BY MATT FERIM
So you think you know your martial arts? Although you may be aware of plenty of different forms of martial arts there are always some new types that you might not ever have heard of.
Of course, we are all familiar with names like kung fu, judo, karate and kick boxing. And mixed martial arts are now so accepted as mainstream sports that you can even bet on some of the matches – check out the range of mixed martial arts that you can place bets on at BetFair, the online betting exchange.
However, we’ve put together some info on the more unusual and off-beat martial arts for your perusal below. Though martial arts have been around for a long period of time, there are some newer martial arts included here, and some of the ones that may seem new have a surprisingly long history attached to them.
If you’re interested in finding out about a new way that one opponent can take on another in a demonstration not only of physical, but also of mental, strength; then check out the list. A lot of those listed, however, are likely to remain on the fringes of sport for a good long time, though. Why would that be? Read on and you’ll soon find out.
If you enjoy Thai fighting, then Lerdrit is likely to be of interest to you. It’s a variation of traditional Thai fighting moves that has been put together as a new martial art.
Lerdrit is what the commandos of the Royal Army in Thailand practice. They are highly trained in the skilled fighting technique of Lerdrit. Amongst other Thai fighting sports Lerdrit’s ancestors include Muay Thai and Muay Boran. However modern-day Ledrit has been developed to be even more brutal than the older sports – perfect for today’s society’s mentality!
Examples of how Lerdrit differs from previous but similar martial arts include the fact that fighters are supposed to move to attack with no warning. The aim is to get the target (opponent) on the ground as quickly as possible and finish the fight with a kill strike. This could be, for example, a boot against the throat. Equally good would be elbowing the competitor’s temple.
Lerdrit fighters keep their hands open when fighting – no fists – and often-used moves include kicks, knees, grappling, forward pressure, elbows and locking.
In Peru, the fighting sport of Bakom (otherwise called Vacón) has sprung up from the back streets of Lima. This is a sport designed to disable or kill an opponent as soon as a fight begins. Hidden weapons often feature in Bakom and it’s a fighting sport that has developed from the extreme poverty of the streets of a district in Lima called Villa El Salvador.
Although many martial arts have ancient roots, this isn’t the case with Bakom. It was developed in the 1980s but a former prisoner and ex-Marine called Roberto Puch Bezada. You can see echoes of jujutsu and Vale Tudo-style street fighting in Bakom.
This isn’t a sport for the weak-stomached spectator. Moves include things such as arm locks which can result in snapped bones, and combatants specialize in aiming kicks and punches at vital organs such as the kidneys. The pace is very quick, with the aim of the attacker finishing off their opponent before they even really know the fight has begun.
This is one of the oldest martial arts around and has its historical roots in the battle fields of Indochina more than 17 centuries ago. Legend has it that Bokator was the secret weapon of the Khymer Empire. Movements in Bokator are reminiscent of the movements made by creatures such as eagles, snakes, horses, lions and cranes.
A lot of strength and brute force is required; which makes sense as this would indeed be the case when warriors fought without guns on the battle field. There are over 10,000 different moves which include hits with the knee or elbow, locking joins and a range of various throws. This is a sport that you won’t believe until you see it in the flesh.
JHR – AKA Jailhouse Rock
Jailhouse Rock isn’t anything to do with Elvis Presley’s song. It’s actually the name for an extremely violent kind of fighting that has developed – as you might guess from the name – in prisons in the United States of America. Put a load of frustrated guys full of pent-up aggression in a confined area, equip them with weights and gym machines and give them nothing else to do, and what else do you expect them to spend their time doing?
Although Jailhouse Rock is a recognized martial art, it has few rules attached to it. It’s one of only two martial arts that are recognized as such in the USA. Some of the more weird training techniques include being tasked with picking up a whole pack of playing cards one at a time while a group of other men beat you up.
Another name for JHR is 52 Blocks, although some practitioners would dispute how close the two sports are. Both are a combination of dirty boxing with martial arts thrown in. There’s a lot of use of the upper body (arms and elbows) to block incoming strikes and punches. 52 Blocks is also taught as a self-defense skill as well as for use in the mixed martial arts arena.
A martial art that is popular in West Africa is Dambe. Its origins are the hand to hand fighting techniques that were used in ancient Egypt.
Although it is a popular martial art for different groups, Dambe is the preferred martial art for the Hausa people. The main way to injure your opponent is to use your ‘strong side fist’. Each fighter’s hand and lower arm is wrapped in a cloth and then held in place with tight cord. Years ago the cloth could be dipped in a mix of resin and shards of glass to make the fist more deadly, but this is no longer allowed.
A thick chain is wrapped around one leg. With the two weapon limbs, the idea is then to get the best of your opponent before they have the chance to do worse to you.
A Filipino martial art that is not for the squeamish is Kino Mutai. The translation of the name is ‘the art of biting and pinching’ and as well as using biting techniques, eye gouging is also employed, along with a wide range of grappling moves. However, the rules state that fighters should not aim to ‘bite’ their opponents, but only use the biting technique when the situation is suitable.
For when these moments occur there are nine Artery Points that fighters should aim for. The ultimate goal of the biting technique is to be in a position where they can achieve ‘uninterrupted biting’. This is where a fighter holds their opponent in a grip hold and basically bites until the opponent submits.
The style of Kino Mutai is vicious and without mercy, and the principle goal is survival. However, as it’s such a brutal sport, the Filipino martial arts community in general doesn’t consider it as one of the martial arts, more a method of street fighting.
One of the oldest types of organized fighting techniques comes from Kerala, a southern Indian state. While most people might think of the swaying palm trees, golden sands and gentle people who live in Kerala, this sport shows a whole other side to the garden paradise of India.
Different versions of Kalari Payat can involve armed and unarmed combat. In a Kalari Payat match, there are more than 100 places on the body that are considered as vital, and therefore also considered as primary targets. The aim of the fight is to attack your opponent’s vital points – basically using all of your strength to hit the vital points as hard as possible. Like many of the mixed martial arts discussed here, Kalari Payat can be hard to watch.
As we continue our perusal of different martial arts around the world, we take a look at Okichitaw, a fighting sport favored by the American Indians in North America. This is a real traditional sport in the American Indian culture and history and it’s based on combat methods devised by the Plains Cree American Indians.
The contemporary version, which was developed by a man called George J Lepine, involves a combination of different Asian martial arts techniques along with the traditional ferocity and spirit of American Indian culture.
Lepine was a student of different martial arts including hapkido, judo and tae kwon do. To these skills he added the use of a gunstock war club and several tomahawk throwing disciplines. The overall combination is violent and gutsy fighting.
Behind every move in Okichitaw is the principle that your hands and legs are weapons with which you can fight. For example, the hands are representative of tomahawks, and the legs, when poised and used at a slight distance, are representative of spears.
Okitchitaw is now one of the last-known examples of how American Indians have fought through the centuries.
Traditionally, Silat was created and developed by head hunting tribes in the countries of the Phillipines, Singapore and Malaysia. Silat is not just one martial art; it’s a collective term for a set of martial arts. The different methods used include throws, joint manipulation, hitting with the hands, grappling and the use of sharp weapons.
According to urban legend, the armies of the countries mentioned above still use Silat techniques, though it’s not officially recognized. The range of martial arts that is held under the umbrella of Silat has a long, long history in the region.
Australia only has one native-born martial art and that’s Coreeda. The martial art today is a combination of moves that are seen in a traditional kangaroo dance with a range of traditional grapple methods.
According to Aboriginal legend, the origins of Coreeda are held in the spiritual belief system of the Aboriginals, known as the Dreaming. The legend has it that when an Aboriginal elder had witnessed many young warriors dying in battle, he sat down by the river to think about what had happened. His thoughts led him to consider how the warrior techniques and skills of his tribe could be improved. As he sat there in contemplation, the elder was approached by a Rainbow Serpent which told him to study the kangaroos. The elder did as the serpent suggested and realized that kangaroos used similar fighting techniques to the tribe’s warriors. The elder was inspired by watching the kangaroos to put together the art of Coreeda.
Although it has yet to reach such well-known status as some other martial arts, today Coreeda is gaining popularity and has become a member of the World Martial Arts Union, acknowledged by UNESCO.
An almost forgotten martial art, Bartitsu had a short lifespan. It was first created in 1898, by Edward William Barton-Wright, an Englishman who defined his new fighting art as ‘self-defense in all its forms’. The name is a mix of Barton’s surname and Jujitsu, the Japanese martial art.
Bartitsu combines elements of a number of martial arts, including jujitsu, savate, boxing, fencing and La Canne, a stick fighting style that has its origins in Switzerland.
Actually, Bartitsu was only practiced for three years but it may sound familiar as it was often referred to in the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle miss-spelt the name, referring to it as Baritsu, but it’s clearly the same sport as described when Sherlock Holmes uses Bartitsu to fight and beat the villain Moriarty in “The Adventure of the Empty House”.
Chess Boxing is a bizarre combination of boxing matches and playing chess. Players can win with a knockout during a boxing round or by putting their opponent into checkmate during a chess round.
The matches include six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. The chess rounds are about four minutes and the boxing rounds three minutes. Origins of the sport are from the graphic novel Froid équateur, written by comic book artist Enki Bilal. However the man who brought the game into the real world in 2001 was Dutch comic artist Lepe Rubingh.
Two years later, the first World Championship of Chess Boxing was held and Lepe Rubingh is the current Chess Boxing world champ. He claims that chess boxing is the ultimate challenge for mind and body and the motto for the World Chess Boxing Organisation echo this sentiment: ‘Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board’.