Frequently Asked Questions
- What exactly is a martial art?
A Martial Art can be defined as a system of techniques, physical and mental exercises developed as an effective means for self-defense and offense, both unarmed and with the use of weapons.
The origin and history of Martial Arts is a controversial issue. We can see signs of Martial Arts in Greek, Egyptian, African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, as well as other cultures. There is a clear trail leading from the Southern China-regions up to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. The details before that, and the exact details of that transfer, are greatly debated by historians and Martial Artists.
- What kind of Martial Arts are there?
There are many ways in which martial arts can be divided. Here are a few of them that might be useful to use in defining Martial Arts and discussing them. These are not necessarily consensus definitions but they are commonly held.
It is also useful to remember that very few of these martial arts are just one way or another...they are all mixtures of these elements in various degrees. When we say a style is "hard" what we mean is that the predominant expression of that style is hard. If we say Shotokan is linear, it does not mean Shotokan has no circular techniques.
Sport vs Fighting Art vs. Exercise vs. Philosophy
These are usually NON-useful comparisons because people tend to be very strongly opinionated on this matter. Most people want to think their art is an ancient "fighting art" and can be applied thus on the street. Some styles truly are all four, and to some degree all styles contain all four elements.
In discussions of a style it is most useful when people highlight which area or areas their style emphasizes.
Linear vs. Circular
This distinction refers to lines of movement, attack and defense. "Circular" styles use circular movements to block, attack, or move. Around and aside... "Linear" styles use direct, straight-on movements, attacks, or head-on blocks. In and out...
Styles can, and sometimes do, mix circular blocks with linear attacks. This is a subtle distinction and not absolute, but it gives some information.
Soft vs. Hard
"Soft" styles tend to redirect energy, channeling and diverting momentum to unbalance an opponent, or to move them into striking range. They tend to be lower commitment and use less force. Thus, they are less likely to be unbalanced and can recover from redirection easier. Examples are Aikido and Jujutsu.
"Hard" styles tend to direct energy outward and meet energy with energy. They will tend to strike more, and deliver more force with each strike. Hard stylists will often damage with their blocks, turning them into attacks. They deliver more power, and thus are harder to turn aside, but they are higher commitment, and thus don't recover as well from mistakes. Examples are Taekwondo.
Internal vs. External
"Internal" styles are styles that emphasize the more non-tangible elements of the arts. They utilize chi/ki/qi energy flow. They tend to emphasize meditation, body control, perception, controlling one's mind and pressure points.`Typically internal styles are soft.
"External" styles tend to emphasize body mechanics, leverage, and applied force. They tend to use weight, strength, positioning, and anatomy to optimal advantage. `Typically' external styles are hard. Tae-Kwon-Do is an external style.
"Complete Art" or not?
The term "complete art" is sometimes applied to arts that include strikes, kicks, throws, pressure points, and joint locks. The art most often mentioned in this regard is Jujutsu. Although some arts contain more techniques than others, no art is "complete" in the sense that it includes all the important techniques from other arts. In general, every art has its strong and weak points, and each has something to offer to the lexicon of martial arts techniques.
- Which Martial Art should I study?
That's a question that only you can answer..and that is one of the purposes of this site–to help you gain an understanding of the different arts the we offer so that you can make an informed decision.
While some people advocate that "my style fits any individual", it is very debatable if any single individual would adapt to *any* style.
It depends heavily on your objectives, but remember, these may change with time. Many people who begin martial arts training strictly to learn self-defense become quite interested in other aspects as their training progresses.
(a) What are you looking for?
- If you are looking for meditation and philosophy Taekwondo is probably a poor choice as well. Some choices: Aikido
- If you are looking for a sport and competition, Aikido would probably be a bad choice. Some choices: Taekwondo, Jujutsu.
- If you are looking for intense body conditioning and muscle development, Aikido is probably not the style for you. Some choices: Jujutsu and Taekwondo.
Now these are general guides - in truth any art can be taught in a manner which promotes any of these things - some Aikido curicula have rigorous workouts associated with the class, etc. The way to find out is to look at three things, only one of which is directly linked to the style.
- The basics of the style (what does it teach, what is it used for)
- The skill and the teaching style of the teacher
- The purpose and the logistics of the school.
- How common are injuries?
As most martial arts involve vigorous physical activity and contact, injuries will occasionally occur. However, if injuries are common and/or serious, there is likely a problem in how training is supervised, and you will probably want to look elsewhere. It will be difficult to tell what the frequency/severity of injuries in the class is in one or two visits. Ask the instructor.
- What do I do to become the deadliest person in the world?
In brief: You can't. While a Martial Artist does learn combat skills, the final objective of a Martial Art is not to become the deadliest person alive.
The Martial Arts recognize there will always be someone who is bigger, stronger, faster, has a bigger knife, a more powerful gun, a longer range missile, and so on. The objective, then, is to become the best that you can be, regardless of how good anyone else is.
- Should children study Martial Arts?
In general, yes. Some of the possible positives would be control of agressiveness, instilling self-respect and self-control, as well as self-defense.
The style that a child should take is a totally different question, and is directly influenced by the style, if any, of the parents. It will of course be convenient if the child can practice with, or at least in the same school as, the parents. The major issue with children in the martial arts is the integrity and trustworthiness of the teacher and the school.
The joints and connective tissues of children are more vulnerable to injury than those of adults. Keep this in mind when selecting a style for a child, and discuss it with the instructor. Schools which allow agressive joint locks to be applied to children or don't train them to refrain from snapping/hyper-extending elbows on strikes and knees on kicks should be avoided. (It is for this same reason that good baseball coaches will not allow young pitchers to throw pitches which require hard snapping of the arm - like curve balls). Throws, however, are quite different; the small size of children makes them naturals for arts which require falling down.
- I believe / don't believe in X. Should I train in Y?
Some martial arts have philosophical and/or religious roots or associations, e.g. with Buddhism, Taoism, or Omotokyo. Thus, it is natural for people who are considering a particular art to wonder if it is compatible with their own philosophy or religion.
Normally it is not considered ethical for a Sensei/Master/Teacher to try to *impose* his own views on his students. However, the philosophical aspects of some arts may still be present in the required training to the extent that some potential students would be offended by it. As with so many other aspects of martial arts, it depends on the art and even more heavily on the instructor. So, be sure to watch for this aspect when you watch a class that you are interested in. Have a conversation with the instructor about it, and watch how he/she interacts with his/her students.
- How do rankings/color belt systems work?
Many arts have a ranking system. A typical ranking from beginner to most experienced master is: 10th kyu, 9th kyu, ..., 2nd kyu, 1st kyu, 1st dan, 2nd dan and so on. "Kyu" and "dan" are Japanese words; Korean systems use the word "gup" instead of "kyu". 1st dan and above frequently wear black belts.
That being said, do not put too much stock in rankings, and put even less in belt color. Belt colors are HIGHLY dependent on the art and instructor. A given color will frequently signify different ranks in different arts.
Rather than rank or belt color, what will determine an individual's skill are how long and how intensely they have studied, the quality of instruction they have received, and (to a lesser extent) their "natural" ability.
- Why Should I Choose Martial Arts Training Over Other Forms of Exercise?
Training in the martial arts is about more than just learning to fight. The physical benefits are amazing. Anyone looking to get in shape, get healthy and improve their overall physical condition will be very happy with martial arts training. Martial arts training provides a true total body workout. You improve both upper and lower body strength. You also will strengthen your core. Developing the abs, back and chest are an important part of most martial arts, as much of the power generated in kicking and punching techniques is generated from your core.
You will also develop a level of strength and fitness that is hard to achieve in other classes. Kicking and punching, stance training, throwing, grappling and other martial arts movements are all exercises that involve almost every muscle in your body.
Besides the actual muscles involved in session, the result is that you get a great workout no matter what skill you are practicing on. Many beginner martial artists comment that they feel great because they are using muscles they didn't even know they had.
Besides muscular development, the martial arts is an almost non stop cardio workout. A typical martial arts class is just an effective total body interval workout. There can be periods of movements that require less effort, followed by intense bursts of effort. Many experts agree that interval training is an effective method of burning fat, improving conditioning and seeing amazing results. Plus, since you are focused on perfecting a technique and not just exercising, it is easier to keep your mind off of feeling tired.
Finally, martial arts training provides other benefits that are simply not found in an exercise class. First and foremost, you learn valuable skills that can help you defend yourself if a dangerous situation ever arose. Also, the improved confidence and self discipline can be life changing for some people. Finally, the martial arts world can open many doors for people. The friendships you form in training can last a lifetime. The people you meet and experiences you have are simply not available by just showing up at a gym, working out and then leaving. Martial arts can be a method of getting shape, but it can also be something much more. It can be wonderful, memorable experience.
- Are children allowed in Jujutsu?
Yes. The new S i J Kodomo program (Children) has recently formed. Accepting ages 9 thru 14.
The S i J (Shiden'issen Jujutsu) Kodomo (Children) Program focuses on teaching kids to use leverage and technique to subdue their opponents without using punching or kicking...effectively keeping themselves safe.
Your child will develop physical awareness of balance, reflexes, flexibility and coordination, as well as build on the mental aspects of their personality such as self-esteem, discipline, confidence, compassion, and good work ethic. The classes are taught in a positive, fun, and friendly manner, so your child will enjoy learning the art of Jujutsu.
Any questions, please contact Sensei Maza at: email@example.com