Welcome to the Fighting styles Edit

Almost every culture has its own ancient, indigenous fighting style. Most modern cultures have also imported fighting arts from other parts of the world,

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adopting, adapting and making them their own. Asian arts can now be found in suburban storefronts in most major cities of Europe and North America. Even lesser-known arts such as savate, French kickboxing, and kalarippayattu, an Indian art, are now finding a place.


Fighting Styles ...... A to Z summary Edit

This section features short summaries on various fighting disciplines from around the world. Some of the disciplines below are also discussed in greater detail in sections of their own. The list is far from complete, and I intend to add more fighting disciplines as well as additional information about disciplines already listed. We realize that many important fighting traditions have not yet been included. This should not be taken as purposeful but only as a temporary omission.

Aikido: (Japan) A system of self-defense (See Do, Budo) developed in the 1920s by Morihei Usehiba from techniques of Daito-ryu aiki jujitsu and other influences that stresses the harmonizing of the body with offensive actions and energies in order to neutralize aggression.

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Aiki jujitsu: (Japan) Any jujitsu discipline that incorporates principles of "aiki." One of the oldest of these disciplines is Daito-ryu whose origin some suggest traces back to the Heian period (794-1156) and whose techniques provided technical inspiration for many aiki jujitsu disciplines as well as aikido, which developed in the first half of the 20th century.

Arnis: (Philippines) A Philippine self-defense art, also known as Kali, Tagalog, Escrima, Estogue or Fraile (depending on the region) employing unarmed and armed (using stick/blade) techniques.

Atemi: (Japan) A general and inclusive term referring to the arts (or various arts) of striking anatomical weak points. Atemi in some form was prevalent in virtually all Japanese close range combat disciplines such as that of the sword (kenjitsu) as well as in later unarmed systems such as jujitsu and judo.

Bajujitsu: (Japan) The art of horsemanship practiced by Japanese professional warriors (bushi or samurai) for mounted warfare which required strict control of the horse's actions within a battlefield conflict. As part of this art warriors developed their leg strength to enable them to maintain the proper posture for prolonged periods of swift riding and to control the horse with their legs during battle when their arms were occupied with weapons.

Bando: (Burma) A general term meaning "way of discipline" or "system of defense" referring to those styles of unarmed and armed self-defense developed in Burma that employ striking, kicking, grappling and locking techniques, throws, plus weapon techniques introduced into the US by Dr. Maung Gi, a college professor in 1960 (Head of the American Bando Association). Bando is often called Burmese karate.

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Battojitsu: (Japan) Also Battojutsu. The classical bujitsu art of drawing a sword and cutting in one action. The art from which iaijitsu was later derived.

Bojitsu: (Japan/Okinawa) Meaning "art of the staff." A collective term referring to martial systems employing a bo, or long staff (over five feet in length), that developed in Japan, Okinawa, China and elsewhere. The use of the bo dates back to times of legend and is as old as man himself. In Japan hard wood was plentiful and even the poorest individual could easily arm himself. A whole arsenal of poles, staffs, spiked staffs, and long iron clubs were developed. The bo was sometimes tipped in iron and sometimes totally covered by iron. In modern times its practice is an inherent part of many styles of karate and aikido.

To the traditional samurai armed with a cherished sword, the bo was considered plebeian, a weapon of commoners. But because of its effectiveness it became necessary to understand its use, if for nothing other than defensive reasons. In Japan it's study was distinguished by its focus on techniques useful against an opponent armed with a sword or other weapon. Techniques such as blocking, parrying, striking, tripping, throwing off, off-balancing, striking and thrusting were often combined into a single movement, the most powerful of which could break a sword or shatter a bone.

The weapon has the unique advantage of having two ends, thus each successive technique with one end opens up a possible technique with the other. The skill level of a trained exponent is truly remarkable, the speed of movement blurred to the eye. As a wooden instrument, however, the bo was comparably safe compared to the sword and other bladed weapons. Thus the bo, or wooden equivalent of swords and other weapons, are often used as substitutes for actual bladed weapons practice in schools teaching weapon arts.

The bo was equally popular among commoners, priest and monks (who were denied many weapons). A shorter version of the bo, called a "jo," also became widely practiced.

The founder of one of the most effective and famous schools of bo jitsu was Muso Gonnosuke, an expert in the bo who was catapulted into prominence by his loss of a match. Using a bo in a challenge against the two sword legend Miyamoto Musashi, Gonnosuke lost but was spared his life. Gonnsouke is said to have retreated into seclusion atop Mt. Homan where he underwent years of rigid self-discipline. He meditated, fasted and underwent ritual purification out of which he received divine inspiration. This led to development of a shorter version of the bo that allowed quicker response time. He developed his own special techniques, while borrowing from both bo and sword techniques. He then challenged Musashi again, this time defeating the sword legend. Gonnouke named his style Shindo-Muso Ryu and developed technical curriculum.

The use of the bo, or staff, is so widespread that virtually every country has its own tradition. In Europe the long staff was used by peasants during the middle ages. In China the bo and other weapons were also widely practiced and often incorporated into various kung fu systems. Likewise Okinawan systems of bojitsu have their own traditions.

In the Ryukyus of which Okinawa is the largest island, bo kata are the oldest of martial arts kata dating back to Matsu Higa, the weapons (kobudo) teacher (sensei) of Takahara Peinchin. Actually oral tradition traces the use of the bo back even further, to the 1400's. And after the Japanese (Satsuma Clan) occupied Okinawa (1609), although bladed weapons were banned there is some evidence that the bo was actually allowed to flourish, or even taught, as a means of civilian defense against the possibility of Chinese invasion. Today in Okinawa the bo and other traditional weapons are taught separately, but have also been adopted by many karate systems. Since many movements of Okinawan traditional weapons duplicate or closely parallel techniques from karate, some suggest the unique character and style of karate itself was influenced by these weapons. In researching the techniques used, some authorities have noted the similarity of their bo techniques to Japanese spear techniques, something that would support the hypothesis that the Japanese Satsumura might have encouraged adoption of bo techniques based on other Japanese weapon systems.

Capoeira: (Brazil) A beautiful and dramatic Brazilian martial discipline founded by African slaves more than 300 years ago in Angola and practiced as a religious dance before being brought to Brazil where it was transformed into a self-defense system. The system uses gymnastic type back flips, cart wheels, sweeping movements and high kicks for evasion rather than blocks to avoid attack. Many counter kicks are done from a hand stand-position, and most offensive techniques employ the feet.

Cheibi Gad-Ga: (India) This is one of the oldest Manipur martial arts that in modern times has evolved into a competitive art. Contestants use a stick (known as "Cheibi") encased in leather and about two and a half feet long in combination with a leather shield (with three foot diameter) to represent an actual sword and shield. The competition takes place on a flat circular surface approximately twenty one feet in diameter. Within the circle are two lines each approximately three feet long and six feet apart. The winner is the person who scores the most points by skillfully striking his opponent. In ancient practice, actual swords and spears were permitted.

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Chin na: (China) The Chinese art of seizing and locking that uses striking and seizing of acupuncture points, grasping of tendons and blood vessels and the locking of joints, techniques widely incorporated into Chinese fighting arts. Included also is a mix of throwing, takedowns, kicking, punching and joint manipulations that parallel techniques in judo, jujitsu and karate. Techniques are also associated with dim mak.

Ch'uan Fa: (China) "Fist boxing," or "way of the fist," also spelled Chan Fa. Called Ken Fat in Cantonese, Kempo in Japanese.

Ch'uan Shu: (China) Fist art. A general term referring to various Chinese martial disciplines practicing empty hand (without weapons) fighting techniques. Similar terms include: Kung Fu, Wushu, Gwo Chi, Gwo Sho and Chung Ku Ch'uan.

Daito-ryu aiki jujitsu: (Japan) A derivative of daito ryu which focuses on the aiki-jujitsu portion of the art.

Daito-ryu: (Japan) An ancient system of unarmed and armed combat founded by Shinra Saburo Minamoto during the Heian period (794-1156) and perfected in battlefield warfare. The techniques were most fully systematized (some say modified) by Sokaku Takeda with sword and unarmed techniques practiced together. It was the first and only tradition focused upon aiki-jujitsu. While it has inspired many succeeding disciplines, including aikido founded by Morihei Usehiba (Takeda's student from 1911-1918), daito-ryu proponents suggest that while the other systems share aiki jujitsu nomenclature, the understanding of aiki, as well as the techniques themselves, they may in fact be very different. See: aiki, Daito-ryu aiki jujitsu.

Daito Ryu lays claim to being the oldest aiki-jujitsu in Japan. It is a cultural treasure that in addition to being the progenitor of modern aikido has greatly influenced many modern other cognate budo disciplines (disciplines derived from warrior arts). It began its development when Shinra Saburo no Minamoto (1045-1127), a relation of the Emperor Seiwa who was to become the governor of Kai (modern Yamanashi Prefecture), studied the body's secrets by dissecting cadavers. He researched the body's weak points in order to discover how most effectively to attack them with a sword and how to apply locks to its joints. He further learned how muscles support the skeletal structure. The knowledge was passed to his descendants in the Takeda family of Kai and Daito Ryu was further developed there until the death of the family's most famous  General, Takeda Shingen in 1573.

In the mid-seventeenth century Takeda Kunitsugu, a relative of Takeda Shingen, became a senior counselor to the son of Tokugawa Hidetaka, Lord Hoshina Masayuki of the Aizu Han. Daito Ryu was combined with the Aizu Han's oshiki uchi techniques and became the method of self-defense for all Daimyo of the Aizu and those responsible for their protection. Daito Ryu continued to be passed from generation to generation within the Takeda family.

Takeda Sokaku Sensei formalized and named modern Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu. With his knowledge and skill in Daito Ryu and Ono-ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu (Sokaku den), he traveled all over Japan on foot, teaching and meeting all challengers until his death in Aomori Prefecture in 1943 (Showa 18) at the age of 89. In Sokaku's 70 years of martial travels he remained undefeated, leaving behind an exceptionally rich curriculum of techniques and his mark on the history of Japanese Classical and Modern Martial Arts. Takeda Tokimune Sensei, Takeda Sokaku's son, organized the curriculum of some 2884 techniques into a more readily teachable syllabus. Techniques up to the 5th degree black belt level are included in the Shoden (beginning level techniques) syllabus of 118 techniques plus many. These techniques are executed from both sitting and standing positions as well as against attacks from behind. Each level requires knowledge of a different set of essential principles if one is to master the techniques.

In addition, Daito Ryu waza are categorized as Hiden Okugi, Chuden, Okuden, Goshingo no te, Aiki no Jutsu, Daito Ryu Nito Ryu Hiden, Kaishaku Soden, Soden, and Kaiden. Only a very few Daito Ryu teachers have extensive knowledge of these techniques, and as of this writing all of these men are Japanese. Tokimune Takeda Sensei passed away in 1993. The present Soke (head of a school or tradition) of Daito Ryu is Takeda Seishu.

(The above historical outline was provided by Richard Carlow, Shihan Dairi of the Hakuho Kai Daito Ryu Aiki jujitsu, Osaka, Japan)

Dim mak: (China) Also dim mok, or dian mai. The Chinese science of attacking the body and/or its acupuncture points or centers in order to disrupt internal energy (ki, chi, or qi), organs, or blood flow and cause injury, or death - immediately, or hours, days or weeks later. Techniques are associated with chin na.

Escrima: (Philippines) Also sometimes known as Arnis (see), or Escrima.

Hakuda: (Japan/Okinawa) In Japanese the term is used to refer to Chinese Ch'uan Fa systems (Kempo in Japanese), meaning to "beat by hand." Another term with the same meaning is Shuhaku. In Okinawa the term hakuda was used more specifically to refer to the art of striking the vital points (atemi) of another person in self-defense without making the self impure. Hakuda in this context means "white strike," or "striking without impurity," which is an ancient Buddhist poetic description of the art. "Haku" means white (the color symbolizing purity) and "da" means to strike or hit. Hakuda is often combined with grabbing techniques (hakushu) found within many Japanese, Okinawan kata and Korean hyung.

Hapkido: (Korea) The way of coordinated energy (internal). A Korean martial discipline that combines karate like moves (noted for its spectacular high kicks), judo throws and aikido circularity and joint manipulations combined with Ki (Chi) or internal energy. Hapkido was founded by Young Shui Choi in the late 1930's and early 1940's but was practiced under a variety of names up until the 1960's. Choi had previously studied daito ryu aiki jujitsu which he combined with his native hwarando and taekyon (a kicking art not to be confused with taekwondo).

Hojojitsu: (Japan) "Cord Tying Art." This art offers quick and efficient methods of tying and restraining an opponent who is often struggling to escape. During the feudal warring period confrontations between armed opponents didn't always end in death, and this art was often used to finish off those who had already been subdued or incapacitated. Often opposing warriors were taken prisoner. Grappling techniques ended in hold downs, or other incapacitating positions. At this point special techniques of tying up an opponent were utilized, the art known as hojojitsu. Various binding patterns and methods were used for different classes (warrior, noble, farmer, merchant, artisan, monk, etc.) based on their habits, weapons and skills and/or anatomical differences. The tying methods were intricate and assumed aesthetically beautiful patterns.

Hsing-i: (China) Also spelled Hsing-yi. "Mind Form." A powerful ancient Chinese martial discipline based on Chinese Cosmology (five element theory) that stresses direct linear techniques combined with the use of internal energy (chi). Hsing-i moves use power and speed to confront power directly and overwhelm it. Hsing-i also employs several weapons including the knife and the sword. Its forms are drawn from observations of animals and their fighting methods. The system mimics concepts of animal fighting, along with postures based on the five elements. The animals in some systems include: the horse, tiger, monkey, swallow, snake, bear, leopard. cockerel, calercaille, dragon, hawk and water skimmer. Other systems substitute the dove, turtle, falcon, eagle and others. While the system visually resembles the hard styles of Chinese kung fu (that emphasize muscle power), its real emphasis is the development and control of internal energy (chi kung). "Hsing" meaning "form" and "i" meaning "idea," or "idea behind the external form" which includes not only physical movements but knowing the intention or ideas of the opponent (intuition). The emphasis on intuitive knowing is shared with Pa-qua (often taught with Hsing-i) whose more circular, non-direct and evasive actions complement hsing-i's the more linear technique .

Hsing-i came originally from the north of China (San Shih province) spreading to Hepei, then to Hunan and Peking. Weapons include the knife and sword. Hsing-i is a northern style that originated and spread elsewhere including Peking. A famous story recounts how the famous Hsing-i boxer Kua Yun-Shen challenged Tung Hai ch'uan, a famous pa qua teacher to a match. Pa Qua was known for it evasion and circularity of technique that lay in stark contrast to hsing-i's powerful linear style. The match lasted three days. During the first two neither could gain advantage. Both were equally matched. But on the third Tung defeated his challenger - the two ending up as friends and vowing to thereafter teach the two styles together. Thus, even today when you find one system the other is often taught along with it. Both are classified as internal disciplines that develop and utilize internal energy of Ki (chi in China). Both disciplines share the concept that the mind unites actions and thought into one, so that training the mind allows transformation of the internal to the external technique.

Hsing-yi: (Japan) See Hsing-i.

Hwarang-do: (Korea) "Flower man way," or "The way of the flowering manhood." A broad based and complex Korean martial discipline that combines body movements with kicks, blocks and strikes, throws, joint manipulations, choking and submission techniques, ki training, weapons and the healing arts. The original art is said to have been created over 1800 years ago by a Buddhist priest, Won Kwang Bopsa. He was asked to instruct members of the royal family of Silla (one of three kingdoms that divided the area that is now Korea) in a variety of subjects, and his students went on to become warriors, statesmen and leaders known collectively as the hwarang. Later, during periods of political turmoil, training continued in secret within Buddhist monasteries and was preserved. In the modern era, two brothers, Joo Bang Lee and Joo Sang Lee, trained under the 57th successor of the system, the Buddhist monk Suahm Dosa, and they were given permission to teach publicly in 1960. Since then the art has spread under the direction of the World Hwarang-do Association.

Iaido: (Japan) The way of drawing the sword derived from Iaijitsu. See budo, do.

Iaijitsu: (Japan) The art of drawing the sword and cutting as a single motion. It was traditionally a sub-specialization of kenjitsu and one of several martial disciplines usually practiced by traditional warriors before the modern era. In the 1930's it was popularized as a separate discipline (iaido).

Jeet Kune Do: (United States) "Way of the intercepting fist." An unarmed approach to combat developed by Bruce Lee in 1967 and popularized with his martial arts movie career. Jeet kune do is distinctive in that it does not employ a specific method of fighting or collection of techniques as in other systems, but rather stresses freedom to choose any technique or method best used by an individual practitioner according to his physical makeup and skills. It is thus more of a concept or approach to produce speed, power, timing, coordination, footwork and intuition. Techniques are drawn from any number of arts - aikido, jujitsu, wing chung, boxing, karate, tae kwon do, northern style kung fu, wrestling and the weapon arts of escrima (kali). No kata is practiced, since kata, it is believed, teaches specific methods, stances or techniques, the very things from which jeet kune do attempts to free itself. Instead jeet kune do stresses constant flowing change and broken rhythm that mimics actual combat and reflects the truth that exists outside all molds and patterns. Students are guided to their own truth, a process of self-discovery that each person must find for himself.

Jobajitsu: (Japan) The Japanese art of military horsemanship.

Jodo: (Japan) The way of the jo derived out of jo jitsu. See jo, do. Included are methods of striking, parrying, blocking and sweeping often practiced in kata (prearranged practice) sets.

Judo: (Japan) "Gentle or flexible way." A modern competitive system, or sport involving throwing and ground grappling that was founded by Jogoro Kano in 1882. In 1964 it was recognized as an Olympic sport. Judo is composed of two characters, "ju" meaning gentle or flexible and "do" meaning way or path.

Jujitsu: (Japan) Jujitsu is a generic term that refers to all Japanese systems of combat characterized by unarmed combat against armed and unarmed opponents using joint techniques, throws, chokes and strikes. "Ju" meaning soft or gentle; "jitsu"(also spelled Jutsu) meaning reality, truth, technique or method. Although the kanji (character) for "Ju" suggests suppleness and yielding, these arts were actually brutal in application, using strikes and kicks, joint dislocations, throws and grappling. During the feudal period most jujitsu systems were an integral part of other weapon combat systems, the techniques used as extension of the weapons themselves or complimentary to them. After 1860 many totally separate jujitsu systems arose, most being specialized in certain techniques. In more modern times jujitsu systems are more inclusive of a wider range of techniques. Modern judo is also a result of a synthesis of several older jujitsu systems modernized for safe practice.

Jukendo: (Japan) "Way of the bayonet." While bayonet techniques were developed early as the1600's with the introduction of rifles into Japan, in the Meiji era, a standard from of bayonet fighting was developed, Juken Jitsu. It was taught in a special Tokyo military training school (Toyama Gakko). Following World War II (1945) the study was prohibited by the Allied occupation, only to be revived in a new form, Jukendo. As a "do" form (meaning the "way" or "path") Jukendo encompassed goals of spiritual and mental development as a byproduct of disciplined practice. The discipline is practiced by Japanese self-defense forces (armed forces) as well as other non-military clubs. Jukendo is practiced by kata and two man drills. A competitive format was also adopted to test skill levels. Contestants wear protective gear while rifles and bayonets are simulated by wooden counterparts (mokuju). Techniques include proper posture, thrusting and blocking aimed at three principal areas which simulate a kill: heart, throat and lower left side. Kata is sometimes used to practice technique.

Kiai jitsu: (Japan) The esoteric art of using a loud shout (kiai) as weapon, or as a tool to compliment technique.

Kalari Payattu: (India) "The art of wielding weapons in the arena." Kalari Payattu is an ancient form of combat from southern India. According to its tradition, this Ancient martial art was founded by the Sage Parasurama around the fourth century A.D. It was promoted heavily by the warrior Chieftain Thacholi Othenan of North Malabar reaching its peak of popularity in the sixteenth Century. This art was historically practiced by both men and women. One of the most famous practitioners of this art was the legendary heroine Unniyarcha who won many battles through her great skill. This art includes both armed and unarmed techniques (known as "Verumkai") in which punches, kicks and strikes are directed toward 108 Marman, or vital points. Movements are further taught to be in coordination with breathing (pranayama). Body exercises known as "maipayattu" include body twisting and turning combined with leaps and jumps.

The kalaripayat student learns the efficient use of such weapons as the "modi" (a double gazelle horned dagger), and the "otta" (an "s" shaped stick made from a type of hardwood from the tamarind tree). The otta stick is approximately two feet in length and usually has a knobbed end for use in digging into various points of the central nervous system. Metal weapons called "anga thari" are also used in training. In combat these weapons consist of swords, sword and shield combinations, knives, daggers, spears and the "urumi" a type of very flexible double edged sword.

Karate: (Japan) "Empty hand." Karate is a general term referring to the tradition of combat oriented empty hand fighting methods that originated in Okinawa, often referred to as karate- jitsu. Karate was introduced into Japan proper in the early 20th Century where it was modified and systematized into a budo form, known as karate-do. After World War II karate proliferated world-wide.

Karate-do: (Japan) The way of karate. Karate that follows the principles of budo or do.

Karate-jitsu: (Japan) The art of karate. Karate that is combat or purely self-defense oriented, more concerned with proper technique and effectiveness than attainment of spiritual values or self-improvement. See jitsu.

Kendo: (Japan) "The way of the sword". Kendo is a modern do form ("do" is a philosophical term meaning "way" or "path") which evolved from kenjitsu (warrior's art of the sword). Kenjitsu, a general term referring to various sword arts, originated in the 7th or 8th century and became a focus of training for the professional warrior beginning in the 16th century until the modern era, which began in 1868. Today kendo it is one of the most popular martial disciplines in Japan and is taught as part of the public school curriculum. Although a competitive sport, it emphasizes practice as a discipline to develop personal, moral, ethical and spiritual values.

Ken fat: (China) Cantonese for ch'uan fa (kung fu) called kenpo (kempo) in Japan

Kenjitsu: (Japan) The art of the sword or the sword art of professional warriors (bushi) which flourished the 9th century onward only to decline rapidly during the long period of peace (Edo period) just preceding the modern age.

Kempo: (Japan) (1) Way of the fist. The Japanese term for Chinese Temple Boxing, or organized kung fu known as ch'uan fa (quanfa) in mandarin or ken fat in Cantonese. Also pronounced kenpo.

Kenpo: (Japan) (1) Sword art, an old name for kenjitsu.(2) Way of the fist. Another pronunciation of kempo. (3) Fist method. A synthesized martial discipline similar to karate developed in Hawaii.

Kung Fu: (China) Literally "energy time" (katutei jitsu in Japanese). A general term referring to the Chinese martial arts popularized by Bruce Lee films in the 1960's and early 1970's as well as by the TV series "Kung Fu" starring David Carridine. However, the term traces its roots to the early 19th Century where it applied to a wide range of Taoist qi gong (chi kung) energy (ki in Japanese) exercises. More recently the term has been applied to those martial systems for fighting using empty hands or weapons that number in the hundreds. Other similar terms include Wu Shu (Mandarin dialect) popularized during the latter part of the 20th century, Kuo Chi (popularized in the late 1920's), Ch'uan Fa (way of the fist), Ch'uan Shu, Gwo Sho, and Chung Ku Ch'uan.

Musti Yudha: (India) "Mukki Boxing." This brutal form of bare hand fighting devoid of leg techniques existed for some three hundred and fifty years in the Benares (India) prior to being officially banned. It then went underground in its practice. It is alleged to have experienced a revival from the most unlikely of benefactors, the British Police Chief. Multiple opponent bouts were often held although this has given way to the more common individual bout. Few rules exist and one may target any point on the body save the genitals. Deaths within these contests are reputed to be numerous. Mukki Boxers are known for their extreme emphasis on hand conditioning, and a well trained boxer can shatter a coconut with a blow.

Pa Kua: (China) An alternative spelling of Pa Qua.

Pa Qua: (China) A form of Daoist boxing meaning "eight diagram palm," referring to the eight trigrams symbols used as the basis of the Chinese classic, I-Chang (Book of Changes), reflects the constant change and intuition central to pa qua practice. Pa Qua's central exercise is walking in a circular pattern with careful foot and body postures. But this should not be confused with the discipline's strategy. Many assume that a pa qua practitioner circles an opponent looking for an opening, but the circularity instead refers to use of circular movement - shifting, adjusting and turning as a method of gaining advantage to the side or behind. Opponents attacks are avoided, redirected, dissolved, lead or unbalanced. This allows for short, powerful counters. Defenders sometimes flow around an opponent's center, sometimes they enter into the center. They are always spinning, unbalancing and controlling -- with constant counterattacks of sticking, open hand attacks, elbows, striking palms --always avoiding any fixed position or direct resistance. The effect is to create circular energy and power within circular movement of the opponent -- a method reminiscent in strategy to aikido.

Although pa qua's origin is unknown, history recounts that the discipline was taught to Tung Hai ch'uan (1798-1879) around 1820 by an unnamed Taoist priest in Kaingsu province who found Tung nearly dead from starvation and nursed him back to health. Later Tung moved to Peking and became quite well know for his boxing skills. There he was challenged by another famous boxer, Kua Yun-Shen, from a rival style, Hsing-i (divine hand) that was known for its direct and powerful linear style. The match lasted three days. During the first two neither could gain advantage. Both were equally matched. But on the third day Tung took the offensive and ended up defeating his challenger. The two ended up as friends and vowed thereafter to teach the two styles together. Thus, even today when you find one system, the other is often taught along with it. Both are classified as internal disciplines that develop and utilize internal energy of Ki (chi in China). Both disciplines share the concept that the mind unites actions and thought into one. Thus training the mind allows transformation of the internal to the external technique. Pa qua is classified as an internal system along with Hsing-i and tai chi chuan.

Sarit-Sarak: (India) Sarit-Sarak is an art of bare handed combat emphasizing evasive skills and offensive attack. According to its lore, the Dragon God, Lainingthou Pakhangba, ordered King Mungyamba to kill the demon Moydana of Khagi and taught him the ways of combat and presented him with a special spear and sword for this purpose. A local Indian dance known as the Manipuri also finds its origins with this martial practice.

Shuai Chiao: (China) Sometimes referred to as Chinese Judo, shuai chiao is an combative system that evolved out of ancient fighting traditions dating back thousands of years. Originally called Chiao-ti, it has since evolved into the modern shuai chiao which integrates punches, kicks, holds, grappling and throws (and breakfalls) into the system. Shuai chiao is related to Sanshou which also uses similar techniques but has a different competitive emphasis, sanshou giving points to successful kicking and punching techniques with less emphasis on throwing (due to restrictions imposed by protective gloves and a three second holding limit), while shuai chiao emphasizes throws. Differences exist, however, between its practice in China, Taiwan and elsewhere. In China alone four major styles exist - Mongolian, Peking, Paoting and Tientsin, each with its own methods. Each stresses different approaches to enter the range and obtain strategic advantage over the opponent's defense.

Shuhaku: (Japan) A term used to refer to Chinese Ch'uan Fa systems (Kempo in Japanese), meaning to "beat by hand." Another term with he same meaning is Hakuda.

Silambam: (India) The art of staff fighting has a long history in India. In the Vedic age, young men were routinely trained to defend themselves with staffs and experts in their use were known to give them names, perhaps in much the same fashion that Samurai named katana (swords). The long staff was already highly organized as both a method of self-defense and competitive sport in the State of Tamil as early as the first century A.D., and accounts in the second century (Silapathiharam Tamil literature) abound with tales of the sale of Silambam staffs, swords and armor to foreigners. Greeks, Romans and Egyptians as well as the Dravidian kings (kingdoms in southern India and Northern Ceylon that shared a common family of languages) frequented the Madurai trading center where the Silambam staff was considered a commodity. It is believed that the Silambum staff of Tamil was transported to Malaysia where its practice as a self-defense form flourished. The Silambam staff two hand technique makes use of swift and agile footwork allowing precision and momentum to be channeled into thrusting, cutting and sweeping strokes. The Silambam student develops defensive skills by learning to deflect stones thrown by groups of fellow practitioners with techniques called such things as the Monkey Strike, and the Hawk Strike, the Snake Strike.

Silambam Matches: Using staffs the ends of which have been dipped in powder, the opponents seek to touch each other, with one point being awarded for touching below the waist and two for above. Three unanswered touches or a single touch to the forehead means victory, and the competitor who fails to maintain control of his staff also loses. Matches take place on firm ground in a circular twenty to twenty-five foot area. Matches have a predetermined time period.

Suibajutsu: (Japan) A sub-specialty of horsemanship (Bajutsu) that specialized in horse techniques used in crossing streams, ponds and bodies of water.

Sumai: (Japan) The original combat discipline from which Sumo developed.

Taijutsu: (Japan) "Body Art." A system similar to jujitsu that included vital point striking arts (atemi) and a variety of hand held weapons, such as the Bankokuchoko which was a metal ring similar to brass knuckles used in the west. It was a specialty of a number of jujitsu systems, namely Nagao Ryu and Kito Ryu.

Thang-ta: (India) Thang-ta refers to the art of using the sword or spear against one or more opponents. This particular martial school of weaponry is related directly to Tantric practices and is practiced in three distinct ways. The first is completely ritual in nature; the second is comprised of a series of sword and spear dances and the third is actual combat. This art is reputed to share a common origin with Sarit-Sarak.

Thoda: (India) This remnant of martial culture is popular in the districts of Shimla, Sirmaur and Solan. Probably best described as a group demonstration sport, "thoda" is the art of archery. It takes its name from the circular wooden ball used to replace the deadly arrowhead. Bows ranging in size from three and a half to six feet are used in its practice. The archers divide themselves into groups called the "Saathis" and the "Pashi," who are reputed to represent the descendants of the Pandavas and the Kauravas who in the days of the Mahabharata frequently battled in the Valleys of Kulu and Manali. Competition takes place yearly on Baisakhi Day (April 13th and 14th which honors the Goddesses Durga and Mashoo). The event takes place on a marked fairground as both groups face each other at a distance of approximately ten yards. Each group in turn fires its arrows, targeting the opponents' leg area beneath the knee. Points are detracted for hits to other areas. The defenders may dance about, side step and kick their legs in an effort to foil accurate aim. All the while, observers cheer from the sidelines while participating teams sing and play martial music.

Varjamushti: (India) "Diamond Fist Boxing." This form of Pugilism was reputedly developed by the Brahmin Caste of Western India around the ninth or tenth century. Blows where permitted to the face and chest only and were delivered through the use of a single set of metal knuckles worn on one hand. The knuckles generally bore the pronged pyramid design , hence the name "diamond fist boxing." It is needless to say that serious injuries and deaths contributed to the decline in popularity of its practice. The art reputedly still has a small but loyal following who hold yearly bouts in the Gujurat region of India.

Wing Chung: (China) "Beautiful Springtime." A southern Chinese fighting discipline that avoids "hard style" techniques and alternate blocking and striking in favor of techniques that flow with the opponent's actions instead of trying to stop or overpower them. The discipline was popularized in the late 1960's and early 1970's through its association with Bruce Lee. The discipline is characterized by aggressive close in fighting where hands and arms are able to sense and control the opponents limbs through deflection, trapping and pulling called "sticky hands" (Chi Sao)

Wu Shu: (China) A general term adopted by the Peoples Republic of China (mainland China) denoting "skill" or "ability" that refers to a wide variety of Chinese martial arts. In the 1950's, with renewed interest in martial arts, the government of mainland China established a wu shu committee to examine all fighting styles and modernize or synthesize them. In 1955 China's Physical Culture and Sports Commission continued this work while also conducting research to discover additional disciplines -- all to be molded to conform to policies on cultural heritage. Wu Shu is now taught in many primary and middle schools in China as well as within physical culture institutes. Throughout China it is common to see wu shu as well as qi gong and other exercises practiced by citizens within parks early in the morning or in the evening. In 1974, and later in 1980 and thereafter, performance groups representing wu shu toured the U.S. Wu shu is also frequently performed within a growing number of marital arts events and competitions. Wu shu in the west is better know under the term kung fu, a term popularized by Bruce Lee films in the 1960's and early 1970's as well as by the TV series "Kung Fu" staring David Carridine. Other similar terms include Kuo Chi (popularized in the late 1920's), Ch'uan Fa (way of the fist), Ch'uan Shu, Gwo Sho, and Chung Ku Ch'uan.


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