What’s Your Style?

Martial arts are not unique to a particular country, but instead have been developing as humans have evolved around the world. That being said, particular styles and cultural influences were spread along the “Silk Road” trade routes from India to China and Tibet and eventually to Japan and many other Asian countries.

In China the most famous influences have been the Wu Dan mountain martial arts training ground and the Shaolin kung fu temple, with the temple being more famous. It’s said in China that all martial arts and kung fu come from Shaolin. During one period the Chinese government had decided the kung fu temple was a threat and attacked, burning down the temple and sending monks and nuns into the countryside. These refugees had opportunities to pass on their skills assisting various people who made alterations and developed their own methods that were then passed on through their families and villages.

In Japan some of the military families had a tradition to teach sword techniques only to their clansmen. That being said there are numerous stories about a farmer’s son and a samurai’s son growing up together and the young samurai teaching those skills to his friend until their parents realized the situation and forced a confrontation which led to the development of a new style taught by the farmer’s son. When the head of a style learns techniques from another style or is exposed to a new philosophy, they may incorporate them into their existing style or they may abandon the old style and start a new one with a different name. Other times the formal development of a new style will
take a few generations. If the practitioner of a style is on the run or undercover, revealing the name of the style they practice would be similar to revealing their identities and weaknesses, so a single style might have
multiple names for different regions.

All of this makes it very difficult for a prospective student to choose a style. Each style is a representation of a body of techniques and philosophies. As such each one has its own strengths & weaknesses, and its own requirements for mastery or rank.

Author's Bio: 

M.P. Schaefer has been studying & practicing the martial arts for over thirty years. While researching the origins of various arts he crossed over into various other subjects including Asian culture; history; and philosophy, the myths & legends of Japan & China as well as other Asian countries and even India. He speak more than passable Japanese and using several dictionaries sometimes reads college level textbooks and ancient manuscripts in Japanese & Chinese.
Mr. Schaefer holds a master's degree in Oriental medicine and acupuncture, as well as a few medical licenses & various certificates.