Introduction to Martial Arts


What is martial arts?

Martial arts are various sports, which originated mainly from Japan, Korea and China as forms of self-defence, attack, competition, health and fitness, entertainment as well spiritual and mental development. Examples include Judo, Karate and Kendo.

Unarmed martial arts can be grouped into focusing on strikes, grappling and hybrid martial arts covering both fields.

Some example includes


  • Punching: Boxing
  • Kicking: Taekwondo
  • Other: Karate, Muay Thai


  • Throwing: Judo, Sumo, Wrestling
  • Joint lock/chokeholds/submission holds: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Pinning techniques: Judo, Wrestling

Benefits of martial arts

Benefits of martial arts include improvements in physical, emotional and spiritual health.  Improvements to strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination. Improvements to self-esteem, self-control, emotional and spiritual well being.


Incorporates elements of karate and Chinese martial arts along with Korean fighting styles taekkkyeon, gwonbeop and subak . 

Taekwono is known for its high, jumping spinning kicks and fast kicking techniques. To allow for these kicking styles a narrower stance than Karate is adopted. The emphasis is on speed and agility.

Sparring is a full contact sport, which takes place between two competitors in an 8 meters square. The aim is to outscore or knockout your opponent

The place where instruction is given is called dojang. The grandmaster of the dojang is called the gwanjangnim, the master is called sabeomnim and the instructor is called gyosannim.


Karate is unarmed combat using hands and feet to deliver and block blows. Karate is predominantly striking art, using punching, kicking, and knee and elbow strikes. Open hand techniques such as spear, knife hand and palm heel strikes. Modern styles now incorporate grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints and vital point strikes.

Karate can be practiced as an art (budo), sport or self-defence. Karate training is divided into kihon (basics), Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring).

Karate has adopted the Dan ranking system from judo. Students are graded using colour belts.  Dan graded students ware black belts.  Students demonstrate techniques before a panel of examiners.

Karata students are referred to as karateka. Dan graded karateka are reffered to as udansha.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a full contact combat sport that uses stand up striking and clinching techniques. Known as “the art of eight limbs” with the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. The eight points mimic weapons of war. Hands become sword, shins and forearms act as armour, elbow is said to mimic mace or hammer, legs and knees become axe and staff, the body acts as one unit.


Judo is a combat sport. The object is to throw or take down your opponent. Immobilise or pin your opponent or force them to submit with a joint lock, choke or strikes. Judo students are known as judoka.

 Judo practitioners wear white uniforms called (keikogi).

Students progress through kyu grades towards dan grades. Beginners wear white belts then progress through rankings, which is displayed in the colour of their belts. Dan graded students wear black belts.

Mixed martial arts (MMA)

MMA is a full contact combat sport. It comprises of various different styles of martial arts including boxing, muay thai, Jiu jitsu, judo, wrestling, karate and Taekwondo. Using both striking and grappling techniques, standing and on the ground.

Like other martial arts, fighters are split into weight classes.

Rounds are 3 x 5 minutes in length.  Championship fights are 5 x 5 minutes.

Victory in gained by the judge’s decision after the allotted time has elapsed in the final round, or by stoppage by the referee. By way of example, one competitor can no longer defend himself, stopped due to injury by doctor, a submission or corner men throw towel in or by knockout. A submission is when an opponent (taps out) tap the opponent or mat or a verbal submission.

Rankings is according to performance and outcomes of fights and level of competition faced.

Fights take place in a ring or fenced area. The fenced area can be round or have at least 6 sides. This is known as “the octagon”

Who is martial arts for?

MMA was a primarily male dominated sport however, in recent times there has been a large growth in the number of woman who participates in the sport. As most fighters come from one or more background (specialise in one form of martial arts) and the risk of injury children tend to join a one form of martial arts prior to MMA.

Most forms of martial arts have a minimum age before starting. Some children start as young as 4-5 years of age. Most martial arts would recommend starting between the ages of 7-10 years of age. Check on the Check fit website for age restrictions.

Benefits of martial arts

Martial arts will get you more active; as they are all physically challenging, your physical fitness will improve greatly. Martial arts have many mental as well as physical benefits including focus and stillness, learning to fail, and dealing with disappointment. Students will gain self-confidence and self-respect Students will learn conflict resolution.


Students ware uniforms/Suits, Traditionally white in colour but sometimes black. Belt tied around the waist. Coloured are reserved for ceremonies, higher instructors and special teams. Belts differ in colour depending on the student’s rank. For sparring padding for hands and feet is worn along with protective head ware. Torso protectors. Shin and groin protection is also worn. Small open finger gloves are worn in MMA.


Costs vary from around £3 to £5 per session; students can train 3 to 5 times per week. Classes tend to be pre-book per month; monthly can be anything from £20 - £80 per month depending on the number of lessons. Private Sessions can range from £20 to £30 per hour. Grades and belts costs around £20 and grading occurs around 4 times per year.

Choosing the right club

When choosing your martial arts school, you need to find one that caters for your needs. Some schools focus on self-defence and competition others on personal development and character building. You need to know why you or your child want to start martial arts, self defence, fitness, competition, character building etc. Read reviews on Check Fit website from past and present students. Read reviews on instructors and enquire about their qualifications, read reviews on their teaching styles as they can vary greatly. Before joining, a school sit down with instructors and discuss your goals.