National Bullying Prevention Month – Martial Arts Against Bullying

bully prevention

By Dave Kovar

 

Bullying is still a major issue despite the awareness of the problem being in the public eye quite frequently. This is an issue that I am particularly passionate about as a father and martial artist.

Did you know October is National Bullying Prevention Month? This is an event founded by the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights. RIGHT NOW is an excellent opportunity for martial arts schools to come together and help their communities by hosting free, local anti-bullying classes or seminars during the months of September and October.

Having visited schools all over the world, I know martial artists are already doing a lot to address bullying. By simply training in martial arts and having children develop their confidence already aides in decreasing their chance of being initially bullied.

However, I believe, we all could be more effective if we unified and worked together against bullying as the martial arts industry has. If you are a martial artist and want to help prevent bullying, please consider joining over 800 martial arts professionals world-wide to participate in Martial Artists Against Bullying (MAAB). Members receive a full lesson plan with scripts for instructors to teach an anti-bullying seminar at the school. They also receive free marketing materials to promote the event, and are listed on the MAAB directory website for their community to find them and the MAAB programs.

If you are a concerned citizen or parent that has observed just how detrimental bullying is to society and our community, please consider enrolling yourself and your children in one of these free local bully prevention seminars. Many martial arts schools near you will offer them at different times throughout the year. To find a martial arts school near you click here.

I founded MAAB because I believe that no other industry is in a better position to do something about bullying than the Martial Arts industry. The program is free to martial arts school owners and the public because I believe that protecting children from bullying isn’t something that should be monetized. We have also partnered with the AIM High Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth.

Our mission is to unify the martial arts community in an effort to educate, inform, and help eradicate bullying. Our program helps children overcome the negative impact of bullying. It teaches participants:

  • Awareness – How identify predator behavior
  • Avoidance – Realistic ways to avoid being a target of bullying
  • Assertiveness – How to stop bullying behavior

Research shows that bullying peaks in 5th through 7th grades. The program’s goal is to minimize the effects of predatory behavior in grade and middle school-level children. The “Done with Bullying” program accomplishes this through role-playing, small group discussions and empathy training.

You can learn more about typical bully targets, signs of bullying, and how martial arts can help with bully prevention by clicking here.

I strongly believe that National Bullying Prevention month offers a unique opportunity for us to raise awareness and education about anti-bullying techniques. To help Martial Artists Against Bullying, we offer members a detailed blueprint – for free – as a resource to help school owners get awareness and educate their community to stand up against bullying.

Whether you are a martial artist or a concerned parent or both, we can all make a difference in our community, but we can certainly have more impact in preventing bullying as a united movement… we can change the world. We welcome everyone to join our mission against bullying.

Dave Kovar is a life-long martial arts professional and anti-bullying advocate. Mr. Kovar has been teaching anti-bullying strategies to his students for over 35 years. His successful life skills program, “School Safe/Street Safe,” from which “Done with Bullying” is based, has been taught in over 1,000 martial arts schools around the world.

Come on… really… what does it mean to wear a black belt?

 

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This one subject can touch off some of the most confrontational conversations on a social network and quickly turn into a heated argument just at its mere mention. I have been witness to several of these conversation threads and it is not too dissimilar from watching those verbally spar when speaking about religious or political topics. I am sure this article may spur on many to voice strong opinion, which is always welcome. Please, just be respectful, which is part of the heart of what martial arts and being a black belt should stand for.

I won’t deny that there are many martial arts school owners out there that will award higher rank just to keep their students enrolled in the program for another month or two and deciding upon rank based upon financial gain certainly doesn’t display what I deem black belt worthy qualities, but it’s hard to argue that it’s done.

As a mother of a budding ninja and owner of a martial arts based business, I have become much more familiar with this issue and the many variances in teachings, rank award, and rank standards various disciplines and martial arts organizations offer up as what one has to do and be to qualify to wear that highly coveted “black belt”. This, really, is the issue at heart. People are different, perspectives are different, and therefore standards are different, not only within a single organization, let alone all of them, but often within the various schools teaching under that organizations umbrella. It isn’t unusual to find different dojo owners setting different standards for their students than the same martial arts affiliated dojo down the street. And typically, where one decides to train first, helps to set in motion that student’s own paradigm as to what the standard should be for the definition of all whom seek to earn the rank of black belt. For them, anything that sits outside of that paradigm doesn’t easily fit within the comfort level of their view as to who has earned the right to wear that prestigious element of their uniform.

What it comes down to, in my humble opinion, is what do you, as a studier of martial arts, seek to learn and ultimately attain from those teachings? What are you after? What is your goal, for you or your child? Is it a rank? Is it the ability to defend ones self in a threatening situation with confidence you can and will be able to keep yourself safe? Is it mastery of technique, improvement in focus, awareness, and fitness? There are so many things that martial arts training can help with, and just as many reasons why people decide to give it a try. Study and learn about various martial arts disciplines, what they teach, and whether or not it aligns well with what you most hope to get out of your experience training in the martial arts. Go visit various dojos and gyms that train in the disciplines you are most interested in and watch how they conduct classes, how the students perform, and ask what they think about their own experiences. Most of all, ask the instructors what standards they have set for achieving various ranks and what expectations are placed on their black belt holders. If their explanations resonate with you and what you are looking to achieve, then what wearing a black means will be of significance to you. And let’s face it, that’s all that really matters. If we lived our lives based on other people’s onions of what success means, it would be a lot less fulfilling life indeed.

To learn more about different types of martial arts fraud and what to avoid please visit http://www.advancemartialartsconnect.com/martial-arts-resources/martial-arts-features/martial-arts-fraud and to learn more about how to choose the right martial arts school for you please visit http://www.advancemartialartsconnect.com/martial-arts-resources/choosingtherightmartialartsschool .

 

Mara Fineshriber

Mara is the CEO of the Martial Arts Directory advancemartialartsconnect.com and mother of Ethan Fineshriber, a World Ranked ATA and NBL 1st degree Black Belt and National Title Holder

Boxing and Kickboxing – The New Trend for Adult Fitness

In an age where we are all trying to get and stay in shape, both boxing and kickboxing are taking fitness fanatics by storm. What used to be the goto classes such as Pilates, yoga, spinning and Zumba, now find that boxing and kickboxing are the new “it” workouts.

Brand new kickboxing, boxing, and mma gyms are sprouting up all over the country. Gyms that were traditionally for training amateur boxers to fight now say they have 75% of their memberships joining for fitness classes only. And many gym owners, some in the business for over 30 years, say their membership is larger than it has ever been.

In the busy world of adults who are overloaded at work then rushing home to their children’s busy schedules, the idea of a workout that makes it “all melt away” is very addicting. Boxing related workouts burn tons of calories, and those who have been doing SoulCycle type classes for years like the intensity of the workout without sitting on a stationary bike.

Fitness boxing is just what it says-fitness. There is absolutely no fighting or sparring but still there is a huge adrenaline rush. Classes are run with an instructor who is mic’d, similar to bootcamp and spin. After hitting the bag in a boxing class, people say they are physically and mentally exhausted, but hugely satisfied.

Kickboxing classes have been around since the late nineties, but recently have had a huge resurgence. The combination of boxing, martial arts, and aerobics makes classes appealing for those wanting a variety in their workout. This too is a very demanding workout. The moves are high powered with kicking and punching and the results will increase cardiovascular endurance along with honing reflexes. During kickboxing classes you can burn up to 800 calories in a 60-minute class. In kickboxing you may find a range of instructors with backgrounds in martial arts, boxing, and group fitness who will teach you to focus to work through controlled ranges of motion and to execute techniques. You can learn more about this craze at http://www.advancemartialartsconnect.com/martial-arts-styles/kickboxing

Both of these fitness crazes can also add the benefit of a café to socialize and meet people after an amazing workout. There also still exists the old, original boxing gyms without the bells and whistles and they too are happy to welcome people coming into their gym to take classes. To find kickboxing or boxing fitness classes near you visit http://www.advancemartialartsconnect.com/find-a-school

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How to Find the Best Martial Arts Training for your Child

How to Find the Best Martial Arts Training for your Child

shutterstock_102301111smlNo wonder so many parents consider getting their children enrolled in a martial arts class. The benefits are almost too numerous to count. The harder question isn’t to enroll them, but more where to enroll them. In some larger cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, or New York City, there is a dojo on nearly every block. And even in smaller cities there are often a plethora of dojo choices. So why choose one over the other? What is the best way to go about finding the right martial arts school for your child?

The first thing to consider is why you want to enroll your child into a martial arts program and what you are hoping to get out of it. Many parents that have kids with a disability such as Down Syndrome, ADHD, Autism or Cerebral Palsy, are often looking for different goals for their children. Some parents are just looking for a good and productive outlet for their child to expend some energy and not be on a computer screen while doing so. Other parents desire to see an up-lift in their child’s coordination, confidence, focus, and/or social skills. No matter the goal, you should make a list of the most important items you want to see as a result of martial arts training.

After you have made a list of goals, make an appointment and go into a few places you are considering and ask them a list of questions that will help you determine how well their training will fit into your goals, your schedule, and your values. Below is a list of good questions to consider asking.

  • How many kids will be in my child’s class?
  • What is the schedule for my child’s class and how will that change as they advance in rank?
  • Are there different payment options available and what are they?
  • What will be taught?
  • Is there any safety equipment I am expected to buy right away and what will that cost?
  • What is the main teaching philosophy for teaching kids in this dojo?
  • What are the credentials and experience that your instructors have?

It is also very beneficial to schedule a visit to a dojo when the class your child would be attending is in session. If you are able to accomplish this, there are some key things to look for. Below is a list of excellent things to consider watching for.

  • Is the instructor’s attention usually on one single child or directed to the whole class more of the time?
  • Do children get some individual attention?
  • How are the instructors interacting with the kids?
  • Are the kids responding well to the instructors and do they seem to be enjoying themselves?
  • Are many kids not paying attention and/or sitting around?
  • Do the kids appear to be learning what they are taught?
  • What do some of the other parents think about the martial arts school? Ask.

There are many more questions to consider as well as items that might be high on your priority list that are not listed here, but make no mistake, the choice you finally make could have a lasting impact on your child for the rest of his or her life. For more information on how to choose the best martial arts school for your child visit:

http://www.advancemartialartsconnect.com/martial-arts-resources/choosingtherightmartialartsschool

Many parents report that their child became more social, better focused, more coordinated, and more confident from their martial arts training. Results vary for every child but the first step in working toward these kinds of benefits is finding the right school. To find a martial arts school near you visit:

http://www.advancemartialartsconnect.com/find-a-school

School-time Winter, Spring, and Summer Breaks – The Benefits of Sending Your Child to Martial Arts Camp

In the words of Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who wrote the book Camp, “camp can give you
the keys to success. 
I can hardly think of an aspect of my life
that wasn’t positively affected by my camping experience.”

What to do during all the many school breaks your child has throughout the winter, spring, and the long, hot summer?   Camp is a great opportunity during those times to give your child the ability to become fit and have some fun in a social setting.

I too went to camp for most of my life.  I’ve never been able to duplicate that experience.  Living with my new and old friends, doing sports throughout the day, and having the luxury of being around nature was an amazing gift.  Whether you are lucky enough to go to camp in the wilderness, or to a gym and have field trips during the week, the experience will lead to life-long friendships and memories never forgotten.

Martial Arts Camps often provide a means for children to be themselves away from school and be accepted for who they are.  This seems to happen naturally during summer, spring, or winter camp.  The kids and staff relax into an easy-going flow, while still pursuing what they love.

Attending martial arts camp programs will help your child develop a sense of competence through a variety of activities and drills designed to instill a sense of confidence in defending ones self, and many camps will include field trips to fun places, and activities and crafts centered around an enjoyable theme to add to the experience of camp.

To quote the American Camping Association, “camp provides children with a community of caring adults, who nurture experiential education that results in self-respect and appreciation for human value.  All of the outcomes — self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem, leadership, and self-respect — build personal competencies. These personal competencies are reflected in the four “C’s” of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment, and character.”

Consider sending your child to a martial arts camp.  The experience will be life-changing and the friendships will last a lifetime. To learn more about martial arts camps for kids please visit Advance Martial Arts Connect, the Web’s premier free online martial arts directory or to find a martial arts school near you visit our online directory of martial arts schools .

Why Are the Martial Arts so Great for People with Disabilities?

As a parent of a child diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, I can relate in a different way and on a difference scale to those people looking for activities to get their child involved with that won’t cause them to feel ostracized, not able to keep up with peers, or like they are frustrating the instructors. Will little Johnny be made fun of? Will he be too much of a distraction for the others in the activity? Will Jane feel too badly about herself if she can’t do what the others can and keep up in the same way? Yep, I have asked myself the same questions as I considered what I could do to help my child become a more well rounded, self confident, positive contributing member of society. And, whether you or your child have physical, emotional, or mental disabilities, all can feel the discomfort associated with self doubt and putting one’s self or someone you love in harms way. The disability is hard enough to contend with, adding the stress of how others react to it can also, at times, do its own damage.

I know for me, my son’s own struggles were more clearly evident in social settings. I was looking for an activity that would force him have to interact with peers as well as something that might assist with helping him to learn more focus because he also struggled with ADHD. As I did more research, I found that while there were many wonderful activities available to youngsters and adults alike, Martial Arts seemed like the best fit by far for a number of poignant reasons.

Martial Arts Benefits for the Disabled… or anyone!

It’s a great way to get exercise!

To begin with the obvious, it was nice to know that getting my son involved in martial arts as a way to get some much needed exercise would help him with stamina, flexibility, and strength. What I didn’t anticipate but happily found was that he quickly became much more coordinated. For those people that are dealing with a physical disability, the physical therapy they often undergo to increase strength and flexibility in their limbs is mimicked in some ways with the strict stretching regimen most martial arts schools have their students perform before starting class as well as the repetitive kicking, punching, holding, and blocking techniques they are required to learn in getting a base set of skills to learn how to properly defend themselves. These movements, over time, promote increased strength and coordination.

Need a Dose of Self Confidence Anyone?

Another wonderful benefit of martial arts is that in virtually every discipline offered, masters and instructors core curriculum includes exercises and teaching that helps to build leadership skills and self confidence. Students are learning in a praise rich environment where student and instructor are often being asked to look for the positive each effort given, whether correction is given or not. As kids begin to recognize that there are many things do well and see themselves progress, parents and peers often remark at how an inner self confidence begins to emerge evidenced by their child becoming more social in situations where they were often very shy and eluding to more friendships developing in their social circles.

The value of learning how to focus!

Having two children that struggle with ADHD and having endured it myself all these years, I can honestly say that finding anything non pharmaceutical that aids in helping a person to better focus on achieving goals and getting through tasks is a valuable tool indeed!

What does R-E-S-P-E-C-T mean?

To those in the martial arts, respect means a lot of things. It means showing instructors and elders a sense of appreciation for their efforts to teach. It also means showing their fellow students and competitors recognition for their effort and achievement. Students are often taught many ways to show respect to others in life in how they carry themselves. In martial arts class, students learn how being quiet and waiting patiently for another to finish speaking is a way of showing leadership and respect. Among other things, they are taught that always trying their hardest is also a way of showing themselves and their instructors respect. Making sure raise your hand before asking a question, saying thank you sir or ma’am to your instructor, parent, or other adult as a way of addressing them and showing appreciation is a way of displaying respect.  You will be surprised at how much more polite your child might become once enrolled in a karate class.

Yes, but how will they be able to do this with my kid since he/she is different?

One of the things that makes martial arts training more unique, as an activity to consider, than some others might be, and more effective as a result, is that many martial arts organizations have recognized the benefits of training for all and especially for those with disabilities. Because of this, there are a number of organizations that have offered instructors of their discipline specialized training in how to teach people with specific types of disabilities, whether they be cognitive or physical. There are often different techniques used to teach someone with impaired mobility, or lower cognitive function and certainly different techniques used to teach people with short attention spans. Such instructors have been trained in proven techniques that have helped their students reach into potential they didn’t even realize they had. You can learn more about some of these techniques at Martial Arts Training for the Disabled and Adaptive Martial Arts.

How will I know it is working?

Most students and parents of students note marked differences in themselves or their children shortly after martial arts training begins. Beyond the obvious increase in stamina, flexibility, and strength experienced, people have best described the personality changes noticed as a “coming out of ones shell”. I the case of my son, he stepped into an entire class of “misfit toys” and fit right in. Most of the children in his beginning karate class were a little quirky in their own way. They all observed the constant and continuous praise each student was receiving and were part of the celebration and clapping at the progress made by each. They were all trained at the same time on the many ways to show their fellow students and instructors respect. And they seemed to become closer for it with each passing class. As my son made many friends in his karate class and was forced into more and more interactions that required he communicate and do so in somewhat controlled conditions, he began to get better at it and find that his presence was enjoyed by his peer group. Once this happened it began to happen for him in his school setting as well. And I, well I just smiled a lot more at seeing my son actually had made some new friends that enjoyed spending time with him. Many parents have trouble relating to how much of an achievement that might be, but to me, and to my son, it was absolutely priceless.

How do I get myself or child enrolled in one of these martial arts schools?

Well you need to first find a school near you that offers the sort of martial arts you think would be best for you or your child. You can learn more about different types of martial arts disciplines here. You also will want to contact the school to make sure they have specialized training in teaching students with the specific sort of disability you or your child have. There are many good questions to ask that will help you know that the school you are considering might be a good fit for you. You can learn more about the best questions to ask and what to look for in a good martial arts school, please visit Find the Right Martial Arts School for You. And finally, to begin searching for a martial arts school near you please visit Find A School and begin your wonderful journey today.

Written by Mara Rudolph Fineshriber

Mother of  a 10 year old first degree black belt in Taekwondo

Martial Arts Basics

A lot of the martial arts seen in popular movies and TV shows are over-dramatized actions and events. For instance, those just beginning a martial arts class sometimes believe they will eventually learn to leap over multiple cars, taking out attackers in midair before they eventually hit the ground. While some of these moves are actually possible, the larger portion is both flowery and ineffective. Martial arts build on basic techniques; repetition, forms, and sparring or fighting culminate to allow the more advanced techniques.

The abilities used in martial arts can be categorized into the following groups: blocks, footwork and stances, strikes, throws, submissions, and takedowns. When first beginning their training, students will learn about these techniques and how they can be used to accomplish various end results.

For instance, many times blocks are thought to only be accomplished through use of one’s arms. However, other limbs may be used for the same purpose, such as the legs, or even certain parts of the arms or legs. Depending on the martial art being used, these blocks will be called different names. However, they can be loosely defined as inside blocks, low blocks, outside blocks, high locks, and parries. More complex versions would be those such as X block, twin forearm guarding block, hooking block, etc.

Footwork and stances are extremely important in all martial arts forms, both traditional and sport. By positioning feet and the body certain ways when attacking, defending, advancing, or retreating, an individual may gain an advantage over an opponent. Most martial artists need to work on their positioning for years before it becomes second nature during sparring or fights. Stances may be known as high or low, open or closed, long or short, or weighted or unweighted, depending on foot positioning and bodyweight.

There are a great number of punches and strikes that are used in all forms of martial arts. Some are used in many types, while others are unique to only one form. Strikes and punches are used for different purposes; some are used for speed, while others are used for power, and still others are used to target certain places, such as a narrow area. Training equipment and practice is the way to improve and increase punching and striking effectiveness, power, and precision.

A throw is a grappling move that results in one individual off balancing or lifting an opponent, and throwing them on the ground. Among the Asian martial arts, judo has been recognized for its throwing techniques. In using judo as an example, there are six different types of techniques- shoulder, hand, hip, leg, and rear and side sacrifice throws. Throws can also either disengage the thrower from the opponent, or follow into a top position, which does not disengage. Throws and takedowns are similar, but takedowns usually involve forward motion and a certain target of advancement.

Submissions are used for control, and letting an opponent know that they must submit or risk an injury. In competitions, a particularly successful submission hold will result in an opponent tapping out, or indicating that they give up. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one style of fighting that particularly stresses the use of submissions.

Karate Belt Color Meanings

In karate, there exists a ranking system that was first established by Dr. Jigoro Kano, the “Founder of Modern Judo” in the late 1800s. Dr. Kano created the colored belt system to be a physical display of a student’s progress. This system was adopted by Gichin Funakoshi, an Okinawan founder of Shotokan Karate who was also known as the “Founder of Modern Karate.” The accepted color belts were six kyu (color-belt) consisting of three white and three brown, and ten dan (black belt) grades. Furthering the integration of the color belt rank system, the “Founder of Modern Taekwondo” and a student of Gichin Funakoshi, Byung Jick Ro earned his black belt in 1939, establishing the color belt ranking system in Modern Taekwondo.

While a meeting was held in 1938 to standardize belt ranking by the Buroku-kai, which oversaw ranks and standards for kendo and judo, World War II disrupted both Japanese and Okinawan martial arts. However, the belt ranking system became widely accepted after the war, which eventually led to more structured color belt-levels.
Before this organized system, there were other events:

In the 1950s, rank certification was awarded by certain officers from the Goju-kai, Shito-kai, Chito-kai, Shotokai, and Japan Karate Association dojos.

In 1952, the International Martial Arts Federation established a system of ten black belt levels plus titles such as kyoshi, hanshi, and renshi for judo, kendo, and karatedo.

The Okinawa Karate Federation as formed in 1956, which granted a more formal arrangement than the previously used white belts for students and black belts for teachers.

The Federation of All-Japan Karatedo Organizations (FAJKO) was created in 1964, which unified all existing styles of karate. They put forth six color-belt levels, which are more or less the criteria and standards that are used today.

The current colors are white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red, and black. On the World Martial Arts Center website, the meanings of each belt are given.
White: signifies a beginning, or birth of a seed. The white belt stands as a symbol of a seed lying beneath the snow in the winter.

 

Yellow

Signifies the first beams of sunlight that shine upon the aforementioned seed. This belt or sash symbolizes a student’s first ray of knowledge.

 

Orange

This belt is the growing power of the sun preparing the Earth’s ground for spring and new life. An orange sash/belt is the student’s mind opening and developing.

 

Green

This is the seed sprouting from the Earth and reaching towards the sun. It is known that students who hold this belt are refining and strengthening their techniques.

 

Blue

The blue belt/sash is representative of the blue sky the plant is growing towards.

 

Purple

This color is the changing sky of dawn, and the beginning of a student transitioning to an advanced student. Those who have earned a purple belt have begun to understand the meaning of a black belt.

 

Brown

This is a seed maturing and ripening for the harvest.

 

Red

The heat of the sun continues to strengthen the plant, as the plant continues to reach for the sun. A student with a red belt has acquired more detailed knowledge, and is more aware of his physical abilities.

 

Black

Black is the darkness beyond the sun. However, this person understands how to plant new seeds and help them to grow and mature. This student may have his or her own students who form roots in response to a black belt’s profound knowledge in the Art.

Martial Arts Weapons

KatanaTraditionally, karate means “empty hand,” so weapons shouldn’t have to be utilized in order for this type of martial arts. However, weapons can provide enhanced coordination, greater strength, and advance your empty-hand fighting style.

Most of you have probably watched a martial arts movie at some point, and been amazed by the different tools these artists use during combat. These weapons can be classified by either the type of weapon or the martial arts school that is utilizing the weapon. There are also both melee and ranged weapons. How many of these do you know?

One of the most recognizable weapons is the nunchaku, or nunchucks. This is a flail weapon of two equal sections that are held together by a pliable material in the middle. Originally, the material connecting these sections was horsehair, but today chains are more commonly used, as nunchucks are popular for demonstration purposes.
Another weapon that is popular for demonstrations is the katana. This is a traditional Japanese sword that was widely used and favored by samurai warriors. When it was first developed, the katana was used in competition and in ritual deaths, and usually employed on foot or horseback as a thrusting weapon.

The Bo staff may also be familiar to those who use non-lethal alternative weapons. This is a hard wooden staff approximately 6 feet in length, and is used in Aikido, Bojutsu, and Kung Fu, among a few other types. The use of a Bo staff is meant to be an extension of the user’s hand, and is may be useful in developing empty-hand fighting techniques, such as in karate.

ShirkunProjectile weapons are also used in martial arts. While most people are more familiar with ninja stars seen in films, there are many other different types of throwing/projectile weapons such as flying locust stones, darts, double-flying claws, flying weights, meteor balls, rope darts, throwing axes, and wolf-teeth hammers, among others.

The sai will be easily recognizable for those who have watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as Raphael uses sais as his weapon of choice. For those who have not seen the weapon, it is a three-pronged instrument with a handle at the base. The prongs on either side are shorter than the longer baton in the middle. Both prongs and the baton typically point upwards, although the prongs may have one pointing up and one pointing down, as in a Manji design. These weapons are typically used in pairs, and training involves learning to strike, parry, and block at all height levels and directions.

Preparing for Tournaments

Sparring ImageAs martial arts grows in popularity, so do the number of tournaments and competitions to prove martial arts skill. While competitions for children are few in number, mixed martial arts tournaments for teens and adults are easier to find. If you’re interested in participating in a martial arts competition, here are some topics you may want to consider.

How much have you been training? Practicing martial arts for two weeks, then entering in a tournament may not be the best idea. You may want to train at least twice a week for an extended period of time before you feel you have achieved the skills required when facing a competitor. Many dojos have competitive teams; this may be worth looking into. These teams will usually conduct practices specifically for tournaments.

Just as there are tons of schools and instructors to choose from, there are also many different types of tournaments. While some tournaments are open to multiple forms of martial arts, some are open to only specific types. There may also be multiple divisions, or tournaments directed towards those who like to spar or grapple. In addition, you may want to check out the size of the tournament, as well as their rules. Smaller tournaments may be a better fit for those just beginning to enter competitions.

Today, the most popular events in competitions are forms/kata, weapons, and sparring. While these appeal to a large population, you may not have trained in these areas. Make sure you’re signing up for events you have practiced!

Finally, when you have selected a tournament, there are a few additional items to consider. You must know what time the tournament starts, and when your events will be held. If you aren’t there, you will not be able to compete. Arriving ahead of time and giving yourself time to prepare is a very good idea. Some tournaments will allow you to pre-register, which may also award you a discount. If you aren’t allowed to pre-register, allow time to register at the tournament location before your events begin. The larger tournaments assign a greater amount of responsibility to each individual, such as assigning them a ring, then leaving it up to the competitor to find their ring assignment on a chart.

No matter the size of your tournament, or the event you are participating in, remember to breathe! Clear your mind and focus your thoughts; being nervous or tense may impede your performance.