CAIRO: Martial arts date back more than 2000 years; pictures were painted on tombs, showing people fighting. Today, the different types of martial arts have evolved and developed into a form of fitness that is accessible for everyone and not only to hardcore enthusiasts.
Egypt has always promoted participation in the martial arts, including Karate, Judo and Tae Kwon Do. Now, many fitness clubs are taking this onboard and offering the traditional arts alongside the newer additions; kickboxing and boxing are also being considered as ways to fitness and weight loss.
Many of them focus on agility, pace and overall strength, while still retaining their individual qualities. Modern day Tae Kwon Do is said to combine various styles of martial arts that originated from Korea, with blocking and punching remaining a core focus alongside the powerful and impressive kicking techniques.
Karate, which has influences from both China and Japan, has rapid, linear movements. Its focus is self-defence, achieved through a demanding training schedule for the serious participant.
Kung Fu, with the help of Bruce Lee, was catapulted to the forefront in the 1970s. Its philosophy is that the more agile you are, the more power you can exude on your opponent.
What is fantastic about all of these art forms is that regardless of your age, you can benefit from the training and the discipline for developing your skills. There are a few things that you should look out for when choosing what type of class to attend. A good start is to talk to anyone you know who may already be studying one of these martial arts.
Go watch classes and notice the different styles; karate and judo are considered hard and powerful, looking more aggressive, while aikido is considered soft and gentle. You need to think if you want to learn how to fight, like in kickboxing, where students learn to spar and shadow box and in some cases even break wood. If you are looking for more artistic development, then sweeping kicks and stylised blocks are what you’re after.
Make sure that your teacher encourages a full warm-up, including stretches. This will help the body prepare for training, resulting in a more productive workout. When you stretch, concentrate fully on the muscle you are trying to strengthen. If the teacher does not see this as an integral part of the lesson, you may want to re-think your choice of instructor.
Most definitely you will become stronger, especially in the legs, with the force of the kicks. You will develop strength without bulk and this will help to shape and tone your limbs. If you are looking to lose weight, choosing a dynamic martial art can certainly help you, but you will need to ensure that you have a suitable nutrition programme to support your goals.
In our fast-paced world, it is very easy to forget about the spiritual side of these ancient disciplines. All martial arts hold strong traditional values concerning the relationship between master and student – irrespective of age. Students are taught to respect their teachers and listen to their advice. They are also encouraged to develop the philosophical side of the sport, which is patience and understanding, to be humble and exercise control in all aspects of life; lessons we could all be reminded of at times.
The power of the mind, body and spirit is a force that will not only boost your self-confidence, but also add a new dimension to your life alongside a new source of energy. Strengthening the body and the mind equally can put you back in touch with your inner-self; all teachings from the many different forms will tell you that the one who is the most powerful, is the one who can avoid the fight.
Gina Grant is an AFAA certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, an APEX and ISSA certified Sports Performance Nutritionist and a J.G. Spinning instructor. She has written for various international publications on a variety of topics relating to health and fitness.