The term Martial Arts refers to the various fighting styles developed throughout the centuries. They were originally developed as means of warfare. The actual origin of martial arts depends on who you talk to. Some believe that they started as early as 2500 B.C., as evidenced by murals on stone walls depicting men engaged in grappling type battles. Other historians claim they began between 1,300 and 1,000 B.C. in China. Still some believe the origins trace back to Europe in 750 B.C. or Greece in 40 B.C. India is another possible birthplace around the first or second century B.C. then carried to China around 500 A.D.
If you're looking to improve your martial arts or just seeking to prevent martial arts injuries it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple stretches to your fitness program will also help. To get started on a safe and effective stretching routine that's just right for you, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility.
Although the date and location of origin is a matter of dispute, the reason for its beginning is clearly marked. Each area and time was marked by turmoil and wars. The different styles of martial arts have been defined by the time and type of wars being fought. As history and warfare progressed the styles changed and the weapons were altered.
There are many different types of martial arts. They fall into a few different categories. There are ground arts (such as wrestling, grappling, etc.), striking (such as kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, etc.), weapons styles (kendo, kobudo, etc.), lifestyle arts (such as ninjutsu, samurai, etc.), and those that combine multiple forms (such as Tang Soo Do, Jeet Kune Do, etc.) It is said that there are over 100 different martial arts.
Today, the different types of martial arts are used for self defense and, more commonly, for fitness. Many modern practitioners follow the philosophies to reach a harmony in their life and develop balance. The strength building and flexibility components make the martial arts great additions to a fitness program.
Martial arts require good balance, coordination and reaction time. Body and spatial awareness are a priority, as well. Cardiovascular endurance is essential, also. A strong musculoskeletal system is important for performing martial arts safely.
The various forms of martial arts involve the muscles and joints of the body in slightly different forms, but in the end they are all involved in each style. The lower body and core muscles are important for balance and forming a solid base when delivering a blow or countering an attack. The muscles of the upper body must be strong enough to move the torso and extremities with the force needed to block and deliver blows, while being flexible enough to move through a full range of motion.
The major muscles involved in the performance of martial arts moves include:
Keeping these muscles strong and flexible through a comprehensive training program will help the martial arts practitioner perform at optimal levels and protect the joints and muscles.
Most Common Martial Arts Injuries
Martial artists, like most participants in contact sports, are subjected to many external forces that can cause injury. Due to the repetitive movement involved in practicing many of the arts, overuse injuries may occur, as well.
Some of the more common injuries that affect martial arts practitioners are bruises, sprains, muscle strains, tendonitis, dislocations and traumatic brain injury.
The Top 3 Martial Arts Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective.
Stretching is essential in any athletic endeavor, but in martial arts it becomes vitally important because of the extreme range of motion required for many of the kicks. The explosive nature of martial arts also requires flexible muscles and joints.
Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for martial arts; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions beside each stretch.
|Standing High-leg Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a table. Keep your leg bent and lean your chest into your bent knee.|
|Sitting Single Leg Hamstring Stretch: Sit with one leg straight out in front and point your toes upwards. Bring your other foot towards your knee and reach towards your toes with both hands.|
|Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.|
While the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you'll get a lot more benefit when you include a wider variety of exercises. So to improve your athletic ability, reduce injuries and really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, grab a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM).
In total, they include 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. Plus, over 80 printable stretching routines for 22 sports and 19 different muscle groups.
The DVD also includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core, plus a bonus CD-ROM that allows you to print out over 80 stretching routines that you can take with you where ever you go.
The Handbook and DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself.