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Home Cover Features Safeguarding Self!

Safeguarding Self!

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Safeguarding Self!

Martial Arts are classified systems and traditions of warfare practices. These art forms are practiced for different reasons, like self-defence, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as spiritual development. Every person must learn one Martial Art form to be prepared for lurking dangers all around. It has become essential for people to safeguard themselves from any physical harm, whether inside or outside their homes.

H Sarita (name changed) was walking back home, she was being followed by a guy. This has been happening for two consecutive days. She just kept quiet. But on the third day, the guy brushed past her, she just sent him flying. A karate student, her one punch was enough to send him packing

H Srividya (name changed) loved sports, but was not clear on what sports to excel in. She had heard about so many martial arts, but chose Taekwondo, which is different and has done her parents and school proud by bagging prizes at events

H Anant, had heard a lot about Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art. He began training in this as he felt that it originated from his own country and for him it resembled a war dance. An advantage in this is the Kalari massage

H Nalini, a senior citizen, began learning Tai Chi, as she felt her knees and neck were giving her immense pain. From the third month onwards, she could feel the change. This martial art is not only for self-defence, but it also helps in rebuilding one’s health

Martial Arts teaching methodology provides consistent and systematic approach for training children, women and men in balancing mind, body and spirit. It is always necessary to learn Martial Arts for fitness, self-defence and competition. One should be committed to learn martial arts that will help in character building, instilling confidence and increasing self-esteem, leading to success and positivity.

Safeguarding Self!

Chief instructor N Babu Rao, who teaches Tai Chi at YMCA, Secunderabad and Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad, says that Tai Chi (Tie-Chee), originally developed for self-defence, has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. “Often described as meditation in motion, Tai Chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements,” he says.

Babu Rao’s Guru, Indian Grand Master G Prakash Rao, says that Tai Chi is the moving meditation and supreme power.  Analysts say: “The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as the Supreme Ultimate Force, the notion seen as a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. ‘Force’ (literally, ‘fist’) can be thought of here as the means or way of achieving this ‘supreme-ultimate discipline’.

The chief instructor says that the form of Tai Chi, in performance, it looks like a classical dance with graceful movements and alert actions. “It also offers a balanced drill to the muscles and joints of various body parts in the way of complicated actions which, in turn, are regulated by the timing of deep breathing and the movement of the diaphragm,” Babu Rao says.

He says that a tranquil state of mind and complete dedication to spiritual concentration on all the movements are required during the exercise. “This will ensure that the central nervous system, including its cardinal components is given sufficient training and is consequently toned up with time as the exercise continues. It is quite logical to say that the efficiency of the various organs of our body depends largely on the soundness of the nervous system. In other words, a strong central nervous system is the basic condition of a healthy body,” the Tai Chi exponent says.

Tai Chi, as it is practiced today, can perhaps be thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. There are a number of so called forms (sometimes so called ‘sets’) which consists of a sequence of movements. ‘Many of these movements are originally derived from the martial arts (and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the way they are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully, with smooth and even transitions between them,” states Rao.

Safeguarding Self!

Benefits of Tai Chi

The benefits of Tai Chi movements include increased health, wellness, peace of mind, etc. Needless to say, all of these perceived health benefits can greatly enhance a person’s ability to increase his or her quality of life.

“The movement of the muscles exerts pressure on the veins, forcing the blood to flow towards the heart. During the deep breathing, the muscles of the diaphragm act to massage the liver and viscera bringing a marked improvement to the functioning of these organs.

To the viscera, arterial and respiratory systems, the Tai Chi Chuan will bring forth the same beneficial effects. Besides exercising the muscles and joints as aforesaid, it gives rise to harmonised and uniform breathing, especially in the movement of the diaphragm. Therefore, it can improve the circulation of the blood and lymphatic gland,” he says.

Babu Rao’s student, Nalini says that one of the characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan is that breathing is brought into harmony with the actions. “Since the breathing is so deep that the intake of air to the lungs is greater in quantity than usual, a greater amount of oxygen is available for consumption and thus, blood circulation is accelerated. What is more important is that the blood vessels catering for the nourishment of the heart and the viscera respectively are expanded. In this respect, Tai Chi serves effectively as a tool to prevent all kinds of diseases of the heart and viscera and inflexibility of the cardiac muscle.” She and her husband are both enrolled for the Tai Chi classes as it has made a marked improvement to their health.

Babu Rao explains that the form of Tai Chi, an artistic style of exercise, has a lot of other characteristics. “They are very helpful to those who practice it. For example, one of them is the tranquility of mind which can be achieved thorough out the movement. The moves are as fluid as the running water of streams and rivers, while the mind is so peaceful, and the actions so graceful that it is much the same tranquil state as that found in Taoism,” he says adding that the movements of Tai Chi keep the heart and the lungs in a proper and comfortable condition, giving the body and the mind a lot of benefit. Tai Chi not only improves one’s health but also changes one’s disposition. He says that Karate is the mother of all art forms.

Sijo G Prakash Rao, the Grandmaster, member of World Grandmasters Council. A Red Belt holder in Kung Fu and Tai Chi traditions, Prakash Rao learnt the art from both Buddhist and Taoist masters of Far East Asian Origins.  Established in 1975, the Shaolin Tao Chi Academy, a martial arts institute teaches Martial Arts and Fitness Programmes. “The knowledge and practice of Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Buddhist, Taoist, Yogic applications promotes life style management initiatives as well as stress relief programmes,” he says.

Students at Shaolin Tai Chi Academy believe that the skill of diligent practice combined with resourceful tranquil mind does wonders in realisng one’s own potential to be fit for the challenges to survive in modern world of competitive existence. The Academy has trained many people across the South, as well as Sri Lanka, Maldives and Mauritius.

Safeguarding Self!

Ancient Art

Lakshman Gurukkal, founder and director of Kalari Gram, Auroville, says that Kalaripayattu is the ancient Indian Martial Art originated in Kerala. “It is all about inner peace and fluid animal movements. A traditional form of martial art that started in Kerala, Kalaripayattu is believed by the historians to be one of the oldest existing martial arts in the world,” Lakshman says.

Speaking about Kalaripayattu, Lakshman Gurukkal says that Kalaripayattu is the oldest form of oriental martial art. “It encapsulates Kerala’s unique cultural mytho-historical heritage. Kalaripayattu is derived from the combination of two words as ‘Kalari’ which means the training place and ‘Payattu’ means the training. Kalari is considered as the arena where traditional psycho-physiological disciplines practices of which cultivate mental, physical and spiritual benefits,” he says.

According to Lakshman the Kalari legacy is also considered as a scientific system of physical-culture training beneficial to the modern sportsman and physical culturist. “If the ‘lived body’ in its concreteness is the site of experience and source of knowledge for the practitioner, contemporary discourses and representations of the body and martial practice play a crucial role in shaping the fundamental assumptions of Kalaripayattu practitioner has about his body and the experience of practice,” Lakshman says.

Lakshman Gurukkal explains that Kalari Gram has been honoured with many national and international awards for its outstanding accomplishments in the field of Kalaripayattu and Ayurveda. “Many national and international universities have chosen Kalari Gram for their extension study programmes. Students from various countries such as Germany, Brazil, China, Japan, Italy, Finland, Portuguese, Switzerland, Austria etc. study Kalaripayattu in Kalari Gram,” he says.

Speaking about the effects of Kalari massage, the Kalaripayattu expert says that it helps in many ways like Positive health giving therapy, Corrective Musculo-skeletal applications, Treatments for specific injuries, Pathological conditions including bruises, joint dislocations, bone fractures, Emaciation of muscles and limbs and Post-operative orthopedic rehabilitation. He shares that Prime Minister Narendera Modi had undergone a 15-day Kalari massage treatment at Auroville.

The Kerala martial art exponent says that the practice of Kalaripayattu promotes stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium, Stablises pulse rate and blood pressure levels, Increases Galvanic Skin Response, Improve Cardiovascular efficiency, Increases respiratory efficiency, Normalises Gastrointestinal function, Endocrine function normalizes, Excretory functions improve and Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase.

Safeguarding Self!

He goes on to add that Kalaripayattu helps in many other ways like Breath-holding, Increasing grip strength, Eye-hand coordination, Energy level goes up, Normalizes weight, Sleep improves, Immunity increases among many other things. Lakshman firmly believes that Kalaripayattu training balances the activity of opposing muscle groups and it is a non-competitive, process-oriented training. “Kalaripayattu training offers limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness and by its training, Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increases,” he says. A Kalari workshop by Guru Lakshman Gurukkal is coming up in April at Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad.

Martial Arts is taught mainly to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks. Kalyan Dance and Martial Arts Academy trains students in self-defence, self-protection, fighting which involves striking techniques. “Martial arts training implies that a student upholds the philosophical principles of the art and practices its techniques in a fashion similar to the founder’s or in the style’s natural progression,” says director Kalyan.

Bandi Institute of Martial Arts (BIMA) is affiliated to World Karate & Kickboxing Council (W.K.C) and is a member of International Kickboxing Federation (IKF), World Karate Confederation (WKC), World Budo Development Society (WBDS) and J .R International Taekwondo Academy (affiliated to Kukkiwon). The school is devoted to the development of Kickboxing, Cardio Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Karate and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

BIMA President, B. Chandra Sekhar, says that Martial Arts teaches many skills like Self-Defence, Be Stronger, Lose Weight, Toning of body, Increasing Energy, Improving Stamina, Increasing Concentration, Stress Relief, Live Longer, Gain Flexibility, Gain Self-Control, Discipline and Leadership Skills.

Martial arts modern practitioners’ state that through martial arts training Students can do body building flexibility, strength, endurance and speed. Practitioners can improve mental discipline, increase physical fitness or gain self-defence skills. Taika Martial Arts Academy center in Hyderabad offers different body building and fitness classes for students like karate classes, kickboxing, mixed martial arts and self-defence for women. The Academy had won many gold medals at an international event held at Mumbai from 25 to 30 November 2015.

Taika Martial Arts Academy also teaches women, self-defence which is the central goal of karate classes. The Academy states that Fairer sex learn to use their whole body to defend and attack, while Beginners learn the basic forms of effective punches, kicks and blocks. “Advanced students learn complicated combinations and difficult manoeuvers, such as high kicks and grapples. Once if Women reach the higher levels of training in self-defence, they will have the ability to defend themselves in dangerous situations, including attacks by multiple people,” an official said.

Safeguarding Self!

Kickboxing is one of those physically demanding sports that can change life for the better. It is said that one can see great improvements in the overall quality of life with Kickboxing. “People of all ages and from every walk of life can benefit from this program. The techniques that students learn from this Academy have helped some to achieve regional, national, and even world champion status. They teach life lessons within a relevant, street-applicable art of self-defence,” he said.

Kung Fu is the most powerful, where students learn stretching, stances, kicks, jumps, movements, and empty hand, traditional weapons forms. Another Martial Art, one can learn is Ninja Kungfu, which apart from being a fitness regimen, is a self defence art. The Art and science of Taekwondo is a traditional Korean Martial Art and Olympic sports. Taekwondo is made from three Korean Words - ‘Tae’ means foot techniques, ‘Kwon’ means hand techniques and ‘Do’ means way of life. Taekwondo is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing spirit and life through training body and mind.

Kickboxing is a group of martial arts and stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from Martial arts like karate and Boxing. The success of kickboxing has allowed it to evolve into different types with different rules or goals to make it appeal to a larger audience of people.

Whatever Martial Art, one picks up to learn, it must be learnt truly as all Martial Arts help in having good health and protecting one-self from physical attacks.

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