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What are the Martial Arts?

Pella BJJ Training Back Mount Attacks

When you think of martial arts, you typically think of discipline and self-defense. For adults, the self-defense aspect carries a larger weight for those that might feel like they need to be prepared for an attack from a stranger. For kids, parents look at the self defense for their child when dealing with bullies and the discipline that comes with the traditional martial arts: respect and a code of honor.

These are some of the more common reason to get involved in a martial art, but which one is right for you?

Marketing for Gyms

The term "Martial arts" covers a large range of different methods that have been used throughout the years. These terms became loose marketing strategies to help gain members for those gyms. As well known as it was, the "martial arts" were seen as a way of combat and self defense, sometimes being a "way of the warrior" method of thinking. This is still true for many martial arts gyms across the country.

During the years of the 1980s, many arts grew in popularity and the term martial arts became a household name that most people used for all forms. Many of these gyms used this to their advantage and called themselves "martial arts gyms" and did not worry so much on the art they had been teaching to the perspective new members. These are the years that Karate and Taekwondo became very popular amongst kids.

The term "Karate" has also been used as a place holder for martial arts all across the country as well. Many gyms use the term karate even though they are not officially trained in that discipline just because so many people have heard of karate in either movies or tv shows (The Karate Kid 1980s or Cobra Kai 2018). Of course it does not help that almost all disciplines wear the same looking Kimonos and most use a belt system to show ranking.

What are the Differences?

A list of some of the Martial Arts and when/where they originated

So how do you figure out what martial art to train? There can be some debate from some martial artists on what category they would go into, but we made this list to give you an idea of a simple break down in the unarmed sports.

Striking, Grappling, and Hybrid

Striking arts involve kicking or punching and often require protection in the way of striking pads or wearable pads to protect each person training. For sport they offer control of the strikes and kicks to reduce the risk of injury to both training partners.

These specific disciplines include:





Muay Thai

Grappling arts involve more of a wrestling style and involve grabbing and strength. They do not require much extra in equipment but are often very physically exhausting. These arts teach managing space and controlling another persons body.

These specific disciplines include:

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



Freestyle and Greco Wrestling

Sport Sambo

Hybrid is a mix of strikes and grappling. Those with a background in one or more martial arts find themselves using these as a self-defense class or way to build professional fighters. These arts often bridge the gap on how to use strikes to distract while gaining control of an opponent.

These specific disciplines include:


Combat Sambo

Krav Maga

After rolls at Pella BJJ

What's "Best"?

Now that we have listed them all out, the one question that is almost always asked, "which one is the best?".

The real answer is, it depends on what you want to do and how much physical work you are prepared for. When looking for a gym, you should check out how that community feels and if it is right for you or your kids.

One major thing to consider is that Martial arts are just that, an art. You will express whatever art you choose to train in your own way. That what makes all of these arts great in their own way. It truly comes down to your instructor and how they teach you. Some gyms are only about the money as it is a business for the instructors and how they make their living, but if there is not a sense of community and individual training it might be a gym to avoid. Good leaders are hard to come by and when we are attempting to training something new we often over look the individual teaching us but focus on the name of the school or how they trace back to the origin of the that art.

Daniel teaching Jiu Jitsu to Pella BJJ Members

Why did we Choose Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu became a world wide phenomenon in 1993 during UFC 1 when the Gracie family showed how using the grappling techniques of Jiu Jitsu could quickly overpower a much larger person. Royce Gracie handled all of his opponents with relative ease and very few strikes finishing most of his matches in under 5 minutes. Remembering that in the early UFC, the rules were very few and there was not yet a standard like the modern UFC we see today. You can watch his matches by clicking on the link below:

The following years and early UFC matches, Royce Gracie continued to use Jiu Jitsu to dominate the competition. Seeing this 180 lb man taking out masters of all types of martial arts including karate, boxers, and shoot-fighters made many question the standard of karate and how it was portrayed on film. Jiu Jitsu found its footing and is still a main stream art used for high level competitors in the UFC. Many fighters use Jiu Jitsu as their grappling base because of its extreme effectiveness.

Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal and leadership expert has been quoted with saying that everyone needs to learn Jiu Jitsu. He has defended his position on the matter several times on podcasts explaining his real life situations and comparing Jiu Jitsu with other forms in a hand to hand fighting. Click the link to hear what he has this to say about Jiu Jitsu and why it has the upper hand:

Many of our members chose Jiu Jitsu for a variety of reasons. Many follow the art because it has shown true potential in higher level competitions and MMA fights, others train because they have already tried one or more of the other martial arts and discovered for themselves that Jiu Jitsu was much more practical than what they had learned. We won't say that Jiu Jitsu is the best art, but it is better for some. It comes down to the person train and how they operate.

Regardless to who you listen to, all of these arts have worked for someone in the past otherwise they would not still be here. There are plenty of "what ifs" out there to show why one would be better than the others, however it has been shown in MMA fights and the early UFC that training with a mix of Striking and Grappling is useful in any situation (especially in a self-defense situation). However, as we continue to research our own art, we find articles like this one that help explain why Jiu Jitsu should really be something you consider training in:

Daniel Teaching members of the Marion County Sheriff reserve

No matter what you choose, know that joining any martial arts gym should give you a community to stand with and a workout for muscles you may have never knew you had. The best gyms push you to become your very best and will lookout for you. Much like a military unit or Crossfit gym, Jiu Jitsu gyms often have a very tight community of individuals that train hard and have a wide range of athletes. From the hard competitor to the weekly hobbyist, Jiu Jitsu is for anyone who wants to challenge themselves. It demands from anyone that attempts it to be prepared to re-evaluate their egos and physical abilities.

Maybe that's something we all need in life.

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