Looking for a specific style? Learn how all styles are connected.
The styles that influence our teaching.
How distance effects style.
In order to better understand the styles we teach it's important to lay a foundation to understand the various styles of Martial Arts that exist today.
On a physical level all styles of Martial Arts are based on three different distances. Here is a list of styles and their emphasized distance, however in fairness remember that styles tend to progress and change over time, and just because a style is listed at a certain range doesn't mean they don't practice techniques from other ranges. This list is only designed to be a general guideline:
Long range. Styles include Karate, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Western Boxing, Hapkido, Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Capoeira, and many others.
Medium Range. Styles used against grabs and chokes, these styles include Judo, Aikido, Grecko Roman Wrestling, Most of the Filipino arts, and many others.
Close Range. (Almost always on the ground) these styles include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Japanese Jujitsu, Sambo, Wrestling, and many others.
Depending on where you study Martial Arts there are also some well recognized blended styles including Krav Maga, Hapkido, Jeet Kun Do and other certain styles of Kung Fu and competitive Mixed Martial Arts; MMA, that (depending on the teacher) do a good job attempting to blend the various distances to make the art practical. However; the simple truth is that the human body can only move a limited number of ways. In reality, all styles (no matter what they are called) are essentially doing the same techniques despite the use of different names!
To complicate matters further all styles have vast variation depending on where you study and who is the instructor. Take for example the highly commercialized Taekwondo that is readily available here in the U.S. I have seen truly terrible technique from many who have been promoted to Black Belt in that style! However, I've been blessed to know several individuals who's technique was nothing short of spectacular - yet both groups say they were doing the same style (Taekwondo)!!
Here is my question. How useful is it to even use the word Taekwondo when there is such a vast difference in the quality of the practitioners? This is not a unique situation with Taekwondo. I can give you examples in every style of the same phenomenon.
It is clear that frequently the name of a style can be nearly meaningless.
My Kung Fu teacher; Sifu Robert Brown puts it this way:
What style do we teach?
We borrow heavily from multiple styles, including Karate, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Judo, Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and many others (See the list below). The technique we practice various greatly depending on the distance we are considering defending ourselves from. I've found that no one style is effective at all three distances; this is the reason our style is a “mix”.
But we also strongly believe in teaching students how to focus and control their mind. The internal art of emotional control and concentration (otherwise known as meditation) is vital.
At it's core the martial arts were designed to give students emotional control. It's the emotions you train yourself to experience that influence your health and personal effectiveness. Your emotions also determine your ability to defend yourself.
To better describe the mental aspect of our art I wrote a book titled: "Break The Chain". The book is about how the mind and emotions effect every aspect of life.
Calling ourselves a "mix" doesn't feel accurate. It would be like taking the color yellow and the color red and blending them together. You don't get a blend - you get a NEW COLOR (Orange).
In the same way it's important for our style to have a name. We call it SMT (Strong Mind Training).
We are a blended art with a heavy emphasis on strengthening the mind.
Bruce Lee said it best when describing his own style.
How to choose a style or school.
Since physically many styles are similar what should you look for when choosing a style? The truth is that if someone has been teaching for at least ten years they are probably good at what they do. My suggestion is not to pay attention to what a style is called. Instead focus on the things that are really important. Here is a short but valuable list:
The atmosphere should be bright, clean, friendly and professional.
The art should be real -very practical self defense skills - but there should be a focus on safety.
You should be in classes with people who are roughly your own age and share many of your same values.
The teaching should be dynamic and powerful; your classroom should be filled with energy and charisma.
You should be treated with respect, and the dojo should demand that students respect each other.
You should get a great workout in every class, you should see physical improvements in your body, and you should be gaining in skills.
If children are present the tone should be focused and courteous. The atmosphere during both children's classes and adult classes can be friendly and fun; but it should also be serious.
There is still something more that you should be looking for. We believe that Martial Arts is not simply a physical activity. If that were not the case we could stop right here; our belief is that if you are going to practice Martial Arts; not Martial Fighting, not Martial Sport, not Martial fitness, but real Martial Arts you must also be learning to discipline your mind! The Martial Arts at their core were conceived as a way of helping student achieve higher levels of discipline of both their body and MIND. The intent was to use the art to create a person that that derived benefit in all areas of life; not just the one in a thousand chance of physical conflict! These benefits include better concentration, better discipline, better balance, and a more peaceful attitude toward others. In short, real Martial Arts should help you become a happier more effective human being; not just teach you how to fight.
If a person is learning real techniques, techniques that could maim or kill another human being, wouldn't it be irresponsible to just give those skills away without helping people develop the discipline that goes with using them? This is the reason I strongly say that there is no Martial Arts without mental discipline; and therefore if you're not being taught how to discipline your mind (while you may be learning how to fight) the fact is that you are not truly practicing Martial Arts - period!.
A good Martial Arts school always should have an internal approach to mental discipline. This approach of giving you a great workout, teaching practical state of the art technique, but at the same time teaching you how to discipline your mind is our mission. (For a simple article on how to pick a good dojo click here.)
To find out more, feel free to continue to browse the rest of the site. Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions.
Here is a list of the many styles that influence our teaching at the Martial Arts Center.
Karate (Various Styles) - Founded in Okinawa Japan. Characterized by strong striking and kicking techniques. Most influential figure in all of Karate was Gigin Funakoshi. Funokoshi brought Karate to the public school system of Japan. He was responsible for instilling the art as a practice of character development as well as self defense.
Kempo - Much of the same origins as Karate. Often when the name Kempo or Kenpo is used it represents a more pronounced Chinese rather than Japanese influence on the art.
Kenpo - Same as above.
Muay Thai Kickboxing - The national sport of Thailand. Combines boxing with powerful knees, elbows and kicks.
Tang Soo Do
Taekwondo - Korea's unique adaptation of the Okinawan art of Karate. Koreas unique cultural influence emphasize spectacular kicking techniques. Popularized through sports and Olympic competition.
Aikido - Morei Ueishiba's contribution to the Martial Arts. Aikido emphasizes the use of Ki (Chi) energy to harmonize with oneself and your partners. Ueshiba's teaching of non-violence influenced most of the ethics in martial arts today, making him without question the greatest martial artist of the 20th century.
Judo - Jigoro Kano. The early modification of Japanese Ju Jitsu. Kano's methods became the most effective fighting techniques in Japan. Kano's methods also heavily influence Helio Gracie who modified these skills further and founded Brazilian Juiujitsu.
Wrestling - Sport practiced in our school systems, Collegiate level, and the Olympics.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - Founded by Helio Gracie. Grandmaster Gracie modified existing Japanese Jui-jitsu and judo and through experimentation refined it's techniques to work for his smaller frame. Grand Master Gracie left a treasure that is enjoyed worldwide today. Not originally created as a sport; but as a practical self defense method. Possibly the most effective system ever created.
Japanese Jujitsu - The ancient art of joint manipulation, throwing, ground technique and a limited number of strikes.
Jeet Kune Do - Known as "Bruce Lee's System". Master Lee didn't believe in naming styles; believing that the name would limit a students creativity. But in the end chose the name Jeet Kune Do (Way of the Intercepting Fist) to allow students to identify his philosophy and teaching method.
Krav Maga - Israeli Self Defense system used for military training.
Kung Fu - The oldest of all Martial Arts. Founded 500AD - Shoalin Temple, Hunan Province China by Taishi Daruma.
Ninjitsu - Ancient art of deception and stealth. Originally known as war time paid assins but modern practitioners have adopted the ethics practiced in modern Karate, Judo and other arts.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)