Archive-name: martial-arts/faq/part1
Last-modified: 21 July 2008
Posting-Frequency: twice per month

Go on to Part Two.

rec.martial-arts FAQ - Part 1 of 3

The current maintainers of this FAQ are Matthew Weigel (, parts 1-3 and Lauren Radner (, part 4.

The rec.martial-arts FAQ and Newbie Guide are available on in the directory pub/usenet-by-hierarchy/rec/martial-arts, with the filenames rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_1_of_4, rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_2_of_4, rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_3_of_4, rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_4_of_4, and rec.martial-arts_Newbie_Guide.
[Go here for the text versions]

There is an HTML version of the FAQ available at (and rmafaq2.html, etc.). Other people are welcome to make and distribute copies (online and off) under the same provisions as the regular FAQ: preserve the copyright notice and disclaimer.

A note to all who try to use URL and e-mail addreses from this FAQ:
These links are provided by the contributors. I frequently get e-mails complaining that this or that link is no longer valid. The quick answer is: I'm not surprised, but there is little I can do about it. Continuously testing the links in the FAQ, and then tracking down replacements for the "rotten" ones would be a full-time job. Contributors - please keep your links up to date by informing me of changes!

A note on Chinese romanizations: there are several different ways of representing Chinese words in the english alphabet. The FAQ uses the "pinyin" romanization (except in mailing lists and web pages which were left as written by the person that submitted them). Below are listed some of the common arts in pinyin and other forms for those wanting to cross reference:

Pinyin Other
Gongfu Kung Fu
Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan, T'ai Chi Ch'uan
Baguazhang Pa Kua Chang
Xingyiquan Hsing Yi Chuan, Hsing Yi Ch'uan
Qinna Chin Na
Shuaijiao Shuai-Chiao
Sanshou San Shou, San-Shou

Revision Notes 21-Jul-2008: World-Wide Martial Arts Supply has had a more current URL and email address for quite some time.

Topics Contained in this FAQ

Part 1 of 3

  1. Introduction.
    1. What's with all of the off-topic posts? (RMA)
    2. How do I post? (RMAM)
    3. How do I contact the moderators? (RMAM)
    4. What is the procedure for approval or rejection? (RMAM)
    5. Why was my post rejected? (RMAM)
    6. Why aren't I receiving acknowledgement messages? (RMAM)
    7. Why don't I see my posts right away? (RMAM)
  2. What is a Martial Art?
  3. What kind of Martial Arts are there? (the descriptions of the various arts are in section 16, which is in parts 2 and 3.)
  4. Which Martial Art should I study?
  5. How do I choose a School?
    1. This guy says that his style will make a Full Certified Warrior & Killer out of me in 3 months- is it serious?
    2. What do I do to become the deadliest person in the world ?
  6. Should children study Martial Arts?
  7. I believe/don't believe in X. Should I train Y?
  8. Rankings/Color Belt Systems
  9. What is Greenoch?
  10. What is Ki/Qi/Chi?
  11. Martial Arts Glossary
  12. Bibliography
  13. Sources of information
    1. Martial arts schools in North America
    2. FAQ ftp site
    3. Aikido Dojo Search Engine
    4. Classical Japanese Martial Arts Electronic Magazine
    5. Traditional Karate Mailing List
    6. Aikido Mailing List and FTP Site
    7. Tuite/Acupuncture Discussion Group
    8. The Martial Arts Digest
    9. Jujutsu and Kokikai Aikido Mailing Lists
    10. Japanese Sword Arts Mailing List and FTP site
    11. Chinese Shao-lin Center Mail List
    12. Martial Arts and Sword/TV and Film Mailing List
    13. Tai-Chi Mailing List
    14. Neijia (Internal Chinese Martial Arts) Mailing List
    15. Kyudo (Zen Archery) Mailing List
    16. Korean Martial Arts Mailing List
    17. Eskrima/Kali/Arnis Mailing List
    18. Miscellaneous Martial Arts WWW pages
    19. Kung Fu Mailing List
    20. Taekwondo Net Forum Mailing List
    21. Kempo Mailing List
    22. Tuite-Ki Mailing List
  14. Sources of equipment and material.

Part 2 of 3

  1. What are the different Arts, Schools, Styles?
  • Aikido
  • Baguazhang
  • Brazilian JiuJitsu
  • Bushidokan
  • Capoeira
  • Cha Yon Ryu
  • Cuong Nhu
  • Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujustu
  • Gatka
  • Hapkido
  • Hwa Rang Do
  • Iaido
  • Judo
  • Jujutsu
  • Kajukenbo
  • Kali/Escrima/Arnis
  • Karate
  • Kendo
  • Kenjutsu
  • Kenpo (Amer.)
  • Kempo (Kosho Ryu)
  • Kempo (Ryukyu)
  • Kobudo
  • Krav Maga
  • Kyudo

  • Part 3 of 3

    1. (cont'd)
  • Lua
  • Moo Do
  • Pugilism
  • Muay Thai
  • Ninjutsu
  • Praying Mantis
  • ROSS
  • Sanshou
  • Savate
  • Shogerijutsu
  • Shuaijiao
  • Silat
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Taijiquan
  • Western MA
  • Wing Chun
  • Wushu/Gongfu
  • Xingyiquan
  • Yoseikan Budo

  • 1) Introduction

    This FAQ is not intended to be a Martial Arts Bible, but to give some help to those that are looking for a place to start, or those more experienced that would like to know more about some different style, have a particular doubt, etc.

    Please note that this is not the Absolute Truth(TM) but rather an attempt to give clear and basic information about this group and the martial arts. Your suggestions, opinions, and additions are welcome; send e-mail to

    Here are the items in the original "charter" as they appeared in the request for discussion before the group was formed:

    1. A new group proposal for the discussion of all aspects of the martial arts, both by martial arts practitioners and the general public interested in knowing more about the martial arts community.

    2. Increasing public awareness of the commitment of martial artists to public service, for example the D.A.R.E. program, its use in rehabilitation of prisoners, recovering substance abuse users, rape prevention, and increased quality of life for the handicapped.

    3. Personal experiences, anecdotes, myths, and folklore pertaining to the martial arts and information on the existance or location of a specific item, style, form, system.

    4. Postings of events, competitions, demonstrations, and seminars.

    5. ANY/ALL bigotry, grudge challenges must be E-mailed!

    Rank does not mean authority in rec.m-a, for rank without wisdom means nothing. There may be wisdom in the words of a child, and even a 5th dan can be a fool.

    Please do not post binaries (pictures, etc.) in the group. A better way is to post the binaries in a binaries group, and post a message in rec.m-a calling attention to the binaries post.

    One more thing. Please don't post the question "What is the best martial art [for self-defense]?" (or similar) in rec.martial-arts. That question has become a chronic irritant in this group, and there is no simple answer to it; some would say it has no answer at all. There are reasonable procedures for how one should go about choosing an art/school here in the FAQ, and in another rec.martial-arts periodic post, the Newbie Guide. Read them first, then consult the group if you have more specific questions.

    1.1 What's with all of the off-topic posts?


    The Usenet is famous for topic drift, when people make small asides in their responses, and other people make full-blown responses just to the aside.

    Further, it's as much a newsgroup "where martial artists meet to talk" as "where people meet to talk about martial arts." If someone is looking for a (verbal) fight, they feel confident that someone on rec.martial-arts will oblige them.

    In other words, it's a fact of life everywhere. It even happens on newsgroups devoted to topics ostensibly more deeply involved in seeking 'spiritual perfection' than martial arts.

    1.1 How do I post?


    Simply post to the group as you would any other. The difference is that your post in routed by e-mail to the moderation team for approval. You can submit posts directly by e-mail by sending them to rmam (at)

    How do I contact the moderators?


    Send technical complaints to

    Send policy complaints to

    What is the procedure for approval or rejection?


    Shortly after you submit your post you should receive an e-mail message acknowledging receipt. The post is then examined by the robomoderator and possibly a human moderator.

    If your post is rejected you will receive a note explaining why. If your post is approved you will receive a note indicating that it was posted.

    Why was my post rejected?


    Your post will be rejected if it does not conform to the charter. To view the charter point your web browser at:

    Here is a short list of reasons why your post may be rejected:

    Why aren't I receiving acknowledgement messages?


    You are probably using an invalid reply address in your posts. If you have intentionally modified your reply address in order to block spam, you can still post to RMAM. The only requirement is that the moderators can determine your actual address.

    Why don't I see my posts right away?


    When you post to RMAM through your news reader/browser, your news server automatically e-mails the post to the RMAM moderation facilities. There may be a delay depending on how busy the moderators are. When it is approved it gets posted through the moderation news server, which is On-ramp. So you may then experience a delay due to the propogation from On-ramp to your own news service. Your post may also get to many other news servers more quickly than if you posted to an unmoderated newsgroup on your own news server. This is a particular distinction of moderated newsgroups. If you are impatient, you can check, which is a free web-based news service that seems to have very little lag for RMAM.

    2) What is a Martial Art?

    A Martial Art can be defined as a system of techniques, physical and mental exercises developed as an effective means for self-defense and offense, both unarmed and with the use of weapons.

    The origin and history of Martial Arts is a controversial issue. We can see signs of Martial Arts in Greek, Egyptian, African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, as well as other cultures. There is a clear trail leading from the Southern China-regions up to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. The details before that, and the exact details of that transfer, are greatly debated by historians and Martial Artists.

    Some people think that martial arts are, to quote "Stonwulfe,"

    ... supposed to be a physically, mentally, and spiritually beneficial activity; a source of enlightenment and a path for healthy living and longevity.

    The real binding part of all the different martial arts described, and not described, in this document is that they try to teach students how to fight. Some do that better than others, some incorporate other things such as spirituality or meditation, but there is no common thread beyond fighting. So while it might be appropriate to claim that your martial art, or even maybe the family of martial arts your martial art hails from, is expected to provide something beyond fighting skill, it probably doesn't apply to all martial arts.

    3) What kind of Martial Arts are there?

    There are many ways in which martial arts can be divided. Here are a few of them that might be useful to use in defining Martial Arts and discussing them. These are not necessarily consensus definitions but they are commonly held.

    It is also useful to remember that very few of these martial arts are just one way or another...they are all mixtures of these elements in various degrees. When we say a style is "hard" what we mean is that the predominant expression of that style is hard. If we say Shotokan is linear, it does not mean Shotokan has no circular techniques.

    "Sport" vs "Fighting Art" vs. "Exercise" vs. "Philosophy"
    These are usually NON-useful comparisons because people tend to be very strongly opinionated on this matter. Most people want to think their art is an ancient "fighting art" and can be applied thus on the street. Some styles truly are all four, and to some degree all styles contain all four elements.

    In discussions of a style it is most useful when people highlight which area or areas their style emphasizes.

    "Linear" vs. "Circular"
    This distinction refers to lines of movement, attack and defense. "Circular" styles use circular movements to block, attack, or move. Around and aside... "Linear" styles use direct, straight-on movements, attacks, or head-on blocks. In and out...

    Styles can, and sometimes do, mix circular blocks with linear attacks. This is a subtle distinction and not absolute, but it gives some information.

    "Soft" vs. Hard"
    "Soft" styles tend to redirect energy, channeling and diverting momentum to unbalance an opponent, or to move them into striking range. They tend to be lower commitment and use less force. Thus, they are less likely to be unbalanced and can recover from redirection easier. Examples are Taiji, Aikido, Ninjutsu, or many Gongfu styles and sub-styles.

    "Hard" styles tend to direct energy outward and meet energy with energy. They will tend to strike more, and deliver more force with each strike. Hard stylists will often damage with their blocks, turning them into attacks. They deliver more power, and thus are harder to turn aside, but they are higher commitment, and thus don't recover as well from mistakes. Examples are Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, Muay Thai, and some Gongfu styles and sub-styles.

    "Internal" vs. "External"

    "Internal" styles are styles that emphasize the more non-tangible elements of the arts. They utilize chi/ki/qi flow, rooting, and those elements which some people consider "mystical". They tend to emphasize meditation, body control, perception, mind control (self, not others!), and pressure points. `Typically' internal styles are soft. Taiji is an internal style.

    "External" styles tend to emphasize body mechanics, leverage, and applied force. They tend to use weight, strength, positioning, and anatomy to optimal advantage. `Typically' external styles are hard. Tae-Kwon-Do is an external style.

    "Complete Art" or not
    The term "complete art" is sometimes applied to arts that include strikes, kicks, throws, pressure points, and joint locks. The arts most often mentioned in this regard are some Gongfu styles, Jujutsu, and Hapkido. Although some arts contain more techniques than others, no art is "complete" in the sense that it includes all the important techniques from other arts. In general, every art has its strong and weak points, and each has something to offer to the lexicon of martial arts techniques.

    4) Which Martial Art should I study?

    That's a question that only you can answer, maybe with a little help of your physician (in determining whether you should practice martial arts at all).

    While some people advocate that "my style fits any individual", it is very debatable if any single individual would adapt to *any* style.

    It depends heavily on your objectives, but remember, these may change with time. Many people who begin martial arts training strictly to learn self-defense become quite interested in other aspects as their training progresses.

    (a) What are you looking for?

    For instance, if you are looking for on the street self-defense training Taiji or Kendo might not be your first choice.
    Some choices: Jujutsu, Hapkido, some Gongfus, Karate, Ken(m)po, Baguazhang, Tang Soo Do, Muay Thai, Tae-Kwon-Do, Ninjutsu, Kali/Escrima/Arnis, Silat, or Xingyiquan.

    If you are looking for meditation and philosophy Western Boxing is probably a poor choice as well.
    Some choices: most Gongfus, Aikido, Taiji, Kendo, Kenjutsu, or Iaido.

    If you are looking for a sport and competition, Shao-Lin Long Fist would probably be a bad choice.
    Some choices: Fencing, some Karates/Gongfus, Judo, Boxing, Kendo, Tae-Kwon-Do, Savate, or Shuaijiao.

    If you are looking for intense body conditioning and muscle development, Aikido is probably not the style for you.
    Some choices: some Okinawan Karates, Judo, some Gongfus, Muay Thai, Tae-Kwon-Do, Capoeira.

    Now these are general guides- in truth any art can be taught in a manner which promotes any of these things- Taiji masters have competed, some Aikido schools have rigorous workouts associated with the class, etc. The way to find out is to look at three things, only one of which is directly linked to the style.

    -The basics of the style (what does it teach, what is it used for)
    -The skill and the teaching style of the teacher
    -The purpose and the logistics of the school.
    Section (5) "How do I choose a school" for the answers to the last two questions.

    Also remember that more "complete" arts (ones with more techniques) naturally require longer periods of time for a practitioner to achieve a given level of proficiency. This is neither good nor bad; there are good points on both sides of the debate. This is simply another facet to account for in your decision.

    (b) Advice of many experienced Martial Artists here on NetLand coincide in the point of "go, read, look around, ask---then decide".

    As above the teacher and the school have as much to do with what you will learn as the style. Check out the styles in your area. Go see some classes of the different styles and see what interests you and what you think you would stick with.

    (c) Many people change from one style to another. While this is a common practice, accepted as a means of development, it is known that the first style is normally the one that leaves the base, the more profound "marks". Try to choose a style that suits your needs and at the same time offers you a kind of "challenge" to go on learning.

    5) How do I choose a School?

    This question is integrally linked with Question 4 "Which Martial Art should I study?".

    A couple of things that are important parts to look at in the process of choosing a school:

    (a) The environment where you will learn and train

    Don't get impressed by the size of the place- just be sure that you feel "ok" in there.

    Also don't necessarily be impressed by huge number of trophies. They may indicate a very successful competitive school (if that is an aspect you are interested in) or they could be all show. Check carefully.

    If you are not allowed to watch any classes, you may not want to invest your time and money. Without seeing a class you will not be able to get a good feel for the school.

    Ask questions- don't worry about looking stupid or asking the "wrong" question. They are going to be teaching and training you- you want to get any concerns or considerations you have out before you commit to anything.

    If you feel bullied or threatened in any manner, look somewhere else.

    (b) The people that will be your partners

    Go, watch some classes (without participating), then ask to participate- see if the behavior of the students changes by the fact that there is a new person in their class.

    What follows is a quick and dirty check list, to which you can add your own points, based on what you consider important. Remember: these questions and suggestions are just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. There will always be exceptions. But if you look in these domains you will have a solid ground to choose from.

    - How good are the students?

    This is more of a measure of the quality of the students as students than their skill at martial arts. See if you can picture yourself with these people. Are they attentive, respectful, interested in being there? Those are all good signs...

    - Is there a mix of upper and lower ranks?

    This is not always obvious in the styles without belt rankings, etc. It is generally a good sign if advanced, intermediate and beginning students are practicing together. Check the approach the higher ranked students take to you- their help will probably be very important in your advancement in the Art you choose.

    Some schools have classes separated by rank though. Ask.

    Is there a mix in the type of people in the class?

    Although this doesn't necessarily mean anything if it is not present, it is a good sign if there is a mixture of males and females, older and younger people in the class. It is a pointer to the efficiency of the Art if it can teach a wide variety of people together.

    - Do they move the way you would like to?

    This will give you some sense of what you can achieve. Look to the senior students and see if they move the way you want to move.

    - Do they help one another?

    In a small class this may not apply, but in larger classes it is a good sign if the senior students support and assist the junior students. This kind of personal attention will aid you greatly in your training.

    - Do the senior students seem fit and relaxed?

    This will give you a sense of the atmosphere of the school. If the senior students are uptight, nervous, unfit, out of shape, or unhappy, it may be a sign to move on. However, do not be put off by a single occurrence, i.e. because on THAT day the senior student was in a poor mood. It should at least prompt you to look carefully though...

    - How common are injuries?

    As most martial arts involve vigorous physical activity and contact, injuries will occasionally occur. However, if injuries are common and/or serious, there is likely a problem in how training is supervised, and you will probably want to look elsewhere. It will be difficult to tell what the frequency/severity of injuries in the class is in one or two visits. Ask the instructor.

    (c) The Instructor

    -You'll need some basic trust in the individual, as a beginning.

    The instructor is the person who is going to be guiding your development as a martial artist. You need to feel comfortable with him or her, and feel secure in receiving instruction from them. If you have some unease or personality conflict with the instructor(s) you might want to look elsewhere.

    - Do the students get personalized attention?

    This will be a good judge of how valuable your time will be. If there is a good amount of instructor to student attention there will be more value for you.

    - Does the instructor differentiate between forms and function?

    Another good indication is to find out if the instructor(s) differentiates between form and function. In other words do they do it "because it looks good" or "because it works." This may not apply if you are looking for a martial art as a performance art or as an exercise (though then you want to look at the efficacy of their exercises...)

    - Does the instructor(s) differentiate between tournament and self-defense?

    As above, your reaction to this question's answer will depend on what your goals are. However, there is general agreement that tournament training and self-defense training, while highly related, are different. If the instructor does not differentiate the two- that may be a danger sign!

    - Violence in the class

    If you see an instructor hitting students, or a senior student hitting students, be very clear that it was appropriate before you consider that school. Though be aware - if you are unfamiliar with the art, medium or full contact sparring may seem overly violent to you. Violence as discipline is to be avoided.

    - Are adjustments made for students of differing body types and limitations?

    Another good sign is if the instructor adjusts the training of his or her student's physical realities: telling a slow person to work contact, a fast person to work ranges, a heavy person to work leverage, a light person to work speed, or, conversely, concentrating on their weak areas to compensate.

    (d) The logistics of the School


    This is an important element to be clear about. You don't want to commit to a school if you can't afford it. It is impossible to address what a reasonable price would be here, because the benefits offered, the local economy, the quality of instruction, and the amount of instructor time are all variables in the equation. The best way to determine if a school is being reasonable is to compare what they offer for their prices.

    Find out if there are extra charges for going up in rank, find out if there are organizational dues, tournament fees, mat fees, etc.

    But do not be upset when a Martial Arts instructor charges money- they need to eat and have a place to stay. In our culture money is the way that happens. We do not feed and house wise old men, and unfortunately the costs of a school, equipment, and insurance are frighteningly high.

    [From Kirk Lawson:]

    There are several options for those short on cash who still want to learn a martial art.

    First, many school's will work with a student who truly wants to learn but is tight on cash. Talk to the head instructor. Frequently a deal can be struck that involves cleaning the school or some such.

    Second is the option to find what I call "Garage Schools." These are instructors that teach out of their garages and basements. They almost always have a "day" job and teach simply for the love of the art at a vastly reduced price; Sometimes $20 a month or less. Sometimes these Garage Schools teach through your local Park and Rec. program at similar cost savings.

    Third, for High school and college students, check with your Student Association or similar body. Schools and universities frequently have Martial Arts Clubs opperating through the school. You can usually join these clubs at no or minimal cost if you are a student. Sometimes these clubs are open to non-students as well. Further, some progressive universities offer a Martial Arts class for credit as part of the physical fitness curriculum.

    Naturally, there are sacrifices in each approach. To cut a deal with an instructor, you may have to eat humble pie by admitting that you're in a tight spot right now. It's something that many are loath to do. Finding a Garage School has it's own challenges as well. They usually don't advertise and so you only hear about them by word of mouth. You have to expend some effort looking for them to find them. Sometimes they are upper rank black belts in another school that they themselves travel some distance to train in. The advantage of a Garage School is that the instructor is interested in passing on the art, not making money, and the classes tend to be rather small. Thus, you typically get a very high level of instruction. Finding a Park and Rec. program is a bit easier, but you still have to contact the Park and Rec. program or admin. to find out. You can usually do this by contacting your local Civic Center or, for people entering a new area, check the contents of your Welcome Wagon basket. With both Garage Schools and Park and Rec. schools, you typically have a more limited selection and may not be able to find exactly the school you want. In the university and school programs, as with the Garage Schools, your selection is frequently more limited.


    If you are intending to spend a lot of time at the school you want it to be accessible, and convenient enough for you to get their after work, on weekends, etc.


    Another thing you want to be clear on is when you can go to the school and when classes are. Some schools are open almost all the time and have lots of classes. In some schools you can only come when an official class is being held. An open school is usually better for obvious reasons- convenience, practice time, access to mats, etc.

    -Commitments and Promises

    This is an important thing to know about any school you will be joining. Be very clear on what they will expect of you and what you expect of them. Some teachers want to teach only people who are willing to commit to them and their style, some are willing to introduce you to their style and let you dabble, some will teach you as long as you show up. None of these are intrinsically better or worse, but you want to know where they are coming from so you and they are not surprised.

    Find out if you are required to attend classes, find out about being late, find out what the policy is on school rules of behavior and etiquette. Find out how you are supposed to interact with the teacher and other students. There are many styles for all these things so make sure you find out. The easiest way is to ask these questions.

    There may be other questions you want to look at and specific questions you have about an instructor, school, organization, or style you are looking at. Know the questions you want answered and you will find the perfect school for you!


    (a) This guy says that his style will make a Full Certified Warrior & Killer out of me in 3 months---is it serious?

    In short: NO.

    First off, while many people enter the Way of the Martial Arts trying to be the deadliest people in the world, it is not true that the final objective of most, if any, Arts is this. Many Masters say that the best battle someone can win is one that he doesn't fight. Most martial arts are not designed to make you an instant killer.

    Secondly, don't expect any miracle to come down on you, any light to come through your window in the night and make you the most skilled fighter- it all depends on your dedication, on your objectives, and on the amount of training you get. Any school that promises to teach you to be an "expert" in less than two years (at the lowest minimum) is probably a scam. General net consensus seems to be that results can be seen within a few months but the elusive "MASTERY" is the product of YEARS and YEARS of dedicated work. Don't be fooled by false promises.

    (b) What do I do to become the deadliest person in the world ?

    In brief: You can't.

    While a Martial Artist does learn combat skills, the final objective of a Martial Art is not to become the deadliest person alive.

    The Martial Arts recognize there will always be someone who is bigger, stronger, faster, has a bigger knife, a more powerful gun, a longer range missile, and so on. The objective, then, is to become the best that you can be, regardless of how good anyone else is.

    7) Should children study Martial Arts?

    In general, yes. Some of the possible positives would be control of agressiveness, instilling self-respect and self-control, as well as self-defense.

    The style that a child should take is a totally different question, and is directly influenced by the style, if any, of the parents. It will of course be convenient if the child can practice with, or at least in the same school as, the parents. The major issue with children in the martial arts is the integrity and trustworthiness of the teacher and the school.

    The joints and connective tissues of children are more vulnerable to injury than those of adults. Keep this in mind when selecting a style and school for a child, and discuss it with the instructor. Schools which allow agressive joint locks to be applied to children or don't train them to refrain from snapping/hyper-extending elbows on strikes and knees on kicks should be avoided. (It is for this same reason that good baseball coaches will not allow young pitchers to throw pitches which require hard snapping of the arm - like curve balls). Throws, however, are quite different; the small size of children makes them naturals for arts which require falling down.

    8) I believe/don't believe in X. Should I train in Y?

    Some martial arts have philosophical and/or religious roots or associations, e.g. with Buddhism, Taoism, or Omotokyo. Thus, it is natural for people who are considering a particular art to wonder if it is compatible with their own philosophy or religion.

    Normally it is not considered ethical for a Sensei/Sifu/Master/Teacher to try to *impose* his own views on his students. However, the philosophical aspects of some arts may still be present in the required training to the extent that some potential students would be offended by it. As with so many other aspects of martial arts, it depends on the art and even more heavily on the instructor. So, be sure to watch for this aspect when you visit a school that you are interested in. Have a conversation with the instructor about it, and watch how he/she interacts with his/her students.

    9) Rankings/Color Belt Systems

    Many arts have a ranking system. A typical ranking from beginner to most experienced master is: 10th kyu, 9th kyu, ..., 2nd kyu, 1st kyu, 1st dan, 2nd dan, ..., 10th dan. "kyu" and "dan" are Japanese words; Korean systems use the word "gup" instead of "kyu". 1st dan and above frequently wear black belts.

    That being said, do not put too much stock in rankings, and put even less in belt color. Belt colors are HIGHLY dependent on the art, school, and instructor. Some arts don't have any belts. Some have only white and black. Some have white, brown, and black. Some have a rainbow. Some instructors hand out rank/belts like candy, others are very stingy. A given color will frequently signify different ranks in different arts.

    Rather than rank or belt color, what will determine an individual's skill are how long and how intensely they have studied, the quality of instruction they have received, and (to a lesser extent) their "natural" ability.

    A brief history of kyu/dan ranking systems and belts, contributed by Steve Gombosi, is given below:

    Before Jigoro Kano invented Judo, there was no kyu/dan ranking system. Kano invented it when he awarded "shodan" to two of his senior students (Saito and Tomita) in 1883. Even then, there was no external differentiation between yudansha (dan ranks) and mudansha (those who hadn't yet attained dan ranking). Kano apparently began the custom of having his yudansha wear black obis in 1886. These obis weren't the belts karateka and judoka wear today - Kano hadn't invented the judogi (uniform) yet, and his students were still practicing in kimono. They were the wide obi still worn with formal kimono. In 1907, Kano introduced the modern gi and its modern obi, but he still only used white and black.

    Karateka in Okinawa didn't use any sort of special uniform at all in the old days. The kyu/dan ranking system, and the modern karategi (modified judogi) were first adopted by Funakoshi in an effort to encourage karate's acceptance by the Japanese. He awarded the first "shodan" ranks given in karate to Tokuda, Otsuka, Akiba, Shimizu, Hirose, Gima, and Kasuya on April 10, 1924. The adoption of the kyu/dan system and the adoption of a standard uniform based on the judogi were 2 of the 4 conditions which the Dai-Nippon Butokukai required before recognizing karate as a "real" martial art. If you look at photographs of Okinawan karateka training in the early part of this century, you'll see that they were training in their everyday clothes, or (!) in their underwear.

    Most other arts that have ranking/belt color systems adopted them from the Japanese.

    10) What is Greenoch?

    The truth is: Greenoch doesn't exist. It first appeared in a post by someone satirizing the "my School is better than your School", "my Sensei/Sifu/Master is better than yours" syndrome that sometimes comes up in this group.

    11) What is Ki/Qi/Chi?

    There are no absolute right answers to this question. Instead of giving the one true answer to this, below are several different opinions.

    (a) Ki doesn't exist. Everything the ki model tries to explain can be explained with body mechanics, biophysics, and psychology. There is no need to postulate some mysterious force. Science can explain it.

    (b) Ki exists absolutely. Ki is an energy, a living force, a spirit that can be used to increase your strength, throw people around, etc. Subjective experience shows that ki is real. It may either be a bio-kinetic phenomena science doesn't understand yet or the power of the mind in union with the body.

    (c) Ki may or may not "really" exist. It is a useful model. The ki model allows you to visualize how to increase your strength, throw people around, etc.--it doesn't matter if it exists or not. If someone invents a better model (i.e. one that is easier to visualize), then maybe we'll switch to it.

    Of the styles that stress ki, some work on developing the flow of ki within their bodies. An example of this approach is Taijiquan. Other styles work on letting the ki of the universe flow through them.

    12) Martial Arts Glossary


    sparring -- training with another person using actual blows


    atemi -- a punch
    do -- way
    dojo -- training hall
    gi -- uniform worn when training
    kata -- prearranged series of movements
    ki -- energy, living power, spirit
    kumite -- sparring
    jutsu -- art
    randori -- multiple-person attacks
    sensei -- teacher

    Ichi (ee-chee) -- one
    Ni (nee) -- two
    San (sahn) -- three
    Shi (shee) -- four
    Go (go) -- five
    Roku (row-koo) -- six
    Shichi (shee-chee) -- seven
    Hachi (hah-chee) -- eight
    Kyu (cue) -- nine
    Ju (joo) -- ten

    dobak -- uniform worn when training
    dojang -- training hall
    poomse -- prearranged series of movements
    qi -- energy, living power, spirit (same as chi)
    sohgi -- stance
    chagi -- kick
    chirugi -- punch
    makki -- block
    kyuroogi -- free sparring
    gup -- grade
    kihap -- yell
    sah-bum-nim -- master

    Hah Nah -- one
    Dool -- two
    Set -- three (don't aspirate
    Net -- four the "t"s)
    Dah Suyht -- five
    Yuh Suyht -- six
    Il Gop -- seven
    Yah Duhl -- eight
    Ah Hope -- nine
    Yuhl -- ten

    qi -- energy, living power, spirit (same as ch'i)
    shifu -- teacher (also sifu)


    yi/yut -- one
    er/yee -- two
    san/som -- three
    si/say -- four
    wu/ng -- five
    lui/look -- six
    qi/chut -- seven
    ba/bot -- eight
    jiu/gau -- nine
    shi/sup -- ten

    13) A small bibliography:

    The Original Martial Arts Encyclopedia: Tradition, History, Pioneers. Corcorn/Farkas. Pro-Action Publishing. ISBN Number: 0-9615126-3-6

    Go Rin No Sho---The Book of the Five Rings. Miyamoto Musashi

    The Essence of Ninjutsu. Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi

    Budo Jiten, 2nd Edition. F. J. Lovret ( Taseki Publishing.

    Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts. Draeger & Smith Publisher: Kodansha International ISBN Number: 0-87011-436-0 ISBN Number in Japan: 4-7700-0913-5

    The Art Of War. Sun Tzu

    Zen in the Art of Archery. Eugen Herrigel

    The Bible of Karate: Bubishi, translated with commentary by Patrick McCarthy.

    Okinawan Karate. Mark Bishop

    Karate-Do, My Way of Life. Gichin Funakoshi

    Karate-Do Nyumon. Gichin Funakoshi

    Karate-Do Kyohan. Gichin Funakoshi

    The Student's Handbook. Frederick Lovret

    The Filipino Martial Arts. Dan Inosanto

    Absorb What is Useful. Dan Inosanto

    Budo. Morihei Ueshiba

    Zen in the Martial Arts. Joe Hyams

    The Martial Artist's Book of Five Rings, Translation by Hanshi Steve Kaufman, Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1994.

    In general, books from the Kodansha Editors carry a reputation of being serious and at the same time direct and objective.


    Pro-Action Publishing
    A Division of Pro-Action Sports, Inc.
    1717 N. Glendale Bl.
    Los Angeles, CA 90026

    Kodansha America, Inc.
    114 Fifth Ave.
    New York, NY 10011
    Tel. Orders: 800-631-8571 [Visa, American Express, Mastercard only]

    Taseki Publishing Co.
    3579 Ruffin Road #205
    San Diego, CA 92123

    14) Sources of information

    14.1) Martial arts schools in North America

    (This section has been removed and is awaiting new information).

    14.2) FAQ ftp site

    The rec.martial-arts FAQ and Newbie Guide are available on in the directory pub/usenet-by-hierarchy/rec/martial-arts, with the filenames rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_1_of_3, rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_2_of_3, rec.martial-arts_FAQ_part_3_of_3, and rec.martial-arts_Newbie_Guide.

    14.3) Aikido Dojo Search Engine

    AikiWeb maintains the online Aikido Dojo Search Engine at:

    ... which will allow you to interactively search through thousands of aikido dojo worldwide.

    14.4) Classical Japanese Martial Arts Electronic Magazine

    Budo Shinbun is an entirely electronic magazine devoted to the classical Japanese martial arts. It runs under Windows 3.1 and higher, and is complete with pictures. It is entirely automatic, and requires only that the subscriber tell it to "get new" and it will obtain the latest articles (mail too) for reading off-line. It is NOT a BBS. Available from Taseki Publishing (address & phone number above).

    14.5) Traditional Karate Mailing List

    Another discussion forum, this time a bit more specialized, is the Traditional Karate Mailing List, maintained by Howard S. High, of which we include some of the Charter:

    Charter for the Traditional Japanese/Okinawan Karate Group List Name:
    The purpose of this group is to provide a forum for individuals who
    practice one or more of the traditional Japanese/Okinawan Karate
    styles to share information and discuss issues.  This is the first
    "CYBER-Dojo" as a training supplement to Karate.  The list is
    un-moderated, with restricted membership.
    Application for membership is open to any individual who practices
    traditional Japanese/Okinawan Karate (teachers and students). An
    exception to this rule will be for those individuals who follow the
    traditional values but does not belong to a traditional school due to
    reasons beyond the individual's control.  Another exception is for
    individuals who have not yet selected a martial art to follow.  This
    list can help such individuals choose their path.
    A prospective member will send a subscription command to the LISTSERV
    command:  subscribe karate 
    The Host will forward an automatic reply which includes the
    questionaire and the Principles of Conduct.  After completing the
    application, the prospective member will forward the application to:
    use Subject: Membership Request
    The questionaire will be reviewed by the listowner.  After review, the
    list owner will either request more information from the applicant,
    send a Welcome Letter to the new member, or advise the applicant why
    the membership was not approved.

    To find out more information about the Karate CyberDojo, link to the following pages:

    The Official Karate CyberDojo Web Page:
    The Karate CyberDojo Journal:

    14.6) Aikido-L Mailing List

    For those of you interested in an open Internet e-mail discussion list on the Japanese martial art of Aikido, there exists the Aikido-L mailing list.

    The purpose of this group is open, public discussion of Aikido. Sharing, understanding and and mutual respect are encouraged. Flaming and arguments (such as 'my style is better than your style') are discouraged.

    To join the list, send an e-mail to:
    ... with the message: subscribe Aikido-L Firstname Lastname
    ... in the body of the message.

    To participate in the list once subscribed, simply send e-mail to

    The above instructions as well as options, FAQs, and information on the Aikido-L Seminars are all available on the Aikido-L website:

    14.7) Tuite/Acupuncture Discussion Group

    The purpose of this group is to provide a forum in which the theories
    of traditional Chinese medicine can discussed mainly in relation to
    the martial arts.
    The list is un-moderated, with restricted membership.
    How to apply for membership:
    All memberships are approved by the group administrator.  Membership
    is open to any open-minded martial artist, acupuncturist, alternative
    healer, or anyone _actively_ interested in any of the above.
    A prospective member will send a subscription command to:
    In the body of the message will only be one line of the form -
    The subject of the subscription request mail should be SUBSCRIBE to
    provide quicker response.  For example, if Joe Blow at wishes to subscribe, he would send:
    The list owner will receive the subscription request forward an
    application to you.  Further instructions will be provided with this
    application. Subscription will NOT be granted without having completed
    the application process.
    Serious applicants only!  Participation is the key to our group.  If
    your intention is to sign up, receive lots of in-depth knowledge from
    others, and contribute nothing, do not apply.  If everyone contributes
    - - the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts!
    - - Traditional Chinese Medicine - 5 Element Theory - Yin/Yang Theory -
    Kata or Forms bunkai as it relates to TCM - Book/Video reviews -
    Pressure point locations - Pressure point Knock Outs - Revival

    14.8) The Martial Arts Digest

    To subscribe to Martial-Arts-Digest, send the command:

    subscribe martial-arts-digest
    in the body of a message to

    If you want to subscribe something other than the account the mail is coming from, such as a local redistribution list, then append that address to the "subscribe" command; for example, to subscribe "local-martial-arts":

    subscribe martial-arts-digest

    (NOTE: As of 5/97 this list seems not to be active. If you have information on where it has moved, please contact the FAQ maintainer.)

    14.9) Jujutsu and Kokikai Aikido Mailing Lists

    To join one of the following lists, send an interactive message (if you are on bitnet) or email (if you are on Internet) to either:

    LISTSERV@PSUVM (bitnet)
    with the message:

    SUBSCRIBE Listname 'your full name'


    (The AIKIDO-L list is discussed separately in section 14.6)

    14.10) Japanese Sword Arts Mailing List and FTP site

    iaido-l Japanese Sword Arts Mailing List: To join the Iaido list, send email to with the command:

    subscribe iaido-l <your name>
    The iaido-l FTP site is at, where people can log in anonymously and find all sorts of information in pub/iaido, including the Japanese Sword Arts FAQ and dojo lists for North America and Europe.

    14.11) Chinese Shao-lin Center Electronic Mail List (CSC-List)

    PURPOSE: To provide information, class and training schedules for instructors and students (both active and non active) of Grand Master Sin Kwang The' 's Shao-lin System.

    SUBSCRIBING: send a message to with the words "subscribe shaolin" in the body of the message.

    Please send questions to the list owner:

    14.12) Martial Arts and Sword/TV and Film Mailing List

    To sign up, send a message to, and write in the body of the message:

    Subscribe mastvf-l Your name
    Please note that the list name is entirely alpha (that's an L, not a 1), and that you write your own name in where it says Your Name.

    To send messages to the list, send to Personal messages to the listowner go to

    Please note that this list is unmoderated, but that no flaming will be allowed! Anyone violating this rule will be suspended from the list, and if the problem persists, they will be unsubscribed. This is a friendly list, and we want everyone to be comfortable and feel free to express themselves without fear of having someone jump down their throat. Also, please note that this list is not echoed to or from usenet; there is no direct newsgroup access.

    Digest format is available if you want all the day's messages collected in one large post. After you are subscribed, send a message to, and put in the body of the message:

    Set mastvf-l digest
    The purpose of this list is to discuss martial arts and sword work on tv and in the movies, or conversely, to discuss any aspects of one's favorite tv shows and movies that are oriented toward the martial arts and sword.. Discussions of individual episodes of other programs that are heavy on the martial arts or sword are welcomed as well.

    14.13) Taichichuan Mailing List

    A talk/discussion group of individuals interested in the art, history, development and preservation of Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Kung, and related arts. The Taichichuan mailing list can be subscribed to by sending "subscribe taichichuan" in the body of a message to

    14.14) Neijia (Internal Chinese Martial Arts) Mailing List

    Neijia (internal chinese martial arts) mailing list can be subscribed to by sending "subscribe neijia" in the body of a message to

    14.15) Kyudo (Japanese Archery) Mailing List

    Kyudo, or Japanese archery, mailing list. This list is a general discussion list about the topic of kyudo.

    (un)subscribe requests:
    subject Line: none needed
    body: (un)subscribe
    actual distribution list:
    General questions queries comments and flames to: (Tom Utiger).

    14.16) Korean Martial Arts Mailing List

    Do you practice Korean martial arts? e.g. Tang Soo Do, HwaRang Do, Kuk Sool Won, Taekwondo, TaekKyon, Hapkido, Soo Bahk Do, Gumdo, Yudo, Ship Pal Ki, Yu Sool, Kong Soo Do, Kung Jung Moo Sool, etc.

    Come practice with us at the The_Dojang, 13+ years of continuous operation. Our readers range from 9th gup (white belt) to 9th Dan, with more subscribers 4th Dan and higher than other KMA lists.

    The_Dojang is a 2,200 member e-mail distribution list for the respectful discussion of all Korean martial arts. We remain the oldest, largest and the premier Internet discussion forum devoted to the Korean martial arts... for those wheresoever dispersed around the globe.

    The list is managed by "Mailman". To subscribe to The_Dojang go to:
    Brought to you by and California Taekwondo & Hapkido.

    Pil Seung!

    14.17) Eskrima/Kali/Arnis Mailing List

    Do you practice Eskrima, Escrima, Kali, Arnis, Dumog or some other Filipino martial art? Then join the Filipino martial arts e-mail forum, the premier Internet discussion forum devoted to the FMAs.

    The Eskrima list is a 2,400 member e-mail distribution forum for the respectful discussion of the Filipino martial arts... for those wheresoever dispersed around the globe. 13+ years of continuous operation.

    The list is managed by "Mailman". To subscribe to the Eskrima list go to:
    Brought to you by and Sudlud Eskrima.

    Mabuhay ang eskrima!

    14.18) Martial Arts WWW pages

    14.19) Kung Fu Mailing List

    The Kung Fu Mailing List is for the discussion of all traditional chinese martial arts. To join, all one has to do is send a message to with either

    subscribe kungfu
    subscribe kungfu-digest
    in the body of the message. The first is for a non-digest version while the second is for people who just want to receive one daily digest of the discussions.

    14.20) Taekwondo Net Forum Mailing List

    The Taekwondo Net Forum is a mailing list discussion forum for martial arts that have origins in Korea.

    If you would like to be added to this mailing list, send a message to with these words in the body text of the message:

    subscribe taekwondo-net
    Though it is called "taekwondo-net", the forum is open to discussion on all topics relating to all Korean Martial Arts.

    14.21) Kempo Mailing List

    The Kempo mailing list is an e-mail discussion group open to Kempo and Kenpo practitioners to discuss Kempo/Kenpo and related manners.

    To subscribe, send an empty e-mail to:

    14.22) Tuite-Ki Mailing List

    'Tuite_Ki' was founded April 5, 2000.
    Membership is restricted/moderated.
    Members: 50 (as of 7/25/00)

    For more information:

    Post message:
    List owner: Category: Top : Sports : Martial Arts

    15) Sources for material & equipment

    North America

    Scandanavian Sources (most from a MA chain store called SBI)

    Other sources:

    Disclaimer and Copyright Notice

    Some answers given may reflect personal biases of the author and the martial arts FAQ listing's contributors. The answers contained herein pertain to discussions on the rec.martial-arts group, and are by no means exhaustive.

    The martial arts FAQ list owes its existence to the contributors on the net, and as such it belongs to the readers of rec.martial-arts. Copies may be made freely, as long as they are distributed at no charge, and the disclaimer and the copyright notice are included.

     Matthew Weigel
    Ever Onward!