Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Martial Arts Fighting Styles

Martial Arts Fighting Styles - An Introduction
By Dr. Geoff Aitken, Ph.D.

Martial arts fighting styles are many and varied with not only techniques but principles, cultures and philosophical approaches varying widely.

One of the difficulties in classifying fighting styles is that there is no definite consensus on what is the definition of a true martial arts fighting style.

For the purpose of this article I will use the definition of a martial arts fighting style as any system or methodology pertaining to fighting and combat situations, as this complies with the dictionary definition of the terms martial and art.

Some "authorities" would argue that they must originate from Asian cultures; an opinion that does not take into account the fighting systems of ancient Greece or Europe and their modern derivations.

From a general perspective martial arts styles can be separated into those that emphasize the use of weapons, those that concentrate on striking and those that emphasize grappling techniques.

This is only a very general classification as many systems combine two or more of these classifications and although many commentators would argue that a true martial art requires the use of all of these aspects of fighting that is not the case with many of the accepted martial arts disciplines.

Systems of martial arts fighting styles have evolved from the fighting techniques and methods used by warriors throughout the world and can be as diverse as full systems taught in schools of military training to
systems of fighting developed and kept within families.

It is only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that we see the systematically taught instruction of styles that we see today, evolved.

Many of these systems have lost their practical fighting ability to the so called meditative aspects of the particular art or have been completely turned into just sports.

Some martial arts fighting styles have only appeared within the last 100 years and have never been exposed to the rigorous selection of real fighting that their predecessors underwent.

In the weaponry rich systems we find the Japanese systems of Kendo, Kenjutsu, Iaido, Jodo together with the Karate weaponry systems derived from the Kobudo weapons systems. Striking and grappling is either absent or very poorly developed in all of these systems.

The Chinese arts also utilize many weapons as part of their Kung Fu systems but these are taught as part of unarmed combat systems as well.

Probably the richest weapons systems are those of the Philippines and nearby areas of Malaysia and Indonesia; the blade and stick-fighting systems of Kali, Escrima and Arnis. These fighting systems also have a very complex and powerful unarmed combat components, together with the weapons and some also utilize throwing and ground fighting, these systems were very much family trained systems.

The Europeans also have the quarter-staff, sword and dagger systems which were extremely well developed and if you want to accept the definition that martial arts fighting styles are systems and methods of war and fighting then you would also have to include the disciplines of modern firearm and bayonet usage in this classification.

The striking systems are probably the most well known and most practiced through out the world with the Karate system of Japan being the most well known. There are many different styles of Karate each having slightly different emphasis on different methodologies and while most include some form of weaponry at higher levels it is certainly not well developed and doesn't have a practical realistic usage, apart from exercise and strengthening value which is normally the justification for using them as part of their systems. Much of it is drawn from the Kobudo group of weapons and has lost a lot of it's functionality in ritual.

The most powerful striking martial art would be Muay Thai and its' close cousin Burmese boxing; these striking systems are extremely well developed and deliver strikes with incredible speed, power and ferocity.

Brazilian Capoiera is a very acrobatic striking style that has lost much of its practical fighting ability that existed in the original African system from which it was derived. A similar situation is demonstrated by the Chinese martial art of Wushu which has become very flashy and demonstrates little practical fighting ability.

Do we include western boxing in martial arts? I think that we should because it fulfills much the same requirements of Judo as a martial art. It has suffered the change of time in placing rules on it but in the past it was certainly more brutal then it is now.

It carries its' own philosophy and that introduces me to the argument that a martial art should have an underlying philosophy a point that I definitely agree with, however, who is anyone to say that the philosophies by which we westerners do things are not as valid as the philosophies of the eastern cultures.

Modern wrestling is in the same genre being derived from the ancient Pankration and now controlled by rules but again it was originally used for fighting and had and still has a distinct philosophy behind it.

Now we come to the self defence systems of Close Quarter Combat and Krav Maga again these would fit the classification of a martial art as set down by the other determinants. This is even though Krav Maga does not claim to be one, but one only has to read the original intent of its' founder to determine that it is a martial art.

The striking arts of the malaysian, philipino and indonesian area are also vey well developed with the silats demonstrating a very complex and rich understanding of fighting principles and concepts.

The fighting styles that emphasize grappling include Judo, Jiu jitsu, Aikido and sumo from Japan together with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Chin Na from China. Here we find the strongest support for the argument that some of the systems I have classified as martial arts above should be included.

If you are to remove boxing and wrestling from the classification of martial arts then you have to remove Sumo and Judo as well.

Russian Sambo, American Catch, Free-style and Greco-Roman wrestling are fighting systems that exist on that fringe of the classification are usually classified as a sport.

The richest of the martial arts fighting styles are the muti-discipline martial arts such as Ninjutsu and the Chinese Kungfus although the latter has many different styles with most only emphasizing one or two aspects of fighting.

The most dominant fighting system at the present time is Mixed Martial Arts. This together with its' inspiration from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Vale Tudo is the biggest thing that has happened to martial arts since Bruce Lee.

There are those that would argue it is not a martial art - in my opinion this is completely absurd it has all of the requirements apart from the use of weapons, but neither do many of the other accepted fighting disciplines.

The philosophy is a western style of philosophy of mental toughness and training discipline and, I say again, what is so different about that and eastern philosophies. Particularly as we see eastern philosophic driven societies demonstrating anti-humanistic and anti-environment practices throughout the modern world many of which are driven by the philosophies of Sun Tzu and the Go Rin No Sho as underlying guides.

This article is by no means a complete account of all fighting systems as almost every country around the world has a fighting system as part of its' culture each having evolved as time has gone by and lifestyles have changed that in turn has led to us utilizing the values of martial arts for different reasons.

Geoff owns and operates a full time professional Martial Arts Academy in Christchurch, New Zealand that teaches people of all ages, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts and a weaponry program that includes Philipino stick and knife fighting, kenjutsu and Jojitsu. Check out the Academy of Combat here at
In addition I often discuss fighting systems together with self defense tactics in my blog at that will help you develop your knowledge and experience.

Self Defense Moves

Self Defense Moves - Seven Topics Across Seven Levels in Silat Training System
By Cikgu Nizam

The self defense moves in silat syllabus are divided into seven levels. Each level concentrates on specific self defense skills. The levels are marked with belt just like any other self defense or martial art. Those seven levels are white belt, blue belt, brown belt, yellow belt, green belt, red belt and black belt. For every level, each silat exponent needs to master seven topics which emphasize in specific required skills in that level. The seven topics are; Bunga (which teach the exponent how to master the defensive and striking position), Jurus (which includes the art of attack and defense), the Belebat (which teach the students to art of the defensive and counter attack movements), Tapak (the routine on how to destroy your enemy through step pattern movements), Buah (the art of self defense), Tempur Seni (the art of self defense combat) and the Tempur Beladiri (the fast action of combat sparring).

Every silat exponents will starts to learn from the easy skills until advance skills across the seven levels. On the first level (white belt), the exponent will be given Anak Gelanggang or Beginner Silat Exponent title. In this level the students will learn on how to master the basic skills of silat, to balance between fitness and brightness of psychology, psychomotor control and also cognitive development. This consists of physical and mental approach that will combine with all positive aspects in silat activities.

At the second level (blue belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat Remaja or First Rank Junior Silat Exponent title. This level brings elements of self defense and more clearly how to apply their knowledge and unarmed self defense skills either in martial arts performances or competitions. Silat exponent will be able to receive self defence moves skills to develop practical and cultivation of moral values in more effective methods. The aim is to produce a harmony community and well mannered exponent in order to develop strong self-esteem to succeed.

While, the third level (brown belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat Perkasa or Second Rank Junior Silat Exponent title. This level focused on the basic motion, method, manner and Silat as Malaysian self defense. This level also emphasize on strengthening the nation in terms of arts, self defense and traditional martial arts sport.

At the fourth level (yellow belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat Muda or Young Silat Exponent title. This level objective is to strengthen the Malaysian Silat methods in terms of motion, method, manner and form of self defense. At the same time the silat exponent will inheritance the knowledge of silat essences, practices and skills of martial arts that developed from Bunga; which form the Silat self defense skills, martial arts and martial sports. Silat establish movements that embedded positive values, which can form a healthy lifestyle.

At the fifth level (green belt), the exponent will be given Pesilat or Silat Exponent title. This level will teach the exponent to unite the martial arts and self defense moves particularly catching methods followed by striking, topple down, locking and counter attack techniques. This counter attack skill also known as 'pelepas' or self release technique. Silat exponent also will learn how to use the step pattern known as 'melilit' or circling around the enemy in order to expand the self defense technique. The silat exponent will be introduced to 'Sikap Pendekar' or Warrior's Attitude as the way of life either throughout physical or spiritual aspects; A warrior is a being who has knowledge, practices and is skilful in silat internally (spiritually) and externally (physically), based on the Malay custom, arts and culture in parallel with syarak, one that uses his knowledge and crafts at the right place for justice and peace with a calm soul with physical properties based on the spirit of a chivalrous majestic warrior. This Warrior's Attitude was written by Pendita Anuar Abdul Wahab, the founder of Silat Malaysia.

At the sixth level (red belt), the exponent will be given Pendekar Muda or Junior Warrior title. At this level the silat exponent will learn the weaponry system which emphasis on 'penyerang aktif' or active silat exponent methods. This method is a powerful method particularly to defense you against 3 or more enemies. As silat also known as the art of war, this concept is derived from weaponry methods. Normally, the exponents will train to use multi-weapon at this stage of training. The weaponry training starts during Tempur Seni session. The 'kaedah pemotong' or 'penyerang aktif' then will be developed unto Tempur Beladiri (combat training). As silat derived from human anatomy movements, it will perfect every silat training activities in purposed of self defense.

At the seventh level (black belt), the exponent will be given Pendekar or Warrior title. At this stage the warrior will be given the Silat knowledge that origins from the art of war from multiple aspects of knowledge, practice and traditional weapon skills system. The Malay warrior attitude is the same in Warrior's Attitude. The warrior also will be train to become silat guru to implement the self defense moves education to others. They are also exposed to science teaching, management, spiritual, technical and co-curriculum in purpose to strengthen community, religion, race and nation.

This article was submitted by Cikgu Nizam, an expert and world leading self defense coach online. Did you find these tips on self defense moves article useful? Find out more about self defense by going to

The History of Silat

The History of Silat
By Cikgu Nizam 

Silat spread within the Malay community before the presence of external influences. For example, an official Silat weapon, a 2000 year-old copper keris was found in Mekong, Vietnam. Silat and its warriors became important in order to defend kingdoms like Melayu Champa, Kedah Tua, Kamboja, Langkasuka, Bruas that encompassed the Malaysia Peninsula.

During the second century, the Malay kingdom was under the influence of Hindu-Buddhism teachings. The seventh century was the beginning of the Malay Srivijaya civilization in Palembang, Sumatra and the influence of silat from the mainland Malay society was consolidated by Ninik Dato' Suri Diraja (1097-1198) to create Silat Minangkabau, Sumatra. The method of Silat Minangkabau at ninth level (langkah Sembilan) was no longer called silat, but known as mencak or pencak, which means tari silat, the silatdance or tari gelombang, the wave dance in the Minangkabau language.

The fall of Srivijaya had brought opportunities to Majapahit during the 9th to 13th century. Hayam Wuruk and Pateh Gajah Mada have raised many gallant warriors, for exampled Taming Sari who was killed by Hang Tuah. The Malacca Empire (1200-1511) showcased warriors who were skilful in silat like Bendahara Tun Perak and Hang Tuah and his five friends were extremely loyal to the king and Malacca.

Ever since the Dutch and English conquered Indonesia and Malay Peninsula (1511-1957), silat and its warriors were cast away from the palace. Silat however, continued to play its part in villages, producing brave, defensive warriors, ready to fight the enemies. For example, during the 1800's there were warriors fighting against colonialists, including Mat Kilau, Dato' Bahaman, Dato' Sagor, Dol Sai, Dato' Sri Maharaja, Abdul Rahman Lumbung and others.

Warriors kept on emerging to form Selendang Merah (Red Shawl) team to fight against communists during the Parang Panjang War. Among these warriors are Kiai Salleh, Wak Joyo and Kiai Yasuk. The same goes during one of Malaysia's most unforgettable black history, 13th May 1969.

According to Kamus Dewan (Malaysian's dictionary), silat is a game that requires a person's agility to attack and defend. This term was coined through observations during that time silat was represented as the people's game. Its purpose was to save silat from being discovered by the colonists and at the same time, to instil the love for silat as the traditional culture and as fighting spirit against colonists. Silat as a traditional form of entertainment continued to be performed.

The performance of silat compromises of beautiful, aesthetic movements, clad in warrior attire, accompanied by energetic silat music that fulfils the requirement of formal functions such as for receptions, circumcisions, ceremonies and the glutinous eating feasts and every silat performer will be rewarded with a gift of glutinous rice in the form of bunga telur. Therefore such silat performances are also known as Silat Pulut, Gayung Pulut, Silat Tari, Silat Sembah, Silat Cantik, Silat Pengantin or Silat Bunga.

This article was submitted by Cikgu Nizam, an expert and world leading Silat and self defense coach online. Did you find these tips on silat history is useful? Find out more about silat history by going to Silat For Beginners and get a FREE report at You also can get more information about self defense at