At some point, everyone has been captivated by a Karate movie or boxing match on T.V., but many people are unaware of the rich traditions behind martial arts. Four of the most popular forms of combat sports are Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and boxing. Each sport has unique characteristics and an interesting history. Whether you are looking to stay in shape or watch an exhilarating sport as a fan, everyone can find their place in the world of martial arts.
Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art that stresses the importance of enhancing one’s spirit and life through training the body and mind. The word “Taekwondo” itself reflects the duality of physicality and spirituality found in the sport. “Tae” means foot, “Kwon” means fist, and “Do” mean discipline, demonstrating the emphasis placed on both fighting and learning how to better one’s spirit. Furthermore, Taekwondo is not aggressive in nature, it stresses only using one’s fighting force to stop fights, not start them. This martial art, 5000 years in the making, is comprised of dynamic hand and foot skills and symbolic physical movements that create unity with the mind, body, and life.
Karate, on the other hand, is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom of Japan. This form of combat sport focuses on physical strikes of punching, kicking, knee and elbows, as well as open-hand attacks. Karate similarly places an emphasis on self-development. It can be practiced as an art, self-defense, or combat sport, while developing virtues of perseverance, fearlessness, and competition within the athlete. Karate has an accompanying set of rules called “dojo kun”, which are guidelines to follow in the training hall and in everyday life. This sport bears many similarities to Taekwondo, but is quite different from the next form of martial art, Muay Thai.
Muay Thai, which translates to “Thai Boxing”, is a combat sport that uses both striking and clinching techniques. This form of close-combat attempts to utilize the entire body as a weapon. As such, this sport is nick-named the “art of eight limbs” because it uses eight points of contact on the body. Each part of the body symbolizes a different weapon of war: hands are swords, shins and forearms are armor, elbows are maces, legs are axes and knees are staffs. All these parts work together to try and get the opponent to the ground. This sport is highly entertaining and has a deep history of matches taking place during celebrations at temples and festivals in Thailand. This sport lacks the complex spiritual aspects of Taekwondo and Karate but resembles Western Boxing in its entertainment value.
Boxing is the most straightforward of the four combat sports. Two opponents, wearing protective gloves, trade punches in the confines of a ring. Boxing is one of the oldest sports, with its first depiction in the 3rd millennium BCE. It was popularized in Ancient Greece and introduced into the Olympic games in 688 BCE. Today, it is one of the largest multi-billion-dollar sports, heavily watched by people across North America. Boxing does not feature an accompanying philosophy like other combat sports but is the most well-known of the four.
Looking to get involved in the world of combat sports while still holding onto your teeth? Many people use boxing and kickboxing classes as a way to stay in shape while having fun. Boxing is an incredibly active sport that will improve your conditioning and cardiovascular health. These classes take advantage of an ancient sport and help you get in shape without getting hurt. What are you waiting for? Get involved in the combat sports world and sign-up for a class today!
By Reid Arnold