When you hear someone talk about martial arts what do you think of? Do you think of monks in Asia training all day every day? Or is it the shenanigans of Jackie Chan that spring to mind? Or do you think of the majestic montage from Mulan, performed to the classic song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”?

Or are you just not sure what it’s all about?

Well, in direct contradiction to the first rule of Fight Club, let’s talk about martial arts!

There is often some confusion about what constitutes a martial art. The term itself is used to refer to the hundreds of different codified and systematised modes of combat. These martial arts all have the same goal in common: namely to defend against threats and to defeat opponents. Interestingly, the origins of the term “martial arts” is based in Latin, and is related to Mars who was the Roman god of war.

A common misconception is that all martial arts are the same. Whilst it is true that many martial arts are similar – there are, after all, only so many ways that one can throw a punch – there are many different types of martial arts which focus on different aspects. These branches include striking styles, grappling styles, and throwing styles. It is important to note that there can be some cross-over between what is taught between the main styles as well as between the martial arts themselves.

Striking, or standing, styles highlight blocks, punches, and kicks and other such methods to defend oneself whilst remaining on your feet. This has the particular advantage of allowing you to run away from potentially scary situations with ease. As these sports are practised on your feet, they are best known for their kicks. Examples of this style are Karate and Taekwon-do.

Grappling styles involve taking the opponent to the ground in order to gain an advantageous position. The focus on these martial arts is the groundwork and the holds which are used to defend oneself against an attacker. Grappling styles encompass various martial arts from sumo wrestling to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The final branch are the throwing styles. These differ from the grappling styles in that they always start with both opponents on their feet and use throws and takedowns in order to take the fight to the ground. There is, of course, a huge amount of overlap between throwing styles and grappling styles, and the difference can be quite subtle. However, throwing styles focus on, well, throws and takedowns of the throwing nature. Examples of this style can be found in Judo and Aikido.

There are also hybrid martial arts such as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) which further blur the lines between the different aspects of each sport.

The martial arts clubs in St Andrews, being well aware of this misconception, have joined together to create an unmissable opportunity. In true movie montage style, the Judo, Jui Jitsu, Karate, Taekwon-do, Aikido, and MMA clubs have constructed the give-it-a-go session to end all give-it-a-go sessions. On 28 January, from 1pm-3:30pm in the Sports Hall, 6 clubs will gather to take you through the basics of their sport. Designed for beginners, this is the perfect opportunity to unleash your inner badass. Be there or be square.

One more thing, to be totally honest we do get up to a fair amount of shenanigans as well!

Facebook event for crash course.

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