Practical Dictionary of Martial Arts Terminology.
This is by no means a complete dictionary on
anything. But it is meant as a reference for martial arts students. A
lot of martial arts is simple science of applied pressure, angles, and
mass in motion. Mysticism aside, we live in a physical world, and all
physics principles apply. If you didn't understand a word I just said
good for you. You live in a much simpler world.
- Acceleration: How fast an object can be put
- Attack: Self explanatory. Physical aggression of any kind.
- Angle: A particular position in the cartesian plane... ah
never mind. For martial art purposes force applied in a particular
direction in reference to something.
- Black belt: It most commonly known martial
arts there are around ten initial “levels” to black. And then about ten
levels of “black belt”. The rank is not always designated as black, nor
even a belt. The rank of “black belt” means that the student has been
instructed in all the basic levels of his martial art. By no stretch of
the imagination, does it mean that the possessor is the ultimate
warrior. Let's read that again “basic levels”. All the black belt means
is that (in military terms) “...has passed the minimum requirements for
this skill”. I'm not trying to diminish the rank (yes I am). What I'm
saying is that a student awarded the rank of black belt is just ready
to learn. (See black belt syndrome)
- Black belt syndrome: The delusional belief that new black
belts have, that they are now ready to serve as “knights of justice”,
impervious to attack regardless of how long it has been since they
trained. “I have a black belt in blah blah”, usually means you have a
good chance of winning the fight. The most dangerous men I know rarely
talk to strangers about their abilities (or post web pages on martial
arts for that matter :)
- Blood: An organic fluid that supplies living tissue with
the elements that it needs to survive. Any major loss of this fluid is
- Belt: A device that holds your pants up. Nothing else. It's
ok to be proud of your rank, and respect other's. But the stars don't
make the general.
- Bo Staff: A walking stick used as a weapon.
- Bone(s): Parts of the body that support the structure and
- Bow: As in bow and arrow.
- Bow: A sign of humility towards an instructor or higher
rank. Of Asian origin where the bow equals a military salute.
- Bow: As in bow-wow...(ok, I'm done)
- Cane: A stick with a curved end that can be
used for hooking.
- Circulation: The body process of supplying blood to cells.
- Dan: Korean rank of black belt. The number
before it denotes the level of black belt that the student has. i.e.:
- Deceleration: How fast an object in motion stops. Some
deceleration techniques apply force in a way that “decelerates” an
attack by robbing it's energy.
- Dan bo: A very short stick used as a weapon.
- Discipline: The state of mind of applying oneself to a goal.
- Dislocation: When the joint between two bones is separated.
Usually accompanied by ligament, tendon, and muscle damage.
- Efficient: It works, regardless of how it
Energy: For our purposes, energy is the power to “do”. All life has
energy. In martial arts we manipulate energy (ours and theirs) to
defeat an opponent.
- Force: Applied kinetic energy. In English?
The physical power needed to move or hit something. Force is mass
moving at a particular rate of speed.
- Grand master: A martial art rank belonging
to a martial artist who not only has “mastered” the martial art, but
has also developed a superior understanding of it and how it fits into
- Gun: A device (firearm) that launches a projectile at high
velocities, and very capable of causing severe injuries or death.
- Heel: 1)The back part o the foot where it
touches the ground. 2)The back side of something else in simile with
the foot i.e.: The heel of the palm, The heel of the rifle.
- Humility: The ability to see life with a greater
understanding, unhindered by blinding factors like pride, social
position, or skill.
- Ineffective: It does not work, regardless
of how it looks on tv.
- Injury: Damage to the body. Injuries will occur. Injuries
occur going to the corner store. However, all care should be taken to
avoid injuries as much as possible. Its hard to train with somebody who
wants to “teach” you by breaking you. Repetitive serious injuries is
never acceptable. Minor injuries do occur in physical training, such as
sports, martial arts, and military. But care of yourself and your
partner should always be a priority. How well do you think you will
fare in a self defense situation if you have a “bad” knee, “bad” back,
“bad” leg, “bad” shoulder, and “bad” arm?
- Instructor: Teacher. A teacher is always respected, even if
you disagree or have been shown a better way. You are there to learn
from him. In many cases the instructor is more important than the
particular martial art you are studying.
- Joint: A junction where bones come together.
- Jo Staff: A walking stick of approximate chest high, used
as a weapon.
- Kick: To strike with the foot or lower
- Knife: A bladed weapon shorter than a sword.
- Lever(age): To apply force using a point of
support, a point of force applied, and a point of kinetic movement
(where the work happens).
- Long gun: A firearm that is not a handgun i.e.: rifle,
- Mass: The amount of material in an object.
Proportional to the amount of force it can generate.
- Master: A martial arts rank belonging to a well experienced
martial artist who is not only able to teach, but has also has
“mastered” the martial art, not only in technique, but also mastered
himself. Usually the rank of master is somewhere around 5th Dan.
- Muscle: The part of the body that provides kinetic movement.
- Numchaku: A weapon of Japanese origin, that
is composed of two sticks joined by a string or chain.
- Opponent: Your training partner. Deliver
only as much as you are willing to get back.
- Pain: An uncomfortable body signal when
there is something wrong in a particular area. Care should be taken in
training to use pain as a gauge to prevent injury. Often the absence of
pain does not mean that injury will not occur. Be careful!
- Palm: The underside of the hand.
- Practical: Feasible. Doing things in your favor. For
example running from a fight might hurt your pride, but it is the most
practical way of escaping unhurt. I never argue with a speeding bullet.
No pride there. In the same way, launching yourself in the air in your
fancy “twisted tiger pulled groin” technique against three armed
aggressors might look good on tv, but its just not practical. Don't
argue! You've never had a pulled groin muscle have you?
- Punch: A hand strike, usually with the fingers rolled into
- Qualified (to teach): Find out what your
instructor's background is. If he was drinking tea with Bruce Lee in
the 60s and he's 20 years old... well you get the picture.
- Rank: The least important part of martial
arts. Since martial arts is a “personal” skill. Rank means very little.
The only thing that really matters is skill. Black belts and
certificates are available online, or you can make your own with any
printer. But skill is something that only comes with discipline, and
that is what everyone respects. “Wonder” black belts that earn their
rank from 0 to black in six months are an embarrassment to themselves,
their schools and their teachers. How would you feel if you found out
your doctor went to school for a year? I'm not saying to disrespect
your instructor. But you should be respected for your character and
skill more than your rank.
- Respect: The key of martial arts. Every martial art
emphasizes respect of self and others. Proper martial arts training
teach humility and the avoidance of conflict at all possible costs.
Violence is avoided as much as possible.
- Self Defense: The act of repelling an
- Sparr(ing): To engage in simulated combat for training
- Spear: A weapon composed of a shaft with a sharp device on
one or two ends.
- Speed: The velocity an object travels at.
- Strike(ing): To hit an opponent
- Student: All of us, always, period.
- Sword: A long bladed weapon.
- Training: The only way to become proficient
- Velocity: Actual speed of something.
- Warrior: You. Even though you might be a
tree-hugging, oil-rig chaining, war-protesting, pacifist. We live in a
sometimes violent world, and even though we strive for peace, we are
sometimes forced into protecting something. Its ok to be peaceful. I'm
very peaceful, but there are people and principles that I am not
willing to sacrifice.
- Way: In martial arts philosophy, way is often used as a
path or method of. i.e.: "In Hap ki do" "Do" means "way".
- Weapon: Anything used inflict damage on another. i.e.:
contact weapons (.ie.: blades), firearms (i.e.: guns), or body weapons
(i.e.: empty hand).
- Weight: Force excerted by gravitational pull, proportional
to the mass of the object.
The “way” of dynamic energy.
- Yakker: won't shut up
- Zen: Various definitions, but generally the
mental aspects to martial arts training.