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Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Here we are in 2015
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Wonder how everyone is?
Topic: Martial Arts

Man.... long time the club has been closed. I sure miss it and everyone. I guess there is not much of a change anyone will see this :)

 Master Holmes


Posted by craig-holmes at 8:51 PM EST
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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
North Shore Martial Arts Championships
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Tournaments
A Small group from the Inner Circle Martial Arts School recently competed in the North Shore Martial Arts Championships in Elliot Lake, Ontario (Nov 2004).

Congratulations to:

Charmaine Pepin - 1st Place, Woman's Black Belt Sparring

Pete Guertin - 1st Place, 35yrs and over Sparring

Laura Colussi - 2nd Place, Woman's Black Belt Sparring

Christopher Richardson - 3rd Place, Advanced Self-Defence

Ryan Colussi - 4th Place, Novice Sparring

John Dickson - 4nd Place, Black Belt Self-Defence

Josh Godbout - 4th Place, Intermediate Sparring

Maghan Nagle - 5th Place, Novice Sparring

Honorable Mention - Nathan Bryant, Ryan Smith, Kristen Shipman

Posted by craig-holmes at 12:01 AM EST
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Tuesday, 26 October 2004
ICMA brings home the Trophies
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Tournaments
11 members of the Inner Circle Martial Arts School competed at the Battle of Ontario Karate Championships hosted by Benoit's Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. The tournament is an "AAA" rated event and took place on Saturday, October 23 at Cambrian College in Sudbury ON.

Congratulations to:

Charmaine Pepin - 1st Place, Woman's Black Belt Sparring

Christopher Richardson - 1st Place, Advanced Self-Defence

Pete Guertin - 1st Place, Advanced Sparring - 35yrs and over

John Dickson - 2nd Place, Black Belt Self-Defence

Ryan Colussi - 3 rd Place, Novice Sparring

Josh Godbout - 4th Place, Intermediate Sparring

Kristin Shipman - 4th Place, Novice Sparring

Nathan Bryant - Runner Up, Intermediate Sparring

Honorable Mention - Ikili Ilanga, Ryan Smith, Meghan Nagle

Posted by craig-holmes at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 16 January 2005 12:55 AM EST
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Thursday, 30 September 2004
Inner Circle Martial Arts (ICMA)
Mood:  happy
Topic: Newspaper
27 Elizabeth Square
Elliot Lake, ON
Canada, P5A 1Y8
705.848.3586
www.icmaonline.net

Our new season has started and things are looking great! All of our children's programs are running strong and the excitement is high. We look forward to teaching new and returning students.

New Black Belt Instructors

Near the end of summer ICMA had two of its members test for their 1st Dan Black Belt and Apprentice Instructors Level One. The test took 10 hours over three days and both passed. Congratulations to Bill Serginis and Laura Colussi for their achievement.

All the children at ICMA will greatly benefit from have two new black belts at the school.

Gradings and Promotions

Congratulations to the following members who tested and promoted to a higher rank.

Mathew McGhee - One Green Stripe

Josh Godbout - Orange Belt

Peter McGhee - Orange Belt

Ryan Smith - Orange Belt

George McGhee - Orange Belt

Nathen Bryant - Orange Belt

Michael McGhee - Orange Belt

Courtney Nagle - Orange Belt

Upcoming Events

Battle of Ontario Open Martial Arts tournament

Some of our children will be attending the Battle of Ontario Open Martial Arts tournament in Sudbury, Ontario on October 23, 2004. Benoit's Goju-Ryu Karate-Do will be hosting the competition and it is an "AAA" rated event. We wish our competitors the best of luck.

Children's Programs

Besides lots of FUN, our children classes focus on improving self-discipline, respect for themselves and their community; self defence and street awareness.
Every child is treated fairly and as an individual. Like Martial Arts, children have their strengths and weaknesses. As instructors it is our responsibly to see and develop their natural, and not so natural attributes.

Children come first at ICMA!

Thanks to Instructor Colussi and Chief Instructor Pepin for their continuing support and dedication to our ICMA children and, of course, Inner Circle Martial Arts.

Submitted By:

Master Craig Holmes
6th Dan Black Belt

Posted by craig-holmes at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 16 January 2005 1:07 AM EST
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Saturday, 28 August 2004
The Mid Canada Karate Championships, May 1st, 2004
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Tournaments
The Mid Canada Karate Championships took place in Sudbury Ontario on May 1st, 2004

Congratulations to:

Ryan Smith (3rd Place, Jr's 9 - 10 yrs old)

Nathen Bryant (4th Place, Jr's 9 - 10 yrs old)

Josh Godbout (Runner Up, Jr's 11 - 12 yrs old)

This was the boys 1st tournament and they performed with honner and respect!

Posted by craig-holmes at 1:06 AM EDT
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An Introduction to Four Varieties of Martial Arts
Topic: Martial Arts
Author: Laura Colussi

Instructor: Craig Holmes

Martial Arts vary from country to country as well as from age to age. Each art has its own unique techniques and perspectives on how a martial artist is to pursue their training. Aikido, Ji Ying Jow Fann Tzi Mun, Kendo and Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do are but few examples of how martial arts can be so different from one another yet share some commonalities.

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art that was founded and developed by Morihei Ueshiba, who was also known as O Sensei or Great Teacher, in the early to mid 20th century. After rejecting other possible titles for his art, Ueshiba decided on the name Aikido in 1942. Each syllable of Aikido carries its own meaning: ai, meaning harmony, ki meaning spirit and do meaning the way or the path. Therefore, when loosely translated, Aikido means "A Way of Harmonizing with the Universal Spirit." ("Aikido: Translation of the Word")

Morehei Ueshiba was born in Japan on December 14, 1883 into a violent culture of political persecution. "As a boy, he often saw local thugs beat up his father for political reasons." (Clausen) Watching the savage beatings that his father had to endure instilled a need for vengeance in the young Ueshiba. He decided that he would learn to defend himself so that he would not be as helpless as his father was to the frequent brutal beatings. "He set out to make himself strong so that he could take revenge. He devoted himself to hard physical conditioning and eventually to the practice of martial arts, receiving certificates of mastery in several styles of jujitsu, fencing and spear fighting." (Clausen)

As Ueshiba matured, he developed remarkable physical abilities. Also, he was more than proficient in the martial arts that he studied. However, he was no longer satisfied with merely seeking revenge for his father's mistreatment at the hands of criminals. Where Ueshiba thought his years of training would give him the satisfaction of avenging his father, instead he found only emptiness. Subsequently, he felt a compelling need to find more to life than simply combat. "He began delving into religions in hopes of finding a deeper significance to life, all the while continuing to pursue his studies of budo, or the martial arts." (Clausen) Religious and political influences began to seep into Ueshiba's training, thus developing a new style of martial arts. "By combining his martial training with this religious and political ideologies, he created the modern martial art of Aikido." (Clausen)

Physically, Aikido is derived from Daito Ryu Aikijutsu, for its throws and joint locks, kenjutsu, which is Japanese fencing, and Yarijutsu, which is Japanese spear fighting. ("A Short History of Aikido") The main religious influence of Aikido is Omotokyo, also known as the "new religion." Omotokyo became responsible for providing the ki or spirit in Aikido. As a result, "Ueshiba came to see his Aikido as rooted less in techniques for achieving physical domination over others than in attempting to cultivate a `spirit of loving protection for all things'."("Japanese Styles")

Aikido is a soft martial art that does not focus on kicking and punching, rather it "emphasizes evasion and neutralizing forceful attacks by circular/spiral redirection of their force."("Japanese Styles") The main goal of Aikido is not to attack force with force, but to use an opponent's energy against him or herself through various methods of redirection. Therefore positioning and timing are integral in practicing the art of Aikido rather than relying on strength and brute force:
The primary strategic foundations of aikido are: moving into a position off the line of attack, seizing control of the attacker's balance by means of leverage and timing, and applying a throw, pin, or other sort of immobilization
(such as a wrist/arm lock). ("Japanese Styles")

Completely different from Aikido is a form of Chinese Kung Fu known as Ji Ying Jow Fann Tzi Mun, that when translated means "Eagle Claw Somersault Boxing System."("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw History") Eagle Claw is an ancient martial art that was developed by General Yao Fai, sometimes spelt Yui Feh, in the early 1100's. Fai (1103-1141) was born in Yunhe Village in the province of Xianghou China. He was famous for his exploits on the battlefield and was known as a war hero for his successful opposition to the Jin forces that invaded China during the Northern Song Dynasty. Fai developed the Eagle Claw system after observing how eagles fought. He noted that the astute birds seemed to know the exact time when to attack and when to retreat thus making them very talented predators with few successful enemies. (Stricklin and Lau) "Taking the movements of the eagle, Yui Feh developed kung fu fighting techniques that incorporated the attack and retreat movements of the eagle. Thus the Eagle Claw system was born." (Stricklin and Lau)

Eagle claw, like other martial arts, was developed from combining past combative styles with new ideas. Fai was greatly influenced by Shaolin Kung Fu, which was the standard for Kung Fu at this time. However, although influenced by Shaolin, Fai drew techniques from other important sources, namely: "The 108 Fighting Techniques" ("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw History"), that were taught to him by Master Zhou Dong. "The 108 Fighting Techniques...were composed of a system of Chin-Na Hand Strategies which were refined and perfected by Yao Fai. These techniques were eventually incorporated into the Eagle Claw system through a long line of descendants."("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw") Chin-Na is a form of Chinese grappling that employs joint locks, destructs and pressure point strikes. It was the combination of Chin-Na with the imitation of Eagle fighting that created the unique martial art called Eagle Claw. Although Fai is responsible for the origin of eagle claw, the "unification of styles was created by a Shaolin Monk by the name of Lai Chin, who was an accomplished Master of the Fann Tzi system and learned Eagle Claw, then later combined the two." ("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw")

Eagle Claw moves from hard (yang) elements to soft (ying) elements throughout its execution. Like a fighting eagle, Ji Ying Jow Fann Tzi Mun depends on striking your opponent at precisely the right moment, in precisely the right location. As a result, timing and accuracy are fundamental in the Eagle Claw system. The combination of pressure point attacks with aggressive kicking techniques "makes this system a very complex and vicious form of self-defense." ("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw") In order to maximize the effectiveness of Eagle Claw, exacting knowledge of human anatomy is necessary in order to properly locate press point strikes. Also, "footwork is also a very important part of Eagle Claw training, as all techniques are done with maximum speed and power." ("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw") In appearance, Eagle Claw can be quite graceful but within the fluent motions are usually two or three vicious strikes that can either weaken or immobilize an opponent through the stimulation of pressure points or through joint manipulation:
There is a caginess to Eagle Claw; the power is not direct. Grab becomes pull becomes a simultaneous push, jugular grab and throw. Eagle Claw tries to make its opponent forget where he came from and where he wanted to go. It distracts and then hits where and when the opponent is not looking.

This element of relying on wits and technique instead of strength to defeat an opponent particularly appeals to those who are neither large nor strong. ("Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw")

Martial arts do not only involve empty-handed combat. Some arts, like Kendo, involve weapons training. When translated, Kendo literally means the way of the sword. Kendo is "a traditional Japanese style of fencing with 2 handed wooden swords." ("Kendo") It is believed that the art of wooden sword fighting in Japan dates as far back as 450 AD, when it was first mentioned in ancient Japanese chronicles. Due to the age of the art of wooden sword fighting, it is impossible to attribute the development of Kendo to any one individual. Instead, it is believed that Kendo is derived from the techniques used by the Samurai, who were sword-fighting warriors during Japan's feudal age. In the 1600's, Japan unified and sword fighting, as a means of combat, was no longer needed. As a result, the Samurai began to develop their sword techniques as a "means of cultivating discipline, patience, and for building character."("Kendo") Subsequently, fighting with wooden swords became more feasible than fighting with steel swords, since actually killing your opponent was no longer the goal of sword fighting.

Later, in the 1700's, bamboo and specialized armor were made so that Kendo participants could compete in realistic fencing competitions with little risk of injury. Chuta Nakankshi is credited with creating much of the equipment needed to participate in Kendo. "Chuta invented the dummy sword and the dummy [armor] for practice, which kendo practitioners now equip themselves with."(Horii) Amongst the equipment and pieces of armor invented by Nakankshi are: the kote or fencing gloves, the shinai or dummy sword, the do or chest protector, the tare or waistband, the men or face mask, the hakama or split skirt pants and finally, the keikoga or jacket. The stylized look created by Nakankshi for kendoka or students of Kendo is still worn today.

Since Kendo is a weapons art, it is practiced at long range. In tournaments, the goal of Kendo is to inflict blows upon your opponent in designated scoring areas before they can land the same blows upon you. Kendo, since it inception, has remained popular as a martial art in Japan. Once a martial art reserved only for the upper class Samurai ranks, Kendo later became a compulsory subject in all Japanese schools. Currently, Kendo is still a very popular form of martial art to practice, not only in Japan but all over the world as well.

Finally, there is the art of Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do, that is most famous for its founder and developer Bruce Lee. Jeet Kune Do is considered to be one of the most revolutionary martial arts ever developed in that it sought to liberate its practitioners from the ideas of the past. It is not a specific art but instead a "conglomeration of a variety of martial art systems blended together. It also places emphasis on developing a philosophy from the art."(Holmes) Jeet Kune Do's eclectic nature combined with it philosophical approach intends to guide its students to their own personal form of martial arts instead of forcing rigid and uniform elements equally upon all of its practitioners. Therefore, Jeet Kune Do is unique to each of its participants because, as a student of Jeet Kune Do, you use only what is most effective for you. Unfortunately, Bruce Lee died before he was able to see the full development of his art. As a result, Jeet Kune Do, as conceived by Bruce Lee, has remained shrouded in mystery. No one knows for sure what Lee's art would have become if he had been able to complete his work before his untimely death in 1973 at the age of 32. Instead of guessing at Lee's intentions for his martial art, it is more valuable to examine that which Lee left behind as fact. For instance, "Lee discovered a set of universal principles that can be found in any art or any combination of arts. It is the perfect union of strategic principles, with the arts that best serve to actualize the intent of the principles, that defines JKD."(Beasley, p. 19) The six principles to which Lee is referring to are as follows:
Multicultural arts: "Having no way as a way," means that one must recognize that no one country has a monopoly on knowledge.

Range: Combat exists within four ranges. By evaluating each art in terms of its effectiveness at one or more ranges, we tend to free ourselves from the obvious ethnocentrism associated with most styles.

Five ways of attack: There are five methods of offensively approaching an opponent. All attacks fit into one of the five ways.

Individual and instructor preference: The often-used phrase, "My truth is not your truth," stems from this principle.

Environment: The environment often dictates the skill to be employed. The boxer whose arms are bound or the kicker who attempts his techniques on ice will experience this principle first hand.

Absorb what is useful: Once a student understands and can incorporate the first five principles, then the sixth principle takes on new meaning. (Beasley, p. 19)

By examining each of these above principles it is easier to understand the enigma that is known as Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do.

First, in order to understand the multicultural principle of Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do, it is necessary to break it down into its various parts and translate into English for easier understanding. Jun Fan is simply Bruce Lee's name in Chinese, thus when Jeet Kune Do is prefaced with Jun Fan it refers specifically to Bruce Lee's personal system, not those that were developed after his death. Gung Fu, more commonly known as Kung Fu, means hard work. Finally, Jeet Kune Do means "the way of the intercepting fist."("Jeet Kune Do Encyclopedia") When choosing a name for his art, his Wing Chun training heavily influenced Lee. Wing Chun is a fighting system that deals specifically with trapping or close range fighting, thus employing many different types of interceptions. The narrow focus of Wing Chun may have been the catalyst for Bruce Lee's idea to develop a new martial art that would be effective not only at close range but at any and all ranges. Consequently, Lee studied many different martial arts and fighting systems and adopted only those things that were most effective, efficient and logical for his new multicultural art of Jeet Kune Do. "Some of the disciplines and fighting systems used by Bruce Lee to innovate Jeet Kune Do [were] Western boxing, Fencing, Savate, Judo, Gung Fu, Wrestling and Wing Chun."(Holmes)

As stated before, key to the development of Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do is the principle of fighting ranges. Lee felt it was essential for martial artists to be proficient at all four of the empty handed ranges, including kicking, punching, trapping and wrestling. To be lacking in any of these four ranges would leave a person vulnerable to opponents and certainly not fully able to defend or attack effectively. What Lee wanted to accomplish with his development of Jeet Kune Do was a total fighting system that could be used under any circumstances. By definition, if a particular move or technique proved to be ineffective, then it was no longer part of the system for that particular student of Jeet Kune Do.

When studying various types of fighting, Lee found many weaknesses that could be exploited by a total fighting system. Of Western Boxing, which can only be fought at punching range with some very restricted close range fighting, Lee stated that it "is too over-daring because of restrictions on illegal and `unfair' tactics."(Lee, p. 71) As a result, without the rules and restrictions of the sport of boxing, boxers would be extremely vulnerable to trapping, kicking and grappling techniques simply because they never would have competed with such weapons. In other words, boxers would be easily exploited because of their lack of an effective defence against counters they have never experienced such as destructs or joint manipulation. In comparison to boxing, Lee found that traditional Asian Martial Arts tended too be over-protective. "In addition, the no-contact practice of stopping the attacks several inches in front of the target in the Oriental martial arts creates a habitual false sense of distance."(Lee, p. 71) Similarly, Lee found both Western Boxing and Traditional Martial Arts patently unrealistic in their form. Yet he abandoned neither of these fighting systems. Instead, he took the most effective tools from both and combined them and others into his own total fighting system, a system that is known for its realism and effectiveness on any field of battle, at any distance.
Also imperative to Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do is the principle and utilization of the five angles of attack which are "direct, indirect, combination, immobilization and rhythm-disruption attacks."(Beasley, p.59) A direct attack is a single offensive move that travels straight to its target such a lead jab to the face or front kick to the abdomen. An indirect attack intends to first fool the opponent into believing that a certain technique will be used but when it is executed it is a fake that leads to a different move. An example of an indirect attack would be a fake front kick low, drawing the defences of the opponent down, which turns into a high roundhouse kick to the head that would be an open target. Combination attacks are any series of offensive moves strung together such as jab cross, lead to reverse elbow or a sidekick to a turning back kick. Immobilization attacks use an opponent's offence against him or herself in order to render him or her motionless through techniques such as arm bars and leg locks. Finally, rhythm-disruption attacks are executed with stuttered or broken rhythm thereby confounding your opponents defence because they are unaware as to when the attack will actually hit. By using all five of the ranges of attack, Lee felt that he could create a total fighting system that could attack and counter attack more effectively than any other system before it.

The fourth principle of Jeet Kune Do, individual and instructor preference, speaks directly to the philosophical nature of Bruce Lee's art. That which works for one person may not work for another, depending on age, body type and physical ability. For Jeet Kune Do practitioners, you use that which works for you, though it may differ from what works for your instructor. It is therefore essential that "we should each seek to identify our personal preferences based on variety and then focus our skills in preferred and functional areas."(Beasley, p. 60) Remembering, of course, that though you may have preferences, you must not rigidly follow a set form. A successful fighter must, in his or her preferences, still be able to effectively cover all four ranges of combat as well as utilizing the five angles of attack in order to be best prepare for any eventuality.

Environment is the fifth principle to which Lee refers. Lee felt that truly skilled total fighters must take in account the environment in which they are fighting in order to make the correct decisions as to which techniques would be most effective. For example, kicking techniques should be abandoned for a more reasonable attack on a frozen surface because of the unsure footing. As well, punching, while confined to a small space such as a phone booth, would not be as feasible as using elbows, knees and trapping techniques. Where previous martial arts and fighting systems tended to be confined to rings, mats or dojos, Jeet Kune Do asked the pertinent question "but what if...".

The last principle, absorb what is useful, again refers to the more philosophical aspects of Jeet Kune Do:

To understand Jeet Kune Do, you must prepare yourself for a different ways of viewing the martial arts. First, seek the truth in combat. Experience and master the truth at each fighting range. Then, forgetting the carrier of the truth (the art), dissolve the attachment with any one art or way. To float in totality, we must assume formlessness. To repose in the nothing, we simply answer the attack. When you can use no art as your art, you become Jeet Kune Do-the way of no way. (Beasley)

This is perhaps the most difficult principle developed by Bruce Lee. The idea that the art is to be abandoned and stripped away to simply action and reaction once it has been learned, is the most liberating and unique idea in Jeet Kune Do. You are not actually practicing Jeet Kune Do but instead you are Jeet Kune Do. For every attack, you have an appropriate defence and counter attack, not because you are following a set form but because you know from your experience that your counter will work. "JKD is not simply a matter of joining this organization or that one, or studying a particular art with a certain instructor. JKD is the freedom to act, the knowledge to respond (like an echo), and the ability to discover (the cause of our ignorance)."(Beasley) Bruce Lee himself best defined the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do by comparing it, along with all other fighting systems, to a journey across a river in a boat. Practitioners of other fighting systems see their art as their destination on the opposite side of the river. It is something at which they strive to arrive at and to conquer. Contrarily, Lee saw Jeet Kune Do more as the journey than as the destination. He said, "Jeet Kune Do is like the boat. Once it has been used to get you across the river, it should be discarded."(Beasley, p. 4)

Unfortunately, Lee never lived to see his art fully realized. However, the legacy of Bruce Lee and his Jun Fan-Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do has changed the world of martial arts forever. In his own words, Lee once said, "Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just a punch, a kick was just a kick. After I'd studied the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick was no longer a kick. Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch, a kick is just a kick."(Lee, p. 70)

The vastness of martial arts can be overwhelming. Different fighting systems cover the globe and are steeped in the rich history of their developers. Similarities and differences abound from system to system providing unique experiences from country to country. Aikido, Ji Ying Jow Fann Tzi Mun, Kendo and Jun Fan Gung Fu-Jeet Kune Do are but a taste of the variety that can be found in the world of martial arts.

Bibliography

Aikido Translation of the Word. 14 July, 2004.


Lee, Bruce. Tao of Jeet June Do. Burbank: Ohara Publications, Incorporated, 1975.

Beasley, Jerry. The Way of No Way: Solving the Jeet Kune Do Riddle. Boulder:
Paladin Press, 1992

Holmes, Craig. Inner Circle Martial Arts and Supplies. August 1, 2004.


Clausen, Kjartan. The Aikido FAQ. 2 June, 2004. 9 July 2004.
< http://www.aikidofaq.com/>

Aikido: Nonviolent Martial Art. 8 July, 2004.


Shishida, Fumiaki. A Short History of Aikido. 8 July, 2004.


TKD Tutor. Japanese Styles. 200-2004. 10 July 2004.


Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw History. 15 July, 2004.


Stricklin, Scott and Lau Gini. Histroy. 1997-2001. 16 July, 2004.


Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw. 15 July, 2004.


The History of Aikido. 1 July, 2004.



Kendo. 10 July, 2004.


Byrd, Jonathan. Kendo: History, Philosophy and Culture. 29 May 2003. 4 July, 2004.
< http://www.isu.edu/~jon/kendo/history.html>


Beasley, Jerry. To Float in Totality. 29 July, 2004.


All Japan Kendo Federation. The History of Kendo. 1998-2004, 4 July, 2004.


Horii, Mitsutoshi. Kendo. 3 July,2004.


Jeet Kune Do Encyclopedia. 7 July, 2004.

Posted by craig-holmes at 12:57 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 March 2004
What to Look for When Joining a Martial Arts School
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Martial Arts
You must know what you're looking for, what do you like and what is your reason for joining. Are you joining for fitness, tournaments, self-defence, socializing or whatever?

Martial Arts
Do you like punching, kicking, grappling, trapping, weapon training (Forms or Combat) or a combinations of all. Are you training for realistic defence or preset self-defence? Keep in mind that most Martial Arts are affective in 1 or 2 ranges.

Schools or Clubs
What kind of school are you looking for, traditional or modern? Do you like traditional wear or are you more comfortable in jogging pants and a T-shirt. Do you like a strict atmosphere or a friendly open one?

Instructors
Be careful of your choice of Instructor/teachers. Do not be fooled by high rank or false claims. Just because someone holds a rank above 4th or 5th Dan does not mean this is the Instructor for you. Make sure of a few things first. 1- How did this person obtain his rank. Through out the years I have met a few, so called Masters (usually 4th Dan and up in most styles) who I know have not test since they where a Brown Belt or 1st Dan Black Belt. Please note that in most styles any rank above 4th Dan is a Political position. Sometimes it's who you know (not how much) and if you will play the game. 2- Be aware of Instructors who say they have invented their own style of Martial Arts, in my opinion, these Instructors are trying to fool the public, usually for financial gain. Sent Bruce Lee died, there have been many Schools/Clubs and Instructors popping up claiming they have come up with their own style of Martial Art. There are only so many ways to kick, punch, trap, grapple or use weapons. Just because they practise Kickboxing, Karate, Hap-Ki-Do and Judo does not mean they have invented a unique form of Martial Arts. 3- Can you get along with the Chief/Master/Owner of this School. Does the Instructor play favouritism? Does he/she spend most of their time training with certain students will others are left out (most of the time) to advance mostly on their own. How does he/she relate to the students (children and adults): Does he/she demand respect, or does he/she earn it? Does he/she make you feel uncomfortable? Or do you feel relaxed and stress-free? 4- Also, does the Instructor(s) put down or criticizes other Schools, Instructors or Styles? If he/she does, he/she is not confident in his/her martial art (s) or him/herself.

In closing, there are many types of Martial Arts and many different approaches to training. You must have some kind of idea of what you're looking for. School's who teach contact sparring and a more combative approach (studies base on the concepts of range) are usually more suited for realistic self-defence. Also, most of them allow the student the choice of how far involved they want to be. Many of these School's are independent or self-governing. Inner Circle Martial Arts approach is one of simplicity, absorbing what is affective for our self-defence purposes. We are always researching new (to us) and affective methods of Martial Arts. We do not believe any Martial Art is superior to another Martial Art; All Martial Art systems/styles have their strengths and weaknesses in a self-defence situation.

Posted by craig-holmes at 1:54 PM EST
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