There are numerous different forms of martial arts, and they come from all over Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea. Some, like karate and jujitsu, are on the martial end of the spectrum; others, like tai chi, are more, well, arty. This week’s sports trivia takes a look at some of the most popular forms.
“Yielding or compliant art” in Japanese. Jujitsu emphasizes yielding to your opponent’s force and using it against him. Developed at a time when samurai wore body armor, it also incorporates blows to the face and other unprotected parts of the body.
A martial art with spiritual and even pacifist origins, this “way of harmonious spirit” idealizes defending yourself from attackers without harming them, largely by locking up their joints and tossing them aside.
Translates as “gentle way” in Japanese. Gentle? It turns out that in judo, “gentle” means grabbing your opponent and throwing him to the ground…but without kicking or punching him.
“Empty hand” emphasizes fierce blows to vulnerable parts of the body (throat, stomach, etc.) using hands, feet, elbows, and knees.
Tae Kwon Do
Translates as “kick punch art” in Korean. Like karate, tae kwon do features sharp blows with bare hands and feet.
A Chinese form of karate, practiced for more than 1,000 years. Kung fu favors flowing, circular movements over the sharp kicks, punches, and jabs found in other popular forms of karate.
Jeet Kune Do
“The way of the intercepting fist.” A style of kung fu formulated by Bruce Lee, jeet kune do abandons the rigid stances found in many martial arts in favor of the more fluid movements Lee had observed in boxing and fencing competitions.
Tai Chi Chuan
Translates as “supreme ultimate boxing,” but it’s actually a Chinese method of stress relief and relaxation through stretching, correct posture, and slow movements timed with breathing exercises.
This article first appeared in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular. Check it out for more sports trivia.