By Bart A. Stump
Are you looking for a great way to gain strength, increase flexibility, improve endurance, sharpen concentration, acquire self-confidence, and make new friends? Consider trying the martial arts.
The martial arts are primarily Asian forms of self-defense that are sometimes performed as a sport. There are dozens of styles including: Aikido, Ju-Jitsu, Judo, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, and Tang Soo Do. These styles originated in China, Japan, and Korea. One of the most popular martial arts is karate which originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Karate means “empty hand” because the practitioner primarily uses his or her bare hands and feet and the name has become synonymous with many similar styles of martial arts.
So, how do you get started? First find a style and school that interests you. Many schools will allow you to watch a class to see if you’re interested and offer introductory classes to try it out.
Basic equipment varies depending on the type of martial arts practiced, but usually consists of a loose fitting white cotton uniform and a belt.
Typical classes consist of stretching, learning terminology in the native language of the style, studying the history of that particular style, and practicing a variety of hand and kick techniques. Different punches, kicks, and blocks are incorporated to create various combinations and forms. Advanced forms are very fluid and graceful, taking on the appearance of choreographed dance.
One of the more dynamic aspects of the martial arts is practice fighting called sparring. Depending on the style practiced, points are scored for light punches to the torso and controlled kicks to the head and torso or the ability to throw or take your opponent to the ground. But it’s not just about punching and kicking, it’s about forming strategies and adjusting to changing conditions. Sparring can be compared to playing chess; one needs to know the proper time to attack or retreat and which attack or defense to use for maximum effect. Protective pieces used for sparring include a mouth guard, dipped foam helmet, gloves, and boots, a groin cup for males, and possibly a padded chest protector.
Another exciting skill that might be practiced is breaking. Typically pine boards are broken using a variety of hand and kick techniques. Advanced students might do multiple board breaks or break pieces of cement or bricks. Breaking is not just about brute force; it’s about speed, focus, technique, and confidence.
In addition, some schools offer weapons training. Students are taught how to safely use some or all of the following weapons: nunchucks, staffs, daggers, sais, kamas, tonfas, and swords. Beginners often start out with plastic, wooden or padded practice weapons before advancing to the real items.
More advanced students might also practice self-defense techniques where they learn to avoid or block attacks and have an effective counterattack. They may also learn to escape grabs and chokeholds and put the attacker on the defensive. Advanced students may learn how to disarm or subdue weapon-wielding opponents.
To demonstrate one’s progress a student must pass periodic tests. Many schools show advancement with progressively darker colored belts ranging from a beginner’s white belt up through an advanced student’s black belt.
Another way to test one’s skills is to compete in tournaments. Competitors are divided by age and ability and depending on the style they practice may compete in forms, weapons, breaking, and/or sparring. Top competitors often win medals and trophies. In addition to the actual competition, tournaments are a great way to catch up with or make new friends from other schools.
While the martial arts definitely keep you physically fit, they also help you to focus mentally. One needs to concentrate on remembering the correct terminology and sequence of moves as well as applying the proper techniques in the appropriate situation. The martial arts are also about the proper outlook. It’s not about learning how to fight. It’s about having the confidence not to fight but knowing how to defend oneself if need be.
Regardless of the style of martial arts you practice you will gain a better understanding of a different culture and its history. You will also strengthen your body and mind, gain confidence, learn new skills, make new friends, and have fun.
Local Martial Arts Schools:
Championship Martial Arts
At Championship Martial Arts- Omaha we have been providing quality Martial Arts Classes for toddlers all the way to adults in our current location since 2005. In March of 2018 we changed our name from Midwest Tae Kwon Do to Championship Martial Arts. We continue to expand our curriculum to be age and developmentally appropriate for each class, and our friendly and professional instructors are excited to share with Omaha Families our love of Martial Arts. We believe in Family, and this is demonstrated by our welcoming atmosphere and the sense of community that our students share. We believe that Martial Arts is much more than punches, kicks and self-defense, it is also a highly effective way to teach confidence, focus, respect, self-control and of course fun.
Our Mission is to encourage and motivate our students and to provide the skills needed to help them succeed in life: confidence, discipline, self-esteem, focus and physical well-being. We will make a positive impact on our communities and reinforce solid character development in students of all ages as we maintain this commitment leading by example.
Our traditional style is Shotokan Karate, and for our juniors we also incorporate more cutting edge martial arts including competition weapons training and sparring. Our class schedule reflects our dedication to structured curriculum as well as flexibility for busy families. Stop by and see why we have won best Martial Arts in Omaha for the past 3 years! Let us help you start this school year off right! For more information, visit http://martialartsomaha.com.
Why Tiger Rock Martial Arts for Kids?
Here are a few common statements we here from parents and families around our communities:
• I wish my child would simply LISTEN a little better.
• If he could just FOCUS a bit more, I know he’d improve at school. • I’m worried about the BULLYING and VIOLENCE with kids these days. • I want my child to have the CONFIDENCE & SELF-DISCIPLINE to set the example for others.
University Studies have proven the impacts of Tiger Rock Martial Arts in these areas. So, imagine if one or more of the following could help with your goals for your child.
1) Focus: With all of the distractions children face today learning the simple art of focus is often missed. Tiger Rock Martial Arts incorporates lessons on how to focus our eyes, minds and bodies to get the most out of each activity. Learning this one skill will benefit kids throughout their lives in school, at home and later on in their careers.
2) Health and Fitness: With ever increasing levels of obesity in children that may result in lifelong health issues, teaching our children to stay active is crucial. Habits of physical fitness and teaching the importance of taking care of our bodies is a gift that will give back throughout their lives. And one of the best aspects of Tiger Rock Martial Arts is that everyone participates. You don’t have to be a star athlete to benefit from both the physical and mental aspects.
3) Reduced Fear of Failure & Increased Confidence: Part of life is learning how to handle situations that are difficult or that we would rather avoid. Learning how to get back up and try again will help your child handle real life situations with perseverance, humility and grit.
4) Anti-Bullying Skills: Bullying is another major challenge that our children face today. Tiger Rock Martial Arts can help to bully-proof your child through increased self-confidence, teaching leadership skills, and instilling positive values such as courage, humility and honor. Kids that are involved in our programs develop the skills to make them less likely to become victims of bullying AND they also are less likely to bully others.
5) Stranger Awareness & Self-Defense Skills Children cannot continuously stand toe to toe and fight with a much larger adult. The good news is that they don’t have to. With the right skills and mindset, we teach kids how to escape and get to someone or somewhere safe. On top of this we teach awareness skills that can keep them out of danger in the first place.
Beyond the stranger drills and skills we also teach very practical self-defense skills for when it goes beyond bullying and turns into assault. And thankfully kids involved in Tiger Rock Martial Arts have been shown to be LESS likely to be involved in a physical altercation because they have the skills and the confidence they need.
For more information on Tiger Rock Martial Arts in Omaha please call 402-334-5425.