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Sports Trivia: Different Types of Martial Arts

September 4, 2015

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.

Martial Arts Sports Trivia


“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.

Kung Fu

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.

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Sports SpectacularThis article first appeared in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular. Check it out for more sports trivia.

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September 4, 2015 7:36 pm

Kung Fu literally means “effort” or “labor” and refers to achieving skills through hard work or practice. Much like the words “martial arts” it encompasses multiple styles of hand-to-hand, and even weapons, combat rather than referring to any one particular style. Some of the most popular styles of Kung Fu are Bagua, Wing Chun, Hung Gar, Choy Li Fut, Eagle Claw, and even Tai Chi Chaun. Think about how Kung Fu movies have the various animal styles like Snake Fist, Praying Mantis, Monkey Fist, Tiger Claw, etc. Northern styles tend to emphasize kicking and acrobatics whereas Southern styles emphasize intricate… Read more »

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