From Blade to Po – which martial art is yours?
At one time or another you’ve probably pondered the possibility of joining a martial arts class, right?
I’m sure you told yourself it would be a great full-body workout and help calm your mind to achieve that elusive “balance”. However, you know that deep down there’s a more powerful drive behind the urge to contort your body into seemingly unnatural positions – it’s seriously cool!
Since the days of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Van Damme martial arts have captivated us on the big and small screens. And why wouldn’t they? These heroes (and villains) impress not only with their physical poise and power, but also their mental edge and general aura of wisdom. Plus they look awesome taking care of business.
Martial arts classes have increased in popularity as people become more focused on overall wellbeing through physical and mental training. Our busy, complex lives now demand outlets that alleviate both psychological and physical stress. The martial arts tradition is deeply devoted to shaping your body as well as your character so that you approach each situation in a measured, calm, and confident way.
Where to begin?
John Moore – an expert martial arts trainer in the USA – has pointed out that the question he’s asked the most is which martial art to pursue. There are so many to pick from that it’s natural to take one look at the endless list of options and just give up. But not so fast.
We’ve compiled brief descriptions of a selection of martial arts that match different styles and preferences. Decide which martial arts character strikes your fancy (pun intended), and choose the right class for your needs.
Katara the Dancer – Tai chi
Aang’s faithful companion from Avatar: The Last Airbender earned our respect as she patiently grew into her waterbending powers and became a force to be reckoned with. Her combat style is based on the tradition of tai chi.
This martial art makes use of slow, circular movements which demonstrate grace and control. It cultivates a state of mental calm and clarity by encouraging you to focus your mind on the movements alone. If alleviating stress and anxiety is your central need at the moment, then this class is for you. The low impact nature of tai chi makes it ideal for older students, while the balletic quality of the stances will appeal to dance-lovers.
Blade the Warrior – Brazilian jiu-jitsu
Who could forget the sleek and deadly vampire hunter who’s half-monster himself? Trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Wesley Snipes didn’t have to fake anything.
This martial art adopts a more practical grappling style, especially effective against larger, heavier opponents. Its focus is ground-fighting: you’ll learn positional grappling, submission holds, and how to use superior leverage and flexibility to control your opponent’s posture. If your goal is physical fitness and flexibility, then look no further. To get the better of your opponent, you’ll also be challenged to develop situational awareness and sharpen your mind. If you’re a lady living in South Africa, BJJ is your best bet for learning how to keep yourself safe.
Po the Master – Shaolin kung fu
As the ultimate martial arts enthusiast, Po from Kung Fu Panda teaches us that through persistence and passion anyone can become the best version of themselves – even a chubby panda bear.
Shaolin kung fu is the most famous and widely practised of all the Chinese martial arts. It was developed to handle conflict with soldiers, pirates, and brigands who used to raid the Shaolin Temple, and it has certainly proven its worth as an effective fighting technique. Flexibility and balance come from physical training, while virtues such as generosity of spirit, discipline, patience, and moderation are part of your mental and spiritual development. Kung fu provides you with the skill to meet a fight and the judgment to know when you should walk away. For a comprehensive overview of martial arts philosophy, choose this core discipline.
Trinity the All-rounder – Wushu
One of the most famous movie scenes of all time: Trinity from The Matrix is frozen in mid-air, poised and ready to execute a killer martial arts move. No contest.
Wushu is a fusion of various traditional arts, making it adaptable and well-rounded. It teaches both weapon forms and bare-handed techniques, shaping flexibility, speed, strength and precision. Wushu is made up of forms and sparring to achieve a balance between the proper pose and deadly effects – you’ll learn to skillfully punch, kick, and jump. This style is popular among women, probably because it provides extensive training to handle any situation.
Aang the Guide – Qigong
Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender was raised as a monk at the Air Nomad’s Southern Air Temple. Both his gentle temperament and nonviolent style flow from the Buddhist tradition which makes use of qigong.
This art is used to further the quest for spiritual enlightenment and moral development. The goal is internal balance through meditative techniques and precise postures based on Buddhist yoga. Your challenge is to turn inward and reach for mastery of the self through a calm mind and deliberate movements. Qigong is a low impact practice, making it suitable for everyone, no matter your fitness level. This is an effective way to loosen muscles and improve flexibility while achieving self-enlightenment.
John Preston the Specialist – Sanshou
While the gun kata from Equilibrium are purely fictional, their purpose makes the elite Grammaton Clerics – policemen in this dystopian world – a fitting symbol for sanshou.
Sanshou (or sanda) is a modern hybrid combat sport. It involves a combination of kickboxing, wrestling, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and elbow and knee strikes. The focus is to develop efficiency and accuracy so that each move achieves maximum impact – just like the gun kata.
If you are somewhat of a perfectionist with a need to make every move count without wasting energy, then this fighting style is for you.
Choose your path
There you have it. A wide range of martial arts that will get you going on your journey of self-discovery. No more excuses and no more empty admiration for those exalted beings on screen.
The style that rings true awaits, so embrace it and become who you were born to be!
Click here to book your first class at Shuaimeng Liu Martial Arts Centre.