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Martial Args This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, ChuckNorris and Steven Segal: these names are synonymous with the martialarts. But aside from the astonishing ability to wipe out a barroomfilled with ex-convicts and IRS agents, what do martial artists striveto achieve? Many attempt to master the arts of self-defense or reachenlightenment, which is not done easily.

Like many sports, themartial arts take years of training. Hockey players practice on an icerink and football players on a field; martial artists have the dojo(Jap-anese for training hall). The dojo be-comes a sanctuary for theartist. With help from instructors and practitioners, martial artistslearn how to control themselves both mentally and physically, includinghow to react to stressful or dangerous situations.

The martialarts have many styles from countries throughout the world. Tae Kwon Dois a popular style from Korea and an Olympic sport. The term Karate(empty hand) can include a group of styles such as Gojuryu, Shorinryu orIsshinryu, all from Okinawa.

China is credited with Shaolin KungFu, Wing Chun Kung Fu and Tai Ji Quan. (Comprehensive Asian FightingArts is a great reference for the styles and their origins.) Thesestyles look very different from each other, but all focus on harmony ofthe practitioner's mind, body and soul.

Training can leadpractitioners on many routes. They can concentrate on traditionalexercise or competition. Extreme traditional exercises used by veryexperienced martial artists range from hanging from tree limbs for longperiods of time to running barefoot in snow fields or breaking blocks ofice.

Federations such as the National Black Belt Association andthe World Kobudo Federation coordinate annual tournaments that attractthousands of competitors. Martial artists test their skillspredominately through form presentation, weapons form presentation,sparring, board-breaking and self-defense divisions. Tournaments attractartists for many reasons; for some they provide means to test theirskills and others use them to develop personal strengths.

Withyears of training, martial artists develop a sense of completeness astheir skills increase. Movies often misrepresent the martial arts asprimarily for killing, but in reality, martial arts can actually be thegentlest of sports.

Martial arts can become a way of life. It isimportant to remember that no style is superior to another. The leveldepends on the amount of time and energy one devotes to a style. Themartial arts will continue to flourish as more people realize that thearts are true sports.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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