'A path to greatness'

HS journalism: Author sees benefits from martial arts

Tae Kwon Do students go through their forms in this file photo. (The Gazette).
Tae Kwon Do students go through their forms in this file photo. (The Gazette).

WASHINGTON, Iowa — Martial arts are a pair of words that mean many different things to different people.

Some view it as a weakness. Some view it as another way to get stronger.

I see it as a path to greatness.

Martial arts is not an easy thing to do. It requires dedication to go to practices year-round and to practice outside of class. You need to be willing to put forth your best, or not do it at all, and to persevere through everything that you have to learn, and do.

The benefits, however, far out way’s the negatives. With martial arts in your life, you gain many things. You gain the respect of others and the ability to respect those who deserve it. You gain strength, speed and endurance and will have better health all-around.

Most importantly, you gain confidence in knowing that you can protect yourself and have the ability to defend others, regardless of what some say. Just look at Chuck Norris. He’s 74 ands could probably still win in a fight.

As someone who has done Tae Kwon Do for more than seven years, I know what it means to be a martial artist. I have had a practice every Tuesday and Thursday, every week, year-round.

Mastering a martial art takes time. You must practice the moves constantly. Weight training also helps build power. Martial arts help tone your body and gain speed. You also increase your reflexes.

Martial arts are very challenging in the fact that, unlike football or baseball, you go all out for a short time, trying to beat your opponent, which, when done correctly, can leave you completely exhausted. It is considered one of the most challenging areas of sports.

One major misconception about martial arts are it is for the weak. This could not be farther from the truth. The average martial artist will almost always win in their respective field. And for those who say it’s for wimps, did you know wrestling is a martial art? It is one of the oldest types of hand-to hand combat. And UFC, which is watched by millions every day, is mixed martial arts.

There are seven different types of martial arts in the Olympics right now — boxing, fencing, freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, judo and Tae Kwon Do. There also are many martial arts that use weapons, like bow staffs, nun-chucks, swords, knives, throwing knives, batons, ton Fas, Kamas and shurikens.

There are also hundreds of types of martial arts. For every one that is commonly known, there are dozens of variations. Some of the most famous types are karate, kung fu, wrestling, boxing, judo and Tae Kwon Do. These each come from different areas. For example, kung fu comes from China, Tae kwon Do comes from Korea and wrestling comes from Greece and the surrounding areas.

Different martial arts have different styles. Judo and wrestling, for example, are mostly based on grappling and holds. Kickboxing uses legs and mainly kicks. Boxing uses mostly punches. There are even some, like kendo or fencing, that are based on swords. Most, however, like Tae Kwon Do and karate, are a combination of hand and foot techniques. Tae Kwon Do do literally means the “way of the hand or fist.”

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