Types of Martial Arts

Aikido - Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). On a purely physical level it is an art involving some throws and joint locks that are derived from Jujitsu and some throws and other techniques derived from Kenjutsu. Aikido focuses not on punching or kicking opponents, but rather on using their own energy to gain control of them or to throw them away from you. It is not a static art, but places great emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement. On the technical side, aikido is rooted in several styles of jujitsu (from which modern judo is also derived), in particular daitoryu-(aiki) jujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that aikido takes the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we must also realize that many aikido techniques are the result of Master Ueshiba's own innovation.

Bando Thaing - Bando is credited as a style of armed and unarmed combat native to Burma. It is an assimilation of Karate-like striking and kicking techniques, Judo-like throwing techniques, swordplay and fighting with knives, spears and sticks. There are numerous interpretations of the term Bando, and different linguistic and ethnic groups hold to diverse translations. There are many styles of Bando, but most follow basic instructional patterns. The art emphasizes initial withdrawal followed by an attack outside the opponent's reach. All parts of the body are employed in these attacks, and once the initial technique is delivered, grappling and locking techniques are used. Techniques are learned first through formal exercises in some systems and only later through sparring.

Capoeira - Capoeira (pronounced Capo-wa-ra), a fun and exciting sport, is a Brazilian art form and self-defense; with strong aerobic and dance elements. It is a mixture of body and soul, fighting and dancing, of music instruments and voice requiring the use of mental physical and emotional agility. The emphasis is not on how well you sing or perform but on how much energy you commit to trying. It is a harmony of forces that gives you power, flexibility, endurance and self-discovery. Participants form a circle and 2 people at a time exhibit their skills in eluding and striking their opponent. The blows are not landed. What results is a highly aerobic, and fun mock fight with some very impressive moves. (The music is infectious also!) This is growing in popularity as a fun alternative to aerobics.

Chanbara - Over thirty years ago Japanese martial artists and swordmasters came together and created a better training style. The founder, Tanabe Tetsundo and his group of some of the strongest swordsmen in Japan called this new school of thought Goshindo, later nicknamed Chanbara. These martial artists and masters were very traditional. They also knew that the times were changing and decided to educate today's public in the way of the modern Japanese Samurai. New materials made out of flexible plastics and the constant refining of swords for combat in the 21st century proved to be a stroke of genius.

Daito Ryu Aiki Bujutsu -

Gatka - Gatka is the martial art of the Sikhs, and is tied in with the religion Sikhism. It's a weapons-based martial art, which was imparted to the Sikhs in the time of Guru Hargobind Ji (the sixth Guru of the Sikhs) by the Rajputs (Hindu warriors of northern India) in the 16th century, in gratitude for their release from imprisonment by the fledgling Sikh army of that time. The Sikhs at that time opposed the Mughal Empire, which violently oppressed both Sikhs and Hindus in the name of Islam.

Haidong Gumdo - Haidong Gumdo is a Korean sword art which draws from battlefield tactics and techniques to build a curriculum for mental, physical and spiritual development. Students learn forms, step drills, sitting and moving meditation, sparring as well as bamboo and straw cutting. Unlike Kendo and its Korean equivalent, Kumdo, the focus in Haidong Gumdo is not duelling but on the tactics of outdoor, pitched battles. Powerful, complex and beautiful, Haidong Gumdo is a wonderful style which can be pursued throughout your life. Haidong Gumdo means many things to many people. On the surface it is a martial system which preserves and promotes the Korean approach to sword techniques. The dynamic movements and visible power of the forms capture the eye and imagination. Graceful, flowing motion, harnessing lethal power is one way to describe Haidong Gumdo.

Hapkido - Hapkido is a discipline of coordination, a way of strengthening the mind and body, of fusing the individuals physical and mental powers so that he or she will emerge as a more fully integrated human being. The word in fact means; Method or Way (DO) for the coordination Harmony (HAP) of mental Energy or spirit (KI). One should always try to avoid violence, but if someone grabs you, attempts to strike you, or physically assaults you in any way, it has escalated beyond words, and you are left with the only option which is to defend.

Hwa Rang Do - Hwa Rang Do, teaches that in order to attain maximum human potential, one must attain a state of balance and maintain harmony with natural laws of the universe. The theory of Um-Yang states that in nature there is co-existence of polar dichotomies. For every one, there is an equal opposite. Hwa Rang Do, is a combination of UM {soft/circular movement} and YANG {hard/linear movement}, making it one of the most diversified and comprehensive martial arts to be found in the world. It's study integrates the spiritual, mental, and physical disciplines enabling its practitioners to realize their full potential in all areas of life. The techniques are derived in accord with the principles of Um-Yang. Three Elements of Um, the essence of Hwa Rang Do®, soft techniques: Yu - soft, fluid force of flowing water. The power of Yu is deceptive; relenting under force; it draws its attack into its own stream of power and re-directs it. Won - is movement in circular directions. Its power may be seen in the rock at the end of a sling, or the power developed from a spinning motion. Hwa - as the third element of Um, it represents unity and combination. Three Elements of Yang, the essence of Hwa Rang Do, hard techniques; Kang - is hard like steel or stone. Its power is illustrated in the form of a closed fist in a thrust punch or a straight front kick. Kak - means angles. Its form is found in the correct angle of the joint when applying breaking and throwing techniques or straight angular blocks. Kan - means maintaining proper distance. It is the opposite aspect of Hwa or combination and its form is found in understanding the distance between two opponents. Hwa Rang Do, teaches both the martial art (moo-sul) and healing art (in-sul). If one is able to injure or worse, then he/she should know how to heal as well, once again maintaining harmony through balance of opposites.

Iaido - One of the Japanese traditional Budo concerned with drawing the blade and cutting in the same motion. (Budo means martial arts or military arts in Japan). A typical form consists of the draw and cut, a finishing cut, cleaning the blade and returning it to the scabbard, all without looking away from the imaginary opponent. Most practice is solo, eventually with shin-ken (a real blade). In contrast with Kendo, Iaido is performed without protective coverings of any kind. Students must strive to achieve power, precision and perfection in their form. Along the way they learn balance, grace, and control both of the body and the mind. Iaido dealt more with everyday situation rather than those on the battlefield. The term "Iai" is taken from the Japanese phrase: "Tsune ni ite, kyu ni awasu". The meaning of this is, whatever we may be doing or wherever we may be, we must always be prepared from any eventually. The techniques themselves dealt with many situations such as a sudden attack by several opponents, a surprise attack while bowing to someone, an enemy lying in wait behind a sliding door or an attack in a darkened room. The permutations (suppositions) were countless.

Jeet Kune Do - Jeet Kune Do is the complete body of technical (physical, scientific) and philosophical (mental, social and spiritual) knowledge that was studied and taught by Bruce Lee during his lifetime. It is concerned solely and exclusively with Bruce Lee's personal evolution and process of self-discovery through the Martial Art, as supported by written record (personal papers and library) and oral recollections (by those students who spent time with and/or studied under him). Jeet Kune Do should be considered as the "Root" that was established by Bruce Lee, and NOT the ultimate goal of any practitioner, as students are expected to modify, add, and delete all aspects of Jeet Kune Do until they develop something that is uniquely their own (You the individual become, through this process of self-discovery, your own best teacher).

Ju Jitsu - Ju Jitsu is formed from two ideograms Ju the various meanings of which are suppleness, flexibility, pliancy, gentleness and Jitsu meaning technique or art. So Ju Jitsu means the art of suppleness or flexibility. As most Ju Jitsuka (a student of Ju Jitsu) know there is nothing "gentle" about the martial art. What Ju is conveying is that Ju Jitsu does not use strength against strength, it uses the opponents strength and force of attack as a weapon against him, thus enabling a stronger or bigger attacker to be subdued. Ju Jitsu is one of the most complete martial arts there is. It incorporates unarmed strikes, joint locks, chokes and throws.

Judo - Judo is based on the ancient Japanese martial art called Jujitsu. Professor Kano opened the Kodokan Dojo in Tokyo, Japan in the year 1882 and started to train students in Nippon-Den-Kodokan-Judo. Judo, which means the "gentle way," is not only concerned with attack and defense techniques but the physical conditioning and total health that could be attained from its practice. The meaning of the word Ju (gentleness) denotes not resisting the strength of the opponent, but adapting to it, and taking advantage of it by turning it to one's own advantage. The meaning of the word Do (way) denotes not just methods or techniques, but also signifies adherence to strict moral principles which are essential in striving for "self-perfection as a human being".

Kali Silat - Kali, meaning body in motion, is the Martial Art of the Philippines. Our Kali program consists of energy drills and sensitivity training utilizing hand eye coordination techniques with or without the use of weapons. Silat is the Art form of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is the art of taking down an attacker simply and directly utilizing locks, chokes and holds.

Kajukenbo - Kajukenbo was founded in 1947 at Palamas Settlement on Oahu, Hawaii. It developed out a group calling themselves the "Black Belt Society", which consisted of black belts from various martial arts backgrounds who met to train and learn with each other. This was the beginning of an evolutionary, adaptive style designed to combine the most useful aspects of the arts. Kajukenbo is a unique martial art style combining the techniques of KA-Karate, JU-Judo and Jujitsu, KEN-Kenpo, and BO-Boxing. It was founded in Hawaii in 1947 by Adriano Emperado, and is one of the most popular forms of self-defense practiced in the world today, because of its' effectiveness and logical approach. It's main philosophy is that every martial arts style has something to offer, and if one accepts that idea and trains accordingly, they will become a more well-rounded and, therefore, more effective martial artist.

Kalaripayattu - Kalaripayattu is the ancient martial art of the State. It is considered as the forerunner of Karate & Kung-fu. The Kalari is treated as the temple of learning. Age-old traditions and customs are still practiced inside the Kalari. The Gurukkal system consists of rigorous physical training besides training in self-discipline. The weapons used were the sword, Dagger, Shield, short sticks, spears etc. The co-ordination of the body and mind is given maximum importance in this art.

Karate - Karate is a generic term for the various kick/punch arts which originated in Okinawa and Japan. Karate is a Japanese word that translates into English as, “empty hand.” It is a martial art of unarmed self-defense in which directed blows of the hands or feet are delivered with special shouts from a poised stance. Karate is related to judo but stresses striking techniques, through kicks and punches, rather than wrestling or throwing an opponent. Karate as a means of self-defense has the oldest history, going back hundreds of years. It is only in recent years that the techniques which have been handed down were scientifically studied and the principles evolved for making the most effective use of the various moves of the body. Training based on these principles and knowledge of the working of the muscles and the joints and the vital relation between movement and balance enable the modern student of Karate to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, to defend himself successfully against any would-be assailant. As a physical art, Karate is almost without equal. Since it is highly dynamic and makes balanced use of a large number of body muscles, it provides excellent all-around exercise and develops coordination and agility.
The major traditional styles of karate are Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Goju Ryu, and Wado Ryu. Each of these styles is taught by several international organizations. Besides these 4 main styles there is a wide variety of other styles, system and family forms of karate. All of them trace their origin back to the island of Okinawa, formerly also know as the Ryukyu Islands, and the martial art developed there. Shotokan karate is an art, a sport, and the basis for a method of self defense. Different people choose to emphasize different aspects of karate in their personal training and study. As a group everyone is exposed to, and expected to participate in, training geared toward all three aspects (art, sport, and self defense) in an attempt to have a well rounded background. Stylistically, Shotokan is known for having strong, low stances, dynamic hip motions, and extremely precise techniques.

Kendo - Kendo is a Japanese style of fencing derived during the Meiji period in Japan (1868-1912), from the two-handed sword fighting techniques of the samurai. Today kendo, which means "way of the sword", is practiced with shinai (bamboo swords), and fighters wear protective equipment covering the target areas: the head, wrists, and abdomen. The bogu (protective gear) consists of a men (face mask), a do (breastplate), kote (fencing gloves), and the tare, a kind of apron to protect the stomach and hips. Under the protective gear, kendoka (students of kendo) wear a hakama, or wide split skirt, reaching the ankles. The weapon used in Kendo is the shinai, or bamboo sword. The shinai is approximately four feet in length and is made of four carefully formed bamboo slats bound together to form hollow cylinder. A cord runs along the length of the shinai. To make a valid cut a player must strike his opponent with the side opposite the cord. In addition the point must be struck with the top third of the shinai.

Kickboxing - Kickboxing started in the US during the 1970's when American karate practitioners became frustrated with strict controls on martial arts competitions that didn't allow full contact kicks and punches. Many questions were raised when the sport began about the high risk of injury. As a result, safety rules were improved and protective clothing was added. As this is a relatively new sport there are no long-term traditions. The sport has undergone changes and been refined during the last two decades. Competitors use sparring, kicks, punches, kick blocks, shadow boxing, and wood breaking that is learned and applied under professional instruction.

Kobudo - Kobudo is an entirely separate art, even though many American systems combine it as part of their Karate (or "empty hand") system. It is the study of Ryu Kon Kai Kobudo – traditional Okinawan Weapons. These weapons include the Bo - six-foot staff, Sai - short-sword, Tonfa - side-handled baton, Nunchaku - 2-section staff, Kama - sickle, Eku - oar. Tekko - brass knuckles, and others.

Krav Maga - A practical and tactical system which teaches how to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks. KM prepares the trainees in the subjects of self-defense, self protection, fighting and combat skills, as well as skills to defend others, all in unique and comprehensive teachings and way. Krav-Maga was developed in Israel, under realistic demands and conditions. Founded and formed by Imi Lichtenfeld (Sde-Or) and continues to advance and be modified by Eyal Yanilov, assisted by the top instructors of IKMF. Krav-Maga is a horizontal system with a unique and logical approach. It is easy to learn and retain, performed naturally and intuitively, and practically be use under stressful conditions. An essential part of KM is its teaching process, methodology and ways of training. Krav-Maga contains special approaches, tactics, techniques, subjects, drills and training methods for the different sectors: Civilians of all ages, men and women, young and old; Law-enforcement officers; Military personnel and units; Correction service officers and wardens; Security officers; As well as: Close protection officers; Undercover agents; Antiterrorists groups; Air-marshals; Special and commando units.

Kuk Sool Won  - The roots of Kuk Sool date back to the very beginning of Korea with "Sado Mu Sool" which means family or tribal martial art. The next martial art to develop was "Bulkyo Mu Sool", or "Buddhist martial art". Shortly afterwards came "Koong Joong Mu Sool" which translates to 'Royal Court Martial Art'. These are the three segments of ancient Korean martial arts from which the techniques of Kuk Sool evolved. Although its origin may be traced back to antiquity, the present Kuk Sool system was formally devised only recently. Grand master In Hyuk Suh spent more than fifty years in single minded practice and research in order to learn, compile, master and organize the more than 3,600 techniques that comprise Kuk Sool. He founded the Kuk Sool Won in 1961 and took it to the United States in 1974. For self defense, Kuk Sool is unsurpassed. It combines kicking, punching, throwing, falling, choking, joint locking and a myriad of weapons techniques into a beautiful and dynamic 'hard-soft' style, emphasizing speed and fluidity. In conjunction with physical training, meditation, breathing, acupressure and acupuncture techniques are employed to improve and maintain health, develop internal power and retard the ageing process. Philosophically, Kuk Sool stresses humility, self discipline, loyalty and respect for others.

Kumdo - Kumdo, meaning "way of the sword", is very similar to Kendo.  Practitioners, using the jukdo (bamboo sword) for striking, wear a helmet and hard body protector so that they are able to practice full contact strikes to the head and body. Kumdo is an exacting art, with an emphasis on precision and attitude over speed and strength. Kumdo also encompasses practice with the wooden sword and, eventually, the sharp sword (Kumbub).

Kung Fu - An extremely disciplined, powerful martial art where strength is built in low stances and powerful blocks. Some Kung Fu blocks are so powerful that it can break the arm of someone who is punching you. Kunf Fu has many systems like Hung-Gar, WuShu, Wing Chun, and others. Kung Fu is for the patient, and mentally and physically strong person. It was the basis for many later forms of martial arts. Over the years, kung fu developed into different styles such as Wing Chun, Drunken boxing and styles based on animal movements like the crane or snake. The reason for such diversity was simple. People rarely traveled far from their homes and kung fu evolved in different locations. In northern China, martial arts emphasized kicking and leg work. In the South, various forms of boxing were most common. Top kung fu stars today have mastered different styles as well. Jet Li is best known as a practitioner of wu shu which uses many different styles emphasizing fluid motion. Jackie Chan learned kung fu while training in a Chinese opera school in Hong Kong and boosts a mastery of the "five animal styles" of kung fu which is highlighted in the film Shaolin Wooden Men. Today many kung fu styles exist and are still passed on as family traditions and through classes.

Kyudo - "The Way of the Bow" When the bow became obsolete as a weapon the spiritual aspect of archery was developed as a discipline for peace and self-cultivation. This was achieved by uniting the vigor of the warrior tradition with the dignity of the ceremonial. As a path for personal growth and development, the concept of Reisetsu - respect for the other, became the moral discipline which united these two aspects and formed the foundation for the practice of Kyudo. In meeting desire, negative thoughts, and physical difficulties the practice of Kyudo offers the individual the opportunity to meet their limitations, and to enjoy the challenge of this confrontation. One soon realizes that the problems faced are not to be found in the bow, or the immovable target, but in oneself. If this is accepted and the practice is carried out sincerely then the energy of the shooting begins to enrich one's life. Technique cannot be considered without an understanding of spiritual energy. Neither aspect can function without the other. The acquisition of technique grows with the increase in body-mind awareness to form a harmonious working together of the bow, body and spirit.

Muay Thai - (also referred to as Thai Boxing), and Savate (also referred to as Boxe Francais). Muay Thai is the oldest known form of kickboxing and is the primary building block of all other forms of kickboxing. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and is one of the most popular sports in the world today. The history of Kickboxing in Thailand however, is clouded at best. When the Burmese army sacked and razed Ayuddhaya to the ground the archives of Thai history were lost, and along with them much of the early history of Muay Thai. The first great interest in Muay Thai as a sport is documented to have come around the year of 1584 under the rule of King Naresuan. The King himself was well trained in the art of Muay Thai and so were his soldiers. Soon the art spread to the public and new fighting techniques began to evolve. Matches were held in every town and village on a daily basis. The sport of Muay Thai made its way to Europe sometime around the 17th century where it was embraced with open arms. The sport was modified, primarily to outlaw the use of knees and elbows, and given the name Savate.

Naginata - Naginata is a Japanese martial art form for men, women, and children. The Naginata originated over 1,000 years ago. The Naginata is a weapon with a rich history, utilized and refined from the Nara Period (710-784 A.D.) to today. Employed initially by the Bushi, it later found itself the specific weapon of the Sohei or Buddhist monks. It is the school of the spear and, as such, is a shafted weapon. The length of its oval shaft varied, from 5' to 8', depending on battle conditions and personal requests. The most striking feature, however, was the blade; it could be anywhere from 10 inches to more than 2 feet, and was sharpened on a single side, fashioned in the manner of either Sakizori or Uchizori. As with most shafted weapons, it was most devastating when utilizing sweeping, circular motions. However, thrusts with the blade and also the heavy ishizuki on the butt end were acceptable tactical alternatives. It was a powerful weapon against horsemen and foot soldiers alike. The Naginata's length and weight made it an efficient weapon against the sword, and its circular execution made it one of the most graceful and fluid of classical Japanese combat systems. Naginata today is an art form that teaches etiquette, respect, patience, self-confidence, and self-control. The practice of Naginata nurtures stamina, beauty and grace of movement, and the building of character through discipline and concentration. Moreover, it prepares individuals to deal with the rigors of life, and in establishing a moral code based on chivalry and honor.

Ninjutsu - The traditional Japanese method of espionage; involves stealthy movements and the use of camouflage. Presently in the 34th generation, this school of Ninjutsu is the only authentic tradition which has survived the more than 900 hundred years since it's beginnings in feudal Japan through an unbroken chain of Grand Masters. It's Martial roots, however, extend through history to the cradle of modern civilization, China.

Savate - Savate takes its name from the French for old boot (heavy footwear used to be worn during fights) and is actually an amalgam of French street fighting techniques from the beginning of the 19th century. At that time, savate was a type of street fighting common in Paris and the north of France. And in the south, especially in the port of Marseille, sailors had developed a form of fighting involving high kicks, which was known as jeu marseillais (game from Marseille), which was later renamed chausson (slipper, after the type of shoes sailors wore). In contrast, at this time in England (the home of boxing and the Queensberry rules), kicking was seen as unsportsmanlike or as something that only cowards would resort to. (See Muay Thai)

Shintaido - Shintaido is a unique combination of martial arts and body movement that cultivates the spirit along with the mind and body. It has been called a moving meditation. In Japanese, Shintaido means "new body way." Shintaido's forms exemplify openness and freedom. The movements of Shintaido provide a new way of experiencing our relationship with ourselves, others, nature, and the spiritual world. Shintaido is also a healing art, and a form of artistic expression. Shintaido attracts people who are interested in change, self development, and re-connecting with their bodies, their community, their spiritual nature. Shintaido was started in Japan in the 1960's under the leadership of Mr. Hiroyuki Aoki, with a group of martial artists, musicians, actors, visual artists, and others who wished to combine traditional wisdom with aspirations for peace, freedom and equality. The Shintaido philosophy is grounded in body movement.

Shorinji Kempo - Shorinji Kempo traces its origins back almost 5000 years to India. From India, Buddhism spread to many countries, including China. Bodhidharma, the sixth century founder of Zen Buddhism, introduced kempo to the legendary Shaolin Temple ('Shorin-Ji' in Japanese), located in Honan prefecture. Here kempo became the main form of spiritual training for the buddhist monks and the monastery became famous for its fighting arts. Wall paintings can still be seen today in the Shaolin Temple of dark-skinned (Indian) monks practicing and teaching kempo to light-skinned (Chinese) monks. The Imperial Chinese Government, feeling threatened, destroyed the temple and persecuted the monks. The techniques however continued to be taught and practiced by various secret societies as a means of protection against bandits and corrupt officials. Many different forms of kempo were developed and kept alive by these secret societies.

Soo Bahk Do - Soo Bahk Do is an ancient, traditional Korean martial art comprising hand and foot techniques. The art is renowned for its disciplined approach and emphasis on the tradition and technical aspects of martial art. Like most traditional martial art systems, Soo Bahk Do has unlimited horizons. Consistent training leads to improvement not only in physical ability, such as flexibility, strength, stamina and speed, but also mental focus and application of will. These benefits develop a sense of calm and quiet confidence in the practitioner.Soo Bahk Do is one of the most popular forms of Korean martial art.

Stav - Stav (pronounced st-arv) has been described as European Tai Chi and Viking Kung Fu. Stav is a traditional system maintained by the Norwegian family Hafskjold for over 44 generations. It is designed to improve mind, body, and spirit. It is said the system has been practiced since 500 AD so it certainly is not a new style developed from the African or Eastern styles. While these descriptions do not cover the scope of Stav they perhaps give a taste of what can be gained. The core of Stav is 16 stances or body postures. These are combined with breathing exercises to give gentle, non-impact exercise to tone and relax. This is where the Tai Chi reference comes in. However, these stances, with the breathing techniques, can also be combined in a martial arts aspect that is very effective and again does not put excessive stress and strain on the body. The full range of Stav builds into a system to exercise the body and mind and helps bring into balance the turmoil of the modern world.

Sumo - Originally known as "sumai", meaning struggle, sumo began around 20 B.C. as military combat. Sumai used most of the modern sumo techniques, plus a variety of strikes. . It resembled other wrestling based arts such as mongolian wrestling and Indian wrestling. Before the 16th century almost all wrestling was practiced for battle. Evolving after the 16th century, it eventually became known as sumo. Rules, ranks, and a ring now make sumo into a sport of giants. The water ceremony, the bowing, the costumes, and pageantry are all reminders of the ancient military traditions are still recognized today in competition. To follow a competition is quite easy. The winner is the one who forces his opponent out of the ring or forcing his opponent to touch the floor with any body part above the knee, first. The techniques they employ range from slapping (tsuppari), sweeps (ketaguri), and a wide variety of sacrafice throws (utchari).

T'ai Chi Chuan - The forms of Tai Chi Chuan are a traditional Chinese approach to exercise, meditation, and personal growth. Practiced both for health and self-defense, its graceful, flowing movements are at the same time beautiful, healthful and powerful. Its practice promotes an inner calm and a tranquil attitude, enhancing self-awareness. Tai Chi springs from emptiness and is born of nature. It is the source of motion and tranquility and the mother of Yin and Yang. The body weight or center of gravity of the practitioner sinks into the abdomen and trunk of the body, thus allowing more relaxed and deep breathing. With the mind quieted, the heartbeat slows down, and different muscular, neurological, glandular, and organ systems function in a more balanced fashion. The practice of Tai Chi Chuan is harmony and understanding of the ways of the world.

Tae Kwon Do - Tae Kwon Do is the world's most widely practice martial art. Tae Kwon Do is a Korean fighting art that looks very similar to Japanese karate. It is an Olympic sport, an artistic discipline, a system of self-defense, and a way of life. Tae Kwon Do is an artistic discipline. The techniques are done with graceful and powerful movements. Students continuously strive to improve the artistic presentation of each technique. The art of Tae Kwon Do develops posture, graceful movement, excellent coordination, and attention to detail. We believe that everyone can benefit from exposure to this artistic discipline.

Taido - Taido is a scientific martial art which has taken the essence of the traditional Japanese martial arts and transformed it into one which can meet the needs of a modern society. In both Japanese print and television media Taido has been recognized as a martial art having "philosophical depth" and "creativity". It has been deemed as "the martial art of the 21st century". Taido is not a martial art where punching or kicking techniques are executed along a one dimensional line. Rather Taido's techniques are delivered by changing the body axis and balance. It is also characterized by the use of elaborate footwork in changing the angle of attack and by the use of one's entire body in the martial art. Taido, moreover, is not simply a sport as many forms of karate have become, but also involves a special type of training which requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline in terms of spiritual concentration. The essence of Taido lies not in the techniques of the art itself but in the utilization of the training acquired in Taido for the development and benefit of both self and society. Taido's techniques are designed with a dual purpose in mind. Not only are they used for one's personal defense but they play an important role in keeping one's internal organs healthy. Based upon the theories applied in the medical art of acupuncture, Taido has studied the effect of the angle of body movement upon the internal organs. This is realized, in part, through the Hokei, which are systemized routines of techniques and movements. These improve the students' offensive and defensive techniques while promoting the development of their health. Taido also encompasses, and emphasizes strongly, the breathing techniques. This is indeed another unique aspect of Taido as compared to other martial arts.

Vovinam Viet Vo Dao - The Martial Arts Discipline known as Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao, was founded by Master Nguyen Loc in 1938.  He grew up during a period when Vietnam was still under French colonial rule.  In that time, young men could either abide by the French policies, or join the revolution against the French. Master Nguyen Loc believed the only way to free Vietnam from the colonial rule was to take those with a strong will for liberty and independence, training them to attain a strong body and a rational mind. He practiced hard and researched many foreign forms of martial arts over a long span of time. He later founded a new form of discipline, which became known as Vovinam (Martial Arts of Vietnam). Since 1964, the title "Viet Vo Dao" (The Philosophy of Vietnamese Martial Arts) was added to the original, becoming Vovinam-Viet Vo Dao.

Styles of Karate

Gojo-ryu

    Goju Ryu (Japanese for "Hard-soft style") is a style of karate, so called as it allows a combination of hard and soft techniques. The development of Goju Ryu goes back to Kanryo Higashionna, (1850-1915), a native of Naha, Okinawa. As a teenager he trained with an Okinawan master named Aragaki Seisho. At the age of twenty he sailed to Fuzhou in the Fukien Province of China and spent many years studying various martial arts, mostly under the kung fu master Liu Liu Ko, who is supposed to have been a shoemaker. He returned to Okinawa during the middle of the Meiji Era (1868-1911) and continued in the family business of selling firewood, while teaching a new school of martial arts, distinguished by its integration of go-no (hard) and ju-no (soft) kempo in one system. The word karate was not in common use at that time, and Higashionna's style was known as Naha-te.

    Higashionna's most prominent student was Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953) who began training under Higashionna at the age of 12. After Higashionna's death Miyagi sailed to China and studied there for several years, returning to Naha in 1918. Many of Higashionna's students continued to train with him, including Higa Seiko (1898-1966) who inadvertently gave the style its name. After a demonstration one day, Higa was asked what the style was called. Recalling a favorite saying of Miyagi's, Higa said it was called "Goju-ryu." The name stuck. The line he was thinking of was "Successful methods require both give and take (go and ju)" which is from an anonymous poem called the Ha Po ("Eight Sayings") from a Chinese manual called Wu Pei Chih ("Handbook of Military Arts and Science") well-known in Okinawa, where its title is pronounced "Bubishi".

    'Go' means hardness or external force, 'ju' means softness or internal force.

    Goju-ryu combines hard striking attacks (from Karate) like kicks and punches with softer circular techniques (from Kung Fu) for blocking and controlling the opponent. Major emphasis is given to breathing correctly.

    The International Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do Federation (IOGKF) has made Goju-ryu widely popular, with schools in almost fifty countries. The IOGKF is run by its founder Morio Higaonna, a student of Miyagi An'ichi, a student (but no relation) of Miyagi Chojun.

    However, Goju-ryu has developed an extremely complex web of diverse traditions founded by different students of Miyagi Chojun and their successors, and no one person can be objectively said to be the leader of Goju-ryu nor any one entity the governing body of the entire style.

    Other leading figures have included Yagi Meitoku (1912-2003), who inherited Miyagi's school on Okinawa; Toguchi Seikichi (1917-1998) ; and Miyazato Ei'ichi (1922-1999). Peter Urban (1934-2004), Anthony Mirakian, and Kimo Wall are prominent Americans who brought Goju-ryu to the United States.

Shito-ryu

    Shito ryu (糸東流) is a form of karate that was developed by Kenwa Mabuni in 1931. Any history of Shitoryu Karate, however, must begin and end with its founder, Kenwa Mabuni. Born in Shuri on Okinawa in 1893, Mabuni Sensei was a descendant of the famous Onigusukini Samurai family. Perhaps because of his weak constitution, he began his instruction in his home town in the art of Shuri-Te at the age of 13, under the tutelage of the legendary Anko Yasutsune Itosu (1813-1915). He trained diligently for several years, learning many kata from this great master. It was Itosu who first developed the Pinan kata, which were most probably derived from the 'Kusanku' form.

    One of his close friends, Sensei Chogun Miyagi (founder of Goju-ryu) introduced Mabuni to another great of that period, Sensei Kanryo Higashionna, and began to learn Naha-Te under him as well. While both Itosu and Higashionna taught a 'hard-soft' style of Okinawan 'Te', their methods and emphases were quite distinct: the Itosu syllabus included straight and powerful techniques as exemplified in the Naifanchi and Bassai kata; the Higashionna syllabus on the other hand, stressed circular motion and shorter fighting methods as seen in the popular Seipai and Kururunfa forms. These were the two main influences on the development of Mabuni Sensei and what he would later call Shito-ryu. In fact, he derived the name for his new style from the first Kanji character in their names, Itosu and Higashionna.

    Although he remained true to the teachings of these two great masters, Mabuni sought instruction from a number of other teachers; including Seisho Aragaki, Tawada Shimboku, Sueyoshi Jino and Wu Xianhui (a Chinese master known as Go-Kenki). In fact, Mabuni was legendary for his encyclopaedic knowledge of kata and their bunkai applications. By the 1920s, he was regarded as the foremost authority on Okinawan kata and their history and was much sought after as a teacher by his contemporaries. There is even some evidence that his expertise was sought out in China, as well as Okinawa and mainland Japan. As a police officer, he taught local law enforcement officers and at the behest of his teacher Itosu, began instruction in the various grammar schools in Shuri and Naha.

    In an effort to popularize karate in mainland Japan, Mabuni made several trips to Tokyo in 1917 and 1928. Although much that was known as 'Te' (Chinese Fist) or Karate had been passed down through many generations with jealous secrecy, it was his view that it should be taught to anyone who sought knowledge with honesty and integrity. In fact, many masters of his generation held similar views on the future of Karate: Sensei Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan), another contemporary, had moved to Tokyo in the 1920s to promote their art on the mainland as well.

    By 1929, Mabuni had moved to Osaka on the mainland, to become a full-time karate instructor. With the support of Sensei Ryusho Sakagami (1915-1993), he opened a number of dojo in the Osaka area, including Kansai University and the Japan Karatedo Kai dojo. To this day, the largest contingent of Shito-ryu practitioners in Japan is centred in the Osaka area.

    In an effort to gain acceptance in the Japanese Butokukai, the governing body for all officially recognized martial arts in that country, he and his contemporaries decided to call their art 'Karate' or 'Empty Hand', rather than 'Chinese Hand'. He published a number of books on the subject and continued to systematize the instruction method. In his latter years, he developed a number of formal kata, such as Aoyagi, for example, which was designed specifically for women's self defense. Perhaps more than any other Master in the last century, Mabuni was steeped in the traditions and history of Karate-do, yet forward thinking enough to realize that it could spread throughout the world.

Shotokan

    Shotokan (松涛館) is a school of karate, reflecting the style of master Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), who first brought karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan. Shoto was Funakoshi's pen name for his poetry, while Shotokan was the name of the hall where "Shoto" trained his students. Funakoshi had trained in both of the popular styles of Okinawan Karate of the time: Shorei-ryu and Shorin-ryu. He combined and modified the styles, and made his own, though he never named it, always referring to it simply as "karate".

    Training is usually divided into three sections: kihon or "basics", kumite or "sparring", and kata. Shotokan techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances which provide stability and powerful movements. Strength and power are often demonstrated instead of slower, more flowing motions. The kumite techniques mirror these stances and movements at a basic level, but progress to be being more "free" and flexible at a higher level. Funakoshi is said to have found the traditional martial arts (such as sumo, jujutsu and kenjutsu) to be too focused on combat, and he put more emphasis on health, breathing, releasing energy and outstanding mind and body control.

    Shotokan karate is today the most popular style of karate, and is practiced in hundreds of dojos around the world.

Wado-ryu

    Wado-ryu (和道流) is one of the world's major karate styles. On the surface it looks very similar to other styles such as Shotokan. However, there are some important differences.

    It may be argued that Wado-ryu is a Jujutsu style rather than Okinawan Karate. When first registered with the Japanese Butokukai in 1939 the style was called Shinshu Wadoryu Karate-Jutsu, a name which reflects the hybrid nature of Wado. Wado-ryu's founder Hironori Ohtsuka was already a renowned grandmaster in Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu when he first met the Okinawan karate master Funakoshi. After having received tutelage of not only Funakoshi but later also the Okinawan masters Mabuni and Motobu, he set off to merge Shindo Yoshin Ryu with Okinawan Karate.

    The result of Ohtsuka's efforts is Wado-ryu. While its techniques may be very much karate in looks, most of the underlying principles have been derived from Shindo Yoshin Ryu. A block in Wado may look much like a block in Shotokan, they are nevertheless performed from a completely different perspective. A Shotokan practitioner is likely to force an incoming fist out of the line of attack. A Wado expert, on the other hand, will rather move himself out of the line of attack while taking up a position that will gain him an advantage over the opponent. Both ways will look almost similar to the untrained eye, but couldn't be further apart when considering the tactics behind them. Key in Wado-ryu is the principle of taisabaki, often wrongly referred to as evasion. The Japanese term can be translated as body-management and refers to body manipulation so as to move the defender as well as the attacker out of harm's way. The way to achieve this is to move along rather than to move against. Or, harmony rather than strength.

    Perhaps the nature of Wado is better understood when considering its Jujutsu origins. In 17th century Japan, a young physician departed on a journey to China. His name was Yoshitoki Akiyama. During his stay in China he learned Chinese healing methods as well as Chinese fighting techniques. After a while Akiyama returned to Japan and retreated in a monastery where he devoted himself to meditation. During those days he also practiced and perfected his technique. One snowy day during winter, Akiyama sat gazing at a willow tree. It suddenly occurred to him that the willow tree, unlike some other trees, didn't have any broken branches, despite the heavy snow. The willow branches simply yield and allow the snow to fall off. Sturdier trees with unyielding branches suffer much heavier from the elements of nature. After this revelation he developed 303 techniques which became known as Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu or Willow Heart Style. Yoshin Ryu later evolved into Wado-Ryu but the fundamental yielding principles have still been preserved.

    The term Wado-ryu can be broken into three parts: Wa, do and ryu. Wa can be read to mean harmony. Do is a Japanese term for way. ryu simply means style. Wa or harmony shouldn't be interpreted as pacifism in any way. It is merely the acknowledgment that yielding is sometimes more effective than brute strength.

    However, modern karate competition tends to transform Wado-Ryu away from its roots towards a new generic karate that appeals more to the demands of both spectators and competitors.

 

©Audrea2005