Peter Spennato on Martial Arts Disciplines

Peter Spennato’s fascination with martial arts eventually led him to earning a brown belt in Judo. Martial arts are practiced for a variety of different reasons including self-defense, physical fitness, entertainment and competition. Some even consider martial arts as a way of achieving spiritual growth. Peter briefly explains the differences in the various martial art forms:

Aikido.This is a Japanese martial art performed by flowing with the motion of the attacker rather than opposing it straight-on. This requires much less physical strength, as the practitioner directs the attacker’s momentum with entering and turning motions, followed by various throws or joint locks. Aikido loosely translates to “the way of harmonious spirit.”

Judo.The goal is to either throw or take down one’s opponent to the ground and immobilize or subdue them with a grappling maneuver, joint lock, strangle hold, or choke. Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet or weapons are only allowed in pre-arranged forms (kata), and are not allowed in competition or free practice. With proper technique and balance, a person can beat a much larger opponent. The major weakness in the art of judo is the lack of any striking techniques in competition or practice.

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Jiujitsu.This is a Japanese martial art for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon, or only a short weapon. Practitioners neutralize an enemy with pins, joint locks, and throws by using an attacker’s energy against him, rather than directly opposing it.

Karate.This is a martial art developed in Okinawa, Japan that stresses striking techniques, such as punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands (karate chop). Karate tends to focus more on hand strikes, whereas tae kwon do emphasizes kicking techniques. The major traditional styles of karate are Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Goju Ryu, and Wado Ryu.

Kung Fu.This martial art represents a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. Some styles include physical exercises that mimic animal movements, while others are inspired by Chinese philosophies, religions, and legends. Internal styles focus mainly on harnessing of qi, while external styles concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness. Some of the more common styles include Eagle Claw, Hung Gar, Five Animals (Shaolin Kung Fu), Monkey, Praying Mantis, and Wing Chun. The term kung fu is often used in the west to refer to Chinese martial arts, however its original meaning refers to one’s expertise in any skill.

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