Asian Martial Arts

Teaching in the Asian martial arts has historically followed a tradition of teacher-disciple apprenticeship. Students of a given Asian martial style are trained in a strictly hierarchical system by a master instructor:

Asian Martial Arts Lion
  • Sensei in Japanese; 
  • in Chinese, Lao Shih; Cantonese Sifu; 
  • Mandarin (Wade-Giles) Shih fu, 
  • (Pinyin) Shī fù (lit., the master-father), 
  • SaBumNim (Korean).

The asian martial arts instructor is expected to directly supervise their students' training, and the students are expected to memorize and recite as closely as possible the rules and basic training routines of the school.

Open speculation about training methods or the instructor's motives and personality is generally not tolerated in juniors, as they aren't considered familiar enough with the basic requirements of their respective Asian martial system to make realistic distinctions.

They are instead encouraged to repeatedly train applications of the forms and techniques that they've been shown in gradually more complex scenarios.

In this family-based hierarchy, those who enter instruction with the instructor before the student are considered older brothers and sisters; those after, younger brothers and sisters. 

The instructor's peers are considered aunts and uncles, etc. into other generations above and below. Such clearly delineated relationships, based on seniority, are designed to develop intangibles such as good character, patience and discipline in the martial art students. 

As a matter of safety for the instructors, the student body and the individual student, before they are shown anything beyond the most basic conditioning exercises, students learn their place in the school hierarchy. 

Students should learn how and why to clearly demonstrate respect for others and how to follow the directions of their instructors properly.

Traditional Asian martial art schools are said, by this reasoning, to provide thereby a level playing field for all students, providing a relatively fixed framework for interaction with one's seniors, peers and juniors, so that everyone, not just the physically gifted, can have an opportunity to benefit from the training provided in the martial art school.

Some method of certification can be involved, where one's skills would be tested for mastery before being allowed to study further; in some systems, especially in the Chinese martial arts, there are no such certifications, only years of close personal practice and evaluation under a master, much like an apprenticeship, until the master deems one's skills satisfactory. 

This the art or science of teaching, while still preserved and respected in many traditional Asian martial styles, has weakened to varying degrees in others and is even actively rejected by some schools, especially in the West. Martial Arts permiate most asian cultures. 

Here is a short list of countries that are classified as Asian martial arts:

  • Cambodian Martial Arts
  • Chinese martial arts
  • Indian martial arts
  • Indonesian martial arts
  • Japanese martial arts
  • Korean martial arts
  • Burmese martial arts
  • Okinawan martial arts
  • Filipino martial arts
  • Vietnamese martial arts
  • Thai Matial Arts

You can learn more about the Asian martial styles via publications such as the..

Journal of Asian Martial arts




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some material from the Wikipedia article "Martial Arts"


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