Martial arts are basically a set of physical and mental skills that are gradually taught, developed and polished by a trainer usually called "sensei" for Japanese arts and "sifu" in Cantonese.
Martial arts translate as "the arts of war", and they consist of a multitude of weaponless combat techniques, focused primarily on self defense.
Based on ancient wisdom and philosophy, martial arts not only strengthen the body of the adept, but they also fortify his mind and his spirit. In Eastern culture, self control, discipline, patience, awareness, are considered to be the traits of a true warrior, and martial arts mainly focus on developing these skills to practicing students.
In ancient times, martial arts were kept secret and practiced in silence; being an apprentice in these skills was a great privilege. However, today there are various schools that perpetuate the traditional teachings of the great ancient masters.
Martial arts are divided into many different styles, linked together by the omnipresent oriental mentality. If you wish to begin practicing a martial art, you should choose a style that best satisfies your needs and potential. Some martial arts focus more on physical strength, while others focus on technique and reflex. The best thing to do before choosing the appropriate style is assisting to a few training classes and asking the trainer whether you fit in or not.
Another important aspect you should consider is that martial arts require a lot of ambition, dedication, perseverance and practice. You should keep in mind that the skills are learned gradually, and it takes time to achieve higher ranks.
When you have discovered the style that fits you best, make sure that your trainer is qualified and that he teaches in an approachable manner. Regardless of experience or rank, not all martial arts masters have the ability to teach! You should look for an instructor that stands as a true "raw model", a person whose teachings match his ideals and beliefs.
Having found the right instructor and training gym, all you need is equipment. Martial arts equipment is sometimes optional and it mainly consists of a uniform or sparring and protective equipment such as boxing gloves, head gear and chest protection. You can either buy these traditional uniforms, or make them yourself. Consult your instructor and find out his requirements regarding the appropriate training outfit.
The martial art equipment also includes a belt. It is made of a certain textile material and its purpose is to distinguish the ranks of the students. The black belt marks the highest level of experience and it can be obtained through years of learning and practice.
Whether you choose to practice martial arts as a sport or for self defense, its benefits are substantial. Martial arts improve your physical condition, as well as your concentration, attention and ambition. They strengthen the mind and body altogether and help you achieve self-respect, confidence and balance.
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