What are Striking Martial Arts?
Generally speaking, striking martial arts refers to upright fighting; or fighting from an upright posture. But strikes can also take place on the ground.
While most striking martial arts make use of hands/fists and feet to strike, kick and block, some striking arts also make prodigious use of elbows and knees.
Why Striking Arts?
Striking from an upright position has many advantages. For example, attacking from a distance while avoiding harm; fending off more than one attack at a time and dispatching an attacker/opponent with a single well placed blow. Although the results may be similar, methods and styles vary widely.
Types of Striking Arts
There are literally hundreds of striking styles and techniques. In fact, some form of striking art can be found in just about every culture and civilization. That said, some of the more popular styles include:
• Kung Fu
• Muay Thai
Boxing – A popular western combat sport that involves fist fighting: Its origins can be traced back to ancient Sumeria, Egypt and Rome. Notable boxers include Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Lewis and Rocky Marciano among others.
Karate – A Japanese striking art that primarily uses punches, kicks, blocks and open-handed blows. Notable Karateka include Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Wesley Snipes and more recently, the UFCs Lyoto Machida to name a few.
Kung Fu – A Chinese striking art consisting of many different styles, too many to list. Notable practitioners include Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
Muay Thai – The national sport of Thailand, Muay Thai is a striking art widely practiced in Thailand, Southeast Asian countries and gaining in popularity throughout North America. Strikes are carried out using hands, feet, shins, elbows and knees both from a distance and in the clinch. Modern Muay Thai practitioners include the UFCs Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva and Kenny Florian to name a few.
Taekwondo – The only striking martial art in the Olympics, Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea and the most popular martial art in the world in terms of the number of participants. Taekwondo emphasizes kicks, taking advantage of the leg’s power and reach advantage.
What’s the Best Striking Art?
The answer to this question could be debated ad infinitum among martial artists and non-martial artists. It would be akin to asking someone to name the best car when, in reality, some are built for speed, some for sport, some for economy and others for utility. It really depends on what you need.
The better question is this: “What’s the best striking art for me?” And, like choosing the right vehicle, the answer depends on your needs and goal(s). For example, do you want to learn how to strike as a form of Self-Defense, Recreation or Competition?
Other considerations would and should include your age, physical condition and level of commitment. So, without going into too much detail, here is a summary of what you can expect from some of the aforementioned striking arts.
For Street Fighting and MMA, consider Boxing and Muay Thai. Whereas both arts teach students how to strike with fists from a distance and up close, Muay Thai also teaches how to strike from both positions using a variety of other body parts. Training for both Boxing and Muay Thai is physical, full contact sparring that teaches students how to deliver and absorb punishment. The striking choices of most mixed martial artists, Boxing and Muay Thai can be vicious and unforgiving. It would be best to have a good level of fitness prior to taking up either art.
For Competition, Recreation and Self-Defense, consider Karate, Kung Fu and/or Taekwondo; all striking arts that teach self-defense, improve overall fitness and have both ‘sporting’ and ‘traditional’ streams that offer something for most everyone. Some streams, especially Karate and Taekwondo, are heavily influenced by competition. In fact, Taekwondo has been an Olympic sport since 2000. As well, Karate and Taekwondo are often referred to as ‘hard’ styles, with linear striking paths. Although there are many styles of Kung Fu, generally speaking, it is often referred to as a ‘soft’ style, employing more circular paths and flowing movements.
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