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"In Depth Martial Art Aspects"

"In Depth Martial Art Aspects"

Martial art is not simply just a "system of fighting techniques", but in itself encompasses a much deeper inner aspects also. It is the stretching of one's physical as well as mental, spiritual, and other inner abilities to new heights, levels to which one would think were impossible to attain.

It is a way of life which opens you up to the universal energy pool. It is a state of mind, you train and don't have to use it & if you do, your movement is so dynamic that the opponent backs off without any harm. It is a tool to express the human soul, a path towards utmost spiritual height. It is a vehicle for 'self ' revelation coupled with a simultaneous deepening insight into human nature & its corresponding relationship, realized through the intense investigation into the motivating & governing values and standards of relationships ( morality, ethics ,etc ), & subsequent actualized into one's daily life (peace, harmony, etc ). It serves the purpose of ever-growing & continuing revelation of one's self, as well as insight into human nature & relationship in which one finds oneself.

That's why Bruce Lee said: "It's like finger pointing away to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger or you'll miss all the heavenly glory."

There are so many different styles and concepts of martial art. Jujitsu, Judo, Aikido, some form of Kung-fu, Muk-na, Kusti mainly emphasize on grapping styles. Taekwon-do, Karate, some forms of Kung-fu use mainly striking styles. Most are also combination of two (Thang Ta, MMA etc).

Some of the Indian styles are: Thang-ta /Sharit-sharak, Mukna ( Manipur ); Kalarippayattu (Kerela); Kusti; Silambam (Tamil); Gatka (Sikhs) etc. Japanese styles include: Karate (Okinawan), Kendo, Jujitsu, Judo, Sumo, Iai-do, Ninjutsu, Kobujutsu, Shinkendo, Aikido etc. Chinese: Kung-fu / Wushu, Tai-chi-chuan, Jeet-kune-do(USA) etc. Korean: Taekwondo, Hapkido, Tang-soo-do, Kuk-sool-won etc. French: Savate. Polynesian: Lima-lama. Filipino: Eskrima /Kali/ Arnis/ Panantukan etc. Brazil: Copoiera, Jiu jitsu (Gracie family – from Japanese jujitsu) etc. Thailand: Muay-thi, Krabi-krabong etc. Burma: Bando, Lethwei etc. Greece: Pankration. Isreal: Krav maga. Russia: Sambo. Malaysia: Silat etc. All of these arts are intermingled with the culture of their people.

The origin of most martial arts is still not known exactly. Most styles of China trace their origin to ancient monastery or to Shaolin priest/nun or some Buddhist monks. Some were based on the synthesis of various masters' teachings. Others were derived from combative movements of insects, animals, and by close observation of nature. Other styles were the product of martial need and experience of ancient warrior people/class like- Samurai of Japan (Jujitsu, Iaido etc) or Ninja (Taijutsu, Ninjutsu etc) or as a result of frequent violence, wars etc, or the utmost desire to remain independent in the world of violence & vandalism- Thang Ta or Huyen Langlon/lallong, the ancient martial art of Meetei people of Kangleipak, present day Manipur, a northeast state of India.

while some were developed circling around health, meditation (Choi-kwang-do, Qigong, tai chi to some extend), and sometimes, dance principles (like Copoiera of Brazil, which was developed by the slaves to hide actual martial art moves whose practice was banned).

Some of the styles were developed from older ones with considerable modification, like Judo (a sport art) by Dr.Jigoro Kano from much older Jujitsu (a killing art), modifying the devastating movements into less violent & more practicable form. Others are just mixtures like MMA (Mixed Martial Art) of USA. Jeet-Kune-Do is the martial art concepts created by the martial art legend Bruce Lee, as he believed that traditional martial art forms are too confined, predictable or out of date, & must transformed.


Some Greek martial artists believe that Alexander, the great & his army who were experts of Pankration, took it to India, from where Buddhist monks took its modified form to China, Japan, Thailand, Korea etc giving birth to Kung fu/Wushu, Karate/Jujitsu, Taekwondo/Kuk sool won, Muay thai/Krabi krabong etc, respectively (but the point to be noted is that long before this, martial art was already in a much more developed form in ancient India, also the form of the martial art which Bodhidharma took was not most probably from or near the areas which was invaded by Alexander).

While in India, it's believed that a south Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, took Kalarippayattu or similar art form of ancient india (Kalarippayattu, according to legend, Hindu warrior saint Parshurama created to protect Kerela, which was formed out of sea by his purshu/axe) & Yoga to China & others orient countries giving rise to different martial art forms we know today.


Much is said about the role of Buddhist monks & nuns in the history of orient martial arts. Buddhism is one the quietest religion in the world & is known for non-violence. So, how non-violent monks became involved in fighting & killing art, nobody knows exactly. Some opine, in the ancient times, the monks lived in monasteries usually located in dense forested areas, & travelled long distances on foot between temples & monasteries to preach or to collect alms, & were  thus very vulnerable to attack by wild animals, thieves, robbers or armed invaders etc.

They had to defend themselves, which led to developing & practicing martial art both empty handed, by close observing nature, & using ‘weapons', which were usually ordinary wooden day to day useful implements, for self defense, health-fitness & internal development. The Shaolin monks & nuns developed Shaolin Kung fu; Ng Mui, an aging shaolin nun, developed Wing Tsun style to cope with/overcome Shaolin Kung fu; Southern Dragon style was developed in the Wah So Toi Buddhist Temple on Lau Fou Shen Mountain, China & was brought into secular society by a monk named Tai Yut. The credit for the development of White Crane style goes to a Tibetan Buddhist monk during Ming dynasty, & so on..


As the common people took care of the materialistic need of the monks, they had to fulfill the spiritual need of them & their society, helping those who need them, & giving them peace. At that time, common people usually were tortured, raped, killed or crushed at the hand of cruel rulers or invading force. The monks no longer could stay & sit indifferent in their monasteries, they had to step outside to fight & put an end to the evil.

The famous example is the Shaolin temple which was considered a staging ground for revolutionaries during the anti-Manchurian rebellions. Also when Japan invaded Korea in 1592, a Buddhist monk named Sosan Taesa (Taesa : great monk) organized & trained a militia of over 5000 armed Buddhist monks, which under the brave leadership of Samyong Taesa, another monk, helped defeat the Japanese. The then Korean government proclaimed all the Buddhist monks as "protector of the nation", giving them exclusive privilege to practice martial art (Bulkyo mu sool) which became one of the three roots of Korean martial arts (other two were: Sado mu sool, tribal martial arts; Koong joong mu sool, palace martial arts) & contribute to the origin of present Korean martial art Kuk sool won & Taekwon-do etc.

Even today, the world is witnessing many non-violent Buddhist uprisings for the rights of their people- Tibetan monks & nuns under the leadership of Dalai Lama for the freedom & independence of Tibet, Myanmar monks protesting against dictatorship of Jungta etc. Some people defame them by addressing as ‘violent monks' or ‘monks with guns'.

Whatever be the name given to them or dangers lie ahead, it's cleared now that they will no longer sit and stay inert inside the monasteries, they know praying only & doing nothing is just as evil, and they are closer to ‘Buddha hood' than any inside those four walls of monasteries who refuse to venture outside to help. Bruce lee once said "Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do."


Like Buddhism, Sanamahism, indigenous religion of kangleipak (present day Manipur) has an intimate relationship with Thang-ta, Sarit-sarak& Mukna, martial art of Manipur; Hinduism with Yoga & Kalarippayattu etc.


Whatever be the style, physically, martial art emphasizes on strength, power, speed, balance, flexibility, stretching, reflexes, reaction & response time; along with exercise, yoga, and physical conditioning. Sensitivity, timing, techniques, sparring skills, in addition to developing tone, endurance and stamina, are also important.

A typical complete martial art physical training include: stances, body motion & movements; striking; feinting; blocking & parry; target practice; take downs, sweeps & throws; trapping & grabbing; joint & other locks; chokes; weapons which are considered as an extension of body part, & are mostly traditional; forms/ katas(karate); Kumite(karat) or sparring; breaking & body conditioning; self defense; exercises, regular practice, proper rest & diet etc.


Mental aspect is equally significant with focusing, concentration, alertness with calmness & stillness; along with breathing exercises. It is said "to hit with your mind, not with your fist." Martial art develops first the health, balancing, strength, purity, & physical stamina needed to unify mind and body. Mental & physical unity then leads to a harmonious balance between power & peace. It teaches us how to live & how to die. It also teaches loyalty, hard work, respect, discipline, self sacrifice, and helps to develop all around maturity and self control.

Meditation, another important part, not only physically relaxes the muscles and releases any energy blockage; but also gives mental relaxation & enhances body "ki/chi" power. When meditating, the mind should be trained not to grasp thoughts as they move through. Unlike meditation, concentration is the training requiring thoughts & is used to direct "Ki" into whatever part of your body needs to use it.

"Ki/Chi" is the mysterious, intrinsic, electrical life force/energy flow, powering the body, keeping it alive and healthy. In Sanskrit, it is called "Prana"; in Greek, "Pneuma"; in Polynesian, "Mana"; in Hebrew, "Ruah", which means "breathe of life". By improving the flow of Ki, it is possible to heal many illnesses & injuries. Distrupting the flow of this energy causes injuries/death. In so called "miraculous healing", the healer projects Ki to the patient, thereby, healing the patient.


Martial artist try to accumulate maximum amount of Ki, and use it whenever speed, power & other extraordinary things need to be done. "Yin-chi"(-ve ions/force of gravity) will draw an object towards you, and is found in abundance in weak, old or unhealthy persons. "Yang-chi"(+ve ions/force of anti-gravity) pushes objects away, and it is the ion-shield that protects our body and powers our strikes in battle. It is found more in healthy, young persons. Balance between Yang & Yin-chi is necessary.

Chi/Ki masters can manipulate Chi/Ki of themselves or others, & even transfer, to do extraordinary abilities- breaking super hard objects, Dim Mak (delayed death touch), Naibu-Hakai (lethal blow), extra hardening body parts, moving/even burning objects by touch/thought, paralysing opponents by pressing certain points, erasure of pain with simple touch, healing/curing etc. Karumijutsu (the body lightening art) is a method of mentally focusing a person's Ki to any area, & by raising the center of their Ki, they can make their body light; when lowers, the body becomes heavy. Basically, there are 3 major sources of Prana: Solar Prana, Air Prana, and Ground Prana. Nature is the ultimate storage of Prana/Ki, & close to it, we can gain from it. Martial art movements, meditation, breathing exercise etc are some of the ways to unlock nature's unlimited storage of Ki.


Breathing exercises also play an important role in martial art. Shift in dominance of right & left nasal passage are linked with chemical changes in the body. Breathing in & out of only one nostril can stimulate activity of the opposite brain hemisphere. Qi-gong & Yoga (specially Hatha-Yoga,& Pranayama) lay focus on breathing exercises.


Martial art has also an intimate relationship with medicine, herbal science, physiotherapic practices and nutrition. Kalarippayattu gurus are well-versed in the practice of massage & Ayurvedic medicine; so are Thang-ta gurus/Ojhas. Ginseng or man-root (an oriental herb) is used as a Chi tonic. Red ginseng supplements a man's Yang energy, while white ginseng, Yin energy. The oriental martial art masters utilize their Ki knowledge for Shinjutsu (acupuncture), and Seiho (a combination of finger pressure & massage). In traditional Kung-fu training, eating etiquette is also another important aspect considered. The Sumo fighters are fed with specially prepared meals. It is said that 'chop stick' is the favorite weapon of a Kung-fu master.


Martial art has profound health enhancing effects. The coordinated movements of the art activate both cerebral hemispheres, creating new nerve-nets, which are essence of learning process, and also the complexity of such movements demand instance central nervous system mobilization along with other systems. Also there occurs the production of neurotrophins, enhancing the growth of nerve cells.

Activities of muscles & joints help blood and lymphatic circulation, and reduce ecchymosis. Regular cardiovascular exercises regulate blood pressure & cholesterol. Control of weight reduces the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc; whereas weight bearing exercises reduce the risk of osteoporosis & fractures. Breathing exercises are beneficial in preserving lung elasticity, preventing hardening of the rib cartilages & enhancing lung ventilation capacity. It reduces the effect of ageing on the heart, muscles, joints & even brain; and reduces the effects of injuries to muscles, tendons & joints from daily wear and tear. Stretching exercises increase the elastic capacity of muscles and increase the flexibility of ligaments & tendons.

Exercises in aged arteriosclerosed patients increase the albumin content, decrease globulin & cholesterol content in their blood, and greatly alleviate the symptoms of arterosclerosis. Exercises prevent and even cure illnesses of digestive systems in motion, secretion & assimilation which arise from nervous functional disorders. It is also greatly helpful in preventing and treating mental disorders and illnesses. It improves mood, & the 'feel good factor' boosts the immune system, & the calming effect on stress due to release of endorphins.


Self-defense is another important aspect taught in all styles. The ability to survive is the most valuable thing we get from it. Martial art makes you aware not only of techniques, but options as well. Options result consequences. Also martial art is a great confident booster, & helps in conquering as well as controlling any & all fears created by the world around us, or by our own minds, with the power of the mind itself.

Martial artist know certain vital, target points in the body, which are the most vulnerable to hit. This knowledge is specially helpful in self-defense by women or children etc against a stronger, longer, & faster attackers. Such points are called "Atemi"(in Jujutsu), or "Kyusho"(in Karate), and they are: Eyes, Throat, Mastoid process, Solar plexus, Ribs, Edge of rib, Groin, Knee, Shin, Ankle etc.


Sports & Competitions are integral part of martial art. In ancient Greece, Roman enjoyed while the Gladiators fought to death. Pankration fighters showed their skills in ancient Olympic. The Chinese rulers used to recruit new soldiers through martial art competition. Indian kings organized Swayumbar, which were also usually martial art competition to select appropriate bridegrooms for their daughters.

Today, almost every martial art form has its apex body which organizes competitions at various levels. Taekwondo, Judo, Fencing, western Boxing, & Wrestling are martial art forms included in Olympic at present. Indian Olympic Association, in addition to the above forms, also approved Karate-do & Wushu, & given recognization to Thang Ta, Muay thai  etc.

It seems, a new sport form is born out of original martial art form. However many traditional martial artists believe this sport form is threatening the very originality of the art, as it emphasizes only on point scoring, & limit the art with new rules, thereby neglecting many techniques & concepts which are now considered illegal or fault or useless.


Today martial art is an essential part of police, commandos, bodyguard & military training. This is also due to the increasing importance of human rights & avoidance of direct fatal/lethal action. Martial art not only keeps them fit & ready for any situation, but also makes their bodies a feared human weapons. Some of the best examples are American force using MCMA(Marine Corps Martial Art) & MMA; Israelites, Krav maga; Greek, Pankration; Thais, Muay thai; Russian, Sambo; Japanese, Jujitsu & karate; French, Savate etc


Hence, martial art is about acquiring knowledge concerning the world around us & most importantly, ourselves; i,e; knowledge in martial art ultimately means self-knowledge with spiritual insight & training. It is a prescription for personal growth, an investigation of freedom to act naturally & effectively, not only in combat, but in life also. It means "to absorb what is useful, to reject what is useless & to add specifically what is your own." It leads the practitioners to individual independence, life long health, a warm heart justice, freedom, opportunity, prosperity, security and wealth.

In other words, it develops an individual's character by eliminating physical violence and evil thoughts. Such a character inspires cooperation among people, which ensures harmony at home; a sound, stable society; & a strong nation- all in the interest of achieving sublime world peace.

"Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation"
- Bruce Lee

Compiled & written by:

Dr.HanjabamCha Barun

MBBS,DSM(sports medicine) std.,

NS NIS,Patiala,Punjab,India,

Martial artist & Thang Ta practitioner.

Chief Instructor & founder,C.G.Thang Ta Association,Raipur,C.G.,India.


About the Author

Dr.HanjabamCha Barun

MBBS,DSM(sports medicine)std.,

NS NIS, Patiala, Punjab, India,

Thang Ta practitioner & Martial Artist


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Frequently Asked Questions...

Best arts for dealing with weapons?

Just wanted to know, what art do you think would be best for dealing with weapons? Arnis/ Kali/ Eskrima , Kenpo, Goshin Jujitsu, Krav Maga, military Sanshou, Sambo, etc.

Rank them in order of effectiveness if you can.

Thank you in advanced.
After reading the first answer, I guess I didn't elucidate. I don't want advice for using weapons, I wanted opinions on situations with other people using them.


I don't have a specific order, but I know for sure that any of these would teach weapon dis-arming techniques, and excellent over-all self defense.
Krav Maga, Aikido, Hapkido, Ninjutsu, Jui Juitsu, Judo