Since the release of the Ip Man film franchise in theatres worldwide, martial arts have been gaining ground, not only as a form of self-defense, but as a fitness workout as well.
Of course, the idea may be crazy to some, because nobody would want to pay money only to end up with bruises all over. While often perceived as violent, picking up a martial art can in fact be extremely beneficial for your fitness and well-being.
Besides technique, martial arts incorporate speed, agility and strength training, making it a superb choice for an all-rounded workout. For those who are bored of the monotony of weights and treadmills, martial arts also provide a fun alternative.
Here’s a little guide on some of the different martial art forms available around the island.
Students in action practising Wing Chun in Chengdu, China. Photo: Reuters
Made popular by Donnie Yen and the Ip Man films, this martial art form focuses on balance and involves relaxation techniques meant to keep the body in tip-top condition. The form requires heavy use of your forearms and quick reflexes. If you’re looking to use a little more of your legs, this is not a choice for you.
Incorporating kicking and punching, the centuries-old practice from Thailand is made popular by Ong Bak movies starring Tony Jaa. While it can get quite violent, the techniques test your core endurance and can strengthen it in a quick and effective way. Flexibility gives you an edge in this art form.
A ground-based grappling technique that aims to put your opponent in a submission hold till they concede from the pain. This martial art form utilizes virtually every muscle in the body, and you probably can avoid having broken noses even if you lose.
Taekwondo exponents in action during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo: Reuters
One of the most popular martial art forms, the Korean-originated sport is also recognized by the IOC and features in every summer Olympic Games. It is one of the easiest martial art forms and you’ll probably be doing a lot of drills and a good bit of sparring. Ever seen people breaking boards and bricks with their hands and feet and thinking they look cool? This is just the sport for you then!
Just like its Korean counterpart, the Japanese martial art form is also an Olympic sport. The techniques do not involve much striking, and are generally centered around throws and chokes. Your core and grip will enjoy the most of the workout and if you’re worried about bad falls, fret not. Because you’ll get a lot of practice falling, it will hurt less each time as you learn the technique of falling correctly.
Mixed Martial Arts
MMA is still considerably fresh as a market player, but it is one of the most popular martial art forms today given the publicity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and ONE Championship. It involves a combination of several martial art forms such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai, and because contact is frequent, expect blood and bruises. As an exercise, it no doubt gives you an exhausting full-body workout that makes every cent you pay worth it.