Eastern martial arts – where to start?

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In our time, martial arts are seen more as a hobby, although there are times in a person’s life when you need to be able to stand up for yourself. If you have decided to learn self-defense, it is worth paying attention to eastern martial arts.

Eastern martial arts – division and types

Eastern martial arts can be conventionally divided into three groups: Chinese, Japanese and Thai. All three differ in their philosophy of fighting. Chinese martial arts are focused on self-defense. It is dominated by elements of defense, blocking, various types of levers and throws. The main strategy is to turn the opponent’s strengths against himself. Japanese martial arts, conversely, specialize in attack, while Thai martial arts are a bit more ferocious and focused on survival. There are many painful blows in this discipline.

If you’re starting your adventure with Eastern martial arts, it’s a good idea to start with the mildest ones, those focused on self-defense. Let’s look at them all in turn.

Chinese martial arts

Chinese martial arts, commonly known as Kung Fu, present a huge variety of defensive techniques to help maintain physical and mental fitness. 

Tuishou or “pushing hands” 

Tuishou usually goes hand in hand with Tai Chi, a self-defense technique. The purpose of Tuishou is to get an opponent off balance. Since Tuishou by itself is ineffective, it is taught alongside Tai Chi. Together they just form a set of fighting techniques, developing in practitioners coordination of movement, endurance and flexibility.

Sanshou or Sanda

Sanshou, also known as Chinese boxing or kickboxing, is a fighting system originally developed by the Chinese military, drawing on traditional Kung Fu and modern fighting techniques. Sanshou involves blows with the arms and legs, so athletes enter the duel in full gear (helmet, boxing gloves, chest and groin guard). It’s a free fight in which all styles and holds are allowed.

Pak Hok

Originally from the northern part of China, this fighting style is characterized by long-range defense and attack and the use of low, technically simple kicks. Pak Hok is a style favored by beginners because it allows for quick progress and visible results, but this does not mean that the style is poor. On the contrary, the complex structure of the techniques allows for mental and bodily improvement.

Japanese martial arts

You can also start your adventure with eastern martial arts with milder Japanese fighting styles. One of these is Jiu-Jitsu.


Called the art of soft submission, Jiu-Jitsu is a discipline whose main principle is to work out an opponent’s tactics by finding his weaknesses and using them against him. Jiu-Jitsu is a high-contact sport, which means it uses a lot of leverage and throws. The grapples used here, however, do not require great strength, but rather agility, cunning and logical thinking skills. Jiu-Jitsu also underpinned other martial arts, such as judo, aikido, karate and sambo.


A beautiful martial art that involves avoiding attacks and defending against them. Aikido practitioners move in a circular motion that allows for constant control of the opponent. Aikido develops not only physical fitness, but also emphasizes the moral realm. 

main photo: Amon

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