We are ­not supposed to talk about this. According to the famous line from the ‘Fight Club’ movie: "The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you DO NOT talk about Fight Club". But we're going to break both of the rules. We are going to talk about martial arts. As in ‘sport’ and as in ‘violence’.

Martial arts are claimed to be all about self-defense, self-discipline and self-esteem. As in sport. However, it takes two to fight (at least). If both will only exercise the self- defense, it won’t work. Somebody needs to attack. As in violence.

Thus, we are talking about a deadly art of killing people the way your grandfather used to - with your bare hands. It is the best way to kill someone when no weapons are available. It is also a polite way to kill someone even when weapons are available.

This artistically choreographed act of violence is undeniably attractive, inspiring movies, video games and romance novels.

Whether a tool of war or a method of civilian self-defense, the battering act gives us some primordial ecstasy. What a thrill it is to knock someone out! What an electrifying sensation of your knuckle getting in touch with someone’s eye socket! That’s what we are trying not to talk about.  As law abiding members of a civilized society, we should be ashamed of these animal feelings. Humans should be way above the primitive instincts.  We've pummeled one another forever; it’s time to find a better way to settle our disputes. But not just yet. Our world is too violent to let us be peaceful. So we have an excuse to practice martial arts. We admit it is a kind of violence, but violence ‘structured’ in a form of a spectator sport.

We love martial arts. We are not allowed to talk about bloodlust and inner desire to inflict pain on our opponent. So we are talking about self-defense, self-control, self-esteem and self-whatever-else. We get to learn how not to be beaten by someone half our size and twice our age. We get a safe place where we vent our frustration without being arrested. We have fun playing samurais and ninjas. We master some cool dance moves. We learn to count to ten in some Asiatic languages.

And we get to choose our favorite fighting brand out of wide variety of martial arts:


Karate literary stands for “Empty hand” or “China hand”. That means, you are doing some Chinese stuff with your bare limbs. Specifically – you are smashing wood, bricks, humans and other natural objects. Most Karate styles are already placed on Green Peace’s most wanted list and may be soon outlawed by most countries. Karatekas (as in karate fighters, not a video game) enjoy pain; this is shown by their habit of fighting with their fists on their hips.

Karate people wear color-coded belts ranging from white to black. Traditionally, the belts weren't colored. They were just the only part of the uniform that never got washed, so it got darker with training. Thus, a clean white-belted fighter is fresh meat, while a black-belter – a smashing guru.


A Japanese martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him.  Your enemy is expected to fall on his back –as fast as possible (the trick is called ukemi). Of course uneducated ukemi can end up in a dozen of broken bones, but this would be a self-inflicted injury.

Aikido is also known as "the fastest way to union with the ground."

It can also be nicknamed "Origami with people"– the art of folding of human flesh.


Means "Gentle way." A Japanese art where grown men roll around cuddling each other without apparently doing any damage. The first technique consists of falling to the floor, curling into the fetal position, and whimpering pitifully. Judo scholars usually take themselves to the mat 2 or 3 times simply trying to tie their belts.

For homework they watch another Jackie Chan movie.

But with all the "gentleness", Sensei's hands are often registered with the local police as a deadly weapon.

Jujitsu (also known as jujutsu, ju-jitsu, or jiu-jitsu):

A lot like Judo except that these boys like to inflict slightly more damage.

It looks like your opponent is folding your laundry for you - while you are still wearing it.

Tai chi ch’uan (or simply Tai Chi):

A slow-motion, moving meditative exercise for relaxation, health and self-defense. Supposed to keep stress from killing or injuring.

Can be described as "standing still, only faster."

Also known as martial art overdosed on valium...

An art that promises ultimate power from moving very slowly for many years. Unfortunately by the time you develop this ultimate power you are close to death anyway.

Tae kwon do:

A Korean version of unarmed combat.

An unusual martial art that relies on Taekwondo-ers to have the flexibility of a professional ballet dancer.

An elegant approach to ass-kicking.

Popular abbreviations: TKD and WTF (the second one stands for World Taekwondo Federation and not what you thought).


“Way of the Sword”- samurai impersonators are hitting each other with sticks while making inhuman sounds. (Could be a cult.)

The level of swordsmanship is tested on a hovering fly. You can cut the annoying insect in half with a sword – good. Decapitate the fly –excellent. Circumcise it – you can do the Kendo.

Arnis de mano:

"Harness of the hand" - a Philippino martial art, involving twin sticks for fighting. A combat of stick, blade and empty hand. It is actually a dance. After the Spanish banned the martial arts in the Philippines, it was camouflaged and ‘boogied’, hiding the fighting activities.

Can be shortened to just ‘Arnis’, but be careful: mispronunciation of the name guarantees a quick taste.

Kung fu:

A generic term for a majority of the Chinese martial arts involving animal mimicry, such as the praying mantis, the monkey or the drunkard. The fighters wear silk button up pajamas and bizarre weapons.

It is one of the fastest martial arts. It has such moves as the ‘one inch punch’, which kind of makes up for the weirdness.


Percussion class with people as the drums. Develops happy Kempers.

Krav Maga:

The martial art of the Israeli special forces. It focuses on defending knife and gun attacks and killing/gouging out the eyes of/ groin smashing multiple attackers as well as deadly strikes.

Also known as "Oh crap, let's get out of here" in Palestinian interpretation.


Capoeira was developed by African slaves taken to Brazil. It is a mixture of dance and ass kicking.

And there are more… Just choose your favorite style and enjoy.

We are not supposed to talk about it. As in violence. We are talking about sports and arts. As in self-defense.

We talk of Martial Arts as a family of self-defense disciplines consisting largely of sweeping ornamental gestures of the arms and legs. It is amusing to look at, though disappointingly ineffective when one's opponent is armed with a semi-automatic.