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You can benefit greatly from studying martial arts. And no, it’s not meant for kids only: If you’re serious about it, you can start out as old as you like and still end up being good at it. Martial arts can be more than learning combat moves for self defense: they’re great physical exercise, great self-discipline training, each form has its own philosophy and spiritual practice behind it (which you can study along with the moves) and great fun. But for those of you who are planning on getting their money’s worth, you can ultimately become an expert.
You might find yourself during your lifetime in certain situations from which you could easily escape unharmed if you have the proper training. Learning a fighting style could be very useful as a self-defense method: against attackers, muggers, perpetrators etc. If you’re trained well enough you could easily disarm assailants or even take on more than one at a time. There have been many fighting styles and techniques developed throughout history in various parts of the world. There are also many combinations of fighting styles available (mixed martial arts), for people who want to get the best of ALL worlds. It’s a matter of choice; let’s see what are the most popular at the moment and maybe you’ll find the one that suits you best.
This it may come as a surprise, but it’s Israel’s very own fighting style. It was developed (mostly) by Imi Lichtenfeld during the 1930s. The style itself is very direct, meant to counter holds and incapacitations of every sort. Because it’s full contact and it gives advantage against almost any type of attack, it’s excellent for street survival, and not only. It’s a mixed style, comprised of elements which are basic to other fighting techniques like Karate, Jiu-Jitsu throws and grappling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ground fighting, Wing Chun burst of hands and even Greco-Roman wrestling. Its dynamics consist in the fact that it allows the practitioner to an attack and defends at the same time, in a single movement of the body. In most martial arts styles, the tendency is to block and immediately respond with a counter blow. Things are different in Krav Maga, we’re you’re supposed to block and deliver the attack at the same time: you could (for example) block an attack with you right arm and at the same time strike with the other arm or the legs. The strikes delivered and promoted by Krav Maga are vicious, meant to incapacitate and hurt as much as possible. You learn to go for the most exposed body part, like the throat, eyes, groin or the liver. It also teaches a lot of techniques for disarming your opponents, no matter if they bare sticks, knives or guns. The style is very efficient, it develops hand-eye coordination and it takes no longer than 5 months to learn.
This is a very distinct fighting style, which has been promoted a great deal in pop culture by Steven Seagal. Don’t let Seagal’s reputation as an actor throw you off: he is probably the leading authority in the field when it comes to Aikido, having studied most of his youth years in Japan, with the greatest masters. He’s a legit 7 degree black belt who not only mastered the style, but also developed it: the kote gaeshi (Seagal’s signature move) or “forearm return” is a prolific move, essential to all survival fighters, no matter the style or technique.
This style uniqueness consists in its approach to direct fighting: Aikido teaches almost no direct blows whatsoever, it mostly teaches you how to counter everything that can be thrown at you. Its philosophy is based on the idea that an attacking opponent always leaves himself vulnerable. What you need to do is exploit that vulnerability and use your enemy’s momentum against him. For example, a straight punch could simply be countered by side-stepping and grabbing the opponents wrist or arm. You can simply pivot and throw him down if you grab the arm, or if the wrist is involved, simply twist it towards the outside. The momentum will help you break the wrist with almost no effort on your part, incapacitating your attacker immediately. This style requires awareness rather than speed or strength. If you keep your cool and your eyes opened, as an Aikido practitioner, you’ll have no trouble breaking the joints and wrists of your attackers.
Muay Thai Kickboxing
The fighting style was originally developed in Thailand, in the 19th century, and it translates to “the art of the 8 limbs”. It’s a contact fighting style, based on a large variety of punches, elbows, and kicks. Its philosophy consists in the fact that someone who is using a tool for fighting is limited by that one tool. A muay thai practitioner, on the other hand, has many such tools (punches, kicks, elbows), therefore has the advantage. It’s not a fancy style, but rather an effective one. It’s based on lighting speed, precision, and power, and can exploit even the slightest opening in your adversary’s defense. The best way to counter a weapon attack (as long as you not held at gunpoint) is to approach the attacker as forward as possible. Simply aim for the jaw, throat or liver and kick it as hard as possible.
With enough technique and training, your legs and punches could easily crack bones and inflict serious pain. Kickboxing requires some serious physical training, as its practitioners do a little something called combat qi. It’s basically subjecting your body parts to repeated hits and damage until the “hardened” body part no longer hurts as it used to. This practice is mostly used to harden the shin bone; kickboxers hit hard surfaces for 2 hours-a-day, 2 years straight.
There are many other fighting styles available, but these are my personal favorites and possibly the most useful in a combat scenario. But if you have to take one thing away from martial arts, that’s discipline and self-control. Do not get carried away and avoid confrontation unless there’s no other way but standing your ground and fighting. But if that time comes, at least you now know where to go in order to overcome your opponents.
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