When one thinks about martial arts, words such as Karate, Kung Fu or Jiu-Jitsu probably spring to mind. There are Taekwondo schools in just about every town and many MMA gyms offer classes in any of these aforementioned arts, as well as Muay Thai and possible Judo. However, there are many martial arts that most of us know nothing about. Here are some interesting examples.

There is a definite grace adherent in most forms of marital art; some are more artistic than others. Take for example Capoeira, which hails from Brazil and includes elements of fighting as well as dance. In Egypt, dance and fighting are taken up a notch in the ancient art of Tahtib. In addition to dance, the participants also use huge sticks and take turns striking and defending with the sticks. While Tahtib is mostly ceremonial and a celebration of folk dance and folk music, head injuries certainly can and do occur.

Practically every country in the world has one or more types of martial arts that incorporates stick fighting and Ireland is certainly no exception to this rule. For many hundreds of years, men in Ireland practiced Bataireacht, which eventually became highly associated with gang violence and sort of fell out of favor with many Irish. However, in the past few decades, Bataireacht has increased a bit in popularity as a way to honor Irish heritage.

A sport or martial art need not be ancient in order have something to offer its adherents; a perfect example of this is Jeet Kune Do, which was developed by Bruce Lee. Another example of a “newer” form of martial art is Okichitaw, which was created in the 1990s by George Lepine, a member of the Plains Cree First Nation within Canada. Lepine’s teachings include learning how to use a tomahawk and gunstock war club, as well as learning how to overcome an opponent who might attack you with these weapons. In addition, the philosophy incorporates the “Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers,” which includes wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, truth and humility.

In ancient Hawaii, Kapu Ku’ialua, also known just as Lua, was an impressive form of martial art that was in some ways similar to Jiu-Jitsu in that some fighting techniques include joint locks and manipulating pressure points on the body. However Lua also incorporated a variety of weaponry helping fighters utilize whatever items were readily available. For instance, one is taught to use a canoe paddle as a weapon, as well as the Leiomano, which is club with imbedded shark teeth.

Some martial arts are based on physical contact with no weapons, and some are a combination of both hand-to-hand techniques and weapons. Mau rakau, an ancient martial art from the Maori tribe in present-day New Zealand, is an art that relies almost entirely on several different weapons. One special weapon, created from whale bone, is known as the taiaha. This weapon along with a type of axe and several different types of clubs are all part of this martial art and are even more special because as the story is told, Maori Gods gave these weapons to the warriors to help them defend their land.

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