Having been a long-time lurker (and fairly recent poster) on this board, I’ve seen a lot of folks mention studying martial arts. As an aficionado of kung-fu flicks since early childhood and sometime practitioner, I’m curious – what martial arts do our esteemed posters practice? And also, why did they pick those particular arts?
For me - I’ve studied off and on since high school, trying to find an art that fit me. Tried taekwondo first (until I figured out that all the jump-spinning-hook-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kicks aren’t too easy for us big-type folks), then aikido (pretty, but really didn’t do anything for me) until I settled on jujutsu. Lots of fun, very physical and great for self-defense. That is, until I managed to drop my sparring partner onto my knee during a hip throw - a little torn cartilage and ACL later, I figured that was that.
How 'bout everyone else?
Shao Lin and Wing Chun are the two I’ve studied and practiced to any great length, and the two styles I would use in a tournament. Tho’ I was never really into it for any tournament skill.
I just liked the discipline and exercise. And, I had a really great Sifu.
Read a lot about other forms tho’, and fought against many different styles in open tournaments, so…
Haven’t practiced for a while tho’…
I’ve been studying Shotokan karate for about seven years. My wife and I moved our family to Minnesota from California at that time; when she was going to the U of M, she took karate classes from Robert Fusaro, the chief instructor of Midwest Karate. When I said I wanted to start taking some kind of martial arts class, she recommended his school.
A year later, when we wanted to start our kids in karate, we switched to the St. Paul dojo of Midwest so they could study with Anita Bendickson, who teaches kid classes throughout the week, rather than just on Saturdays at the Minneapolis dojo. I’m currently training primarily with Joel Ertl at the St. Paul dojo.
I also train three nights a week in a variety of styles with some friends of mine from work; the teacher has studied a great many styles (wing chun, tang soo do, shotokan, kung fu, capoeira, aikido, wrestling, kickboxing, boxing, jeet koon do, sword, staff, knife, chain… the list goes on and on…) and he generally calls the style “whatever works.”
muay Thai. I haven’t trained seriously for quite some time, so I’m a little out of shape, but I started working out again recently. I figure by summer I’ll be as formidable as I was 5 years ago.
Why? Well, simplicity was a big part of it, and the rest was intensity of training. There are about 10 different “moves” and all of them are drilled until they’re second nature. After enough time, doing a roundkick, left hook or an elbow strike becomes as natural as putting out your hand to catch a ball that’s thrown to you.
It’s a good balance between sport and combat (and easy to learn how to go full blast in either direction with only small changes in your regimen) and great physical conditioning.
Until my teacher moved away, I studied a form of arnis (which is a Philipino style similar to escrima or kali) with a good bit of aikido and a touch of kung-fu mixed in. It’s a very quick, very fluid art that focusses on weapon combat–mainly sticks/machetes and knives. I also studied American Kenpo, elements of which crept into my arnis style (to the delight of my sigung–he was another of the “whatever works” school).
Arnis appealed to me largely because of its fluidity. I found that the style suited the way I move–I’m not built for high kicks, and I’m not fast, but I am quick and flexible, and my arnis training built on that. It combines some of the dance-like qualities of aikido or tai chi with the extra effectiveness imparted by weaponry…and you start using weapons in the first class, which is very different from most styles. You walk onto the training floor for the first time with a pair of escrima sticks in your hands, and you start learning to move with them. (You also start learning how to accept being clobbered with them and keep going, an equally valuable survival skill.)
I sometimes tell people that I can only dance with knives in my hands. Sadly, that’s close to the truth.
Well, I’m not an “esteemed poster” yet, but I also study martial arts. I’ve been studying Shaolin gung fu (animal styles) for about 4 years now, also done smatterings of kempo and karate.
I love the exercise, the formwork, and sparring is seriously fun! I started martial arts to rehab and stay in shape after a bad soccer injury prevented me from playing the sport. I ended up loving it, stayed in class, and have never looked back
I used to box some. My dad was a recon Marine, and my grandfather a cop, and they taught me a bunch of dirty tricks. That and a little Bar-Can-Do.
But, my wife knows Judo, and can kick my ass at will.
I use to do Shotokan karate with the ISKF. Then I got a job that involved an hour commute and I stopped making it to the trainings.
I studied TKD for about 4.5 years. I chose this art because it is the only thing that was offered in my smallish Midwestern town. Easy enough reason, right?
I am now living in a more populated and diverse area with plenty of options. I have been studying Aikido here for about 1.5 years. I picked this art simply because it was completely different then TKD. I was looking for a change (which I certainly got!).
I’ve really enjoyed comparing the two, especially the driving philosophies behind them. Tae Kwon Do seems to focus on dynamic energy, fire, enthusiasm, etc. Aikido tends to encourage calm, grace, and merging of forces.
Has anyone else pondered this type of difference? Does anyone have any interesting comparisons among the different arts? Did it play a large part in choosing what you study?
I study the ancient art of wear steel-toed shoes at all times, combined with aim for the gushy bits and, as a backup run real fast.
On the serious side, I did about 5 weeks of Aikido, then proceeded to wrench my thumb really bad while skiing, and haven’t done anything since.
I study the ancient Scottish martial art of “Fuk-yu.” It basically involves kicking a man when he’s down…
Seriously, tae kwon do keeps me in shape.
I studied Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, which is a Korean Style similar to TKD, but has it’s origins in Soo Bak Do. It is also the style that Chuck Norris practices.
I got started when I was 6. My dad noticed I really liked the cartoon “Hong Kong Fooey” and took me to watch some real martial arts. I’m not sure why he picked the instructor I had, but I do know he researched it for quite awhile before selecting one to watch. (I later found out that my instructor used to be a nationally ranked PKA fighter) I was hooked after that. There were 3 of us (all the same age) that all started about the same time. At 10 years of age, we all made black belt together. It was one of my proudest moments.
At 12, I stopped actively training because of other interests. I got into Boy Scouts, some clubs in school, and found no time to really do all that and train. I did go back for about a year when I was 18, but it didn’t last too long.
What’s amazing about all this is that since I was trained in this style at a very young age, it is my DEFAULT way of fighting should the need arise. Another thing I’ve found is that by studying Martial Arts early, I was more disciplined in other areas of my life. My successful journey towards Eagle Scout would have been much harder if I hadn’t been in martial arts earlier.
Just recently, I found that my old instructor is still holding classes. I should really consider going back.
Choy Lay Fut Kung Fu
It’s a southern long range kung fu style, combining shaolin techniques with a couple other styles as well. In practice its a very graceful and fluid form of kung fu, emphasizing extension and power. In application its an extremely effective fighting style. My sifu was a world champion full contact fighter in Hong Kong before he moved to the states. Our school puts emphasis on both traditional forms and weapons practice and on fighting, which in our case is a variant of kickboxing (no Jackie Chan acrobatics when we actually fight).
I’ve had about 5 years of Uechi Ryu karate. I found it had a really nice mix of internal and external stuff. Just when you start to get bored with the traditional Okinawan kick’em-in-the-knees-and-punch’em-while-they’re-down drill, there’s always the Chinese elements in the style to concentrate on, not to mention all the uber-macho physical conditioning. Failing that, we incorporated a lot of aikido into the style. Fun. Graduate school pretty much destroyed my training though. If I got back into martial arts, I think I might want to try something a bit more fluid like silat.
I’ve studied a few Eastern martial arts: tae kwon do when I was a kid, and kung fu in college (Shaolin, Hung Gar Tiger-Crane, and Five Animals).
I finally settled on western swordsmanship almost a year ago, particularly the dueling sabre. Though this weekend I will start training with the early Italian rapier.
When my life settles down a bit, I’m going to give boxing a try. Fencing twice a week, even for four hours, hasn’t been enough punishment lately.
I studied judo a bit in college, and when I took this job, I joined a local judo club taught by Jongoon Kim. The club was recreational mostly, though those that wanted to could go on further in competitions, etc. I picked judo because it has elements similar to wrestling, which I enjoyed, and because the classes at that time fit my schedule, while the karate, TKD, etc. did not.
That was almost 20 years ago, though, and when I got married, got a mortgage, etc, the judo got lower priority, and eventually I just stopped going. However, Ralf Jr. has expressed interest in karate or some other form of martial art. I think I’ll look around to see what’s available. Maybe I can find a class where both of us can learn.
Do different styles really work better with different body types (ie, short wiry vs. tall thin vs. musclebound hunks), or is it just better to find an instructor who you can work with, and learn the style he/she teaches?
studied Tang Soo Do for a while. It is similar to TKD, but has more focus on hand work. It is also more of a tournament style for scoring points than incapacitating opponents (though it does a fine job of that). For example. A round house kick in TKD opens the hips early and slings the knee around the body at the same time the body pivots. This generates GOBS of power behind the kick, but any reasonable opponent in a tournament can see it coming and has lots of time to react. The TSD equivalent brings the knee out front first then the pivot to open the leg “sideways”. In this respect, a TSD front kick and “round house” start exactly the same. There is a bit of power loss, but the opponent doesn’t know what kick is coming until much later, and therefore has less reaction time.
A major focus in TSD is speed of strike (get in, make contact, get out). High kicks take longer to execute, as do spinning kicks. While they are used in TSD, they are not a mainstay. I loved point matches with TKD opponents. As soon as they started a spin for a kick I stepped in and popped him as he spun. Easy points.
My recommendations for choosing a style:
check out lots of styles. Look at the philosophies, motions, and purposes behind the style. A dinosaur like I am will NEVER be able to sice kick some 6 foot dude in the head. I would never be able handle a style that focuses on high kicks.
visit lots of studios and instructors. Within the same style, they often vary by school and instructor. Find one you like.
ask if you can get a free first lesson. Most places will allow you a “trial” class.
look for places that separate classes by age (to an extreme). A class with 6 year olds is no place for a 26 year old, regardless of ability and vice-versa.
Avoid militaristic classes (unless that’s specifically what you are looking for). I enjoyed an intense workout in a semi-relaxed environnemt. I don’t need someone screaming at me to motivate me. Further, being “forced” to call someone “Sensei” or refer to a studio as “dojo” does not increase my skill or my appreciation for the the art or those who teach/learn it. Of course, YMMV.
Now that I’m 33, overweight and basically sedentary in my job I’d love to get back into it, but the nearest TSD studio is 45 minutes away, when there is no rush hour traffic. sigh
I studied Issnryu for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. I also studied Shao-Lin for a while and enjoyed it as well. However, this has been years ago and I can’t remember jack now.
Huh. 500 posts. How 'bout that.
For me, it was more an issue of body type than anything else. I’m very tall, and therefore the jumping and aerobatic kicks of TKD were extremely tough for me. I had much the same problem in jujutsu, due to the hip and shoulder throws (which are much easier for shorter types with lower centers of gravity). I’m actually looking for a new art right now that would be more suited to someone with my body type. Any recommendations? I’d always loved Kung/Gung Fu styles - they look so interesting to study and practice - but don’t know if height is going to be an issue there.