been practicing Aikido for over 11 years.  Born in Kitakyushu, Japan, Miho started her Aikido training under Morihei Iio Shihan in Nagasaki, Japan and currently holds the rank of 2nd degree black belt.  In addition to her expertise in Aikido, Miho has also trained in Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, Karate, and Iaido.  Miho is a classic example of how women can be exceptional martial artists.  You can contact Castle Rock Aikido at 720-221-3665 or on their web site at

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Starting Martial Arts Classes: Wado Ryu Karate

History of Wado Karate
In 1934 Master Hironori Ohtsuka founded the traditional Japanese Karate style called Wado-Ryu Karate – which translates to “way of peace” or “way of harmony”.  Master Ohtsuka believed that “violent actions may be understood as the way of martial arts, but the true meaning of martial arts is to seek and attain the way of peace and harmony.”

Considered as a pioneer of the martial arts due to his dedicated training and innovative ideas, Otsuka Sensei began his martial arts career in Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu, and than trained under the personal guidance of Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi – who is sometimes recognized as the Father of Karate.

After years of training and studying, Ohtsuka Sensei decided to create his own Karate style by combining the two arts and creating “Wado” – a fluid, yet powerful martial art.

By 1938 Wado-Ryu was officially registered and later recognized by the Japan Martial Arts Federation as “traditional” Karate – 1 of 4 styles in Japan that had been awarded this status.

What You Will Learn
Most Wado Karate schools are very traditional due to its roots and history.  This is a great environment to learn in because the student will experience the true essence of Wado.  However, some creative Wado-Ryu instructors have incorporated modern training and teaching techniques to accommodate a larger student base.

Classes will consist of Karate basics such as punches, kicks, blocks, and strikes – including several stances to build strength in the legs, develop coordination, and improve balance.  Along with these basic techniques, students will learn how to refine their timing by performing reaction drills and combining them with kicks and punches.  This teaches the student how to counter and/or evade an attacker.

In addition, another focus in Wado Karate classes are katas – detailed choreographed patterns of stances combined with basic Karate techniques.  To some practitioners, this is considered as the foundation of Wado, since Otsuka Sensei spent countless hours perfecting katas.

Once you become a Black Belt in Wado, students will also learn Kihons – choreographed Karate techniques, however performed with a partner.  The attacker has certain punches, kicks, and strikes to deliver, while the defender has to execute precise blocks, evasions, and counters.  This is where Wado really differentiates itself from other styles because it uses the hips and body to evade attackers, along with their energy, and counter with strikes, throws and/or locks.

Your First Day
As I mentioned, Wado Karate can be a very traditional martial art, so your first class will probably cover some of the traditions of Karate.  For example, you will learn that you need to bow at the dojo (training) floor before entering or leaving, as well as bow to other Black Belts that enter or leave the dojo floor because this shows respect.

More than likely you will be in a class that includes other beginners of the same age.  In these classes they will teach you how to punch, kick, and block correctly, and demonstrate which part of the body you want to use when executing these techniques.  They may also teach you some very basic stances so you understand how to perform them later in your katas.

Required Equipment
The only real equipment you will need is a Gi and Obi (uniform and belt).  Anything else is simply considered additional curriculum to a Wado Karate schools program.  Many schools teach controlled free-style sparring, therefore will require you to purchase protective gear such as a helmet, hand and feet pads, chest protector, mouth piece, and groin protector for guys.

Other schools may also teach you how to use a weapon.  Traditionally, Wado-Ryu does not have a weapon in their art, as it is an empty hand style, however the instructor may have learned it somewhere else and decided to include this in their curriculum.

Expected Costs
The cost of training in Wado-Ryu can vary, so there is no definitive answer.  And, it depends on the school’s curriculum, since some studios may have mandatory purchases such as sparring equipment or training videos.  I suggest you ask the instructor what are the required purchases in order to train at their school so you can budget accordingly.

About The Author: Javier Lozano, Jr. is a 3rd degree Black Belt in Wado-Ryu Karate, and has been training for over 17 years, with nearly 12 years of teaching experience.  He is also a Sport Karate World Champion.  Javier offers martial arts lessons in the Westminster Broomfield Colorado area.  If you have more questions, please feel free to email him at: info <at> or visit

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Starting Kung Fu: Tien Shan Pai Shaolin Style

A Brief History of Shaolin Kung Fu

The dawn of Shaolin Kung Fu can be traced back almost 1, 500 years ago to a northern-central Chinese temple known as Shaolin Tzu (“Little Forest Temple”). The inception of Kung Fu training is most often attributed to an Indian Buddhist monk known as Da Mo, who visited the temple to share his philosophical ideas. Realizing that the monks living at Shaolin Tzu were in no shape to endure the long hours of meditation demanded by his teachings, Da Mo incorporated a series of exercises into their daily routines.

These exercises later evolved into a self-defense system due to the monks’ need for protection as they traveled to teach the Buddhist doctrine. Over the years, many famous masters of Shaolin Kung Fu have furthered the development of the art by basing technique on the movements of various animals, giving us many styles of Shaolin Kung Fu in present times.

Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu History

The style that I teach in my school – White Birch Kung Fu & Tai Chi School in Sterling, Virginia – is known as Tien Shan Pai (“Heaven Mountain Style”), and was founded by the late Master Wang, Jyue Jen. Master Wang trained at the Nanjing Institute in central China as a young man and later joined the Kuomintang army.

After Chiang, Kai Shek’s government fell to the communists in the late 1940’s, Master Wang followed as they retreated to Taiwan. Once settled in Taichung, he established a school, Lei Sheng Wu Yuan (“Sound of Thunder Martial Arts Garden”), and began teaching a curriculum based on his accumulated experience, calling it Tien Shan Pai after the mountainous region of north-western China.

In 1970, his senior-most student, Master Willy Lin, brought the style to the U.S. and opened his school, Lin Kung Fu School, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Since then, Tien Shan Pai has become one of the most widely practiced Kung Fu systems in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. due in large part to Master Lin’s efforts and dedication to Tien Shan Pai.

Learning Tien Shan Pai

As with most systems of martial art, Tien Shan Pai students learn a number of basic punching and kicking techniques that provide the foundation for sparring skills. Tien Shan Pai’s approach to sparring is based on the Shaolin method of combining hand and foot techniques with sweeps, throws, take-downs and locking techniques known as Chin Na (“Seize/Control”).

In addition to sparring, traditional empty-hand, weapon and 2-person forms are taught to either introduce self-defense options or differing types of movement to practitioners.

Your First Day

New to students to our school often comment to me that their first class was both challenging and exciting. On a typical first day with us, one can expect to learn the 5 basic Kung Fu stances, the opening section of our beginner form, and an application or two from the same form.

For their first class, new students aren’t required to spar, but are encouraged to do so if they feel comfortable doing so.

Required Equipment

Equipment required to start training with us is minimal: you will need a uniform and sparring gloves. As they progress, students are expected to purchase their own sparring gear to include: head, shin, foot, and chest guards.

Students are also responsible for the cost and maintenance of weapons, should they choose to learn them. There are practice weapons available at the school for student use, but again, it will eventually be required of one to purchase and care for his/her own weapon(s).

Tuition at my school is paid monthly, with three membership options to choose from. There is an initial enrollment fee of $50, and 3, 6, or 12 month membership increments.

The monthly dues are based on which of these a new member joins under: 3 months at $129/month paid in advance, 6 months at $119/month paid once a month, or 12 months at $99/month paid once a month.

About the author: Sifu Lacy Colley has been involved in Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu and Yang Tai Chi Chuan for over 12 years, beginning at the age of 18. He has trained under some of the mid-Atlantic region’s finest transmitters of these arts, including Sifu Willy Lin, Sifu Sean Marshall, and Sifu Rob LaPointe. Sifu Colley began teaching in 1998 as an Assistant Instructor, and has been teaching full time since 2002 as the owner/head instructor of his Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu school in Sterling, Virginia. Sifu Colley has also competed and judged at the national level in traditional Chinese martial arts tournament around the Washington, D.C. area. For more information please call 703-834-2733.

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Information for Beginners Starting Tae Kwon Do Lessons

“A Brief Description and History of Tae Kwon Do”

Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art known for its flying and spinning kicks. The name comes from the Korean words tae (foot, or kick), kwon (fist, or punch), and do (art, or way of life) and literally means “the art of hand and foot fighting.”

Students learn the fundamentals of Tae Kwon Do through choreographed sequences of combative moves, the breaking of boards or other materials, and two-person controlled sparring.

They also receive instruction in principles such as courtesy, integrity, perseverance, and self-control. Practitioners wear a white, loose-fitting uniform known as a do bok, tied at the waist with a colored belt that indicates rank. The ranking system is divided into twelve kup (pupil) levels and nine dan (black belt, or expert) levels.

At competitions, participants are judged by how well they perform the choreographed sequences, by their accuracy in breaking boards, and by their skill in sparring contests.

The roots of Tae Kwon Do go back thousands of years. In 1955 a number of similar schools of martial arts were merged, and the resulting style was named Tae Kwon Do. An important figure in this effort was Choi Hong Hi, a Korean general who worked to combine a traditional Korean foot-fighting technique called Tae Kyon with Japanese karate. General Choi established the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) in 1966.

Another organization, the World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF), was created in 1973. The WTF gradually became recognized as the leading international organization for Tae Kwon Do, and under its guidance Tae Kwon Do became an official medal sport at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

“What you will learn in Tae Kwon Do Classes”

Although schools can differ greatly in how their curriculum is set up, most traditional schools follow a similar format.

In Tae Kwon Do classes at my school, for example, you will learn exercises that improve your coordination, balance, and flexibility. In addition, you’ll learn self defense skills along with numerous foot and hand techniques that are typical of traditional Tae Kwon Do.

You will also learn the traditional values that are taught in Tae Kwon Do… respect, self control, and perseverance. This combination of physical skill with the mental discipline found in Tae Kwon Do creates a person with high self esteem and increased confidence that everyone around you will notice.

“What to Expect on Your First Day of Tae Kwon Do Classes”

On your first day at our school you can expect everyone to be friendly and helpful. You can expect to be nervous… this is a normal feeling that everyone goes through.

The instructors and higher ranked students will help you and answer any questions that you may have. Whether you can believe it or not, we are all human and we have all been there when we first started classes.

Typically, you will start out with the basic movements and progress quickly to more advanced moves. We start new students off with a basic front kick and middle punch.

Once you have repeated these techniques several times, if you understand and execute them correctly we move on to the next step… this way we build on what you have learned and over time everything you do improves and becomes easier to do and understand.

“Required Equipment”

Sparring gear consisting of

  • Head gear
  • Foot gear
  • Hand gear
  • Chest protector
  • Groin cup for males
  • Mouth piece

“Expected Training Costs”

The expected training costs will depend on which program you choose to enroll in. In our school, it starts with a basic program and upgrades are available (too many to list here).

Basic program

  • $87 per month, annual membership fee $60 and Bi-monthly test fee of $45

This does not include uniforms, protectors, patches, etc… but it is fairly typical of most Tae Kwon Do schools around the country. Expect to pay between $80 and $120 USD per month as a beginner in the typical school.

About the author: Master Jerry Taylor has been practicing Tae Kwon Do since 1979 and has been a school owner since 1982. Master Taylor is a 7th Degree Black Belt certified through the World Tae Kwon Do Federation and is a successful tournament promoter as well. He teaches at his martial arts school in Madison and Osgood Indiana, and can be reached at his website,

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On Choosing a Style or System: A Chinese Kenpo Instructor Weighs In

In my experience, the particulars of how a system works typically means very little to the average prospective student. Instead, the most common interests expressed to me over the years by people considering taking up the martial arts are:

  1. The desire to learn self defense,
  2. To build confidence and
  3. To improve physical fitness.

How this was to be accomplished, more often than not, had little bearing on whether or not a student enrolled in my school.

It was once explained to me by one of my students who owned a tattoo business that the majority of his clients had only a vague idea what they wanted when they entered his shop. He continuously encountered this even though the choice his clients made would be with them for the rest of their lives. It was up to him to match them with the tattoo that was right for them.

Much in the same vein, the average prospective martial arts student normally does not have a great interest in the system; all they are concerned with is that it meets their needs. Interest in a system’s background and a sense of school pride often does not develop until later, perhaps even years down the road.

Based on this line of thinking it is my belief that finding a school that is right for you should be influenced just as heavily by the school environment and the personality and professionalism of its instructors as much as the system itself.

Having said that, I am going to explain just why I believe Chinese Kenpo is an excellent system that will meet the needs of most prospective students.

Chinese Kenpo is a striking based system that originated in mainland China around 2,000 years ago. Joint locks, holds, throws and ground techniques are intermixed in the system as a compliment to the striking skills. Over the years Kenpo has branched in numerous directions and has developed into distinctly different styles, with different looks, training methods and interpretations of this ancient art.

The word “Kenpo” (also spelled as “Kempo”) translates literally as “Fist Art”. Despite the differences from school to school, most Kenpo based systems typically rely on rapid hand strikes as their primary instrument of defense. This means that you do not need to be particularly flexible to practice the art, a bonus for many adult students.

The Chinese form of Kenpo is typically more fluid, circular and practiced with an emphasis on developing within the student the ability to quickly transition from one strike to the next. In addition, most Kenpo systems are known for their use of self defense techniques to teach responses to common self defense situations.

Training in Chinese Kenpo relies heavily on learning to practice with and without a partner, learning how to use forms and developing the ability to spar effectively. It is this emphasis on self-defense and practicality that makes the system so appealing to adult students.

All in all, Chinese Kenpo is an excellent choice for anyone who is just starting out in the martial arts. If you can find a school in your area, I encourage you to contact the school for a free trial lesson. Who knows? It may end up becoming a lifelong endeavor for you or your family.

About the author: Mark O’Dell began training in White Tiger Kenpo in 1984, and hasn’t stopped since. A full-time instructor for the last 23 years, he teaches Chinese Kenpo Karate classes in Moreno Valley California.


A Brief Introduction to Judo History

Judo, which is translated as the “gentle way”, teaches the principle of flexibility in the application of technique. This is the flexible or efficient use of balance, leverage, and movement in the performance of Judo throws and other skills. Skill, technique and timing, rather than the use of brute strength, are the essential ingredients for success in Judo. For example, in Judo classes you may learn how to give way, rather than use force, to overcome a stronger opponent.

Judo is many things to different people. It is a fun sport, an art, a discipline, a recreational or social activity, a fitness program, a means of self-defense or combat, and a way of life. It is all of these and more.

Judo comes to us from the fighting system of feudal Japan. Founded in 1882 by Dr. Jigoro Kano, Judo is a refinement of the ancient martial art of Jujutsu. Dr. Kano, President of the University of Education, Tokyo, studied these ancient forms and integrated what he considered to be the best of their techniques into what is now the modern sport of Judo.

Judo was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1964 and is practiced by millions of people throughout the world today. People practice Judo to excel in competition, to stay in shape, to develop self-confidence, and for many other reasons. But most of all, people do Judo just for the fun.

As in all sports, Judo has a strict set of rules that governs competition and ensures safety. For those who want to test their skills, Judo offers the opportunity for competition at all skill levels, from club to national tournaments, to the Olympic Games. There are separate weight divisions for men and women, and boys and girls.

Judo is best known for it’s spectacular throwing techniques but also involves considerable grappling on the ground utilizing specialized pins, control holds, arm locks, and Judo choking techniques. Judo emphasizes safety, and full physical activity for top conditioning. Judo is learned on special mats for comfort and safety.

Judo is unique in that all age groups, both sexes, and most disabled persons can participate together in learning and practicing the sport. Judo is an inexpensive, year-round activity, that appeals to people from all walks of life. Many people over sixty years of age enjoy the sport, as well as very young boys and girls.

Judo develops self-discipline and respect for oneself and others. Judo provides the means for learning self-confidence, concentration, and leadership skills, as well as physical coordination, power, and flexibility. As a sport that has evolved from a fighting art, it develops complete body control, fine balance, and fast reflexive action. Above all, it develops a sharp reacting mind well-coordinated with the same kind of body. Judo
training gives a person an effective self-defense system if the need arises.

About the author: Mark J. Speranza is a 6th degree black belt and full-time instructor. He teaches martial arts in Lindenhurst and Oceanside New York.

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The Ancient Fighting Art of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu

There are numerous accounts and legends of the origins and history of the Shaolin Temple. In my humble opinion and what has been past down to me from my teacher’s this is the story of Shaolin. Most likely you learned of the Shaolin Temple through the Chop Sokey Kung Fu movies and the Kung Fu TV series of the 70’s.

Some of what you watch was true, yet some of the story lines are fictional. There were indeed 36 Chambers that a monk would have to successfully complete before exciting the temple and graduating. In the Kung Fu TV movie and series young Cain picked up the burning urn between his forearms to engrave the tiger and dragon.

In reality that scene is authentic, however in actuality the engravings on the forearms were both dragons. The legendary Shaolin Temple (Sil Lum in Cantonese) was also known as the “Number One Temple under Heaven” due of those incredible fighting monks. The Chinese characters for Shaolin translate to “Youthful Forest” or “Youthful Gathering.” Shaolin is the mother of all Asian martial arts (Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu, etc.).

Kung Fu went from mainland China to the island of Okinawa and later to Japan in the early 1900’s. They called it “karate” which originally translated to “Chinese hands.” Shaolin is translated to the Japanese language as Shorin-ji. Shorin-ji Karate came from Shaolin Kung Fu. The Indian monk Bodhidharma also known as Damo traveled to the Shaolin Temple taught the monks internal exercises for health, yet he was not the originator of Shaolin Kung Fu. Thousands of years before Damo’s visit there were already fighting arts in China. Shaolin is part of the rich history of China.

You can say that Shaolin was the first mixed martial arts arena. The Shaolin Temple was a place where numerous martial artists including fugitives hiding from the authorities, met and shared their martial arts systems. This was a place where different styles and weapons were put to the test before they went out to do battle.

The Northern Shaolin Temple was burned in approximately the 1750’s AD. According to Chinese legends, a monk by the name of Gee Seen survived the burning and traveled to Southern China to become the Abbot of the Southern Shaolin Temple. Gee Seen used the Southern Temple as an underground training center to overthrow the Ching Dynasty and restore the Chinese ran Ming Dynasty.

Numerous other styles of Kung Fu originated in the Southern Shaolin Temple including Hung Gar which I’m a Master of and Wing Chung popularized by Bruce Lee. There are five family styles that came from the Southern Shaolin Temple they are Hung, Lau, Choy, Li and Mok. These family kung fu systems continued the Shaolin tradition as rebels fighting the Ching Dynasty.

The Southern Shaolin Temple also taught the monks the 5 Animal styles of fighting. These movements were developed by monks carefully observing and imitating the moves of the Tiger, Crane, Snake, Leopard and the mythical Dragon. From the Tiger we learn tenacity and acquire power. From the Crane we learn to evade and strike vital points. From the Dragon we get wisdom. From the snake we learn patience and flexibility. From the Leopard we attain speed and power.

You can classify Kung Fu styles into four major categories: Southern, Northern, and External (hard) and Internal (soft). Southern Shaolin is a southern external style. A southern school is known for low stances, kicks below the waist and fast and powerful overwhelming hands. It is an external style which emphases mostly on power.

The Chinese have a saying “Southern Fist/Northern Kicks” which means that in the south they use their hands more and in the northern part of China they use their kicks. Much of this has to do with the terrain and their size and built of the people in the two geographic.
In Northern China they tend to be taller and more slender. Due to the Northern terrain, mountains and open land they walk and ride horses. They favor high kicks and acrobatic movements; where as Southern China’s terrain is agricultural wet land which produces rice and waterways which people live near.

In Southern China the people tend to be shorter and stockier. Due to the southern life style and terrain they make use of their arms more than their legs. Fighting in wet land or in a boat made it difficult to make large movements and kick high. The low Southern horse stance, for training balance and stability, was developed by the southern kung fu warrior.

Today Southern Shaolin schools teach numerous traditional Chinese weapons of war. Yet, in the Shaolin Temple no blades were allowed. Only non-bladed weapons were allowed through the gates of the temple. Monks were known for their great skills with their walking sticks, or as we call them today the staff.

Many define Kung Fu as a pretty, soft, circular, acrobatic, jumping, high kicking art that looks good in tournaments and in movies. The Chinese call this “flowery kung fu” which means that it’s pretty yet it has no defensive value in the streets.

A true Southern Shaolin school will teach you an art that was used for war. You will learn to use every move in a form to defend yourself. A Southern Shaolin fighter will attack his opponent violently with tiger claws and crane beaks to the eyes, elbows, tearing grabs, knees, kicks to the knees and groin, Chin Na (joint locks), sweeps, throws and take downs.

Southern Shaolin Kung Fu if handed down and taught traditionally, is not a sport but a reality based street self defense. In the end the only trophy that those fighting monks of Shaolin could win in ancient China was their life.

About the author: Master Julio Anta teaches Hung Gar Kung Fu in Miami, Florida. He recently came out with the first video on Iron Ring and iron forearm training “Shaolin Physical Conditioning.” For more information on his training DVD you can log on to his web sites at or on My Space at

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A Brief History of Traditional Jiu Jitsu

What is Traditional Ju-jutsu?

Ju-Jutsu (also often referred to as Ju-Jitsu or Jiu-Jitsu) is a fighting system that employs a wide range of techniques – which include strikes, kicks, throws, joint locks and choking. This is taught in stand up style (Tachi Waza) or from the ground (Ne-Waza), which has been recently popularized by the Brazilian jiu jitsu schools. In addition to this, Jujutsu also teaches weapons technique which include Sword, Roku-Shaku Bo (6 foot staff), Jo-bo (5 foot staff) and Han-bo (3 foot staff). Techniques and influences from Jujutsu can be found in virtually all styles of the martial arts.

Ju-Jutsu loosely translated means “science of softness” or “gentle art”, which refers to how the student uses their own strengh, and is applied to many schools of unarmed and hand-to-hand combat. The grappling style was intended to help unarmed soldiers to fight against armed enemies in any way possible, using the least amount of force necessary. Ju-Jutsu was the primary unarmed combat method of the Samurai. Aikido and Judo are both modern day descendents of Ju-Jutsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also finds their roots in early Japanese Jujutsu styles brought to Brazil by Maeda Sensei, a high level Kodokan Judo fighter.

Many techniques taught are similar to Karate, Aikido and Judo. These techniques come from many styles such as Takeda Ryu, Yoshin Ryu, Kito Ryu, Asayma Ichiden Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu, and Tagaki Yoshin Ryu.

Ju-Jutsu emphasizes turning an attacker’s own force against him or herself, putting them off balance. Ju-Jutsu also emphasizes certain grappling moves (Ne-Waza) and strikes to vital areas (Atemi-Waza). A Ju-Jutsu student is expected to learn how to gauge the force of an opponent’s attack and use it against him, evade attacks, use leverage against an opponent and how to attack nerves and pressure points.

The main goal in Ju-Jutsu practice is to cultivate a person’s mind and body: not to use it as a means to vent one’s anger, frustration or emotional problems. The use of force is condoned only in self-defense or in the defense of those who are defenseless.

The Origins of Ju-Jutsu

The origin of Ju-Jutsu is not clear, however the first publicly recognized Ju-Jutsu Ryu was formed by Takenouchi Hisamori in 1532 and consisted of techniques using a sword, jo-stick and dagger as well as unarmed techniques. The Takenouchi-Ryu may be regarded as the primal branch for the teaching of arts similar to that of Ju-Jutsu.

Several hundred years later there was a general shift from the weapon forms of fighting to weaponless styles. These weaponless styles were developed from the grappling techniques of the weapon styles and were collectively known as Ju-Jutsu.

Fukuno Schichiroemon of Temba started the Kito-Ryu in the middle of the 17th century. The Kito-Ryu gained great prestige and popularity with its “Art of Throwing” and “Form Practice.” In close connection with this branch was the Jikishin-Ryu, whose founder was Terada Kanemon, a contemporary of Fukono. They established two separate systems of Ju-Jutsu. These two systems appear to be the oldest of all the varied systems of Ju-Jutsu.

It has been estimated that over 750 systems of Ju-Jutsu were in existence in Japan from 1603-1868. The branches of Ju-Jutsu grew during the feudal period. The art continued in various provinces in Japan until the later part of the 18th century, when it began to decline with the impending fall of feudalism.

Kano Jigoro opened his first Kodokan dojo in the early 1880’s in Tokyo. Kano used his knowledge and experience of Ju-Jutsu to create Judo. During the Kodokan’s years, Judo almost completely smothered the prevailing Ju-Jutsu traditions of the area, perhaps due to Judo’s success in direct competitions with various Ju-Jutsu forms.

The United States Ju-Jutsu Federation (USJJF) was founded in 1971, and is the National Governing Body for Ju-Jutsu in the United States with the Ju-Jutsu International Federation (JJIF).

The United States Sport Jujutsu Association (USSJA) is the governing body for Sport Ju-Jutsu in the United States, acting as a member of the International Sport Jujutsu Association (ISJA). Sport Ju-Jutsu transcends other forms of martial arts competition in that it encompasses all fighting ranges. It challenges fighters not only to develop hand and foot speed, but also to have the versatility and skill to go into grappling using takedowns, throws and submissions. There is a U.S. National Championship that takes place every year in the fall, and a World Championship is held every two years.

About the author: Mark J. Speranza is a 6th degree black belt and full-time instructor. He teaches martial arts in Lindenhurst and Oceanside New York.

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