Studies & Degrees in Martial Arts
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What do Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris have in common aside from being movie stars? The answer is they are all practitioners of one form of martial arts or another. Bruce Lee introduced to the world Jeet Kune do, Jet Li is a member of the Beijing National Wushu Champion Team, Steven Seagal is an Aikido master, Chuck Norris was the World Middleweight Karate Champion in the 60s. It is actually because of their exposure to martial arts that paved the way of their trip to Hollywood and movie stardom.
Martial Arts is actually a codified set of movements designed for combat and defensive purposes. Those engaging in Martial Arts are more or less referred to as martial artists. As popularized by Bruce Lee, Martial Arts connotes the idea that it originated exclusively from China, his homeland, but actually it is not. Surprisingly, from almost any corner of the world, there is actually a form of martial arts developed way long ago even before Bruce Lee appeared on betamax tapes. Slaves in Brazil have developed Capoeira which specializes in kicks, sweeps and head butts. The Russians have Sambo, when translated from vernacular would mean self defense without weapons, is a mix of Judo and wrestling styles derived from the different regions in Russia. The Israelis have developed what is known now as Krav Maga. Krav Maga is used mainly in close combat situations and the aim is to survive hence giving emphasis to neutralizing threats and how to escape quickly from potentially dangerous situations. It is really not surprising to find a local form of martial arts at almost any part of the globe. This may be attributed to the different circumstances that a culture or individual were subjected to. Martial Arts technically came about out of survival or necessity.
As it is known that martial arts comes in many forms, a common denominator is that there is a system of progression and that mastery can only be achieved through patience, hard work and perseverance. Before becoming an expert, one must be prepared to undergo years of mental and physical training. Martial Arts is not limited to hand-to-hand combat. The efficient handling of hand weapon like knives, sticks, sword, and spears are also included in its scope.
Martial Arts can be subdivided into three basic categories, depending on what area of focus a particular style namely: striking, grappling and weapons training. Capoeira, Boxing, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Karate, Kung-Fu are examples of disciplines specializing in striking. Sambo, Judo, Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling are forms of Martial Arts that are those whose forte is grappling. Fencing, Kendo, and Arnis De Mano (stick fighting) are the arts that wield weapons as their specialty. Usually, all form of Martial Arts would fall into any of those category mentioned.
Martial Arts is not what it is regarded then, a self-defense style that imitates the movement of an animal as depicted by typical Chinese action movies. Now, Martial Arts is regarded truly as an art in a truest sense with physical, mental and, for some, spiritual development as the main objective of those interested in learning.
Job positions for Martial Arts:
Mixed Martial Arts Fighter
For most Martial Arts practitioners, competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or more commonly called as UFC is a goal, if not the ultimate goal. Not only would they showcase their individual skill in combat arts but it is also a good advertisement for their respective schools or dojo. Before, Martial Arts experts would only be recognized if they are good enough to win a championship title and then get discovered by a movie outfit. Chuck Norris and Jet Li are just among a few who got commercial success, so still becoming a champion does not really guarantee fame and fortune. However now, with the onset of pay-per-view showing mixed Martial Arts competitions like the UFC, Pride and Golden Boy Production's Affliction, martial artists have now an avenue to show the world how good they are at the same time getting good money (six figures if fight is a main event).
Unlike before, competitions are on a discipline-basis, like, if it's just judo, then all the competitors would also be skilled in judo, but in a mixed Martial Arts competition, a judo master may be pitted against a Jiu-Jitsu black belter, a wrestler, a kickboxer or any type of Martial Arts Fighter.
In a mixed Martial Arts competition, fights are on a contract basis giving competing parties lead time to prepare and assess their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Like in the case of the Jon Fitch vs. Diego Sanchez match up, Jon Fitch knew that Diego Sanchez have a wide array of submission techniques and so during his practice sessions in preparation for the fight, he made an effort on how to defend against Diego’s favorite moves and holds. His preparations bore fruit as he already knew how to slip his way out of guillotine chokes and leg triangles which Diego threw at him relentlessly.
To be really an excellent Mixed Martial Arts Fighter like George St. Pierre, the current Welterweight UFC Champion, a professional fighter should, first of all, must have the physical conditioning to withstand potential punishments their body might receive from their opponents. It is usually the conditioning that determines the outcome of the fight when they go the distance or when both fighters are evenly skilled.
During pre-fight, since weight class is now being observed, they have to watch what they eat so as not to go over the weight limit. Learning submission techniques like an armbar hold, different choke styles and other arm and leg holds is a plus because once they know how to do them, they can also defend against these situations.
Becoming a champion, knowledge in more than one form of Martial Arts style is preferred as a fighter would most likely be facing opponents of different styles. A good mixed of skills would be wrestling for take-down maneuvers, Jiu-Jitsu for grappling and submission techniques and some boxing and Muaythai to hold up your ground during stand up striking exchanges.
As Mixed Martial Arts is gaining more acceptance as a mainstream sport like boxing and wrestling and the prize money is approaching the million dollar mark apart from becoming movie stars as some are already appearing in TV shows and movies, being a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter seems like a promising career.
Martial Arts Coordinator
Hollywood action films typically were mostly cowboy flicks or World War II themed movies. John Wayne, James Coburn, Klaus Kinski and Henry Fonda were then regarded as the most sought after action stars but it was John Wayne who was the most notable of all, starring in both cowboys and World War II movies alike. Then came Bruce Lee, a Martial Arts expert who wowed the world with his crafty moves and his signature battle cry and action movies were never the same.
The transformation of the action genre has then been continually evolving and movie goers are more than ever hungry for much complex action sequences. Because of the clamor for complicated fight scenes, movie producers are now tapping martial arts experts as Martial Arts Coordinators to draw out action-packed, breath-taking action scenes while at same time staying realistically possible. Movie goers are now very discerning and usually would know if some scenes are unbelievably impossible in real life. Movies that make unrealistic scenes were usually heavily criticized because the scenes were not properly thought out. Movie outfits realized that action movies are not like any other genre where you put someone like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise in the cast and the movie is expected to do well.
In the movie “Matrix,” although the movie is fictional and the setting is virtual reality, the audience were awed and literally taken off their seats because the fight scenes were managed so well to remain believable plus enhanced by the use of slow-motion spinning camera effects while dodging bullets. The directors of the movie made it a point to get leading Martial Arts Coordinators to help develop the film’s fight scene sequences. The fight scenes contributed to the total appeal of the movie even though Keanu Reeves is not an actual martial artist to speak of and the result was that the movie became one of the top-grossing thrillers of all time during that time. Because of the success of the film, other movie outfits soon followed suit and suddenly Martial Arts Coordinators are being sought after to become fight scenes directors, coordinators or consultants. Box office hits like “The Transporter,” “Aeon Flux,” “Resident Evil” and “300” to name a few were all movies that made use of the services of professional martial artists for their spectacular fight action sequences. Without the fight scenes, these movies would not have been as successful as they had been.
The Martial Arts Coordinators contacted by big Hollywood productions were not contacted because they have friends in the studio but rather they worked hard for their reputations to get known. Probably, these experts are holders of numerous professional competition titles themselves or run Martial Arts schools that have produced several champions in their stable. With mixed Martial Arts currently gaining momentum as the next big contact sports, Martial Arts schools have never been busier. During a mixed Martial Arts competition like UFC or Affliction, the Martial Arts schools or dojos of the fighters are also mentioned because a victory of the fighter is a victory of the school too.
A little bit of trivia about the movie “Bloodsport,” which starred by Jean-Claude Van Damme based on a true story, the Martial Arts Coordinator of the fight scenes was the actual character Van Damme was portraying.